300 SW First Ave., Fort Lauderdale
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Off the Hookah has been in business since May, and although the set-up seems to be in place, the confusion that comes with a newly opened bar is all over the place. But it´s nothing a ¨Please Seat Yourself¨ sign -- or the hiring of a host or hostess -- won´t fix. Still, Off the Hookah has been working hard to establish itself as a bona fide chill spot. And a visit from the old Pub Stalker confirms the effort. Even the club promoters on the corner of Second Street and First Avenue acknowledge it as the new spot to hang before the heavy partying begins. Sure enough, at the tables around the dance area were groups of partygoers filling their lungs with flavored tobacco and their tummies with some of Benjamin the bartender/GM extraordinaire´s many creations. The hookah and tobacco is a tad cheaper than the 25 bucks a pop at most other places ($20). There are also belly dancers systematically dragging slightly inebriated patrons to the dance floor. From a distance, frat-boy types watched intently, mimicking the gyrations without moving their hips more than an inch. Other business types and socialites ignored them altogether, as they were too busy with their hookahs inside one of three private bed huts. The taste of the premium tobacco is clean and has little aftertaste. The specialty drinks feature Wet Mango Exotic Energy Drink; it´s like Red Bull but wetter and mango-ier. Try the Pom Bomb, Off the Hookah´s version of vodka/Red Bull (it´s pomegranate vodka and Wet Mango); it´s served in a man-sized glass. The falafel is the best this Pub Stalker has had this side of the Atlantic. The recipe is the owner´s mother´s own secret recipe, and she makes everyone leave the kitchen when she goes in to prepare it. Wednesday is ladies night, when women drink free all night. Spice Thursdays feature Latin music all night. Friday and Saturday make up the International Weekend in which the DJ plays Arabic, Latin, and European house until 4 a.m.