Restaurant Review: Sahara East

Perhaps it wasn’t in the stars that we would have anything resembling a good time on the fateful evening we ventured to Sahara East.  We chose this East Village hookah bar as our very own Chris’ birthday celebration location, and on paper this place seemed to offer quite the time. What better place to ring in yet another of our rapidly aging pal’s years than a place that offers food, alcohol, and an amazingly large selection of sheesha flavors? We would soon learn. We arrived, crew in tow, at Sahara East and were led through their small dining area through to the back where the place opens into a giant, tent-like covered back space. Harmless tobacco smoke hung lightly in the air, the man behind the hookah counter whistled merrily as he prepared the other patron’s tasty smokables, and the menu practically overflowed with flavor choices. All was well…but for how long?

The first negative moment of the evening came with the boring and overpriced beer selection. Sure, tobacco and not alcohol is their item of specialty, but for God’s sake, you could easily select better beers for your menu than the run of the mill fraternity muck that I usually liken to bottled urine. Now I’m not saying that they were all undrinkable, ‘cause darn tootin’ I intended to get drunk this evening, but to be sure the choices were lackluster. On a positive note, the appetizer sampler that arrived partway through these mediocre beers was a delicious combination of falafel and a bunch of creamy things. The hookah arrived and all was lookin’ good, but we were shocked to find that it was extremely difficult to hit, even for our mighty and oft-used lungs.

Just as this inconvenience was occurring, in through the door swarmed a gaggle of underage hooligans who looked like they’d just entered their first semester at Daddy’s Money University. Their high-pitched chattering and enthusiasm for shotgunning their hookah hits soon led me to believe that, despite their age, they had somehow managed to pregame. This unruly group, whose noise and constant expansion was cutting most rudely into our sophisticated conversation, also stole away the attention of our waiter. We soon found ourselves eager for more food and beer and with a hookah that would barely function. In deciding to give up and move elsewhere, we still had to somehow find a server to bring us our check so we could get the hell outta there. To be fair, the poor service, broken smoking device, and annoying clientele certainly could be blamed on circumstance rather than taken as exemplary of their establishment. Unfortunately for those dudes though, there are so many restaurants in this town that if one leaves ya sour, it seems smarter to just choose another next time.

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