Former Grocery Cafe owner William Lue is slinging exceedingly affordable Burmese dishes — with or without hemp leaves — at his new restaurant, Herbal

Before it closed permanently in late February, just ahead of the coronavirus shutdown, Grocery Cafe was one of the East Bay’s top Burmese restaurants — a homegrown success story that garnered national press from publications like Bon Appétit while cultivating cult-favorite status among locals for its unapologetically funky renditions of traditional dishes like fermented tea leaf salad and mohinga.

Naturally, fans of the restaurant were bereft when it shuttered — due to an untenable rent increase, owner William Lue tells Eater SF. But now Lue is back at it, this time in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, with a new, mostly Burmese restaurant called Herbal at 448 Larkin Street, a space Lue had previously operated as a private supper club.

Patrick Goggin, a senior attorney with the San Francisco-based Hoban Law Group who has worked extensively on cannabis and industrial hemp reform, explains that hemp has been legal in California since 2013 and that most of existing regulations have focused on hemp that’s processed in order to extract CBD oil. “The law hasn’t really spoken to the limits on their use in their raw form — or even cooked form,” Goggin says. “Based on that, I would posit that those hemp leaves for cooking… is fully lawful.”