Our Cigar Shop Reviews!

Alex and I visit several cigar shops a month, looking for the best of the best!

We look at layout, comfort, selection, price, cleanliness and overall atmosphere. We  admit we do have some we love and some, not so much but promise to be objective.

If you are ever in the area of one of these shops, stop by, say hi, have a smoke and let them know we sent you.

If you know of a shop we should review, let us know!  You can leave a comment at the bottom of this page or email us Club A1Club A1at pleasereview@thecigarguys.net!

Cigar Shop Reviews Begin Below

As always, Good Smoking!

The Cigar Guys!The Cigar Guys

Tobacco Leaf Cigars

(San Pedro, CA)

Some cigar shops focus their attention on quality cigars, some on great atmosphere, some on in-lounge entertainment and some on location, but few manage to touch all the bases.

Located in San Pedro a stone’s throw from Trump National Golf course is The Tobacco Leaf – from the street you see the large sign and a number of cigarette posters which would at first deter the dedicated cigar smoker. But once you walk in and take a look around, you know you’re in a quality business.

The owner, Nick Baracat, keeps his bookcase-style humidors full to bursting with nearly every quality cigar on the market, and all at cut-throat prices. Accessories abound- desk and travel humidors, lighters, cutters, and various cigar toys fill the display shelves, and many hookah and assorted pipe supplies are also avaliable.

The lounge area is intimate and comfortable, with a sliver of ocean view, the Palos Verdes hillside and a busy intersection outside to watch traffic go by. The patio outside has plenty of seating and is a wonderful place to hang out after the sun goes down. Nick stays open until 1am on Friday and Saturday, so it’s a good place to unwind after a night out.

Regular hours are Monday – Thursday, 10 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday, 10 am to 12 am and Sunday 11 am to 9 pm.

A successful businessman in his own right, Nick is an approachable conversationalist and a gracious and attentive host who’s always ready with water, soda or excellent turkish coffee. The smoking crowd is friendly and talkative, and you never know who you’ll run into. All in all, it’s a small jewel on the ocean.

Tobacco Leaf is located next door to Starbucks at 2470 South Western Avenue, San Pedro, CA.

Orange County, CA

Orange County Cigars

(Costa Mesa, CA)

Bart Gabriel and his friends, John Gleason & Chris McDonald, had the dream of opening a world-class cigar shop in Costa Mesa. They had envisioned large TV’s, lots of seating and a few special touches of their own. But they were dead-set on one thing in particular- a stand-alone location. And deep in Orange County free-standing retail space is difficult to come by. So they waited. And waited.

In early 2008 they finally took their shot, and they made sure that they hit their target. The Orange County Cigars Lounge is a model of interior design, comfort, and style. As you walk in, the humidor is on your right, boasting a large selection at good prices.

The front lounge is cozy, with a half-dozen seats arranged facing a 50” TV. But the real draw of the shop is the back lounge. Walk past the counter and you’re in the 800 sq ft main lounge- large leather chairs, a roll-door for events in the summer and a massive 60” flat screen TV make this a very comfortable place to be.

And the industrial ventilation system makes sure that every room in the shop is free and clear of excess smoke in the air. This is a great shop to watch a movie in, or have an event in the summer. The patio and roll-open door are made for BBQ’s!

Orange County Cigars Lounge is located at 2470 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA

Vintage Cigars (formerly South Coast Cigars)

Located across the street from South Coast Plaza, Vintage Cigars (formerly South Coast Cigars) is a welcome change from the overly-planned, overly-decorated cigar shops that populate Orange County.

The owner, Robby Saoud, purchased the shop in early 2008, and set about returning it to its’ former understated glory.  The shop boasts a comfortable lounge, with several distinct seating areas including a private back room that can be used for meetings.

The humidor is well stocked with cigars ranging from $2 to $35, and every point in between.

The regular crowd is among the friendliest and most welcoming of any shop, and there are usually at least two bottles of wine open at any time.  The shop is currently a work in progress, but holds great promise in the future, and will continue to evolve as its’ new identity is established.

Alex L., The Cigar Guys!

My Trip to Washington, DC

No one walks anymore.  No one interacts anymore.  When I travel, I enjoy using public transportation.  I like meeting and interacting with people.  Making new friends.  Talking.

I currently am on a plane, returning from a 4 day trip to Washington, DC.  I went to see a friend and do some smoking.

My first stop was Signature Cigars.  Located within 1 block of the Metro train station, Signature Cigars in a quaint place in downtown DC.  For the last 12 years, .  They have a walk-in humidor and a couple of wall humidors.  They’re selection was great and the prices were comparable to California.  The only problem with that is there is no tobacco tax in DC, so a cigar that cost $20 in California should be around $15 in DC… not the case.

However, they atmosphere is comfortable and cozy.  A good group of “regular guys” hang out and the conversation was easy-going… and no cliques.

The only negative, they insist you purchase at least $15 worth of cigars if you plan to sit and smoke.

My next stop was J&R Cigars.  This was a small, but well stocked, version of the J&R headquartered in Statesville, North Carolina (which I visited last year).  The whole store is one big humidor.  Pricing was great, however no lounge area.  No lounge so strictly cash and carry.

Finally I ended my tour at Shelly’s Backroom.  A true cigar restaurant and tavern.  With well worn couches, good sitting, a fireplace and a full bar, this is definitely a place to unwind if you are in DC.  The crowd can be a little stuffy.  Yuppies and political professionals, however they are friendly and of course, cigars are the great equalizer.   The food was excellent.  Humidor was a disappointment so you definitely want to bring your own cigars to smoke… they don’t mind.

My rating list for DC cigar shops: (5 stars being the best)

1. Shelly’s Backroom – 4 stars (no selection)

2. Signature Cigars – 4 stars (great selection and good house blend cigar – stupid rule)

3. Ozios (didn’t really spend time there; however nice place and I understand the food is excellent.  Another disappointing     humidor, so you want to bring your own. (unknown)

J&R Cigars – Strictly takeout. 3.5 (great selection, no lounge, great prices)

Planet Tobacco – Echo Park (Los Angeles), CA When driving from Glendale to Pasadena, Tony and I decided to take Colorado Blvd. the whole way.  Halfway to Pasadena, we made a discovery. Planet Tobacco opened in the summer of 2007, although the owner Anto Talatinian (No, not “the” Anto) admits that in building their first cigar shop they spent years designing and building it to make it right.  And it shows. Featuring the most thoughtful interior we’ve ever seen in a cigar shop, Planet Tobacco makes you feel like you’re outside on the veranda in Old Cuba. The tile floor, vaulted ceiling and faux roof over the humidor make you feel like you are sitting outside. With a very broad selection of cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah flavors and cigarettes, there’s literally something for everyone, all at very competitive prices.Boasting three distinct seating areas, including a semi-private lounge overlooking the floor, it is perfect for meeting clients or spending a hot, lazy summer day. Inside stays cool with the high roof and fans, and the large windows circulate air well.  If I ever own a cigar shop, I want it to look like Planet Tobacco. Planet Tobacco is located at 2301 East Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041 Alex Lukoff, The Cigar Guys!

The Cuban Seed – West Hollywood, CA

CS lounge Sunset Boulevard is known for hot clubs, raging parties and celebrities in expensive cars.  Cigar smokers know it as holding a true hidden cigar shop gem. The Cuban Seed is a special place, lacking many of the things that make a cigar shop successful- namely space.  But what it lacks in seating (7 chairs), it makes up in cigar originality. You can find a few of your favorite brands, but Laith’s specialty is in his “house” cigars. Featuring picture perfect knockoffs of everything from the Davidoff Double R to Partagas D #4 at half the price, The Cuban Seed is the place to go if taste, price and quality matter more to you than growing your cigar band collection. The clientele are friendly, and several actors, writers and producers frequent the shop.  It’s a great place to visit if you’re in the area, and a fantastic place to stock up on very good cigars at aggressive prices, but not as great a hang-out destination.  There are more comfortable shops, but you’ll never find the same type of selection anywhere. Cuban Seed Cigars is located at 8851 ½ West Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069 Alex Lukoff, The Cigar Guys!Ceniza Cigar Lounge – Pasadena, CA Ceniza Lounge

Tucked into the hills of Pasadena is the Paseo Colorado Mall, and hidden in the far end is the cigar lounge Ceniza.  Owned by Mario Jaramillo, Ceniza is designed to cater to the business crowd, with a spacious floor that’s set up in such a way that one can have a private conversation in public.  Not enough privacy?  The private back lounge has a 60” tv and several leather chairs and couches.  Running along the back wall are the lockers, with an old-style sliding ladder to reach the higher ones.

Ceniza is known for its events- huge parties featuring a cash bar, live latin jazz, big crowds and beautiful women.  At around $20 for admission which includes two drinks, it’s a loud, fun time.

The humidor is well stocked with primarily higher end cigars, but they do have cigars in the $7 range, as well as a house label called “Cartel”.  Selection is good, and prices are admittedly a few dollars high, but not unreasonable.  All in all, it’s a shop we enjoy visiting, especially on a Friday or Saturday night.  Visit them online and keep up with their events at www.cenizalounge.com.

Ceniza is located at 260 East Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91101

Alex Lukoff, The Cigar Guys

The Orange County Cigar Shop Crawl! A few weeks ago, Tony & I found ourselves with a rare Monday off.  Together we met for breakfast in Long Beach, and formulated a plan.“Well,” Tony  said to me, “since we don’t have anything to do, why don’t we do a grand cigar shop crawl? Maybe go to three or four shops in LA or OC?”“Sounds like fun,” I said. “But let’s stick to Orange County, since traffic will be lighter.” Little did we know what we were about to start.We began in Costa Mesa at the liquor store Hi Time. Most Orange County wine aficionados are familiar with this 50 year-old store’s 24,000 square feet of retail space, featuring over 10,000 different wines. And much to our delight, we discovered their competitive pricing on over 400 different brands and sizes of cigars in their humidor!  All in all, it’s a destination worth visiting. Next we moved inland a little bit to Siglo Cigar Lounge in Newport Beach. Saeed (sigh-eed), the owner, has a sign posted next to the humidor that says “Hours: the party starts when you arrive, and ends when you leave!” Aside from an excellent cigar selection, beautiful accessories and a cozy lounge, the shop is located conveniently next to a Togo’s and a Shari’s. Hey- as much as we love to smoke, we’ve gotta eat! Overall, I was a little disappointed by how dusty everything was, but we still had a great time.Heading south on PCH lead us into the jewel that is Laguna Beach. On our way through, we decided to stop somewhere new- Cubana Cigars. Cubana has a fantastic location on the second floor of a strip mall with a patio and view of the ocean, but the lounge in non-existent and the selection is disappointing.  Unless this is a quick stop on a warm day, this is not a destination place.Finally, after three shops and four cigars, we needed a break. We needed lunch. After a stroll around Laguna, we stopped at Polina Salerno Italian Restaurant. We found the service prompt and the food was tasty at reasonable prices, which was not expected! It’s also across the street from our next destination, Mr. Bones.Mr. Bones is the kind of shop that you wouldn’t know of if you didn’t stumble across it. The store is located a few steps below the level of the sidewalk, giving the whole shop a very intimate feel. The humidor is small- the two of us struggled to change places and browse- but full of cigars. Large couches and strategically placed TVs would make it a fun place to hang out with a friend or two, but that would be a capacity crowd. We didn’t stick around.Finally, we headed up the 133 to Cigar Oasis. And believe me, it felt like an oasis! Located around the corner in a poorly designed strip mall, we had to call one of our friends who’s a regular to find the place! Once we were there, we were rewarded with an excellent house blend cigar and a spacious lounge featuring a projector playing ESPN on what must have been a 10’ square portion of the wall!  With well designed lockers and a combination snack/soda machine, this is a shop that we’ll visit again. Our last stop was that old standby, Maxamar’s in Orange.  The owner, Amare, is the number one Davidoff and Graycliff retailers in California. With one of the largest humidors of any shop in California, Maxamar’s is a great place to stock up and sample new sticks. With two barber’s chairs in the main lounge and a poker table with a projection-screen TV and Xbox in the back, it’s a great place to meet new friends.By this point, it was 8:00pm and we were tired and smoked out. We had each smoked 8 cigars, and were nearly falling asleep on the drive home. We had started dragging when we pulled up to Maxamar’s, but found that a donut and a bottle of water from the donut stand on the corner was just enough sugar to get us over the hump. We’ll be sure to report on the inevitable LA Cigar Shop crawl when it happens. Until then, may your cigars be oily and your draws easy!

Alex Lukoff, The Cigar Guys!

Taylor logoLocated in Long Beach, this is one of our regular hang outs.  Comfortable seating, great TV’s and sound system and an excellent selection of cigars makes this a great place to smoke. Albert Espinoza, the owner, is a great guy and treats his customers like family.  The crowd is friendly and a bunch of great people. They offer a private lounge, which is great for a mid-day meeting or just watching the game.  There is no membership fee, but you have to make a purchase to sit back there. They also have great seating in the front retail area. Taylor’s holds quarterly poker tournaments, which are a big draw and sell out quickly.  They also have Movie Night every Tuesday at 7:30pm and show great movies as they release on DVD. I have attended several cigar events at Taylor’s and no one throws a party like Albert.  With raffles, food, and cigars, how wrong can you go? Taylor’s has a great selection of cigars even featuring the AVO Lounge (one of our favorites) which is hard to find. Located near resturants and next door to It’s A Grind Coffee Shop and Cold Stone Creamery, Taylor’s is a great place to hang out, enjoy a smoke.. On a nice day, sitting at one of the outside tables is just the place to enjoy Long Beach’s moderate temperature, beautiful sunshine and a great cigar. They will also have a great private label cigar, the Flor de Adele (named after Albert’s grandmother). Albert  opened for business in February  2004.Taylor’s Tabacco House is located at Pavillion’s Centerat Woodruff Avenue and Spring Street (5937 East Spring Street, Long Beach, CA 90808) and can be reached at (562) 377-0700. If you are ever in the East Long Beach area, this is a destination you can’t miss.  And if I am there, please say hello.  Don’t forget to tell them The Cigar Guys sent you! Tony Wilson, The Cigar Guys! Buena Vista Cigar ClubrigorigoIn a mysteriously dark storefront, cigar czar Rigo Hernandez offers a smoking sanctuary for aficionados and in-the-know locals. The space resembles a local bar hang out, complete with comfortable club chairs,  flat-screen TVs and thief-worthy ashtrays collected by the owner himself. The lounge boasts a self-standing cigar shop with a variety of tobacco products and collectibles favored by moneyed actor types. Evenings offer a livelier bar atmosphere of Cuban music and socializing around the day’s hottest sporting event. The cigar selection is good, especially the Island cigars – maybe not the biggest humidor when compared to some of the other shops we visit. The Buena Vista Cigar Club feature a full bar. It has a good selection, especially if you like Cuban rum (and I do!).  The atmosphere, with the lodge like appearance, the Diamond strike-anywhere matches, and the heavy wooden furniture is pure cigar heaven. The owner, Rigo Fernandez, will talk to you about Cuban history, current politics, baseball, cigars, growing up in Cuba, life in LA … to an outsider with no knowledge of many of these subjects, he’s a brilliant conversationalist and a friendly guy. A popular location for private parties and events, the entire club can be booked for special occasions the Buena Vista Cigar Club is located at 9715 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.  They can be reached at (310) 273-8100. Thier hours are as follows: Open Weekdays 4pm-2am; Sat 6pm-2am

Check out their website at buenavistacigarclub.com

Tony Wilson, The Cigar Guys! Club Aficionado Cigars and Wine We finally had a chance to check out Club Aficionado Cigars & Wine!  Located in Lake Forest, CA, this cigar lounge offers a great selection and a full bar. I recently attended a Ghurka Cigar event there.  The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and the place is comfortable. The selection is pretty broad. The ambiance is warm and cozy. It has a European architectural design where not only colors but shapes have been carefully coordinated for maximum eye and mind relaxation. The finishes are all quite classic with a contemporary touch, includes 12 floor to ceiling cigar columns – faux painted by a French artist and decorated with Renaissance style art motif. The lounge features comfortable luxurious couches for optimal relaxation and a state of the art ventilation system equivalent to 20 Tons of air conditioning for your comfort.

Here you find the finest hand-made cigars, humidors, and accessories for the true cigar aficionado and the top selection of wines for the wine connoisseurs.

Aficionado Cigars is located at 23825 El Toro Rd., Lake Forest, CA and can be reached at 949-829-8474. Their hours are Sunday to Thursday – 11am to 11pm and Friday & Saturday 11am to Midnight. Tony Wilson, The Cigar Guys! Big Daddy’s Cigars of Naples Makes a Big Splash in Long Beach! bd logo smallTom Fallon & Dan Hitzke didn’t want to lose their hang out spot, so when Primo decided to sell his cigar shop on Naples Island, it was a “no brainer” for them to buy it.  I spoke with them at the shop.  Tom pointed out that it was important to them to maintain the legacy.  He pictured it as a great opportunity and a cigar smoker’s fantasy to own his own shop. Dan said he felt that Primo’s place offers a “different vibe”.  A place where you can kick back, slow down and really enjoy a cigar. He likes being a part of that.  Of helping people feel comfortable.  They both feel that they have taken Primo’s original vision for the shop and made it a reality.  After buying the shop, they totally gutted it and made it into a place to be proud of. Tom has actually been smoking at the shop for over 12 years, since the original owner owned it.   Tom likes that fact that most of their customers say that Big Daddy’s Cigars is a “fun joint”.  Customers also like the local feel of the place.  Big Daddy’s Cigars caters to both professionals and the everyday Joe. There is a beautiful poker table in the center of the room, which can be reserved for games and a great dominoes table which stays busy.While they have high end cigars, Dan points out that the average cigar runs between $8 and $10. They don’t push the higher end cigars.  Dan believes that most guys know what they like to smoke and they don’t want their customers to feel like they are being pushed to buy something they don’t want.  When asked what else they are planning to add to their inventory, Tom stated, “We are going to let our customer’s dictate what we carry.”

They have recently applied for their club liquor license and plan on serving both beer and wine.

While the cigar shop is their business, it is also their favorite hobby. Big Daddy’s Cigars is located at 5844 East Naples Plaza, in Long Beach, CA and can be reached at (562) 433-2700 .  Hours are Sun 10 am to 7 pm,  Mon through Thurs from 11 am to 9 pm and Fri & Sat 11 am to 11 pm.   They are close to the Naples Rib Joint, Pasta al Dente & Kelly’s.  Big Daddy’s Cigars offers free wi-fi internet, free local faxing and free wireless printing.

Happy puffing!

Tony Wilson, The Cigar Guys!

6 thoughts on “Our Cigar Shop Reviews!

  1. You honestly cannot beat a Superb cigar. Accompanying each of the tobacco procedures having approved it looks like the cigar era is falling away from from the younger generations.

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