Plain Brown Rapper: Happy in the Highlands @ Café 360

Mar 1, 2007 at 5:58 pm

Café 360 is Louisville’s Lightning Lounge,
24/7 quality restaurant, fully stocked bar and
hookah heaven.

Welcome to Café 360, the Highlands’ answer to the “Star Wars” bar (Mos Eisley Cantina) where freaky creatures play instruments, and creatures from The Void occupy tables, smoke hookahs, sometimes fight but always laugh.

Enter Sanje Taxak. He is 28 years old and is a man of vision. He looked at the demographics with his keen business eye and took the leap of faith, renting the restaurant at the corner of Bardstown and Bonnycastle for some untold sum.

Sanje employs countless Highlanders to serve booze, food and smoke — the smoke of hookahs. While we are on hookahs, let me say The Rapper’s favorite flavor: jasmine. The hookahs are huge, formidable and sport two or more hoses through which one smokes as much smoke as marijuana-expanded lungs are able.
Interesting-looking people from the Highlands and as far away as out-of-town become wallpaper that fills the blank spaces among the great pieces of art by Noah Church and others scattered about the interior of Café 360.

Speaking of the interior, let’s talk about the exterior. Nice black tables with comfortable chairs adorn the sidewalk. You can even be served outside during winter’s chill. Which may be moving on.

At Café 360 at this bewitching hour on a Friday night, you will find long tables filled by a score of Goths, clad in black (being non-conformists) and cheerful to the last vampire.

To all concerned and unconcerned alike: There was once a Jewish American princess sucking on a hookah in a most provocative way and winking, waving me to the table. I went there, not alone, took a seat and was properly fed from the fork of a stranger, a delightful woman whose mind was sharp as a rapier, her tongue salty as a sailor, unafraid to bear all to a person she never knew and had only heard of by way of urban myth.

A strong man accompanied her, my age, who did not hesitate to peel off his shirt and show his bulging biceps, bigger than my thighs. We had a great time, particularly since they picked up the tab. He was generous to a fault.

Before dessert was finished, however, I’d felt a certain discomfort settle upon me as I started to realize my friend and I were being interviewed for, shall we say, post-dessert dessert — their place or mine.
Shivering like the Southern Baptist I am, I made my adieus to these delightful people and left with a smile on my face, enjoying with full satisfaction the color, sugar and spice castle known as Café 360.

The food is outstanding! And reasonably priced. And all the servers are sweet and will let you bum cigarettes. The cuisine is so well prepared from a selection that is humongous. More about those servers. In fact let me talk about two in particular: Tammy and Pamela. Two blonde waitresses who enjoy the pace, tempo and excitement of Café 360. Two beautiful waitresses who are fast on foot and free with the smoke.

Lastly, Café 360 allows one to smoke tobacco to excess and not be shamed by the stares of self-righteous Smoke-Nazis. We at Café 360 have been known to blow smoke playfully in each other’s faces, smoke from cigarettes or hookahs with glee, like children blowing bubbles on some green grass lawn. WARNING, WARNING, DANGER, WILL ROBINSON: Don’t bring pot. Sanje is very good about making sure no illegal substances make their way into his establishment.

Now, to talk about the outside dining area, again. Sanje has an outdoor firepot, evolved from “Lord of the Flies.” It is only stoked when weather permits. During Bardstown Road Aglow, smores were cooked and cider was served.

The bottom line is that Café 360 has become a salon for the young, the old and all of us in between. If you were you to you merge The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” with Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze,” the resulting ballad would be called, “High in the Highlands: The Ballad of Café 360.”

But anyway, I’m Louisville’s Plain Brown Rapper, and that’s just my own damn opinion. If you don’t like it, sue me. Just don’t bogart that hookah.

Contact the writer at
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