Enjoying an Ashton or a Padrón inside The Cigar Room at Javier's in Dallas, you're transported to a retro environment of welcoming hyper-masculinity.
The room is dimly lit, with hardwood floors and Persian rugs, a long cedar bar, leather chairs and couches, an 80-inch TV for watching sports and a pressed-tin ceiling. A lively bossa nova tune issues from the sound system.
The walls are covered with photographs of famous cigar smokers, from JFK and Sigmund Freud to Orson Welles, as well as the mounted heads of various game animals—gazelle, moose, African antelope—most of them gunned down by Javier's owner Javier Gutierrez. In other words, you ain't in Madison or San Francisco anymore.
Grandfathered into Dallas' tough antismoking ordinance, which banned smoking in bars in 2009, The Cigar Room is a popular after-dinner spot adjacent to Javier's Gourmet Mexicano restaurant, also owned by Gutierrez. The eatery has been a mainstay on Dallas' dining scene for 36 years, and recently was named one of the top Mexican restaurants in the United States by Travel + Leisure magazine.
Gutierrez, 62, opened the cigar bar about 14 years ago to complement the restaurant, which seats 285 and specializes in continental Mexico City fare like Filete Cantinflas (tenderloin beef) and Barra de Navidad (sautéed jumbo shrimp).
"I had some extra space, so I came up with another way to generate sales," says Gutierrez, a Mexico City native who moved to Texas with his parents when he was 12.
Cigar sales in the bar were strongest in the early 2000s, but remain steady. Today the place moves more than 900 cigars a month, accounting for $20,000 to $25,000 in revenue.
With seating for at least 60—another 80 can smoke on an open-air patio—the cigar bar attracts a mover-and-shaker-type crowd that can be heavy on sports stars, politicians and top business executives. "It's not for everybody," Gutierrez says. "It's upscale people who enjoy cigars and fine cuisine."
Gutierrez says those who've stopped in include former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, House Speaker John Boehner, football's Troy Aikman, hockey's Mike Modano and Dallas sports agent John Tatum, a regular who leases one of Javier's 20 cigar lockers.
A tall cabinet humidor is stocked with as many as 50 different brands, ranging from Arturo Fuente and Davidoff to Montecristo and Liga Privada. Cigar Room manager Eddie Villa says he also keeps on hand some "sweet cigars for the ladies," including Cojimars and Criss Cross Heavy Weights Vanillas. Prices for individual cigars range from $10 to $60, and there's a $7.50 cutting fee if you bring your own.
The bar's most popular libations, Villa adds, are "whatever the customer likes," from Port wines and single-malt Scotch whiskies to Grand Marnier brandy and Louis XIII Cognac.
Javier's Cigar Room, in a nutshell, exudes outsized Texas fun, class and hospitality. Should you be lulled into over-indulging while enjoying your favorite smoke, the place even has a limo driver on staff who will get you home safely.
Glenn Hunter edits a magazine focused on CEOs in Dallas and writes frequently about business, culture and travel.
The Cigar Room at Javier's
4912 Cole Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75205
Sunday to Wednesday: 5 p.m. to midnight
Thursday to Saturday: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.