Cigar Aficionado

Rio Chama Steakhouse, New Mexico

Cigars in Santa Fe

For more than a decade—and well before the implementation of smoking bans in restaurants and public places—cigar lovers who found themselves in Santa Fe headed to the Diogenes Club on Galisteo Street for the camaraderie, the décor and the fabulous selection of fine cigars to be found behind the counter.

If the selection of smokes couldn't be duplicated anywhere else in Santa Fe—or even elsewhere in New Mexico, for that matter—it made a certain kind of sense; the Diogenes Club shared not only a common wall but its ownership with James Day, the owner of Santa Fe Cigar Co., and a retail operation that offered one of the largest selection of cigars in the western United States.

Unfortunately, if the last couple of years have been unkind to cigar smokers in New Mexico's public places, the Diogenes Club—named for the fictional men's club in the Sherlock Holmes novels and originally decorated in the style of the British club that bore the same name—also saw its share of hard times. Original cigar artwork and antique furniture that had once graced the club—under the watchful eye of James Day—have been replaced by vinyl seating, poster reproductions on the walls, new management and an atmosphere that reeks less of exclusivity and more of a neighborhood beer bar.

Luckily, there's a new kid in town—or at least a new addition to an existing restaurant location—that allows a bit more class to be experienced in a club setting alongside a monthly selection of more than two dozen cigars. The Rio Chama Steakhouse introduced a private cigar lounge in mid-2007 that offers a full range of cigars (provided by James Day at Santa Fe Cigar) in a setting that's pure Santa Fe; rough-hewn wood combined with leather, a comfortable bar area and the requisite big-screen television. Next door? Some of the finest steaks and burgers in all of Santa Fe.

Rio Chama Steakhouse
414 Old Santa Fe Trail
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Phone: 505-955-0765

The Diogenes Club
510 Galisteo Street
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Phone: 505-986-8251

Note: Diogenes Club is moving to 1413 Paseo de Peralta in Santa Fe on April 1.