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White Cloud Hookah Lounge

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White Cloud Hookah Lounge gets a lot of business. There are a couple reasons for this. Number one, it's located in the same strip mall as Club Tattoo, Trails, and Goathead Saloon, so patrons can have a full-on drink/smoke/get inked party in one place. Second, this place has such a kicked-back, comfortable vibe that customers find themselves wanting to hang out all night and come back as soon as possible.

We visited White Cloud last night, and were very impressed with the both the hookahs and the atmosphere. The décor is sparse -- brown walls adorned with several flat-screen TVs, tables with airbrushed art on the tops, and a handful of black leather couches -- but it's the perfect environment for focusing on your conversations instead of a bunch of stuff on the walls.

Well, most of the time, anyway. The TVs displayed three things throughout the night: psychedelic computer graphics with colorful, swirling paisley patterns; Adult Swim shows like Robot Chicken and Boondocks; and a slide show of lingerie models. Because of the latter, there were at least two occasions where our conversations were interrupted by, "Oh, hey, titties!"

The hookah we got hit smoothly, and right away. Usually, you have to hit the hookah several times to get it going, but ours was delivering flavorful drags as soon as it hit the table. Since it's the holidays, we tried White Cloud's seasonal blend: Ace of Spades (chocolate mint), Gingerbread, and Pumpkin Spice. (It cost us roughly $12.)

Everybody at our table tasted something different. We thought the flavor came in stages -- first, a strong flavor of chocolate mint, followed by a potent gingerbread taste and a slight spicy, pumpkin aftertaste. Our companions claimed all they could taste for the first several hits was gingerbread, but after an hour or so, they agreed the flavors became more balanced throughout the night and the mint was less pronounced.

A young couple on the couches behind us were blowing smoke bubbles. The woman brought half a plastic water bottle with dish soap around the edges. When she took a hit of her hookah, she blew bubbles through the mouthpiece of the plastic bottle; several times, large white bubbles filled with smoke drifted our way. When they landed on something, they exploded into sweet-smelling clouds of hookah smoke. It was cool. Then, the couple moved on to playing "Where's Waldo?" on the lounge's Wii console (White Cloud has free wi-fi, too).

There was another group in the lounge, consisting of two young women and two young men, chatting around their hookah and laughing. The employees at White Cloud were very friendly, stopping to chat whenever they tended our coals. We learned that White Cloud has its own custom hookah hoses, made entirely from plastic, so they're easy to clean. One of the guys even took a hit off our hookah to make sure it was delivering.

We dug the music playing in the lounge, too, which on this night was a mix of Sublime, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, and Jimi Hendrix. We were so relaxed that we lost track of time, and what was supposed to be a quick, 30-minute stop turned into an almost three-hour visit, and our hookah was still hitting.

We'll definitely be back.

White Cloud Hookah Lounge is located at 1423 S. Country Club Drive in Mesa. Call 602-391-5523 or visit www.whitecloudhookah.com for more information.

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