You don't need to fall down the rabbit hole to smoke a hookah. If only Alice had known about these joints.
By Jaweed Kaleem
Friday nights Alexis Newell heads to Miami Beach, where she plops down on cushioned outdoor seats on Lincoln Road and orders a beer and a hookah. She goes to D'Vine, one of more than a dozen hookah lounges that have popped up in South Florida in recent years in hip spots such as South Beach and suburban neighborhoods including Plantation and Kendall.
While hookahs vary in size and extravagance, they're generally set up the same way, with a glass, water-filled base connected to a upright pipe topped with a bowl. The bowl holds the maassel, tobacco soaked in a mix of molasses, semidried fruit and honey with the occasional artificial flavoring. On top of it, separated by a thin sheet of aluminum foil peppered with tiny holes, is a lump of hot coal. A flexible tube connects to the water bowl, from which the user sucks in smoke that is cooled by the liquid, producing a smooth taste that doesn't feel as rough as that of a cigarette.
In South Florida, hookahs can be found in restaurants, cafés and lounges. They include the cheap and minimal, such as Michael's Café in Kendall -- a small, converted gas station -- where it's $10 to rent a pipe and most foods are priced the same, to posh D'Vine, where a premium hookah can set an aficionado back up to $45.
Most places, such as Oasis Café in Coconut Grove, fall in the middle. An Internet café, coffee shop and hookah lounge at once, it's been open four years and charges $21 per single-hosed pipe with tobacco and offers flavors including strawberry, cherry, melon and double apple -- that's mixed red and green apples, one of the most popular -- plus dozens of others.
Here's a handful of places you can hit the hookah:Dade Delido Beach Club at the Ritz-Carlton
, 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 786-276-4000. Free hookahs during happy hour, 5 to 8 p.m. Thurs. & Fri. with purchase of food. Open noon to 8 p.m. daily.
D'Vine Hookah Lounge
, 445 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-534-1414. Hookahs are $18-$45. Open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
, 11402 NW 41st St., Doral; 305-403-0188. Hookahs are $15. Open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mon.-Fri., to midnight on weekends.Marhaba Mediterranean Cuisine
, 5701 Sunset Dr., South Miami; 305-740-5880. Hookahs are $20. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m. to midnight Fri.-Sat.,
11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.Michael's Café
, 9851 SW 88th St., Kendall; 786-497-0841. Hookahs are $10 Sun.-Wed. and $16 Thurs.-Sat.. Open 11 a.m. to midnight Mon.-Thurs. and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fri.-Sat.Oasis Café
, 2977 McFarlane Rd., Coconut Grove; 305-446-6565. Hookahs are $15 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or $21-$26 after 6 p.m.. Open 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Mon.-Wed., 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. Thurs.-Sat., 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sun.Tantra
, 1445 Pennsylvania Ave., Miami Beach; 305-672-4765. Open 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Hookahs are $20 per hour.BrowardA La Turca
, 2027 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; 954-925-5900. Hookahs are $15. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sun.-Thurs. and 11 a.m. to midnight Fri.-Sat.Exotic Bites
, 1848 Harrison St., Hollywood; 954-921-6667. Hookahs are $15. Open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mon.-Fri. and until 4 a.m. on weekends.Off the Hookah
, 300 SW First Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-761-8686. Hookahs are $20. Closed Mon. Open 5 p.m to 2 a.m. Tues.-Thurs., 4 p.m to 4 a.m. Fri.-Sat., 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sun.Posh
, 110 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 954-763-3553. Open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sun.-Thurs., 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. Fri., 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Sat.
Published: 4/08Got your own favorite place to smoke a hookah? Leave a review!
Carlos Fuentes and Danielle Gonzalez smoke from a hookah at Oasis Cafe in Coconut Grove. Photo: Ronna Gradus