Hookah smoke, belly dancers and fresh hummus sound like the makings of a good night in a distant Middle Eastern country, but New Orleanians can step right into that culture in a Decatur Street restaurant.
"The belly dancing is definitely a big draw," says Diana Canahuati, owner of Attiki Bar & Grill (230 Decatur St., 587-3756; www.attikineworleans.com). "Regulars know what to expect, but newcomers are amazed by the traditional dancing. It keeps it interesting."
Hookah smoking also was a big draw until the smoking ban forced Canahuati to curtail it until she can get a license. "I've been doing hookah since before the smoking ban," she says. "[Getting the hookah license] will take time, but it's worth it. Hookah is one of my signatures at Attiki."
Attiki features culinary specialties of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Italian, Spanish and Greek cuisines star as some of the menu's major influences. Popular items include paella, kebabs, hummus and rack of lamb.
Canahuati's parents immigrated to the United States from Jordan when she was 9 years old. She grew up in New Orleans and developed a strong attachment to the city. In 2005, she opened Attiki in the French Quarter. She chose the name (Attiki means "to give" in Arabic) after honeymooning in Greece, which has a region called Attiki.
"Attiki offers traditional music, a relaxed atmosphere," says Canahuati, who hopes to open a second location some day. "It's different from the regular bar. You also get to drink something different from other places. Some (bars) don't offer the variety of international alcohol we do. We just give the whole package."