Lounge minus liquor is hook for hookah bar
How is that, you may ask? Well, it was a hookah lounge, and even though I’ve gone to others before that include beer or wine in the business model, the folks at The Meridian Hookah Lounge don’t see it as an issue.
It may have to do with its proximity to the University of Central Florida. It’s a mile and a half from campus on Alafaya Trail and Carrigan Avenue in Oviedo. Now even though I remember the many parties of my past at UCF, they were usually in dorm rooms or nearby apartments. Those of us cursed with the under 21 stigma usually went to coffeehouses around campus to watch spoken word, a band or play a game of chess if we went “out.” And yes, of course I had a fake ID but it was taken away from me within two weeks of purchase, so I learned my lesson fast. Once was enough.
But I was old enough to smoke, fake drivers license and this is where the hookah lounge gets its audience.
For those of you not aware, a hookah is a large, usually glass water pipe that allows one or many people to smoke from it at once, using hoses with mouthpieces at the end (disposable ones for public use). The tobacco is usually marinated in a fruit molasses and then filtered through ice cold water, allowing for a refreshing feel in your mouth.
Even though I like a martini when I enter a place called a lounge, the small strip mall space is a perfect haven for the undergrad crowd looking to bring a large group of friends out to hang and hit the hookah for a couple of hours.
And you really want to bring a large group to this place the oversized seating could easily accommodate eight to 10 folks per table. Plus the lack of lighting and the ambient music playing in the background puts you in a very chill state, so lack of stimulation could have you knocked out in 10 minutes flat. There is a stage in the middle of the lounge that can help liven things up a bit the hostess I talked to said they haven’t had many acts in lately, but they’re always looking. Also the blank walls are in desperate need of decorating; local artists are welcome to submit please do!
The hookah flavors are plentiful, idpurchase.com ranging from raspberry to peppermint and combos created of everything in between including ones called Pineapple Express (minus the main character from the movie) and Cream Pie, which is what I tried. It was a combination of peach and vanilla, and quite tasty.
But the lack of decor, light, entertainment or people (there were maybe two people per booth, and only three booths were filled to be fair it was a Monday night) created the feeling of what an opium den must feel like without the drug which is a good thing, but a bit strange. After about a half hour I was kind of tired of making small talk with my husband, who looked like he was going to pass out from boredom, and sucking on the hookah.
Keep this in mind because there is a flat rate to enter of $12 a person. It’s unlimited tobacco and hookah use all night for the price, which is good for, scannable fake id again, a big group, but if you’re not planning on staying all night it’s not that great a deal.
For a college hangout, with six to 10 of your friends, this is a terrific option that’s a bit different. For a couple looking to smoke a bit and not hang all night, I preferred the Kabbab House on South Hiawassee Road. There you can find not only the hookah, but live entertainment, alcohol and food as well. 10 at Wall Street Plaza. So I take my trips where I can get them, and Sarasota is a great option. Only two hours from Orlando, the beaches are all right there and if you’re lucky like me you have family you can stay with.
I usually gravitate toward Gulf Gate Village when I visit. There you’ll find the Sarasota Brewing Co. on 6607 Gateway Ave. The brewery is also a restaurant and bar, fake drivers license where you can find their fantastic Midnight Pass Porter and Sunset Red. Also try the beer cheese soup in a bread bowl it’s to die for. Another favorite is The Paddy Wagon Irish Pub, across the street at 6586 Gateway Ave. The bar has a permanent soundtrack of NOFX, Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys playing as you drink a pint of Guinness and sing along with the staff. Good times.