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Hassouni

Zenobia

Atmosphere: 4.5 out of 5. This is a Syrian establishment on 31st St in Georgetown, south of M St, it's part bookshop, part cafe, and part nargile terrace. You walk in through the bookshop/cafe, and they have a terrace out back for smoking. It's enclosed with a retractable glass roof and walls, which is a nice touch. Lots of tables in a fairly small space, which is rather authentic to the Middle Eastern theme. Enormous TV at one end playing Arabic programs. This is kind of loud, and the terrace isn't air conditioned. It wasn't too hot though...

Hookah: 3 out of 5. A wide variety of flavors available, over a dozen "basic" Al-Fakher flavors, and about 8 or so Starbuzz options. They're using Mya pipes, with bog standard narrow Mya hoses, and big quicklights. The bowls feel underpacked, and combined with the narrow hoses, they don't pull very well. They give you an unlit coal on the tray, which is nice, and it was necessary to use two to get decent clouds...Shit, it's al-Fakher, clouds should be effortless. Problem is, 2 QLs with AF in a standard Mya bowl gets a bit burny...3 very generous points just for the flavor selection and at least nice looking if not smoking pipes. FYI, Double Apple apparently gets the Mya Wide hoses, which are actually much better than the standard narrow ones.

Service: 4/5. Reasonably attentive and quick, without much fuss they replaced a poorly smoking hookah (I mean almost NO smoke coming out) with one that was better, though as the above section indicates, not great.

Food: N/A They have a nice, big menu full of fairly legit and hard to find Levantine specialties, but I didn't get any, becausssse, see below:

Price: 2/5 AF is $12.99 which is not unreasonable, Starbuzz is $16.99! Refills are $7.99 for AF and more for Starbuzz. Given that this is a low key place and not one the fancy bars and lounges with shisha, that's a LOT. Also, the food and drinks are INCREDIBLY expensive. Asking for water gets you bottled (Yelp reviews say they don't give tap water...), a Turkish coffee is 3.50, which is ok, but a fresh lemonade is $5.50, and lemonade with mint a dollar more. I didn't eat but the food seemed overpriced too, though it looked good.

Overall recommendation: It's OK. Fairly authentic vibe, a lot of Arabs and Georgetown students clearly studying Arabic. If you have money to spend, the food menu is enticing. However, the hookah is really subpar, even for a commercial place in America (I have yet to go to a shisha place I really like), and I guess if you get one set up really well, with the wide hose, it'd be ok, but I wasn't very impressed

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Update - they switched over to KMs and Egyptian hoses, which are a bit better.

AND they have wood coals if you ask for them, at no extra charge! Win!

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