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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nightclubbing: Petra Cafe and Hookah Lounge, a People-Watching (And Bubble) Mecca on South Grand

Posted By on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 2:30 PM

Page 2 of 2

Petra has a variety of hookah flavors, including rose, honey, vanilla latte and several house blends. The prices are very reasonable: $10 for a small hookah, $13 for a large. They have a small menu of inexpensive Middle Eastern dishes ($5 for a chicken pita and a mound of hummus) that they serve up to an hour before close, or later if the crowd so desires.

Something that's totally unique to Petra: They give you a cup of bubbles and the top half of a cut off plastic water bottle. Customers dip the open end of the bottle in the bubbles, drag off the hookah and blow the smoke into the bottle top, creating baseball-sized bubbles filled with perfumed smoke that waft above the crowd like crystal balls uninhibited by gravity.

Smoke bubble hanging in the air. Kind of reminds you of that scene from Labyrinth where David Bowie juggles the crystal balls. - DIANA BENANTI
  • Diana Benanti
  • Smoke bubble hanging in the air. Kind of reminds you of that scene from Labyrinth where David Bowie juggles the crystal balls.

"What I hear, and in my own experience, they're all pretty traditional," McDonough says about other hookah bars in town. "I think we offer something a little more hip and more in touch with young American culture." (In fact, their real claim to fame, according to McDonough, are their popular bi-weekly drag shows on Thursdays.)

Be forewarned, though: Depending on the night, the crowd can trend a little young -- and by young, I mean people born after 1990. Petra is 18 and up, and hookah is a popular alcohol free past-time for those newly minted 18-year-olds. While some nights this may be a drag, on my visit, it was a selling point. The tables of rambunctious teens were more entertaining than television (and, dare I say, way more entertaining than a bar full of beer-addled adults).

At one point, a party bus parked out front to let its inebriated passengers out to smoke cigarettes. They descended on the patio and made friends quickly, and provided us with a solid 45 minutes of uninterrupted amusement. Even if hookah isn't your thing, their patio is prime real estate for al fresco people watching.

Petra Cafe and Hookah Lounge 3177 South Grand Hours: Sunday to Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. Thursday - Saturday, 4pm to 1:30am Events: Tenacious trivia n Mondays, bi-weekly drag shows on Thursdays -- and the venue might be hosting the official after-party of the World Naked Bike Ride in August

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