Habibi’s $10 Hookah, Baby
Benito has the familiar build of a lounge busser: stocky, clean shaven, latino. However, common to small establishments (pardon the euphemism), his role is actually much larger. Prior to opening he mops Habibi’s floor, rearranges furniture, and hoses down the sidewalk. He sets up the DJ booth '“ plugging the speaker cable into the laptop by the door '“ and brings cases of beer from the basement to the bar for chilling. Once the night gets started he is in charge of checking the toilets and cooking the food on the drunkie menu. By the time the owner is swirling around the room dancing with anything with a fupa or busting out a drum, Benito is probably setting up your hookah '“the only thing worth coming here for. And that only applies to happy hour when the price has been slashed to $10 (normally $25), which means you’ll probably be out by 10pm.
Now typically, I don’t smoke. Like everyone else, I’ve taken the occasional drag in an elaborate pantomime to talk to a girl outside, attempting to look sexy, or add some pizzazz to a buzz, but I always ended up looking lame, holding the thing awkwardly, and being busted for taking shallow pulls or coughing amateurishly. Hookahs are different. They don’t feel particularly harmful because the smoke is cooled by the water. You could argue the deep inhalation needed to pull a mouthful of flavored tobacco smoke is healthy, pulmonarily speaking. And the sharing aspect is appealing; like a liter of beer and small glasses, a scorpion bowl, or the pu-pu platter. So, even though I’ve experienced the ideal communal smoking spot on the earth (inside a redwood, fire stoked hot tub on a small island on a small lake in rural Maine) I’d hookah with friends at Habibi…during happy hour'with Benito.
Habibi Lounge is @ 194 Avenue A between 12th and 13th
Happy Hour is from 6pm-10pm