The Hookah Cafe transports patrons well beyond American shores via sweet wisps of fruit-scented tobacco smoke, a tent-like ambiance, undulating Middle Eastern melodies, and Jordanian-Palestinian culinary delicacies. The cozy, narrow space is outfitted with low-lying sofas and small tables; warm, light-orange walls are draped with patterned Oriental fabrics, and soft lights glow in beaded lampshades. Inquisitive Westerners and savvy Arabic-speakers come here primarily to smoke sheesha tobacco in authentic "hubble bubble" pipes. There are nearly three-dozen flavored tobaccos on hand, such as the traditional apple and rose, as well as the Western-trendy margarita and cappuccino. And while there may be more tobacco tastes than dishes on the menu, nibble-hungry smokers will find edible pleasures. Starters are fresh and flavorful: Silky hummus is suffused with garlic, excellent with smoky, creamy baba ghannouj, and flaky spinach pies are subtly laced with sumac and chili pepper. Smoke or savor the Middle East—on the Upper East.
Hummus, $7.95; baba ghannouj, $7.95; grape leaves, 7.95