A hookah lounge, café or bar is a place where people gather to smoke flavored tobacco (known as shisha) out of a water pipe, enjoy some Middle Eastern or Mediterranean teas, cuisine and the occasional live entertainment in the form of belly dancing or traditional music. Originally an Indian tradition, the practice of smoking hookah later spread to the Middle East in the form of coffee houses.Hookah lounges have only existed in the United States since the beginning of the 21st century, but they’re becoming increasing popular among the nightlife crowd, especially in college towns. They offer a sense of story-telling, camaraderie and relaxation not found in traditional bars or pubs. When you visit one of these local hookah bars, you can walk in knowing you have chosen one of the cleanest, most affordable and welcoming environments in Orange County.
Mirage Hookah Lounge & Grill
6041 Bolsa Ave. Ste 9
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
Topping many shisha enthusiasts’ lists for “best hookah bar” is Mirage, and for plenty of good reasons. Nearly two dozen different flavors are available for your choosing, all of which cost under $15. The place has a cool nightclub vibe and even sports some funky laser disco balls for when the music gets pumping and the smoke is rising. Sip on some turkish coffee or freshly made mango juice or nosh on a bowl of hummus. If you’re really hungry, go for the Arabic platter––mortadela, hummus, labneh, veggies and olives complete with a tea pot for $20. Don’t be shy to ask for peanuts––they’re free!
Fusion Ultra Lounge
512 S Brookhurst St.
Anaheim, CA 92804
This 2,500 square-foot modern hookah bar has been redesigned for sharing and caring. The open seating fits Fusion Ultra Lounge’s “family room” mentality, offering plenty of space. But step into the VIP area to enjoy the comfort of the bar’s custom sofas and dazzling mirrored tables. The fusion of Middle East and Eastern culture creates a unique style fit for a night of pleasure, reinforced by the consistent service and acceptable prices.
Harbor Hookah Lounge
440 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Open until 2 a.m., this Costa Mesa hotspot features fireplaces, exotic choices and free WiFi, all while bringing patrons live sports and hoppin’ music. The owners focus on cleanliness and style, which is why the staff is quick to service your hookah to keep it clean and burning right. While relatively new to the Orange County, this little place has the perfect mix of ambience and atmosphere to give some of the standards a run for their money.
Caspian Hookah Lounge
14100 Culver Drive
Irvine, CA 92604
While the Caspian Resturant offers more than just hookah , its apple bowl hookahs show off the establishemnet’s dedication to quality. This place does not cater to the hipster hookah crowd, those just looking for something to smoke while picking up chicks or dudes. Instead, the traditional, yet elaborate vibe gives the older crowd something to enjoy. In addition to the smoke, belly dancers can often come by and spice up your evening.
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The Village Hookah Lounge
23785 El Toro Road
Lake Forest, CA 92630
The sister site to a once-outdoor hookah lounge, The Village has plenty of good thigns to share––from the music and service to the delicious food and wonderful coals. The Village offers some board games and cards to play during business hours, so if you can ignore your phone for an hour and connect over some fun activities, this place is right for you. The time and money not spent making it an over-the-top modern architectural marvel has gone into providing quality flavors at reasonable prices.
Jesse Seilhan is a writer, editor and photographer from the California Bay Area. After moving to Long Beach, Jesse continues his passion for writing and music by covering concerts, interviewing top artists, and giving a dose of wisdom in a crazy, mixed-up musical world. His work can be found at Examiner.com.