I don't use the word "groovy" unless I'm joking or talking in my sleep. But here goes; Noon Hookah Lounge—groovy (don't you dare judge me). I walked past this Hyde Park chill spot, doubled back, looked quizzically inside for five seconds and had to walk in.
For a lounge that features smoke, Noon has a delightfully non-smoky atmosphere. Owner Ali Muhammad has installed a state-of-the-art exhaust system to pull smoke away from the guests. Muhammad (deep into hookah culture since the age of 13; he even worked at a hookah lounge in Palestine) hopes for his guests to experience what the roots of hookah are all about: sitting back, decompressing and relaxing.
A soft armchair for studying or reading your Nora Roberts novel (secretly placed inside a less awkward book)? Lavazza espresso, American Spirit cigarettes, a collection of hookahs and accessories for sale, a game of chess, $1 sodas? Noon Hookah Lounge has all that and more in a storefront that's perfect for people watching.
Connoisseurs should go for the two upper-level exclusive lounges with pillow 'n' rug seating, low tables and a two-hookah/four-person minimum (call for reservations on Friday or Saturday). Each makes for a calm spot to kick it while still being able to listen to Noon's eclectic mixes of freestyle, Egyptian, Lebanese, Salsa, Algerian, Turkish and French beats.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Anderson