February 22, 2011 | 12:00pm
If you're not sure how to get to Pita House, do not use Google for directions. Google tells you to head north on Drinkwater and make a right onto First Avenue, which is impossible, because at that spot, First Avenue is restricted by an iron gate. We stupidly parked in the garage for the Scottsdale Museum of Art, and ended up walking through the parking lot of the Hotel Theodore and almost two blocks to Scottsdale Road.
The easiest way to go is south on Scottsdale, and make a right onto First Avenue. Pita House is right there, second store from the corner.
There's not a lot of space inside Pita House, but there is a spacious outdoor patio. That's where the hookah bar is.
The ambiance isn't fancy (black table cloths, fake vines wrapped around the patio fence), but it is comfortable and somewhat refreshing in its simplicity. We've been to some hookah lounges where so much was going on and the music was so loud that socializing was almost impossible. And because Pita House is located in Old Town Scottsdale, there's always great people watching from the patio (if you like watching snowbirds shop for Southwestern kitsch, anyway).
Pita House's hookahs aren't super fancy-looking, either, but seem built for efficiency. The hookah we got had a green glass base, decorated with ornate gold designs. The wooden tube delivered smooth, copious hits, and the hookah tobacco was served in a clay bowl (some places serve their hookahs with fruit bowls, but that usually costs extra).
We asked the server if they had anything fruity, and he happily served up a special mix just for us that included black berry, orange, strawberry, and grape tobacco. It tasted like a divine fruit cocktail, and was easily the best "custom mix" of hookah tobacco we've had around town. Pita House uses Al-Fakhir tobacco, one of the most popular brands, and we've smoked many Al-Fakhir flavors. But this was the first time the flavor lingered on our lips, and one of the first time we've actually gotten a tobacco buzz from a hookah (which we might get more often if we didn't smoke a pack of cigarettes a day).
So we spent a lot of time at Pita House licking our lips with a cloud of white smoke surrounding our heads. The Arabic music playing on the patio added to the ambiance, as did our server, an Iraqi who engages the patrons in colorful conversations about everything from dating to "gingers" to learning new languages. He didn't slip on the hookah service, either, coming around to replace our coals well before they burned out.
The price wasn't bad -- $6.99 for the hookah and tobacco, which is generally a few dollars less than most places.
Pita House also has a full menu of Middle Eastern food, so it's a great place to grab some grub, people watch, and smoke hookah - minus the oodles of college kids always swarming around the hookah lounges in Tempe.
Pita House is located at 7210 E. First Avenue in Scottsdale. Call 480-425-9200 for more information.