BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT FOR LUNCH WHEN YOU HAVE NOWHERE ELSE TO BE Denver 2006 - Hookah Cafe
Hookah Cafe is comfortable, casual, eclectic -- which is just a polite way of saying the chairs and tables don't match -- with plastic sheeting covering the tablecloths and minimal decor consisting of Lebanese flags, sponge-painted ceiling and hookahs displayed next to the kitchen. But that's fine, because the smells of pipe smoke and spiced tobacco, of tabouleh and onions and spices from a dozen nations; the buttery sunshine streaming in through the windows; the music and all the other customers give a better sense of the Middle East than would any travel-agency posters of the sunny shores of Lebanon. Hookah is an eatery the community actually comes to -- not a theme restaurant, but the real thing. And though this is not the place we'd stop if we had a plane to catch or an appointment to make (there's a Starbucks around the corner for that), it's exactly the place we like to go when we have no plans other than taking a long lunch, sitting, eating, relaxing -- and maybe even taking a hit off a hookah.