Find a hookah bar in NYC
The East Village is something of a hookah hotspot, with several lounges clustered between Avenue C and 2nd Avenue. It can be hard to know where to go—the northernmost spots are a little too close to NYU and a little too packed with dorm-dwellers seeking a (legal) way to (literally) blow off steam—and a few too many places treat the tobacco itself as an afterthought, peddling cheap shisha and falling behind on coal maintenance. Luckily, TUT doesn’t fall into either of these camps: Stylishly outfitted with exposed brick walls and gentle candlelight, it offers high-quality tobacco in fruity flavors like guava and apple. And unlike many hookah bars, it serves booze: the frou-frou cocktails are best avoided, but a cold beer or dry red wine makes a nice complement to a mellow smoke.
Aziza is a favorite among shisha smokers for its extensive menu of tobacco flavors as well as its cozy, stay-a-while vibe. Furnished like a cozy Far East living room with cushioned banquettes and colorful enameled tables, Aziza fosters a home-away-from-home feel rather than a party vibe. The cafe’s small menu of Middle Eastern apps aren't really worth the steep prices, but the owners are totally cool with outside food, and the sweet mint tea makes a soothing accompaniment to a double strawberry-lemon-stuffed water pipe.
If you’re looking to party, Falucka’s your place: Its vibe gets pretty wild on weekend nights. One factor in the lounge’s riotous atmosphere is certainly the fact that it serves booze, and another is its pumped-up, DJ-spun playlist that ranges from hip-hop to pop to techno and rarely fails to get guests up and moving. On weekend nights after 11pm, sultry belly dancers snake through the crowd, shaking bead-strung hips and pulling the few remaining seated patrons to their feet. Looking to avoid the crowds? Stop in during happy hour (7 to 11pm in the summer, 6 to 10pm in the winter) for a $15 pipe and discounted drinks.
This one’s a favorite among Forest Hills residents for its spacious accommodations and relaxed atmosphere. Outfitted with plush booths that easily accommodate groups, Desert Rain is especially appealing in the warmer months, when a breezy back patio opens up for al fresco smoking. The lounge offers a number of fun, unusual shisha blends that are a treat when you tire of plain old peach or pineapple: Try the blackberry-laced Black Widow or minty Mojito Scandal. Stocked with games such as Uno, Connect 4 and Jenga, this Queens spot is a lovely place to waste an afternoon.
Hookah lounges are known for their hip decor and low-lighting ambiance, but you’ll find neither at this Astoria coffee shop (and that’s a good thing). A family-owned spot that’s a favorite among serious hookah aficionados, it’s furnished with terra-cotta tiles and simple tables and chairs. The focus here is on the excellent flavored tobacco—coals are always expertly tended to—conversation and a mean Egyptian coffee, sweet and thick. Settle in for a traditional game of backgammon, test out your Arabic on the waiters and convince yourself that you’re in Cairo instead of Queens.
The name says it all: this Bay Ridge lounge is most definitely chill. A long, cavernous space with dusky-painted walls lit by soft candlelight, Chill offers a pleasant balance of comfort and excitement. Early in the evening, groups and couples relax and snack on bar food (crispy calamari rings, grilled chicken wraps) and sip beer and wine; later on, the music gets a little louder and bartenders start pouring mixed drinks. On weekend nights, check out the belly dancers decked out with flaming headdresses. Revelers, take note: If you’re celebrating a birthday, order up one of the lounge’s birthday bouquet hookahs. With fresh leaves and fruits as well as “roses” of spiraled citrus peels, it’s sure to make the birthday girl or boy feel extra-special.
Astoria’s multicultural population makes it the ideal destination for any number of international experiences—from munching baklava in a Greek bakery to catching a futebol game at one the many Brazilian bars along 36th Avenue—and the area’s large numbers of Lebanese, Egyptian and Syrian immigrants mean it’s easy to find shisha there. A standout is Ignited, furnished with comfy leather banquettes that encourage sprawling and serving up a mean menu of bar food such as boneless wings and loaded cheeseburgers. Fire up one of the unusual tobacco flavors, like the sour Lemon Heads, and sip a frothy masala chai—alcohol’s not served there, but you’ll be having such a good time you won’t even notice.
Bay Ridge, with its brick houses, independent bakeries and bayfront views, has an undiscovered, opposite-of-Williamsburg feel—and a sizable population of Arab, Lebanese and Middle Eastern residents, which explains the glut of of excellent hookah bars. Neighborhood favorite Lamoza sets itself apart from the crowd with well-tended shisha at reasonable prices, plus fun water pipe add-ons such as a pineapple head, which infuses each hit with an all-natural fruity goodness. If the munchies kick in, Lamoza’s got you covered with a menu of excellent bar bites such as crispy wings, salty fries and creamy strawberry milkshakes.