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.
Palm Beach Smoothies’ baristas are known for shaking things up—both literally and figuratively. The colorful shop flouts tradition by blending fresh oranges and pineapples with such unconventional smoothie add-ons as Red Bull, green tea, applesauce, and cinnamon. Aside from fruit-based concoctions, the baristas whip up five varieties of smoothies with creamy almond milk and low-fat yogurt. When ordering an indulgent blend of graham crackers and marshmallows, guests can ask their barista to top off the s’more-style shake with whey protein, wheatgrass, or the fiber-packed pages of a campfire songbook. Each of the more than 25 smoothie varieties pairs nicely with the café’s grilled paninis, turkey wraps, and organic steel-cut oatmeal.
Caliente Kitchen blends a lively menu of zesty south-of-the-border bites with an alluring part-restaurant, part-nightclub atmosphere. For starters, guests can occupy a gabby tongue with a gift of made-to-order guacamole ($12) before crunching into a piquant plate of veggie tacos, loaded down with peppers, onion, mushrooms, and fresco cheese, and accompanied by rice and beans ($10). The enchiladas de mole verde invigorates lethargic appetites, making relishable ripples on a sea of taste buds with tangy green mole sauce soaked into tortillas rolled around pulled pork or chicken-breast stuffing ($14). Prepared with chicken ($15), pork ($16), or steak ($17), a traditional mexicano burrito brings meat, beans, and pico de gallo to meet cheese and sour cream, a mouthwatering mashup that ends in tragedy shortly after the five ingredients start getting along.
“Slawn-cha,” April says, pronouncing the pub’s name in slow, punchy syllables. “It’s Gaelic. It means 'cheers to good health'—” she stops abruptly, spying a familiar face behind the bar. “Let me let you talk to Clem. Don’t let his accent throw you. It’s thick—and he knows it!” The two scuffle a bit before he comes forward. “You were talking to an obnoxious lady, were you?” he says. “She’s better known as the princess. She drives me crazy.”
But April’s right. Clem's intonation is heavy with lilts, a nod to his Irish birthplace; it’s perfectly at home amid the thick-slatted wood floors, rustic stacked-stone walls, and wooden furniture all imported from Ireland. “There’s also live music five nights a week. And there’s the food,” he adds. “I’ve always been in the bar business, and these recipes are from top chefs in Ireland.” He’s especially proud of the fish 'n' chips. “Best in the county,” he says. “Made with cod and homemade beer batter—my family’s recipe.”
Clem goes on to explain that he met his partner at a St. Baldrick’s festival—an event dedicated to children fighting cancer. He throws out a startling statistic: “we’ve raised over $1,000,000 for the charity over the last four years.” With this humble side note, and with what he says next, it’s clear the earlier banter comes from a place of deep caring. “My favorite thing is the people I get to meet, everyone from firefighters to teachers. There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet.”
Unwind Cocktail Lounge & Chocolate Bar's libation pourers sling chocolate confections and mixed drinks inside a modern lounge. Unite with one, three, or five partners-in-leisure to pick a thirst quencher from the chocolatier's extensive martini list ($10 each), including the Milky Way martini, the Belinitini, and the Chocolate-Covered Strawberry martini. Merriment cravers can also sate appetites for entertainment by singing about cocoa precipitation at Thursday night karaoke or by dancing to DJ-spun music on weekend nights. On top of and melted all over its adult beverage selection, the lounge also applies chocolate expertise to other methods of consumption, including a fondue setup, chocolate-covered Twinkies, and melted M&M’s finger painting.
With its homey atmosphere and penchant for pub-style comfort food, The Living Room was already a destination for nights of relaxed revelry. With the opening of The Pub at The Living Room, that vibe just took on a decidedly English accent. Within this comfortable, no-frills pub, guests kick back the way they do in Merry England, munching on casual comfort food and knocking back pints of strong ales. If the rotating beer list is any indication, the owners here know a thing or two about brews; seasonal selection and year-round favorites from Founders, Blue Point, and Cigar City Brewing currently fill the tape lines.
For two weekends every October, the sounds of laughter and German folk music echo across a field in Lake Worth. The American German Club's traditional Oktoberfest celebration, which sprawls across 10 acres under an open-air pavilion and a tent, has been going on for 40 years now and doesn't show any signs of stopping. Each day kicks off with the parade of flags and, sometimes, a ceremonial keg-tapping. Afterward, indoor and outdoor kitchens perpetually sizzle up authentic German bratwurst, leberkäse, and pastries. Meanwhile, bartenders pour four styles of Hofbräu Bier, as well as imported liquors and domestic brews. While vendors display traditional German crafts, the festival's stages erupt with folk-dancing, choral singing, and Bavarian tunes from two German groups, Heldensteiner Band and Die Lustigen Bayern.