Cigar Smokin’ San Diego Style

The title sounds like some wacky early 60’s movie staring Rock Hudson and Ernest Borgnine. Well, it was my first visit to this sunny seaside city, and the final part of my west coast tour. My pal Denny who I hung with for nearly two weeks had told me countless times of the beauty his home town, but like so many things, ya gotta experience it first hand in order to have a clue. (public domain image)San Diego is certainly one of the prettiest places on God’s green earth and the weather is all it’s cracked up to be. They claim it’s sunny, blue sky and around 70 degrees 360 days a year and I experienced that grandeur immediately as I entered my hotel room… um I mean captain’s quarters. You see, Denny’s gal happens to own a nice 40-foot little yacht parked in gorgeous Harbor Island, and that’s where I got to sleep for six whole days – on the water. It was an incredible experience, especially at night when we sat on the upper deck with a pour of scotch and a fragrant cigar. It’s pretty hard to even explain how special that was, certainly something I don’t get to partake in here in northern New Jersey.

Dramatic USS Midway Flight DeckWhile I was there for working purposes, I can honestly say I smoked enough cigars to give all of San Diego county, black lung. The spectacular weather is conducive to lighting up and I brought a monster zip-lock full of leafy treats to suffice my lust for premium aged tobacco. Each morn I awoke to coffee and a robusto, breakfast on the deck at the marina club house, and then hopped in the car to tour the lay of the land – beginning with the bay at Harbor Island which is home to a real live naval base and the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier museum (much like the Intrepid in New York City) filled with enough shit to blow up several third world countries. Next to the shipyard is a Harbor Village, a quaint little outdoor mall on the water where you stroll and shop and enjoy the scenic beauty. But I don’t enjoy a goddamned thing until I find some hand-rolled happy sticks, so it’s off the information booth to inquire of the nearest cigar emporium. “It’s right around this corner, sir, and,” said the cute blond in all her Californianess. But before she could even finish her words, I had bolted around that corner to find Captain Hunt Tobacconist, a great little shop owned by the honorable Harry Hunt, proprietor for many a decade. It’s not a big place, but the walk-in humidor is packed with enough goodies to fill any man’s humidor for weeks on end. Hey, even the local criminals seem to oogle the fine selection, as the store was being robbed right in front of my very eyes! I swear to God, some aged dirtbag with his douchebag, died blond doo tried pilfering a bunch of singles and tins and Harry’s wife caught the thieving scum, red handed. But he ran through the parking lot like a frightened little girl only to be scooped up by local police. They cuffed and frisked this lowlife animal as we watched, while making fun of his parole violating ass. Heading back to the shop, Harry celebrated by handing out some sticks as I couldn’t believe what we had just actually witnessed!

PetcoLater that night we attended a Padres game at gorgeous Petco Park where I witnessed history as Cincinnati Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman threw a 105 mph pitch, the fasted ever recorded since they started clocking pitchers. I also got to hang with Cy Young winner and local legend, JonesRandy Jones at his world renowned Randy Jones BBQ stand behind the outfield fence. What a wonderful guy he is to talk to and the brisket is second to none! Yeah, way cool, indeed. After the game we perused the famed Gaslamp District, which features an eclectic mix of bars, eateries and fine west cost style booty galore!

In my never-ending quest for cigarage, I found Habana Club Café in downtown San Diego, a beautiful little cocktail bar with a walk-in humidor. The place is owned by a gentleman named Cave who took on the American dream some 14 years ago and has battled the taxman and the smoke Nazis ever since. What a wonderful place to hang and enjoy a good smoke. But then I headed to Temecula (about an hour from the boat) where I met up with my good friend Zack Abou, proprietor of the famed Zarka’s Cigar Lounge – over 3,000 sq. feet of tobacco laden happiness. There’s a fully stocked classy bar, lounge seating, pool table, poker tables, and even a movie screen with plush leather theater seating! But wait, there’s more! The guy also features a huge walk-in humidor with just about every single brand on the planet, including his very own blends of Zarka smokes, including the full-bodied Brooni (meaning, the son) which I nubbed beyond the nub. The men who own these stores have put their hearts and souls into bringing us cigar smokers what we crave and it is our duty to support every one of them in these forever trying times!

So that’s a little snippet of my six-day jaunt in lovely San Diego, where I didn’t even mention my visit to Torrey Pines Golf Course Where Tiger won the U.S Open in 2008. Hey, this could easily be a 10,000 word piece, so I tried to stick to the cigar parts to make it all relevant for my blog-la-dyte buddies. While I enjoyed the hell out of my time on the left coast, I’ll quote miss Dorothy Gale who uttered the famous line, “There’s no place like home.”

Til next week,

Tommy Z,

JR Cigars Blog With the Zman

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