Fall semester arrives and you step onto the ASU campus to begin your freshman year. A flood of faces rush at you as you make your way from class to class. The first-day confusion can be overwhelming. Catching a glimpse of a familiar face is a brief respite in the midst of this chaos that is so similar to high school, yet tenfold in intensity. For the older crowd at ASU, Thursday is typically an ASU student’s intro to a three-day weekend. Thus, “Thirsty Thursday” was born: the night partying officially begins for most. However, for the freshmen or sophomores that haven’t yet experienced their “power hour” and don’t have that horizontal shaped driver’s license there seems to be nothing else to do but eat on Mill Avenue and wander up and down the street while the older kids go in the bars and clubs and have all the real fun. Right?
Wrong! So wrong! Underage fun does exist, and it’s truly not lame in the least.
The only thing: be ready for, in some cases, a bit of culture shock. For a fun evening out on the weekend (or even the weeknights), try visiting one of the many hookah lounges located very close to campus, most of which reside on Apache Boulevard. From the experience of an avid hookah-lounger visitor, I give you the top five hookah lounges in Tempe.
1400 S McClintock Rd., Tempe
(480) 968-2625, www.hubblybubblyplace.com
Hubbly Bubbly is not your run-of-the-mill hookah lounge. Here, you will find a hookah lounge that also encompasses a “night club” feeling. The interior is lit by black lights that make anything white look awesome, with comfy couches aplenty to relax on while you smoke. The décor is quite nice for a hookah lounge.
There is a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights who plays popular hip-hop and R&B songs. On Saturdays a belly dancer comes as well. There is an open area to dance, which many like to make use of. In the entranceway, behind the register, Hubbly Bubbly has set up its own mini smoke shop where you can purchase hookahs, shisha, and other smoking accessories.
At Hubbly Bubbly you will find some people dressed casually, looking to chill, and some dressed up and looking to party - Hubbly Bubbly encompasses the “come as you are” attitude. The scene primarily is young college students. Another nice perk?Happy hour, featuring half-price hookah, is Monday through Thursday from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm. Seating is both inside and out. And last but not least: if you ask for bubbles, they provide a dish with glowing soap and water in it, as well as the top half of a water bottle. Put the two together with your hookah, and you can create huge smoke-filled bubbles!
King Tut Cafe
1125 E Apache Blvd., Tempe
King Tut offers an environment that is rich in Middle Eastern décor. Seating is both on the patio and inside. Inside, you can sit on the floor and smoke, or at the front on a couch with a coffee table. Here you will find mostly college kids: out on a date, hanging with a group of friends, or someone flying solo who wants to smoke while they study.
King Tut is also a cafe, which makes this place a great option if you’re in the mood to smoke and hungry for a snack. A fun fact about this place: they provide a buffet during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan to celebrate. Also, You can get a punch card, and after receiving seven stamps - one per each hookah rental - the eighth hookah rental is free.
505 S. Mill Ave., Tempe
(480) 784-6700, cravetempe.com/
For those who want to stay on Mill Avenue where the weekend action lives, Crave is the best choice. The only disclaimer here: if you want to smoke hookah at Crave, you have to sit outside, and after 9 p.m. no one under 21 is allowed in because the restaurant/hookah bar becomes a nightclub. Otherwise, Crave is a great place to smoke hookah, as well as sit down and have a nice restaurant meal, rather than just snacks like you would find at King Tut. Seating for hookah is in the front and back patio. The only downside is that there are only three tables in the front where you can smoke while watching the happenings on Mill Ave, and the rest are in the back, and the back offers no view of anything.
The staff at Crave are amazing; they always go out of their way to make you feel welcome. You can buy your own personal hookah here as well, and they provide package deals so you can buy your hookah along with the shisha and coals. They also have hookah and bottle service packages (for those of you 21 and older), for which the hookah comes unlimited. Additionally, they typically give discounts on their receipts, such as 15% off your next visit - just remember to bring the receipt with you.
7210 E 1st Ave., Scottsdale
(480) 425-9200, pitahouseonline.com
While the list says “Top 5 Tempe” hookah places, I feel that Pita House should make the list anyway. Not everyone at ASU lives in the immediate Tempe area, and the ones who do that want to branch out to the Old Town area of Scottsdale will enjoy Pita House, especially because it’s just a quick trip down the Loop 101 to Indian School Road.
In the summer, Pita House doesn’t make it on my “to go to” list all too often simply because all seating is outside. However, there are misters, and in the cooler times of the year, sitting outside at Pita House to smoke hookah is wonderful. The scene in Pita House feels much more authentic than other venues and exposes you to the culture of the countries hookah originated from. The staff are friendly and a DJ plays a few times a week. Other perks of Pita House include the fact that they do serve alcohol, as well as delicious food.
Midnight Hookah Lounge and Cafe
1630 E. Apache Blvd
Midnight Hookah Lounge and Café is the newest place to smoke on Apache Boulevard, mixed in among the other half-dozen or more hookah lounges that already make their home on the street.
Midnight offers a variety of shisha flavors from the popular brands Starbuzz and Al Fakher as well as special handmade mixes. The location offers Wi-Fi access and selection of beverages as well. There is a weekend DJ and a dance floor to go with it. Reservations are accepted and they have a weekly happy hour from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. that makes their hookah rentals an awesome deal at $6.99 per hookah. They open at 5 p.m. daily.
While I personally have not ventured to Midnight Hookah Lounge and Café, the owner of a popular, local smoke shop, A&A Smoke on Mill and Southern avenues, recommends this place highly. He provides a great smoke shop experience, especially for those of us who also enjoy smoking hookah at home, so I gladly pass on his recommendation and have a visit to Midnight Hookah Lounge and Café in my future.
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