In much of the Arab world, where booze and drugs are strictly forbidden, hookahs – water pipes, usually stuffed with aromatic, fruity tobacco – are the indulgence of choice. Luckily, in Montreal, hookahs are just one of many indulgences from which we can choose. Herewith, our favourite hookah bars.
Resto Cafe Shahrazad
With simple but inviting décor, this light-filled room is always packed with burnt-out students. But there’s no reason a burnt-out professional such as yourself wouldn’t fit right in. 1448 MacKay St., 514-937-1818
Cafe Hookah Lounge
This always-dark lounge has done away with its individual booths, which were enclosed with curtains, opting instead for open concept. Comfy leather chairs and a shoes-optional policy give this place the feeling of a family room – with a great drink list. 1699 St. Denis St., 514-287-7266
Turkish rugs, music and people give Cafe Gitana an air of authenticity; it’s like a slice of Istanbul. 2080A St. Denis St., 514-281-0090
Kafein Cafe Bar
Kafein Cafe Bars walks a fine line between trendy lounge and hookah bar, with beat-driven tunes and colourful décor. It’s still a supremely mellow shisha-smoking experience. 1429A Bishop St., 514-904-6969
Known as much for its tasty Egyptian, Lebanese and Moroccan cuisine as its unique shisha concoctions, Cafe Arabesque is a mainstay for Montreal hookah aficionados for good reason. 1241 Guy St., 514-933-3331
Photo courtesy of Larsz.