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Kava Lounge SF Opens, Sober People Rejoice!

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Kava Lounge SF. The first kava bar in San Francisco; only the second of its kind in the bay area (image from eater).

If you are like me, you may have heard a myriad of half ass explanations and stories of what kava is: sober people dig it, indigenous people of xxx used it for spiritual shit your white ass doesn’t understand, so on and so forth. I can only offer you a VERY rough, unsophisticated explanation of what kava is as I have come to understand it: Kava is a root. The properties of said root will lower your blood pressure and affect your mental state in such a way to incite relaxation to then put you on a path of clarity. This magical root is typically found in South Pacific islands. Islanders have used kava as medicine and in ceremonies for centuries. The lovely people of Kava Lounge SF will be more than happy to discuss all the details and explain all the effects before even handing you a menu.

I must be honest for a moment, I went into this place my normal cynical, snide, sarcastic self. I thought it would be all Christian rock band “cool” in this place, I rolled my eyes at their help wanted sign, declaring unabashedly that they were seeking an individual that was spiritually in touch, caring, loving and being an herbalist was a plus. I was ready to fight off hugs from moon children at any moment. Instead, I was greeted by a couple of chilled out ladies super into sharing with me their knowledge of kava. Truly, no shit, genuinely interested in how my friend and I were feeling and what we were seeking by coming there. I felt like saying, ‘to get turnt’ was totally not kosher, so I very wisely shrugged and stated ‘whatever they had to offer’.

We ordered the whole menu.


My friend ordered the traditional kava and a strawberry kombuca (non-alcoholic) to share. He used words like pungent to describe the initial encounter with his kava. Disclaimer: We both hate kombucha (just ICK!), but hot damn, what they have on tap at this place is boooommmmmb.

I order their strong top of the line kava, Pacific gold with a single shot of sweetness Elixir. My order was met with comments by the staff like, “wow, you’re goin for it!” and “You in need?” My initial words for my kava are that it smelled like dirt and anise. We both agreed our respective kavas on their own tasted like fresh toiled soil. If you choose to venture here, I cannot recommend the sweetness elixir enough to help with getting the kava down.

I mini break down of our clarity journey as I can piece together the next day:

First sip: Our tongues are numb! Shit…am I allergic to this?? Nope, turns out numbness is totally cool and depends on the individual as to where; for us, the throat and nose.

¼ cup in = Kava taste how wood smells. There was quite a lot of discussion about the taste initially. We feel on the way to decompressing. No head change to speak of yet.

½ bowl = oooOOOOooo………..feeling head change. Still a bit of discussion on taste: bitter and the new word of the day: Acrid. Yes, very much that. Acrid.

Finished = (Here are my raw streaming consciousness notes) got lost in a conversation about nitrous Phish kids hill/parking lot gatherings; talked about other drug trips with the staff. Verrrrrry relaxed-couldn’t make myself tense if I wanted to. Intensely shifted head space…..much more of a head change than expected. Traditional society all ages. Community v. privacy. Ceremonial use (kava and all other drugs). Both not feeling what we would consider clarity. Open to anything/everything. Maybe this is some people’s definition of clarity who are more in touch with themselves. Lost in our world not our definition? 18+ still very unregulated. FDA still doesn’t know how to categorize.


The venue for your kava experience is pretty well curated at this spot. The music was perfect. The art all around was dreamlike in a minimally contrived way. Pretty dope hologram portrait on the way to the bathroom. No direct harsh light. Clean open space bar. Cushions line the back walls if you feel like being melty. This place encourages a community vibe as well as exploring your own mind space. Equal amount of new comers to seasoned kava drinkers.

All in all, a pretty groovy way to spend a few hours after work. Bring a buddy if you have never tried kava before!

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Born and raised in the bay. I'm just a tumbling weed, or something along those cliched lines. Good times adventurist. Always on the hunt for the weird and unusual, while I myself AM weird and unusual. (10 points if you get that). Currently calling home Oakland. Lovin all the art, culture, drinking and the food.