Plush leather couches, low lighting, soft indie rock music, and clouds of fragrant smoke invite newcomers into this little hole in the wall. It might not look like much on the outside, but inside, Vibe Bistro and Hookah lounge is charming curious visitors.
Located on South Main, just a few minutes from Pheasant Run, Vibe is quickly becoming one of the new hot spots in Harrisonburg. Vibe offers a full bar, Middle Eastern cuisine, a relaxing atmosphere, and, of course, hookah. Vibe has over 55 different flavors of sheesha, including seven special flavors, like “Queen of Sex” and “Pirate Cove,” that change on a monthly basis. Owner Parviz Barraghi says his favorite flavor to smoke is a mixture of watermelon and mint.
“We definitely help people with making decisions on flavors and food, but we don’t force them to try anything they don’t want to,” Barraghi said.
Barraghi runs Vibe with his three brothers and his parents. The family previously owned Brooklyn Café and Lounge, another hookah bar, downtown next to Urban Exchange. They decided to move to their new location on South Main to because of a growing demand.
“There aren’t too many places around here like ours,” Barraghi said. “I’ve had bad service from other hookah bars in town and I wanted to open a place that would be more friendly and relaxing.”
Vibe definitely has the friendliness factor down. Barraghi and his brothers visit every table to chat with customers and make new friends. Barraghi’s brother, Suheil, says his favorite part of working at Vibe is being able to work with his family and meet new people.
“It’s pretty fun getting to spend more time with each other,” Suheil said.
The convenient location and quality bar at Vibe are helping to attract more JMU students.
“It’s really close to my house and the staff is really cool, my friends and I know all of them,” JMU senior Omar Sulaiman said.
While Vibe is known for being a hookah bar, there seems to be more emphasis on the bar than on the hookah. The Barraghi family is working on recipes for margaritas and they are planning to include “fishbowl” style margarita deals on their menu.
“We have awesome drinks,” Barraghi said. “We don’t water them down or cheat our customers, and our pricing is very reasonable.”
The Barraghis pride themselves on using local ingredients and making everything fresh—that means no premade margarita mix.
“My fingers hurt from squeezing so many limes,” Barraghi said. The end result is definitely worth the pain. The Barraghis have created a mixture that tastes fresh, natural, and not overly sweet.
The Barraghi family moved from the Iranian section of Kurdistan to the U.S. in 1996, and their Kurdish culture is evident in the food they serve at Vibe. Praviz recommends a traditional Kurdish dish called Ghormeh Sabzi, a childhood favorite consisting of sautéed herbs, lamb meat and beans with rice. The menu at Vibe includes various Middle Eastern dishes from Kebob to lamb platters mixed with some traditional American appetizers like mozzarella sticks.
While the drinks are the main attraction at Vibe, it’s the hookah at Vibe that has everyone talking. Many people are coming to Vibe to try out the exotic method of smoking for the first time.
With so many flavors to choose from it’s hard for a first timer to make a decision, but the Barraghis are happy to spend time talking with customers to help them make the right choice. They will even let customers smell each flavor and mix them together.
“Not a day goes by that we don’t have a hookah virgin,” Praviz said.
Praviz has seen some of the most interesting combinations that customers have come up with: strawberry daiquiri mixed with tequila sunrise and guava kiwi, which many people seem to like. I ended up choosing a mixture of pirate cove and code 69, two of the seven special monthly flavors.
Smoking a mixture of pirate cove and blue mist, a group of Bridgewater students agreed that Vibe was a great place to be.
“It’s chill, there’s a relaxing atmosphere, great music, the staff is really friendly, and there’s no bar odor,” said Alissa.
Jessica added, “It’s not sketchy like other hookah bars that I’ve been to.”
Marie, who had just lost her hookah virginity, thinks Vibe would be a great place to go on a date. With its comfortable couches, soft indie rock music, and ethnic cuisine it’s easy to see why she thinks that. People who come to Vibe come for the laid back environment but also for the cultural experience.
“Harrisonburg is becoming more multi-cultural than it has been,” Praviz said. “Seeing a new crew of people coming in to try our culture and getting to know them is awesome. I feel it’s removing barriers of culture.”
Vibe also hosts parties with guest DJs, which are advertised on their Facebook page and Instagram @vibebistro. Vibe is open Monday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. There is no cover charge and prices for hookah vary depending on the sheesha.