There is no shortage of flavor when it comes to New Orleans. With all-you-can-eat cuisine, all-you-can-hear jazz and all-you-can-enjoy cigars, the French Quarter was well equipped to handle this cigar lover for the weekend. Though burdened with a city-wide smoking ban in 2015 preventing patrons from smoking inside of restaurants and bars, the cigar community still thrives and offers several brick and mortars that offer a little something for everyone depending on what your tastes are for that moment.
Walking around downtown New Orleans, there will be a couple of cigar bars that you can’t miss. But when you venture off the beaten path into the French Quarter itself, there are plenty of hidden gems that one might easily overlook. One excellent benefit is that they’re all within a 10 minute walk of each other! So because we never want you to miss an awesome cigar experience, we’ll hip you to a few here!
Crescent City Cigar Shop, 730 Orleans Ave
Old School, small, personal with an outstanding walk-in humidor, Crescent City is located near the bustling shopping district off of Decatur Ave. Patrons can enjoy intimate and real conversation with owner Armando Ortiz while enjoying either a familiar or boutique cigar brand. Simple, elegant and extremely comfortable, Crescent City is a perfect destination after you’ve been walking around in the crowds and listening to jazz in the streets all day.
Cigar Factory New Orleans, 415 Decatur St.
A part of a franchise owned by David and Shawna Sharruf, the Cigar Factory New Orleans is a must-visit cigar shop for enthusiasts that enjoy watching torcedors (cigar rollers) in action. This location offers an authentic, traditional Cubanesque atmosphere with small wooden tables, plenty of reading material, a cabinet full of card games and dominos, and a bustling street view to watch the passers-by. The walk-in humidor features only the cigars that are produced in house, so don’t count on picking up a Macanudo in this spot. In addition to watching cigars being made, you have the opportunity to smoke a cigar with the very person that rolled yours. If cigar history is your thing, be sure to check out the “Cigar Museum” located in the back of the lounge, complete with 100-yr-old artifacts and articles about local and world cigar days of lore.
Smoke on the Water, 510 Conti St
Just enough space, leather chairs, plenty of cigars, and a closed-in private patio, Smoke on the Water is a low-key alternative to the other French Quarter cigar shops. The walls are lined with cabinet humidors that offer all of the favorites that novice or seasoned enthusiasts will recognize. While sitting in Smoke on the Water, patrons have TVs set to sports, a banging sound system playing jazz, funk, rock and old school R&B, and lighting that reminds them that they are in a club-centric part of town.
Mayan Import Company, 320 Exchange Pl
With 3 locations in New Orleans, the Mayan Import Company is definitely the total package when it comes to brick and mortar premium tobacco shops. I had the pleasure of visiting the Garden District location and the French Quarter location and both are on my personal to-do list to revisit. For the sake of this article; however, we’ll stick to the the locale on Exchange Place. The humidor is second to none and all of the accoutrements one needs are beautifully displayed and reasonably priced. There is an indoor lounge area that is closed off from the rest of the shop, but if you want to take in the architecture and scenery of the French Quarter, the outside seating area at Mayan in the place for you (it was for me). Nestled in a spacious alley underneath residential balconies, your cigar is shielded from too much wind (jackin’ up your burn) and you are protected from too much sun. One world to describe this shop is “heaven”, and I thought that nothing could have made my experience there any better…until I walked around the corner and had THE absolute best cuban sandwich known to man at Curio NOLA.