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Sahara East Restaurant - 26 Reviews - 184 1ST Ave, New York, NY - Restaurants Reviews - Phone (212) 353-9000

Sahara East Restaurant

184 1ST Ave
New York, NY 10009
(212) 353-9000
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Food & Dining


Sahara East Restaurant - New York, NY
Sahara East Restaurant - New York, NY


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I went to Sahara East on an afternoon with a friend who had a hankering for the hookah. The two of us opted to sit in the front, away from the crowds. When we asked the waiter wha...


I used to really like this place but now I am a little disappointed after last night. We came on a Saturday night around 10PM. Some guy greeted us at the door and said he woul...

Vomit. 2/21/2012

Sahara East is dirty and has horrendous service. When we sat down, one of our friends immediately said it smelled terrible. The rest of us didn't smell anything, so we went ahead and ordered our hookah and a pitcher of sangria. I soon noticed that there was vomit in the bathroom sink, and told our waiter. After half an hour, my sister noticed that they still hadn't cleaned it up. A little later, the girl who had initially smelled something decided to leave early, and I moved to her seat. I noticed that there was something slimy under my feet and began to smell more vomit. Sure enough, there was a puddle of puke under our table. We were really grossed out, but didn't make a scene because it was very busy. They quickly moved us to another table. Later, the waiter suggested that we had done it! I wasn't sure if he was serious or joking, but I assured him that this was not the case. When we got the bill, nothing had been comped. We told them that we had expected some kind of compensation, but they said nothing could be done because we had already smoked the hookah and drank the sangria. Both the hookah and the sangria were almost finished by the time we noticed the puke and moved tables! I tried to explain this to the manager, but he talked over me the whole time and I don't think he even heard me. They claimed that once something had been rung into their system, they couldn't remove it. That's ridiculous considering that if a waiter makes a mistake, surely he has the ability to remove it. I've waited tables before, and I realize that bad things can happen that are out of your control. What I don't understand is why a busy restaurant would have a problem accommodating well-behaved customers who have had a terrible experience. more

Good hookah but pushy service 3/28/2010

I used to really like this place but now I am a little disappointed after last night. We came on a Saturday night around 10PM. Some guy greeted us at the door and said he would sit us down ASAP. So he found a table for two but we had 4 people. It turned out the backyard garden is under construction so they only open the front area, which is really tiny. After we sat down, they told us we had to order 2 hookahs or 1 premium fruit hookahs even though one of us was not going to smoke. They said coz we technically had 2 tables while we occupied 1. Then during the time we were there, they made us moved to another side twice so they could accommodate more people without really giving our opinion any consideration. Finally, they charged us 18% service fee automatically. The hookah turned out great and the sahlab, Egyptian custard drink was special but I was really disappointed with their service last night. While there are so many Hookah cafes in East Village, they really should consider providing better services. Pros: Good hookah Cons: Service is blah more

Great place to relax with friends 10/4/2009

Me and my friends went to the city for a day and searched for some Hookah bars to go to. We ended up at Sahara East, and good thing too. Relaxing atmosphere and incredibly friendly servers, as well as great food. I would suggest getting the lamb off the dinner menu, it was incredibly tasty. We ordered 2 Hookahs, one with pineapple flavoring and one with mint, they were both incredible. Our server filled the base of the pineapple hookah with sangria wine and lemons which made it taste that much better. We stayed for about 2 hours since the hookahs really lasted us, and they replaced the tobacco free of charge. I can't stress enough how friendly the staff was, one of the waiters actually came out and sat with us and smoked with us for a bit. The bill was about 125 dollars for 5 of us, and that's with food, drinks, and appetizers. Definitely worth the money, and I can't wait to visit the city and Sahara East again! Pros: Great Hookahs, food, and atmosphere more

Best Shisha Bar in Manhattan 5/29/2009

I have been coming here for a few years and the place has only gotten better. My initial visits were nothing out of the ordinary but in the last couple of months the place has really changed. I came here as a group of five and we had to get two hookahs and a one drink minimum per person, a bouncer at the door made sure we did not get any alcohol but thats alright. Drinks are a bit pricey at 5 dollars for anything from tea to soda. The hookahs are exceptional though and the music is great, late at night you get to choose some of your own songs. The best part of the night were the new waiters. They now speak english and are very memorable and attentive. A young man named Mike was very helpful, chatting with us, promptly offering service, and most importantly SPEAKING ENGLISH. He talked us through all the hookah flavors and recommended his favorite, (lemon mint), afterwards he played us a couple of requested songs. All the new waiters they have are definitely the most enjoyable and attentive staff. The surprise came when we could not pay with credit card, a fact I found out only tonight, all other times paying with cash which made a very unpleasant run to the ATM machine a necessity (a block away). But all in all, great service, great hookah, great fun. I recommend this place to everyone and anyone. Pros: Great service, delicious hookah, Waiters Speak english! Cons: expensive drinks, no creditcards accepted. more

The Worst Place!! Awful Food and Service 4/24/2009

I went there last night and I've never had such an experience where I have felt the urge to write a review. I had a friend with me who loves their Lamb Shawarma so that's what we ordered. The menu's description is ""thinly-sliced lamb"" while the lamb dish was filled with hunks of lamb that was undercooked. Further it was served with fries that just the same type of fries, you can get from the frozen food section of the grocery store. Zero rice and they served pita bread that was dry and I guess you were supposed to eat alone. We talked to the server and he didn't understand english and didn't offer anything. I talked the manager that my friend said that he had this dish plenty of times before and it just wasn't made the same and the manager just blew me off with a shrug. Lastly, FYI this place had the audacity to charge $13.95 for the dish that I wouldn't even feed a dog, but then for 2 ppl they added a service charge (gratuity) into the bill. I'm an atty and gratuity is optional it's for the SERVICE. Zero service was provided and the food was inedible! I will not be returning to this place - restaurants in NYC should learn that if you serve disgusting food and give poor service - well there are inordinate amount of other places to patron! Go at your own risk! more

the atmosphere is awesome! 2/15/2009

I went there a month ago for my friend's birthday. So admittedly, the drinks are really pricely, $7 for a juice is really stretching it. I'm no expert on Middle Eastern cuisine and I opted for a chicken cutlet, but it was tasty. The waiters aren't very good, they don't speak English well and they didn't really get what we were asking them. There's nothing phenomenal about the decor but it seemed fitting. I have to say that the music was amazing! I expected it just to be Arabian, but it was a lot of club/pop/hip hop/rap, it really set the tone for a good Sat night out. Unless you're there to be alone and boring, DEFINATLY get seated in the back. So overall, our waiter didn't understand us, it was snowing so the roof was leaking on us, the bill was way more then we could afford, there were really annoying girls across from us that kept screaming and I STILL had a really good time. The best thing is they don't rush you out at all, we must have been there for over 3 hours. If you're high strung and high maintence and need to be treated like a princess don't bother going. But if you're chill and really just want a relaxed good time, I really recommend this place. Pros: music, atmosphere, hookahs, no rush Cons: service, dipping ceiling, expensive more

Below-Average: In Quality and Service // Descent Establishment // Price: Expensive, waayy too overpiced even for Manhattan 1/13/2009

IDK if these people who rated 5 Stars got fed cr@ck in their pipes but the Hookahs are not that good, in comparison to other places. They overprice everything and even water is charged for..5 dollars off the bat. Don't be fooled by its external appearance (the entrance that appears to have been painted by little kids using water brushes working on a low budget) the inside is fairly descent. The atmosphere is alright. The service is below average and the quality is meager. Overall, if you have a high expectancy THIS IS NOT the place for you. However, if you like overspend and could careless about quality then definitely hiit this up. that's all there is to tell. thank you, hopefully this will be helpful. Pros: Ambience Cons: Poor Quality, Poor Sevice, Overpriced, more

worth your money and time 6/26/2008

This place is welcoming. Try and get a table in the back where your roof turns into a Middle Eastern rug. It's not as fancy as any of the other hookah places i've been to, but the service is 10 times better. I'd definately sacrifice ornate walls, pretentious wanna-bes, and pillowed couches for this friendly and welcoming environment. In the 6 times that I have been there, I've rarely encountered rowdy high school kids. About the $5 water that everyone seems to be complaining about: There's more on that menu than water, such as fruit shakes and sahlab (which are worth $5). The hookahs are cheap (last time i went $15) and there are plenty of flavors to choose from. The bathroom is art, uniquely personalized by past customers. By that, I dont mean that there is s**t on the walls. It is just drawn on and colorful. I've met so many interesting people on line while waiting for the restroom. It truely is a fun place to be. The service is great; I've never had a problem! Overall, I'm satisfied! Pros: Service, Middle Eastern music, chill environment more

A hookah bar with surprisingly good food.... 4/19/2008

A hookah bar with surprisingly good food. Sometimes attracts an obnoxious crowd, but still worth a visit. more

Really authentic 1/28/2008

I went to Sahara East on an afternoon with a friend who had a hankering for the hookah. The two of us opted to sit in the front, away from the crowds. When we asked the waiter what sort of drinks they had, he rattled off some horrible domestic beers. Then we asked about wines, to which he responded, ""red and white."" The two of us laughed, and ordered a glass of red, and a jasmine hookah. They brought the drinks and hookah to our table. The two of us sat around chatting for two or three hours, and ordered a couple more drinks. The only time that the waiter had to interrupt our talking was to refill the charcoal on the top, so that we could keep smoking away. Pros: They don't rush you out the door, good atmosphere for hanging out with friends, VERY cheap hookah more


I only have two bad things to say about this place, besides the outdated decorations. Pros: fast seating because the place was EMPTY Cons: overpriced and filthy bathroom more

2 Stars, though it should be 1.5. 6/29/2007

I hate to be that person who rates the place very poorly and so on however all we wanted was a chill late night Hookah, and rather we received rude service. I am not going to go on a rant or anything; however I would discourage those who are thinking about going to a Hookah bar to come to this one, you have much better choices. You first walk into the place and it is crowded with clearly underage kids who are being very loud. You get a table and the service is always slow, they never put enough hot coals in so your hookah is always dieing. Not only that, they make you buy a drink which costs 6 dollars, that is for a bottle of water. Once you get your tab, two hookahs cost 60 dollars? Its just ridiculous, I have been to other places were we had 3 hookahs with better service and setting and it cost maybe 50 dollars. Anyways, they rip you off, tack on a bunch of stuff and then ask for 20 or 25 percent gratuity. So if you are looking for a hookah bar this isn?t the one. Pros: Hookah, Outdoor seating Cons: Bad Service, Crowded, Expensive (or just ripping you off) more

Love it, watch out for the prices $ 5/22/2007

I walked in here, while they were cleaning up the tables on the inside, so they seated us in the back. It was very relaxing... The food was fantastic! And the service was friendly... the beverages however were expensive, at least $5 for a bottle of water. And the prices for the beverages aren't listed. Also keep in mind that the tip is included, I accidentally double tipped... And there were some flies flying around in one corner, but the atmosphere is so fantastic in their backyard... and they made up for the surprise prices when they surprised us with a free dessert. Pros: food, atmosphere Cons: suprise costs more

HAHA, I used to go here in HS cause they served us beer and we were 16 2/6/2007

This was a great place to go as a kid. Big backyard, awesome shisha, and they served us alcohol which rocked. They food was always alright. I dont know why you would go here if you were over 21, but still a cool place to go to in the summer. The backyard is nice. more

Feels like the real ""Sahara East"" 11/12/2006

As soon as you walk in its as if your transported into the middle east and you are no longer in NYC. This is a great place to relax with a small group of friends. Mango hookah and their sangria was a great combination. Awesome place, but try to get a table in the back. more

I've Had Better 7/14/2006

I went out to celebrate a friend's birthday here with a fairly large group. The staff accomadated us well. (They even let us bring our own cake for the event, which many restaurants may not allow you too) They food was good as I only sampled so I can't really comment. But if you are looking for a true hookah experience, this place was just not it. The shisha that they used wasn't very strong and even though we ordered two separate flavors, they tasted the same. The staff was truly attentive. They got pretty busy quickly, so you have to be a bit patient with some of the staff. They also have an outdoor area, which is really nice on a warm summer night. Pros: Good service Cons: Poor shisha more

underage high school kids galore 1/16/2005

i used to frequent this place a while back...until it became over run w/ underage high school kids. ugh. it was TERRIBLE. over-crowded, 17 year old and under kids yelling and smoking and it was just a terrible atmosphere. the hookahs are great, but i don't know if it's worth it anymore. plus, the prices have gone up for the food as well as the hookahs. don't get me wrong, i'm not a prudish-old hag by any means. but this is not the atmosphere i wanted to be in when chilling smoking a hookah. beware. the service is pretty bad too. and watch your bill, i think they add a service charge for the hookah.... Pros: hookah, outdoor area, lotsa tobacco flavors Cons: , high school kids, price increase more

Sah East 10/17/2004

There are a variety of flavours to pick from on the menu and its an awesome place to chill out with friends. They add more though like bellydancing or something like that it would make it a lot more interesting but th location is very convenient and the hookahs are pretty decent Pros: , the hookah Cons: , taxes on tobacco more

The service was EXCELLENT! 4/29/2004

Maybe because I went on a Tuesday evening, but I thought the service was great. Osama, our waiter, took the time to explain how hookahs worked and showed us what the tobacco looked like, since my friend and I were newbies. The hummus was the absolute best I've ever tasted. By the time we left, we were on a first name basis with all of the waiters. The patio is a great place to chill on a warm night. Pros: Cheap, Service, Food more

the worst place in nyc 2/28/2004

it might be ""authentic"" but this place is terrible. first, a hookah bar should be chill, comfortable, relaxing. i don't need the ""authentic"" chaos of cairo unless, of course, they were to charge accordingly. this place was so bad that i left well before finishing my smoke. service was terrible. went for a quick late night smoke, were forced to order overpriced drinks, deal with rude service, music so loud and tinny that it hurt, screaming underage kids. then, the nerve, they add 20% gratuity to a bill for 2 (no notice that this was their policy --- same went for their little 2 drink minimum), and when questioned about it, the waiter goes and fakes like he's asking his boss for something then comes back with one of those ""i'm too stupid to really be held accountable for my actions"" shoulder shrugs. boycott this place. more
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Menu for Sahara East Restaurant

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  • In Short
    Once the warm weather hits, a Middle Eastern dinner here can be truly transporting. In the garden--covered with a canopy of red, green and gold fabric--regulars order hookah...

  • 10/4/2004 Provided by Citysearch

Additional information

  • Hours:

    Monday 11:00 AM - 3:00 AM Tuesday 11:00 AM - 3:00 AM Wednesday 11:00 AM - 3:00 AM Thursday 11:00 AM - 3:00 AM Friday 11:00 AM - 3:00 AM Saturday 11:00 AM - 3:00 AM Sunday 11:00 AM - 3:00 AM
  • Payments:

  • Neighborhoods:

    East Village, Downtown