Favorite Hookah Flavors

  • Peach Mint
  • Guava Lemon
  • Lemon Mint
  • White Peach

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Yahala Hookah Lounge (Austin, TX)

I've been to Yahala Hookah Lounge three times already in Austin and I think it's become my favorite hookah place here so far. It's located on Airport Blvd near the Highland Mall, sort of hidden away in a small strip center between Lamar Blvd and Hwy 35.

Yahala is an indoor lounge, so there's no patio, but it's very well ventilated, so you can actually breathe. Walk inside Yahala Hookah Lounge and you've stepped into the Middle East. Rug patterns lined all along the walls, comfortable couches you can lie back (or straight up lie down) on, Arabic music channels on the television, and dim lighting. Sometimes you walk in and you're the only one there, other times you find groups getting together for some hookah and a game of tawla (backgammon) and legit Arabian tea.

During the weekdays, they have $10 premium hookah specials. That means you can have Al-fakher, Starbuzz, and all other premium brands for just $10. Other places in Austin charge at least $16, so that's a plus. It's a great place to come and smoke, drink some tea, and just chill out. The staff are great, the hookah is great, the chill atmosphere really gets to you because after a few puffs, you find yourself sinking into the couch with a great flavorful buzz.

Some weekends they even have belly dancers, but I haven't experienced that (yet). And it's BYOB so bring a 12 pack for a great night. I highly recommend this place if you're in Austin and believe it's truly underrated.

Images from Yahala gallery

Friday, June 17, 2011

Kasbah Hookah (Austin, TX)

Image from Yelp
Vicken here. I've been hanging out in Austin, Texas with my friend for a few days now and since I landed, I've been dying to try out all the hookah Austin has to offer. Let me tell you about my first visit: Kasbah Hookah Lounge. Neat little place on Guadalupe and W. 28th Street, located less than a block away from the University of Texas campus. We got there at 11pm on a Monday night, surprised to see almost all the tables filled up in the front patio. Not a bad crowd for a Monday night. We head inside the Kasbah Lounge to place our order, which was pretty hazy with smoke. Not very good ventilation. Plus, the night was too warm in Austin to be inside, so we went back out and found a place to sit.

The atmosphere of the place is good. Very relaxing, comfortable, and enjoyable. We ordered some Al-Fakher lemon-mint hookah and Moroccan Mint tea. Lemon-mint shisha is a favorite of mine and was hitting nice and smooth. They use quicklight coals, which I'm not a big fan of. They're easier to light, but they impart a chemical taste that damage the flavor of the hookah since it's coated with ignition aid. Still, it wasn't going to kill my night, so it's fine. The Moroccan Mint tea this place has though is fantastic. A perfect blend of mint and tea. A small pot of tea will last you about 4 cups, so definitely order a large pot of this stuff.

We met one of the owners, a Jordanian guy, who was welcoming and laid back, and switched me over to a complimentary "ice hose" tip. The smoke passes through the ice-filled tip, giving you a nice chill feeling in your lungs and mouth.  

Hookah at Kasbah costs about $16 dollars and they have over 80 flavors to choose from, plus "flavor of the evening" specials. They don't serve alcohol, but it's BYOB, so take advantage.

Overall, good atmosphere, good hookah (except for the quicklights), friendly staff, and bombtastic mint tea. But avoid sitting inside if you enjoy breathing. Nevertheless, a good time was had.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Zephyr Cafe (Pasadena)

Blah, blah, sis boom bah. That's kind of how I feel about this place. Ok high schoolers, here is your chance to go do something crazy- smoke! Zephyr has a 'hydro' hookah that you can smoke that is nicotine free, tobacco free, pull out your hair free- and it should actually be free. Let's think about See's candy for a second. You just went, "ooh", and thought about where the nearest See's is to you so you could go get a piece. Well go! This is an experiment. What are you gonna buy? Which candy? Which one? Which two? ALL OF THEM!!! Ok. Point: See's candy is delicious. You want it right now. So do I. Dammit! Now, when you go to See's, do you look at the calorie count and fiber and protein and all that other BS? No. If you do, wtf man, you're ruining it. It's a TREAT. Like, effff how bad it is for you!!!! This is how I feel about hookah. I know- tobacco and nicotine= BADDDDD. Much worse than some chocolate. But hey, if you really did eat a shit ton of See's candy, you would have a heart attack too. So this hydro business, while it was interesting, was completely beside the point of smoking. I might as well have ordered a panini and played chutes and ladders. Whoosh I got a little excited. Ok. Well, it's not Zephyr's fault the hookah was lame, even though they chose to serve it...

This place was average, a decent hangout, and on a warm night particularly pleasant with the large outdoor patio. It kind of felt like a bunch of PCC kids/high school kids chill there with their laptops because they told their mom they were going to study but the hot chick in their class is there so instead they sit there talking about stupid shit that doesn't make sense to impress her. There is no music playing, so you can hear EVERYTHING. So, be warned. Don't go here to break up with someone unless you want it to be public, a la Legally Blonde. Anyway. You know my feeling about the Hookah. I feel like this place deserves a second go-round, because they do have Starfizzbuzz. Aaaand it's close to my house, so I would like it to be nice. Ok, so I need to go get my nails done (arrogant) but...more later. Thanks shishas

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ali Mama (Silverlake/Los Feliz)

I feel like I have a ton to say about AM for a few reasons. First, it's bomb. Second, I have been here quite a few times, and had some really good times. Third, the people that work here love what they do, and they are friends, not just employees. Basically- Ali Mama rocks, and I can't bear to use a rating system on it, because I don't want to make anything seem less than it is. Ok. So, WTF is Ali Mama?!

Drive down Sunset Blvd in Silverlake for like ten minutes. Take notice of the neighborhood. It kind of reminds me of...hipsterville. Because it is. Little cafes with music notes on the signs, 'vintage' clothing stores that are more expensive than if I actually bought it new, some random book store that is open past my bedtime, and people strolling down the street wearing the two most mismatched items of clothing you could find and if you ask, it's called 'street fashion'. Anyway. Stop! You have most likely completely passed the most awesome joint in the world, and that joint is Ali Mama. There is a sign, but it's just one of those 'hole in the wall' dives that attracts people you want to meet because you want to know how they found this place. Ok, step in and take a deep breath. If you just asked, "Am I STILL in America...???" then you have found the right place. Older men sit at cramped tables playing what I now know is a card game called '14', laughing, bantering, and arguing in Arabic as Al-Jazeera creates more noise in the corner TV that is about 114 years old. Don't worry, you're good. Mustafa will take you upstairs to the 'patio' where you can smoke to your heart's content. Oh, and did I mention you can BYOB? WHAT!? Wait, Wait! Before you rush over to AM right now, you need to know a little more about Mustafa and Amin, because they are like the Green Lantern and Magneto of Hookah.

Mustafa is about 35-ish, Egyptian, and wears awesome hoodies. Whenever we leave at 3 am, he scolds us for leaving too early. Ask Mustafa what time they close. Just do it. I'm not going to say what he will answer. Amin is Tunisian, more soft spoken than Mustafa, but a super good dude to practice Arabic with and talk about politics. Ask him about the revolution in Egypt and sit down for about twenty minutes. You will never have to watch the news again.

Oh...and we ordered tangerine coconut. Actually, Mustafa ordered it for us. I think I might head over there now...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kaffe Rouge (Studio City)

A new meaning to the phrase, "Happy Hour". Instead of going to an Irish Pub and ordering 2-for-1 bourbon and sevens (I made it up, but you know that's what you do), you should come here to unwind from work (and avoid going home, if need be). This place is cool. Couches, good hookah, a good atmosphere- not too fancy, but not utter crap. Blue Mist was our flavor, and it was exactly what you would think of a blue mist- kind of cool, mysterious, a hint of fruitiness, and a solid (star)buzz.

Kaffe Rouge also has a full menu of food, including something I really enjoyed- a cravings menu. I ordered grilled cheese 'squares', which turned out to be more like grilled cheese wedges- DOUBLE stacked. Mm, mm, MM. Perfection with blue mist. Mist-fection. Add some seasoned fries, and you might never leave. Good thing there's parking on side streets...

Ratings (out of 10):
Flavor Selection: 9.5 (Blue Mist- phewwwwww)
Ambiance: 9
Food: 9 (Cravings, 10)
Music: N/A (You can watch the NBA finals here!)
Hookah Me Up (overall appeal): 9.5

Monday, May 30, 2011

Almaza (Culver City)

Starbuzz (not fizz, NOT fizz) hookah is some good stuff. It really packs a punch. This place was nice overall. We decided to try something new from our Sofra ritual, so we ventured a whole three blocks to Almaza on Venice Blvd. Let's start with good. Hookah- lemon guava. GOOD choice, if I don't say so myself. Mmm MM. You could tell it was high quality because a) the hookah itself was legit, no rubber hoses or burning out after 20 minutes. The atmosphere was nice, similar to Sofra in that you sit outside on a patio that can be closed if it is too cold. The chairs are not quite as comfortable. The food was orgasmic. We ordered hummus, musakka (which was actually more like Turkish şakşuka than other musakka that I have had) and this 'quesadilla' with lamb inside (called Arais, in Turkish gözleme) that was literally killer. GO HERE TO EAT AND GET MEZZE. You will be very, very happy. Prices were comparable to Sofra, not too bad. Now excuse me, I have to go and order some more Arabic quesadilla. Just writing about it makes me crazy. It's like when you are studying and all of a sudden need chocolate. You NEED it. Be careful. Addiction alert.

Ratings (out of 10):
Flavor Selection: 9 (all starbuzz- good shit)
Ambiance: 9
Food: 10 (like, Len Goodman from DWTS 10)
Music: 7 (didn't really notice, not really essential to the atmo)
Hookah Me Up (overall appeal): 8.5

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Zankou Chicken

Now, I know what you are thinking. I don't actually, but I might guess and say "what!? This is a hookah blog. Zankou is a chain Armenian restaurant that does NOT serve hookah. Riddle me that!?" Ok. Stop. The purpose of this blog is yes, that we love hookah, but also that we love all things middle eastern- which most definitely includes food. And the fact that Hello Viken was outraged that I had never been to Zankou, rightfully so.

Good stuff, and not bad prices. For 9.99, I got a combo kebab plate (lule and chicken) with good rice, a big slab of more than decent hummus, veggies (tomatoes and cucumbers) and onions. HV's beef looked good too, and I definitely stole some tahini and red onions from him. For a go-to spot on a Tuesday night, perfect! The vibe is also pretty cool. It's like hanging out at a McDonald's, except you don't feel like you are sitting in a heart attack bubble (no offense to McDonald's. It's more the people that are around you that make you feel that way). We sat and blabbed for more than three hours (watching both tables and shifts change), and no one even looked twice.

Random Fact: HV's car is known as "cucumber". It is indeed the color of a cucumber.