The hookah's natural habitat is not a nightclub with crashing music and empty drinks slamming against tables. The hookah experience, according to Kimm Smith of Hookah House, should be unrushed and mellow. "It's very meditative," she says, "and should be shared with people you care about." This was the atmosphere in which co-owner Zo spent his childhood in Algeria, where people would spend long hours gathering with friends and families in hookah lounges. He and his Bostonian wife, Michelle, wanted to bring that aspect of Algerian culture to the United States, both to spread a feeling of community and as an homage to the marriage of their distinct backgrounds.
As the fruit-tinged smoke of shisha rises from between murmuring visitors, it passes rich fabrics, which drape the exposed-brick walls, and bright lanterns dangling from a marigold ceiling. Stories seem to overflow from the furniture and textiles, gathered during the couple’s travels in Algeria or preserved from Zo's former life as a sommelier in Paris. This is where patrons linger, resting shoeless feet on bright cushions and pillows as they converse or check email on the free wireless internet. Atop inlaid tables, servers place Turkish coffee, house blends of Moroccan tea, and small plates of Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
On some weekend evenings, live jazz stirs guests to twist among tendrils of smoke before a DJ steps up to spin a range of music, from Earth, Wind & Fire to Jimi Hendrix. Belly dancers, with bells and scarves for all to borrow, demonstrate to patrons how to pass lie-detector tests with just their hips. A psychic-in-residence reads coffee grounds most nights, translating the earthy onyx shapes into predictions about the drinker's future.
"Tips are bigger on the inside," reads the sign on Common Grounds Coffee Bar's tip jar, a wink at the sci-fi stalwart Doctor Who and a glimpse into the shop's sense of humor and friendly atmosphere. The coffeeshop pours brews from Rabbit Coffee, blends up fruit smoothies, and prepares bagels and other food.
Thanks to its location just steps from the Atlantic, Secret Garden Cafe Market is able to stock its display case with fresh wild-caught seafood, which makes appearances in lunch entrees and weekend brunch dishes in its attached eatery. In addition to jumbo lump crab, wild caught salmon, and seasonal lobster, the market and café spotlight seasonal items, such as locally and organic sourced produce, grass fed meat, and wild caught fish and hormone-free poultry.
If you scan the menu at a typical quick-service restaurant, you’re liable to find a nutritional wasteland of empty calories, high fat percentages, and loads of cholesterol-packed ingredients. The owners of JuiceBerry Cafe wanted to turn the tide on this trend, so they chose to offer only juices and food items made from fresh produce and organic products. They appear to have succeeded in their mission; today, their juice and smoothie bar churns out custom blends of fruit, wheatgrass, and whey protein with a focus on maximizing the health benefits in each glass.
Aside from its flagship drink menu, the café serves a health-minded menu of salads, sandwiches, and guilt-free burgers. By using nutritious, flavorful ingredients, such as avocados, mangos, and juices from freshly squeezed exercise balls, the kitchen staff has created dishes that satisfy the palate without harming the body.
Surrounded by stark-white walls and tablecloths, Luna Blu's cerulean napkins, pendant lamps, and chair rails evoke the spirit of the sun-bleached Mediterranean shore. This dedication extends to the menu, which features eggplant parmigiana, veal marsala, and other classic Italian dishes prepared using handmade sauces and other homespun touches. The chefs don't limit themselves to Italian influences alone, though. Hand-tossed, New York?style pizzas also emerge from the kitchen, as does the bistro's signature entree: a 14-ounce new york strip steak topped with a shrimp kebab. Spirits remain high within the casual, inviting space, and Luna Blu keeps guests entertained by hosting live music on Fridays and Saturdays as well as karaoke on Thursdays.
Aromas of roasted garlic and basil waft from the warm ovens at Cafe Centro as chefs prepare a menu of Northern Italian seafood specialties. Beneath the dining area's rustic timber ceiling, servers deliver plates of fettuccine crowned with lobster and brandy cream sauce or fillets of grilled salmon, yellowtail snapper, and branzino. Other dishes include crusty calzones with soft, melting interiors and housemade desserts such as tiramisu. Wrought-iron chandeliers cast a warm glow over racks of bottles filled with fine wines and rolled parchment notes from the pirate who lives in the cellar.