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Urban Cafe's Hookah Lounge

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Finally, a hookah lounge that gets the "lounge" part just right. Urban Café hookah lounge in Tempe may not have the largest selection of hookah tobacco in the city, or the fanciest furniture, but when it comes to comfort, they've got everything a hookah smoker needs.

The hookah lounge is housed in an angular room on the corner of a strip mall in Tempe (the same strip mall that Club Tattoo, Lucky Devil bar, and a liquor store occupy), but Urban Café makes maximum use of the space.

The seating consists mainly of wooden benches upholstered with grey shag carpet lining the length of the walls, and a handful of spongy green dining chairs. The benches are smothered in plush, oversize burgundy pillows, and were incredibly comfortable. We could sit in any position on them for hours without a single cramp.

Everything else is very shiny. The walls are painted silver, and the tables are covered in shiny silver tablecloths. The hookahs are mostly see-through glass with clay bowls and standard hoses, but they were shiny, too. Our hookah hose handle was decorated with green and silver embroidery.

When we sat down, we fixed our eyes on the large screen plasma TV, which was tuned to Family Guy. There were only two other people in Urban Café's hookah lounge, and one was our friendly female server. The lighting was dim, which bolstered the laid-back, intimate vibe of the place.

We ordered a hookah with one flavor, which costs around $12. There's also a "VIP Chiller" on the menu, which is a hookah filled with ice water and tobacco served in a grapefruit bowl ($16.99). Urban Café doesn't have a very large selection of flavors (maybe a dozen or so), and only one tobacco brand. Thankfully, it was Al-Fakhir, one of the best. (On a side note, Urban Café does have a massive food menu and killer Turkish coffee).

Although there were two of us, our hookah arrived with only one hose and one plastic mouthpiece. We didn't mind sharing, but people who are a little weirder about stuff like that should bring their own mouthpieces or expect to purchase another hookah bowl.

The hookah itself was great, and started delivering flavorful hits right away. We ordered the Urban Exotic tobacco, which has a citrus-mint taste. The smoke was very smooth and sweet, and the mint left a slight tingling in our cheeks. Our bowl burned strong for a little more than an hour, probably because the Al-Fakhir Urban Exotic tobacco contains molasses instead of honey, which seems to burn longer.

By the time we'd smoked our hookah, the TV was on mute (South Park in silence), and some top 40 music took over the speakers. Perfect exit cue. But we'll be back to Urban Café -- with extra mouthpieces next time.

Urban Café hookah lounge is located at 1212 E. Apache Boulevard, Suite 103, in Tempe. For more information, call 480-968-0766 or visit www.theurbancafe.com.

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