Santa Barbara, California, is a wonderful destination. It has the longest south-facing coastline in the western United States, is close to wineries, and not far from a casino (Chumash Casino Resort). On the water, a quick trip to the Channel Islands National Park is a major attraction, as is the mission on the Camino Real. Santa Barbara also features a major university that is much more than a party school.
The main industry in Santa Barbara is tourism, with about five million visitors a year contributing more than $1 billion to the local economy. And part of that now is the La Aroma de Havana Cigar Lounge on State Street, the main drag full of Mediterranean-style architecture.
La Aroma de Havana, which opened in 2012, boasts two lounge areas with about 40 seats, most of them leather chairs in the larger back room. There are four large TVs and the doors can remain open on most days, acting as natural ventilation. The humidor is a bit dark if the sun's glare is coming in from the front.
Pick your cigar from the big brands and some smaller ones. The store carries Arturo Fuente, Avo, E.P. Carrillo's Inch, Montecristo, Padrón, Ashton, H. Upmann, My Father, Romeo y Julieta, La Aurora, Kristoff, Davidoff Zino, Camacho, Room 101, Macanudo, Oliva, Nub, La Aroma De Cuba, Gurkha, La Palina and more. The biggest sellers? Padrón, Kristoff, My Father, Arturo Fuente and La Flor Dominicana, said Moises Medina, co-owner with Sam Atalah.
La Aroma de Havana has 30 lockers, Medina said. Each rents for $300 a year, but, "As long as you buy four of five cigars a month, I don't charge," Medina clarified. While there is no formal cutting fee or requirement that you smoke a cigar purchased from the store, Medina explained, "If you buy a cigar, I'll let you smoke your own. I'd rather you buy the least expensive cigar in the store than charge you to smoke here."
Medina also explained that the lounge just got a beer and wine license. This will go nicely with the domino games that regulars enjoy, mostly "on Thursday nights when we get 20 or 25 guys coming in," Medina said.
La Aroma de Havana Cigar Lounge
411 State Street
Santa Barbara, California
Open Monday through Wed: 11a.m. to 9 p.m.
Thursday through Saturday: 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.