Best of Denver

April 7, 2023 · Westword


Higher Grade

Dispensaries that serve only medical marijuana patients are disappearing faster than a pinner, with just a handful left in Denver as recreational businesses take over Colorado. Patients across town can still rely on Higher Grade, though, thanks to the company’s medical-only dispensaries in Cherry Hills and Highland. Higher Grade’s in-house flower is some of the very best in Denver. In fact, we’ve yet to smoke better versions of Raspberry Beret, Grape OZ and Peach Crescendo in town, but the prices are much more affordable than those of popular third-party growers. Weekly deals span everything from edibles to rosin at Higher Grade, and medical members get even more perks. Let the recreational rush hour take place at Higher Grade’s rec shop in the Civic Center neighborhood, and support the medical locations still fighting the good fight.



Did anyone else wake up one morning and realize that most of Denver’s good cannabis isn’t attached to a dispensary anymore? That’s a stark difference from a few years ago, when branded growers weren’t really a thing and top-shelf flower was still grown internally. KrystaLeaves is one of the few dispensaries keeping that pulse of in-house flower alive, pumping out some of Denver’s most intriguing and terp-heavy cannabis. Multiple phenotypes of the same strain are common at KrystaLeaves, as are in-house creations with big followings, like the Con Leche and Grape TK. Founded by the Fernandez family and largely overseen by son Alex, this Commerce City cultivation is worth the drive, especially if you have a sharp nose.



Alto is one of the smaller dispensaries in Denver. The sister dispensary of Egozi rosin has to split space with a cultivation and hash lab, so only one party at a time can enter the bud room — but that’s what makes the service so good. There aren’t any distractions for shoppers or the budtenders, who are as helpful and lovely as they come. A small-knit crew led by local mixed martial artist Elias Egozi and manager Juliana Mohr, Alto makes sure its employees are educated on the ins and outs of good flower and hash, which are stocked in abundance. You might even run into an MMA pro, if you’re lucky.


Oasis Cannabis Superstore

Last time we visited, Oasis Cannabis Superstore had 35 strains on the shelf…from the first three growers listed on the menu alone. In all, there were over 175 strains to choose from on a random Tuesday, not counting the pre-rolls, and the edibles section had even more options. Mass selection is the norm at both locations, so if you’re ever in search of a product, chances are Oasis has it. Cannabis products of all price tiers can be found here, and Oasis doesn’t skip the smaller stuff, either, with tinctures, topicals and a smoking accessory inventory that can rival a head shop all packed into these skunktastic superstores. Your brain might overload from the abundance of options, but once you settle in, it will be hard to shop elsewhere.


Spark Dispensary

Even when stores have deals going on, all of the top brands are usually off limits. Not at Spark, where hash heads and flower connoisseurs can find deals and low prices on the likes of 710 Labs, Bloom, Bubba’s Kush, Dablogic, Indico and Mountain Select. We’ve walked out of Spark with grams of 710 rosin that cost less than $30 and have stocked up on Soiku Bano as if it were a Costco run — and it’s actually financially conceivable to buy ounces of quality herb here. Whether it’s a daily deal or you just visited on the right day, chances are a highly rated brand is discounted, and the starting prices are affordable to begin with.


Silver Stem Fine Cannabis

Dispensaries and growers have to chase trends to stay competitive, but we never thought that finding pot pillars like Golden Goat and OG Kush could become so hard in Denver. As the vast majority of stores chase new singles, though, Silver Stem Fine Cannabis continues playing the hits. New creations are on the menu at Silver Stem, too, but you’ll always see classic strains that helped build cannabis culture into what it is today — Blue Dream, Chocolope, Golden Goat, Lemon Skunk, OG Kush, Orange Krush and Sour Kush being just a handful of them. Whether it’s nostalgia or chasing that one unforgettable high, Silver Stem can help you bring home


Escape Artists Relief Cream

Once your body nears around thirty years old, the knots, strains and sore spots pop up without warning, typically at the start of the day. Keep Escape Artists Relief Cream in the medicine cabinet, though, and you’ll have a layer of defense against the aches and pains of exercise, awkward coordination and old age. Made with 800 milligrams of CBD, 800 milligrams of THC, a pharmaceutical-grade pain cream, and black pepper and cedar extract, this cream has helped us with sore necks, strained quads and arthritis flare-ups. And since THC lotions don’t reach your blood, it can be applied as often as needed without fear of a failed drug


Marijuana Mansion

You can’t just walk into the Marijuana Mansion and light up a joint — the eccentric space serves as a photo-shooting gallery most of the time — but the historic, potentially haunted Capitol Hill mansion also moonlights as a private cannabis-friendly event host. Rooms are decked out with curated historic decorations and local art, giving each area an individual feel, ranging from Victorian to glow-in-the-dark, while the mansion’s century-and-a-half history includes everything from spirit sightings to the creation of legal pot. Before the mansion’s current owners took over, the building housed the offices of several attorneys who co-wrote Amendment 64, the voter-approved initiative that legalized recreational cannabis in Colorado. If you want to experience the Marijuana Mansion with a joint in hand, keep an eye on Eventbrite listings for private parties, and follow the instructions to request an invitation if you’re 21 or older.


Green Remedy

When longtime Denver-area businessman Curtis Washington bought a building with a liquor store in southeast Denver last year, he had already envisioned a dispensary joining the party. A new licensee of Denver’s marijuana social equity program, Washington and his son, Jordan Brooks, planned to turn half of the place into Green Remedy as part of a new venture together. Although they’re the only two businesses in the building, the dispensary and liquor store have different addresses, allowing them to operate under the same roof independently. The rare distinction has already helped lure in customers, according to Washington, and the combo seems particularly smart when you’re facing after-work errands during rush hour.


It’s a Bodega

You can find a bag of Lay’s and a bottle of Sprite at any convenience store, but It’s a Bodega takes junk food to a whole new level. In fact, most of the snacks here aren’t “junk,” but imported rarities. From Japanese Kit Kats and Taiwanese potato chips to outlandish Fanta soda flavors and Chinese Oreos, KC Christian’s exotic snack shop has munchies that will make you ooh and aah and ask “How many of those am I allowed to buy?” Shopping at It’s a Bodega isn’t just a fun trip for snacks, it’s an experience of East Coast homages, nostalgia and edible creativity. You’ll have to pay for the rarest items — Oreo Moon Pies from Thailand have gone for as much $25 each, and Christian once sold a $40 Fanta — but there are plenty of fun, tasty and holy-shit options that won’t break your budget, like international Twix and a Canadian remake of Crystal Pepsi.


Cannabis vending machine at Terrapin Care Station

Who doesn’t love a novelty vending machine? Missouri has a vending machine that sells barbecue burnt ends. Texas has a pecan pie vending machine. California has vending machines for eggs and sprinkles. And what are the robots selling to us in Colorado? Weed, of course. Cannabis vending machines have popped up before in the state, but Terrapin Care Station’s in-house version is the first that doesn’t require a pre-order or human employee to operate. You simply walk into the Terrapin dispensary on Mississippi Avenue in Aurora and flash your ID to the counter attendant, and that’s where the human interaction ends. You can buy flower, hash, pre-rolls or edibles from the machine in seconds and be gone without a word. The vending machine is currently only at the Mississippi location, but Terrapin plans to roll them out at its five other locations in the future. Misanthropes and haters of the public, rejoice!


Taste of JAD’s

Cannabis farmers’ markets can’t really exist in Colorado because of laws surrounding legal pot sales, but something pretty close to one happens twice a month just outside of Denver in unincorporated Adams County. Every other Saturday at JAD’s Mile High Smoke, the state’s only licensed cannabis bar, you can attend Taste of JAD’s, a marketplace meant to showcase new cannabis growers, extractors, edibles brands and more. After vendors set up at 2 p.m., guests sample each of their products (and the entire cannabis menu at JAD’s) for various fees until 6 p.m. No products can be taken outside the bar, unfortunately, but all Taste of JAD’s vendors are available in Colorado dispensaries, so take note of what to shop for next time.


Red Roots Rolling Co.

Our opinion on the majority of pre-rolls are well documented and don’t need to be repeated, but Red Roots is building a foundation of trust we can get behind. Made with quality flower, not plant scrapings, with a rolled snake of rosin placed gently in the middle, Red Roots is the easiest way to smoke a “hash hole” or “doughnut joint” for those who can’t roll. The infused joint hits like a monster and burns like an ash doughnut, with the hash melting into oil and seeping into the flower as it burns, leaving a hole in the center as it goes. Red Roots joints are a little pricier than the free hot dog that comes with a big dispensary purchase, but their potency and quality can get you through multiple sessions. Or turn you into a deep-fried hush puppy. Whatever


Snaxland Boulder

Snaxland has been busy making a mark in other places over the past couple of years, opening a store in Oklahoma and expanding into Puerto Rico. Yet one of Colorado’s most popular growers still didn’t have a store in its home state. After purchasing a former Golden Meds dispensary in 2022, Snaxland was expected to open its first dispensary in Denver this year. As we still waited for the Denver outpost, however, Snaxland surprised us in February with a newly opened store in Boulder. The location, previously the Peaceful Choice dispensary, is now dishing out more than fifty Snaxland strains and flower from other growers, as well as concentrates from extractors like Green Dot Labs and Soiku Bano. You can still find Snaxland at dispensaries across the state, but going to the source pays dividends in the form of exclusive cuts and new releases.7464 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder


Bubba’s Kush

Bubba’s Kush founder Chris Kaiser says he isn’t trying to take over the world. Enjoying life with his beloved pit bull and company namesake, Bubba, off the fruits of his labor in the garden is enough for him — and that’s a big come-up for us. When Bubba’s Kush broke into selective dispensaries like A Cut Above and Eclipse Cannabis Co. in 2022, cannabis shoppers knew the small operation must be doing something right. After first-class trips to the moon with the Ordway-based grower’s Georgia Pie, Orange Cream Cake and Super Boof, we’re convinced that Bubba’s Kush belongs in the conversation with cultivations like 710 Labs, Cherry and Green Dot Labs. Georgia Pie has been taken on by growers across the state, yet Bubba’s peach-pit qualities stood out the most in a crowded pool, while Super Boof, one of our favorite strains of the year, was largely made popular thanks to Bubba’s cut. We’re still waiting for Bubba’s Kush to grow the actual Bubba Kush, but we’ll gladly take anything this true-blue cultivation produces in the


Green Dot Labs

If growing cannabis were prizefighting, then Green Dot Labs would be holding the championship belt right now — and sporting a few title defenses, as well. The Boulder operation is technically an extraction-first company, but Green Dot’s flower lineup may be forcing founders Dave and Alana Malone to reconsider where their bread is buttered. Banger after banger has come out of the Green Dot grow over the past year, including the ROYGBIV series (each phenotype was named after a color on the rainbow), the artist series (Dalí, Monet, Picasso, etc.) and A5 Wagyu, as well as our personal favorite, Thunderdome. The visual appeal, unique terpene profile and marathon highs from Green Dot flower are second to none. Each release makes us more antsy than the next, and we can almost guarantee those new genetics aren’t touching other


Plant Magic Cafe

Even in a city that has been two steps ahead of the rest of the country in psychedelics reform, Plant Magic shines as a beacon for fungi fans. No magic mushrooms or newly decriminalized psychedelics are for sale here, but the Uptown business compound was a popular gathering spot for supporters of Proposition 122, the statewide measure decriminalizing psilocybin, mescaline, DMT and other psychedelic substances, and Plant Magic Cafe currently hosts discussions about the political and scientific aspects of mushrooms and psychedelics. Activism aside, however, this cafe and event space is the perfect watering hole if you’re looking for drinks infused with adaptogenic mushrooms or ceremonial-grade cacao, and the Balinese, Oaxacan and Peruvian art adorning the walls doesn’t hurt, either. Bonus points for the yoga classes! (Full Story)

In categories:Dispensaries Drinks Edibles
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