Hookah is a smoking vessel where flavored tobacco is packed in a bowl, covered with foil, and warmed by three coals arranged on top. It's important to rotate the coals and keep them on the edge of the bowl. Smoke travels down to the base, which is filled with water, and finally out the hose to you. It's especially nice when you ask them to add ice cubes, creating a cold vapor. Hookah smoke isn't harsh like cigarette smoke, it's much softer. It's still not the best for you; you're still smoking, but well...
Persian tea, a combination of mint and tea leaves, is brewed gently in a double boiler-like setup. While the tea warmly tingles your brain, icy smoke exits your lips in a cloud. The immediate aftertaste is pure luxury. Melon mint is a great tobacco to pair, while other shisha flavors include: apple, watermelon, rose, mango, and many more.
The music, just loud enough, stirs good vibes all around with a revolving playlist of hip-hop and Latin pop. People come with friends, or alone, to work, or enjoy whatever sports game is on. Also, it's BYOB with a $5 corkage fee.
Café Layal Midtown opens at 11 a.m. and is especially hopping in the wee hours of the night after the bars and clubs let out. During the weekdays from 2 to 7 p.m. they have a hookah happy hour that's $7.95 a round, or regularly $12.95. For a little bit more you can upgrade to Starbuzz tobacco, which according to hookah-shisha.com is one of the best brands. It does pack more of a punch.
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