Hookah, the Middle Eastern art of smoking tobacco, or shisha, has been popular in countries like Turkey, India and Egypt for more than 500 years. More recently, hookah has grown in popularity in the United States, especially in Pittsburgh, where more than 25 hookah bars draw large crows of 20-somethings looking to relax and enjoy the sweet taste of shisha. Whether you are a newbie or a longtime smoker of hookah, be sure to try out these five hookah bars rated the best in the city.
401 Atwood St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
First time hookah smokers will find themselves right at home at Oakland’s Sphinx Café, which boasts perhaps the best hookah bar atmosphere in the city. Located in a long-standing refurbished church on Atwood Street, this Egyptian-influenced coffeehouse and bar transports smokers from Pittsburgh to the Middle East in an instant. Sphinx Café offers Pittsburgh’s largest selection of hookah flavors—42 standard flavors and 24 exotic flavors—as well as a variety of milkshakes, coffees, teas, snacks and sandwiches. While prices are slightly higher than the majority of hookah bars in the area and there is a $3 cork charge per person, the atmosphere is priceless.
Hookah Bookah Pittsburgh
2506 E. Carson St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15203
If a customized hookah experience with countless combinations of tobacco flavors is more your style, head on over to South Side’s Hookah Bookah Café. Single bowls start at $9.95 and cost $1 to $4 for up to three hoses. The café’s 22 premium tobacco flavors are just $1 per flavor, or try Hookah Bookah’s 14 exotic tobacco flavors for an additional $2. Happy hour specials are offered everyday from 5-7 p.m.
Related: Best Coffeehouses In Pittsburgh
Heavenly Hookah Lounge
11883 Perry Hwy.
Wexford, PA 15090
As its name suggest, Heavenly Hookah Lounge is more than just a lounge—it’s a heavenly experience in hookah. Nearly two months following its grand opening on March 2, the lounge extended its hours to give patrons even more time to relax and indulge in its more than 30 flavors of tobacco or shisha that include California Dream and Chocolate Strawberry. Hookah ranges from $12 to $22, depending on shisha and the number of hose hookups.
Melody Café and Lounge
1023 Butler Ave.
New Castle, PA 16101
Melody Café and Lounge opened its doors in mid-April, but hookah smokers are already buzzing about the variety of flavors and events this venue offers. Basic flavors are priced at $12 and premium flavors at $14. Ice or beverages like tea, soda and energy drinks can be added to your hookah base for $1 to $3. The lounge has a hookah happy hour every Friday and Saturday from 9-11 p.m. that will save smokers $2 on all hookahs. Melody Café and Lounge also hosts weekly and nightly parties, open mic nights, and small concerts by local performers and bands.
Koal Hookah Lounge
428 S. Main St.
Slippery Rock, PA 16057
At just a five-minute walk from Slippery Rock University, Koal Hookah Lounge on South Main Street in Slippery Rock has become a favorite local hangout for college-aged hookah smokers. Koal Hookah Lounge offers twenty-one flavors of hookah, 8 different base add-ons, 18 intoxicating hookah varieties, and a variety of snacks and beverages. Hookah starts at $13 and all base add-ons are just $3. Stop in Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. for the lounge’s $10 Happy Hour Hookah, and don’t miss Fridays’ belly dancing and BYOB night. All Koal Hookah patrons must be at least 18-years-old to smoke tobacco or at least 16-years old to purchase tobacco-less.
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Jessica Wasik lives in Pittsburgh where works as a full-time figure skating coach sharing her passion with today’s generation of young skaters. A graduate of Robert Morris University with a degree in English Studies, Jessica is also a contributing writer for Allegheny West Magazine. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.