It's difficult to be a smoker in California. As Fran Liebowitz once sputtered, "They've banned smoking in BARS! You can't go to a BAR and SMOKE!" In her outraged voice, the concept did sound ridiculous.
Now, however, there is an actual, comfortable, indoor place you can go and smoke--not cigars, not cigarettes, but the hookah. The hookah is an ancient water pipe that originated in the Middle East for smoking specially prepared tobacco. Smoking a hookah is a social activity, which is why Metro's expert smoking team went down en masse (OK, there's three of us), one early Friday evening to check out the Giza Hookah Lounge.
Metro's expert smoking team enjoyed the Sweet Melon fruit pulp/molasses tobaccee with no tar and 1 percent nicotine. The light fruity smoke from the gussied-up and gurgly stainless steel and glass bong filled the red-walled and cushy pillow-laden backroom with a relaxing (nonhippy) incense smell.
This lounge is cool. Its owners (who are in their adorable 20s) tell Metro they spent every day for the last year trying to get business loans, importing more than 30 flavors of hookah tobacco, lamps and fancy tables from Egypt, and sewing furry hot pink and deep blue fabric onto hookah tentacles. They did all this to bring downtown San Jose what San Diego and L.A. already have (those bastards!)--a hookah-based social gathering spot for sitting around and being lazy.
Incidentally, smoking at Giza is legal because it qualifies under the same retail rules as cigar shops, according to the owners. But, sadly, with all good things come rules. At Giza, only people 18 and over get in. And there will be no smoking of non-Giza materials such as cigars, pipes or cigarettes.
Premium, hard-to-find brands and flavors such as French Vanilla, Watermellon, Kiwi, Blueberry and Chocolate Mint.