Smoker’s Paradise

In Coral Gables, A Good Cigar is Not Hard to Find 

On a typical Friday afternoon, the Galiano Cigar Room is filled with smoke – at least until its powerful 10-ton AC filtration system pulls it from the air. Here, patrons can purchase a stogie, order a drink, and enjoy the pleasure of a good smoke. 

Attorney and City Commissioner Jorge Fors

“The thing about cigars is that you have to dedicate time to it – like an hour for a good cigar,” says attorney and City Commissioner Jorge Fors, (shown) who is a regular at Galiano. “Today’s world is so fast paced that there is a nostalgia for the slow pace of days gone by. Smoking a cigar forces you to slow down, to have long conversations… Once two people have lit up a cigar, they know they have committed to being there for a while…” 

Smoker’s Paradise - Galiano Cigar Room
The walk-in, climate-controlled humidor at Galiano Cigar Room is filled with scores of brands like Padrón, Arturo Fuente, Oliva, and Montecristo.

With its substantial Latin population, especially residents of Cuban descent, Coral Gables has long been a haven for cigar smokers – and a good place to buy one. Part of the appeal of Galiano Cigar Room is their walk-in, climate-controlled humidor, filled with scores of brands like Padrón, Arturo Fuente, Oliva, and Montecristo. While you can get a pretty good cigar for $7 to $10, says Fors, Galiano’s owner Ozzie Gomez says shopping for a cigar is like shopping for a bottle of wine. “Everybody’s palette is different, but if you are a regular smoker, like a regular wine drinker, you can tell the difference between a $10 and a $20 cigar.” 

While the Galiano Cigar Room has been open just since 2019, other vendors – such as Gables Cigar Shop on Salzedo Street, have had long runs selling stogies to the local population. Miami Tobacco Traders, for example, has been on Ponce Circle for 21 years. “This is a cigar smoking town, but I also have customers from Brickell – or from Trinidad, Colombia or Venezuela,” says owner Maria Fetner, who located to the Gables from Uruguay. “They will come and buy a box.” 

Smoker’s Paradise - Gables Cigar Shop
Gables Cigar Shop on Salzedo Street can organize cigar rolling for corporate events and weddings.

Fetner says that her most popular brands are Padrón, Romeo & Julieta, and La Flor Dominicana. “You can get a good cigar for $5,” she says. “But for a great cigar, it’s $15 and up.” Like Gables Cigar Shop, her store also supplies cigar rollers for corporate events and weddings, where everybody gets a freshly rolled smoke. Unlike the other two shops, she also sells wine and – for you Christmas shoppers out there – $30 cigar ash trays with brand names like Cohiba (Cuba’s finest) and Habanos & Hermanos. 

So, what makes for a good, or even great, cigar? There are a variety of considerations, says Galiano’s Gomez. It starts with the seed – and many varieties now grown in Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic use seed that was smuggled out of Communist Cuba. Then there is the quality of the soil, the climate where it was grown, and the methods used for drying and processing the leaf. And of course there are the intangibles, like how unique the cigar is. Gomez sells a Padron “50 Years” cigar for $50 each, partly because only 1,000 boxes were made, and partly because of the rare tobacco used. “They don’t sell as quickly as the more reasonably priced cigars, but sometimes it’s good to treat yourself on a special occasion,” he says. 

“I tend to lean toward local cigars,” says Commissioner Fors, who smokes an average of one cigar a week, often joined by his brother Daniel. Fors, as an attorney, even represents one local brand, Nestor Miranda, which is made by the Miami Cigar Company. “Clients love to smoke cigars with me because they get to talk to me for an hour without being charged. It’s a good way to get free legal advice.”