I recently stepped out of my usual bar-with-beer-soaked-floorboards routine and into the smoky haze of Rochester's only hookah lounge — and to my amazement, I loved the experience.
Located on East Henrietta Road between Video Barn and Wild Noodles, Look ah Hookah is not what it seems at first glance. Upon entering its storefront area, you're greeted by bright florescent lights, a thick cloud of smoke and displays of taboo-looking smoking accessories, including hookahs: water pipes with one or more hoses coming off of them. The actual lounge in back. Modeled on centuries-old Middle Eastern establishments where men gather to smoke flavored fruit tobacco (or shisha) and socialize, it's more my type of place, with comfy black leather couches, dim mood lighting, a pool table and a place for musicians to play.
At Look ah Hookah, smokers pay in the storefront for the type of product they'd like to use, then head to the lounge.
I was pretty doubtful that I was going to enjoy this assignment and didn't have the slightest idea what I was doing. But with the help of one of the establishment's gracious attendants, Chuck (he didn't want to give us his last name), 34, of Rochester, I selected two varieties of shisha, grabbed an individually wrapped, disposable mouthpiece, headed for a couch, and, after learning a few basics, inhaled.
There was none of the harshness or scratchiness that comes with cigarette smoking (although medical experts don't believe that hookah smoking is a safe alternative to cigarette smoking). One hookah takes 30 to 40 minutes to smoke. I stayed for about two hours and tried "Code 69," which tasted just like Dr. Pepper, and the house flavor of the month, "Scooby Snacks," a melon-and-coconut blend. Final conclusion: I would definitely return with a group of friends; Look ah Hookah is a great place to relax and catch up.
Deals and discounts
The pricing is all-you-can-smoke, and Wednesdays ($9), Thursdays ($8) and Fridays ($8) offer the best bang for your buck; on other nights, prices range from $13 to $15 per person. College students with ID receive a $2 discount.
Besides the lounge, Look ah Hookah is a complete smoke shop with many other tobacco products and paraphernalia for sale. There's also free Wi-Fi.
Good to know
What:A relaxing hookah lounge for ages 18 and older.
Where: 1635 East Henrietta Road, Henrietta
When: 6 p.m. until midnight Mondays and Tuesdays; 6 p.m. until 1 a.m. Wednesdays; 4 p.m. until 1 a.m. Thursdays;4 p.m. until 2 a.m. Fridays; 6 p.m. until 2 a.m. Saturdays; and 8 p.m. until midnight Sundays.
On tap: More than 50 kinds of flavored fruit tobacco.
Food: Vending machine-type snacks for sale. The lounge is within walking distance of several eateries like Wild Noodles (next door) and Taco Bell.
Music: Electronic jukebox. The night we visited, one of the attendants was playing music off his iPod. Though there are no planned live music dates, there is an area for musicians to quietly jam.
Parking: Lot in front.