Because it requires them to journey deep into the Arabian Desert, elude giant sandworms, and endure the endless knock-knock jokes of camels, most people never get to experience the legendary hospitality of the Bedouins. Be one of the lucky few with today's Groupon: for $13, you get $30 worth of Bedouin cuisine and hookah at Al Waha Restaurant and Hookah Lounge. You can redeem your Groupon after 4 p.m. any day of the week.
Al Waha is best known for their Bedouin cuisine, but also serves Afghan food and offers a hookah and full bar. The meal begins with a traditional cup of Bedouin coffee infused with cardamom; this is an important ritual in Bedouin hospitality that involves the host preparing the beans in the presence of guests. As such, the highest compliment of generosity in Bedouin culture is "he makes coffee from morn till night," whereas the most grievous insult is "the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup." Following this stimulating aperitif, diners can pass around plates of velvety musakaah ($5.50) and hummus ($4.99), both served with bread. From there, let your stomach wander to classic nomadic entrees such as tender butter chicken seasoned with chili pepper and served with creamy tomato sauce over a bed of basmati rice ($10.95). The Al Waha plate provides a sultan's feast of ground beef and pomegranate-tomato sauce piled high on top of raisins, crushed almonds, and dried-apricot-flecked rice ($9.95). In addition to vegetarian options such as kodar bleban (cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, and green beans simmered in yogurt sauce with rice), many dishes can be prepared sans meat upon request. Cool concoctions such as mango lussy (sweet mango puree blended with cream) and irfa beljoze (cinnamon boiled in water and topped with coconuts and walnuts) wash down the salt and spice at $3.49 each and provide a delightful segue into a dessert of fruit-flavored hookah smoke.
Befitting the restaurant's name, which translates to "oasis" in Arabic, Al Waha lets diners take refuge from the urban wasteland in its bountiful and welcoming abode, where antique lanterns and Middle Eastern objects artfully adorn the four pumpkin-hued walls. The restaurant stays open until 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and the owners will keep your hookah topped with fresh coals so that the rolling bubble of inhalation keeps you company during the more werewolfy hours of the evening. Spend an Arabian night trading 1,001 tales with friends or watch a date's eyes glow with desire behind the sensuous twists and coils of aromatic smoke at Al Waha.
- Your meal will begin with a small, complimentary cup of Bedouin coffee, a gesture of the hospitality for which the Bedouin are famous. This coffee is very strongly flavored with cardamom, a burst of spice that, if nothing else, will prep your palate for the meal to come. From here your experience can develop in one of several different directions. There are Bedouin dishes, of course, none more remarkable than the "Al Waha Plate." – Ian Froeb, Riverfront Times
Tower Grove South
3191 S Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, Missouri 63118Get Directions