Last month, we kicked off our semi-regular reviews (provided our lungs don't give out) of local Hookah shops with Café Instanbul and Market in Tempe. The vibe was cool and environment was very Middle Eastern -- save the hip-hop jams in the background. This week, we bring you to a truly groovy hookah shop in Phoenix, 70s Shop and Hookah Lounge.
There aren't many anachronisms in this strip mall joint on Seventh Street and Camelback Road. The walls are painted a screaming retro lime green, and are plastered with classic rock album covers, and black light posters of mushrooms and caterpillars. Images of music icons like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison hang supplanted in front of some trippy psychedelic pattern or impossibly wavy checkerboard. Hell, there's even a rotary phone, a stack of eight tracks, and a typewriter in the lounge area.
When we first walked into 70s Shop and Hookah Lounge, it smelled like Clorets breath mints -- a very potent, medicinal odor. It was coming from the hookah smoke of the only other people in the lounge -- a young trio (two males and one female), all dressed like characters from a '90s grunge rock video.
Thankfully, the smell receded by the time we sat down at a table and ordered a hookah withStarbuzz Pirate's Cove
tobacco. The 70s Shop's selection was impressive -- more than 31 flavors in five different brands (Starbuzz
, Déjà Vu,Fantasia
, and Fusion).
The Starbuzz Pirate's Cove shisha tobacco was tasty, like sweet lime with a hint of marshmallow. It was mellow and smooth, and the overall smoking experience was made better by the high-quality hookah. Not only was it clean and beautiful, with rings of light purple glass around the bottom, but it was wonderfully efficient. Usually, when two people share a hookah, one person has to plug their mouthpiece while the other takes a drag off theirs. This hookah was designed with some sort of plug in the neck that allowed two people to hit the hookah at the same time without one getting just air. There was also a decorative metal cylinder over the bowl to prevent drafts on the coals.
Our server looked like Tommy Chong and was very attentive. Someone came to tend our hookah coals every 10 to 15 minutes, and our tobacco lasted more than an hour in the clay hookah bowl.
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The ambience of 70s Shop and Hookah Lounge was very laid-back. We alternated between watching the purple disco ball spin over our heads and browsing the lounge's selection of magazines and board games (which included People Magazine's "Celebrate the '70s" special issue and Parker Brothers' Six Million Dollar Man game). Classic rock station KSLX 100.7 played on the lounge speakers, unobtrusively spinning Led Zeppelin, the Mamas & the Papas, ZZ Top, and the Allman Brothers Band around occasional commercials.
We felt as relaxed as if we were hanging out at home. We'd definitely go back, especially considering this lounge's reasonable prices: $12.95 per hookah with a tobacco flavor, and 75 cents per plastic mouthpiece for the hookah hoses.
70s Shop and Hookah Lounge is located at 5018 N. Seventh Street, just north of Camelback Road and behind Denny's. Call 602-279-5470 or visit www.myspace.com/happyhookah for more information.