Cannabis dinners and restaurants aren’t new and have become common in places where recreational use of the plant is legal like Los Angeles and Chicago. But in states where cannabis remains illegal, like Texas, a 4/20-themed event is more likely to raise an eyebrow. In Austin, Calibrate Wellness and private pop-up restaurant Tare are collaborating on a 10-course omakase dinner with delta-8 infusions incorporated by way of coconut oil and European butter. The dinner, which is being held at an undisclosed location made available to attendees, will take place on what is a holiday to some, Thursday, April 20.
The legal status of delta-8, a product derived from hemp, and other THC products are in a state of constant flux in Texas. Although it is technically legal at the federal level through a loophole in the 2018 Farm Bill, in 2021, the Texas Department of State Health Services classified delta-8 as an illegal substance. Later an Austin Company called Hometown Hero requested a temporary injunction that was granted by district court Judge Jan Soifer. The injunction was granted, which made the substance legal, for now. State legislators could change this at any point in the future. However, in the interim, Texas businesses have used the delta-8 loophole as a way to experiment. For example, Wild, a tropical lounge and dispensary in Houston infuses drinks and food with CBD and THC by ensuring that the amount of the delta-9 cannabinoid is below 0.3 percent.
Tare’s special 4/20 menu was created by owner and executive chef Michael Carranza, who previously worked at Musashino and at Uchi as its head sushi chef. The dinner will serve as a detour from a typical omakase service where the focus is mostly on delicate fish and the subtleties in their flavor. “Omakase is a really high-end thing and we’re doing a dinner on 4/20,” he says. “I want it to be fun and be a little bit like stoner-like food.”
The menu will still feature prized cuts of raw fish, but will also incorporate flavors from South Texas, where Carranza grew up. “Working at Uchi and Musashino and some of the other places here in town, I learned real, traditional styles of sushi from them and now I’d like to introduce some of those flavors I grew up with into the techniques that learned in Austin.” Some menu items include a hamachi tostada with a delta-8 infused salsa verde, a tataki style bluefin tuna lightly seared over mesquite topped with crispy shallots, and a CBD-infused coconut flan with mango puree for dessert. Tequila 512 will make coconut-washed margaritas made with delta-8-infused tequila.
Carranza says cooking dinners like these have been a dream of his for years and it’s exciting to be a part of something new in a city like Austin. “To say that it could possibly be illegal in six months there’s no way of knowing, but if what we do helps advocate for it to be more present, then I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Tickets for Tare’s 4/20 dinner can be purchased for online for $150 a person.
Carranza owns and operates a hand roll food truck called Texas Sushiko located at the Texas Sake Company in the Yard development at 440 East St Elmo Rd., Suite B-2 in the East Congress and will open a full-time omakase restaurant in North Austin sometime this summer.