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The Cairo Café
3569 Adams Avenue, Normal Heights

We mean the Middle Eastern hubble-bubble water pipe, of course. The Cairo Café is a little place with outside garden seating serving a few coffees and cookies. But mainly, it's for puffing Egyptian tobaccos through water-cooled hookahs. Denise, who runs the place with her Egyptian husband Nasif, says the habit is (relatively) benign. "Cigarette smokers can't get satisfaction because there's no tar and only .5 percent nicotine in these tobaccos smoked through water," she claims. Most of their customers are in the 20- to 33-year-old range. They include students from the Gulf states, as well as locals who have seen the fad take off downtown but can't handle the $10-$15 per pipe Gaslamp price range. Here prices for such flavors as Apple Strawberry, Mixed Fruit, and Apricot cost $6.50. "And $5.50 for early birds, before around 9:00 p.m.," Denise says. "Most people come late, like 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m." Other tobaccos, like the Nakhla Iskandrani -- from Alexandria -- can cost from $7 up to $12. Still, it may take you half an hour or more to smoke it, so it's not like a shot of tequila. Hours: 7:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. Monday to Friday. Till 3:00 a.m. weekends.

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