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Eat & Drink

The top 10 shisha bars in Toronto

Posted by Liora Ipsum / August 17, 2014

shisha bars torontoSharing shisha in Toronto is a social way to relax, whether enjoyed at a laid back cafe or licensed lounge. In Toronto the centuries-old tradition of smoking via hookah pipes is alive and well often available late into the night at clubs, coffeehouses and other Middle Eastern establishments.

Here's my list of the top places to get your shisha on in and around Toronto.

Café Awtash
Enjoy drinks and share shisha at this dimly lit lounge on College at Bathurst. Here, the experience starts with a choice of 17 tobacco flavours like coffee, cherry, or watermelon, and is made better still by the menu of Persian snack foods like mixed olives, dips,fruit slushies, shakes, teas, coffees and a full alcohol menu.

EFS
The rooftop patio on King West is as much a high-class hookah destination as it is a party spot (the cabanas lining the lounge come complete with bottle service). The initial set-up and first flavour (of which there are fruity and minty selections) starts at $50.

Roxy Lounge
Try to snag the leather couches at this Scarborough shisha lounge and settle in for a couple sessions coupled with Turkish coffee, tea or Mediterranean snacks. The nargile menu lists flavours like vanilla, kiwi, strawberry, peach, double apple and special house tobacco blends.

Cabana Pool Bar
Shisha, bottle service, tropical cocktails and nibbles are offered in this Polson Pier lounge's cabanas, should you want to get your smoke on in a bikini. Daily hookah rentals start at $35 per day and if poolside lounging takes you from day to night, you might want to re-up with additional tobacco flavours for $20.

Bampot Bohemian House of Tea
Kick back at this tea house on Harbord where the novel entertainments include hookahs, available weekdays after 6pm and all day on weekends. Lounge in the cozy bohemian atmosphere with friends over a cup of tea, and while away the hours over boardgames and tobacco-free shisha in flavours like double apple, mint, lemonade, summer rose and grape, each sold for $13.

70 Down
Clubby and very Yorkville, this newly-opened lounge is a magnet for a lively crowd. Aside from shisha (available inside or on their front patio), expect the bar to be stocked with premium spirits while a resident DJ spins house or top 40.

Shishalicious
Over 70 hookahs are waiting to be packed with flavoured shisha ($13.50-$17.50) at this laid-back Middle Eastern cafe on Jarvis. Aside from the water pipes, the cozy coffee shop offers burgers, apps, smoothies, teas and Turkish coffees. While it's not licensed, the place stays open late, encouraging guests to linger until at least 4am on weekends.

Red Nile Cafe and Hookah Lounge
Embroidered cushions and gilt-covered wallpaper sets the scene at this lounge in North York. Open from 6pm to 3am, Red Nile is at its liveliest late at night, when plumes of fruit-scented water vapor fills the dimly-lit room. Choose from 18 flavours, priced between $12 and $15.

Tea Ve See
Recently relocated from North York to a spot slightly north in Vaughan, this upmarket shisha lounge offers a wide range of flavours and blends like the B52, a mix of mint and chocolate smoked in a milk-filled hookah.

Shiraz Shisha
In Richmond Hill, this licensed lounge offers a menu featuring Persian food and exotic shisha flavours. Fresh fruit hookahs are the most impressive. Enjoy watermelon champagne ($15) or pineapple pina colada ($15).

Did I miss any? Let me know your favourite shisha spot in the comments.

Photo of Cabana Pool Bar by Jesse Milns.

Discussion

21 Comments

iSkyscraper / August 16, 2014 at 11:13 pm
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Sorry, but unless we're a nation of hypocrites all of the above should be closed, for the simple reason that hookah is a giant loophole in the smoking laws. It's a serious health risk, it's super profitable, and the result is that every restaurant and lounge is now becoming polluted by them.

Any claims to it being part of Middle Eastern culture (the original reason for the exemption) died out around the time that 20% of all North American teens admitted smoking hookah.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/07/health/hookah-teen-popularity/

And don't give me that "we use herbal shisha" excuse. So what, you're still sucking down charcoal smoke, which is about as carcinogenic as it gets. There is a reason why Vancouver and all of Alberta ban herbal as well as regular hookah.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/hookah-smoking-s-dangers-lead-to-bans-1.2471601

http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2014/08/ban-smoking-hookahs-lounges-vancouver-upheld/

Shut it down, now, before it gets even more out of control like it has in New York, where practically every restaurant and nightspot is coated in a thick cloud of hookah smoke.
A replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / August 17, 2014 at 11:50 am
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If you don't like it then don't do it, but don't try to prevent others from doing something that is perfectly legal. Many people do things that are unhealthy, eating fast food for example, but surely you wouldn't suggest that every fast food joint should be *forced* by the state to close down. I don't eat fast food at all, or do shisha, but I respect others' right to do as they please in a democratic society as long as they don't hurt others.

Do you seriously believe that "practically every restaurant and nightspot" in NY has become a shisha bar? Surely that's hyperbole. Usually your posts are a good dose of common sense but on this issue you're completely out to lunch.
Dan replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / August 17, 2014 at 12:51 pm
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agree with you 100% its time something is done about these establishments in Toronto. Would be happy to see the smoking of sisha indoors made illegal
Bunny / August 17, 2014 at 02:33 pm
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Is it possible to get TB from these hookah contraptions? Doesn't seem very hygienic.
Geery Atric replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / August 17, 2014 at 03:16 pm
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I agree - what about the children!!!
Concerned Doc / August 17, 2014 at 03:27 pm
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I'm a Canadian physician of Middle Eastern descent and I could not agree more with iSkyscraper. I grew up in a part of the world where this disgusting habit was all over the place. Folks please get your facts straight:

http://www.who.int/tobacco/global_interaction/tobreg/Waterpipe%20recommendation_Final.pdf

The World Health Organization released this report in 2005. PLEASE give it a read! A single shisha in one of Liora's recommended spots can equal up to 100 cigarettes! Of course we're free to do as we please but please consider what you're putting your body through.
AK / August 17, 2014 at 06:44 pm
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If you don't like it, then don't go. Plain and simple. I love hooka & love that it's offered in TO. Great article! I haven't heard of some of these locations & I'll be sure to check them out. All you nah-sayers, take a hike!
Anna k / August 17, 2014 at 07:02 pm
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Concerned Doc ,If Canadian government is going to ban tabaco shisha then it must first ban cigarets,alcohol,junk food and flying on a plane since one hour spent in flight is comparable to like 20 X-rays radiation ...and maybe ban doctors power to write prescriptions like the one who just wrote the last comment because Dr.'s pose more health damage to Canadians by giving away all the prescribed medications, as it is candies. Whats more damaging is the specialists like this doctor are putting kids on anti- depression pills, and overdose with mandatory shots before they reach 10 years of age. I hate when useless and under educated doctors make ridiculous comments, which do not have any scientific merit to it. So go back to school buddy and when you have legitimate facts, and you personally conduct numerous studies come back and write another comment .. Canada is a free country and because of un educated , biased and narrow-minded so called "Dr" as you are, our rights being taken away ... Start thinking outside the box.
Alan e-cig / August 17, 2014 at 09:37 pm
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ISkyscraper has it down 100%. These places are legal, they are just quite new in the system and haven't been declared illegal YET. Residents need to stand up against them if that's how they feel. Smoking tobacco was made illegal due to the effects it can have on those that wook in bars, those that live above them and those that just want to go out and have a good time. I'm fine if the habit is dedicated to sisha dedicated bars itself. BUT has the habit and behavior becomes more popular it may start to become accepted indoors at other establishments. Its still frowned upon to smoke e-cigarettes indoors where other non smokers and the youth and kids are around.
LogicalReasoning / August 17, 2014 at 09:47 pm
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Oh, Anna.
I hope you're a teenager. But then again, I know many teenagers that can write an effective argument. First, the doctor did not say anything about banning shisha. Secondly, what do all those ludicrous claims about doctors have to do with this issue. Even if they made any logical sense at all, they are irrelevant to the discussion. Hopefully, the next time you're in need of medical care, you don't get one of those 'useless and under educated' [sic] ones that you're being so disrespectful to in your post. As far as scientific merit goes, I think most people would consider a comment by a doctor who links his comment to an actual scientific study a bit more credible than one by someone who uses words they don't understand in an illiterate, rambling and insulting rant.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from A / August 17, 2014 at 10:48 pm
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No, it's not hyperbole. It's a scourge in New York and it will be coming to Toronto next. Where I live, in northern Manhattan, about half of all restaurants now have hookah rentals. It's insane but the money is too good and a generation who grew up not smoking suddenly can and finds it very cool.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/hookah-latest-trend-hit-bars-restaurants-uptown-article-1.1143238

If smoking were not banned in restaurants we could all say live and let live, but it is banned, for good reason, and hookah is flouting that common sense. Come back and read this post in a couple years and you will see what I mean.
Remember / August 18, 2014 at 12:54 pm
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There's also Habibiz Sheesha Lounge as well.
Faraz / August 21, 2014 at 01:10 am
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Heyo - (new) owner of Buda Cafe here. Just a bit of background - although I'm relatively new to ownership, I've been quite involved with Buda Cafe & the "art of Shisha" for over a decade. Given our experience in this domain, I wanted to chime in with my two cents on all the discussions happening here:

1) Dear BlogTo writer - great list of spots & thank you for compiling. Truthfully, I was hoping Buda Cafe would have made it on your list. We've recently added tons of items (non-shisha related), to our menu and just recently launched the new budacafe.ca website - so hey, perhaps we'll be considered next time :=).

2) As far as I could see, the PDF report compiled by WHO and shared here only references Tobacco-based shisha products, and not herbal / non-tobacco. What I would personally love to see is a comprehensive, unbiased report on the health risks of herbal Shisha, which is the only type of shisha that is allowed to be served by law in Toronto. But it's really not just about the type of shisha being served - it's also about cleanliness. For instance, we wash our shisha pipes after each and every bowl to eliminate chemical build-up in the pipes and ensure no harshness during use. Is that required by law? No. But we do it because we want to make sure our customers get the absolute cleanest experience around. Point is, some of the onus is on business owners to make sure they're running a clean operation. And I have to say - as someone who prides himself on adhering strictly to the rules and regulations of our Province, I want nothing more than the government to enforce a few stricter regulations so that those who are doing it right (like Buda Cafe) are recognized and that those who are doing it wrong get penalized.

Thanks again for the article & all the discussions around it,

Faraz
Lisa / September 2, 2014 at 11:16 pm
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I love Red Nile. AMAZING SPOT. love the service and the music
Joe / September 4, 2014 at 05:26 pm
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I have been at C Lounge they have Shisha now and it's a nice place to sit back have a few drinks and smoke a nice Shisha. Not to forget it's better than 90% of other clubs in Toronto!
2 Person fishing kayak / September 17, 2014 at 10:15 am
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Have you ever considered about adding a little bit
more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and all.
But imagine if you added some great graphics or video clips to give your posts more, "pop"!

Your content is excellent but with pics and videos, this site
could undeniably be one of the best in its niche. Excellent blog!
free credit check / September 27, 2014 at 01:25 am
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Outstanding qսest there. What happened after?
Good luck!
joe / October 15, 2014 at 04:11 am
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I will not get into wether it should be legal or illegal but what I would like to do is introduce you to the new innovated hookah that takes all the health risks from traditional hookah and trashes it. Yes you read that right. You can get yourself an electronic shisha with over 14 flavours that vaporizes. so your not inhaling harmful charcoal/tobacco or any other smoke. its smokeless Vapor just like electronic cigarettes. you can find it on this website they deliver next day from toronto :) cheers www.eshishatimes.com i got mine for $150 but they have dropped the price down to $120 now i think
Anthony C / October 17, 2014 at 07:09 pm
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In my opinion,if someone wants to smoke hookah,let him/her to do so.Why should we stop people from what they like to do?Besides,all those places pay taxes which we all benefit from.If you say to ban hookah,then we should also ban cigarets and alcohol cause they 're harmful as well!
Karan / November 21, 2014 at 10:48 pm
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I just went to this place in Vaughan near York Univ. last week and this place looks promising. I loved their Rose flavour and damn it was good. The place is very decent and they had some good music on. Here is the place: https://www.facebook.com/MarhabaSheesha
Ava / December 16, 2014 at 03:35 am
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Haze lounge mississauga - shisha reinvented !

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