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A history to savor

Toast Tampa's reason for being during the 10th annual Cigar Heritage Festival today in Ybor City. Cigar smoke will fill the air above Centennial Park as cigar vendors, smokers and history buffs gather to celebrate the industry that put Tampa on the map. The festival will include cigar rolling, live music, cooking demonstrations, a charity beer garden, children's activities and a food court serving paella, empanadas and other traditional dishes. Proceeds will benefit the Ybor City Museum Society. In honor of Tampa's smoke-filled history, here are several places where you can buy and savor a good stogie.

Cigar Castle

At 1,000 square feet, its humidor is about the size of a one-bedroom apartment. Walk inside and find virtually every brand imaginable. This 4-year-old shop and lounge has about 1,000 open boxes of cigars for picking and choosing. Create your own box and get a discount. Cigar Castle has five 42-inch TVs and a large projection screen for watching sports and DVDs customers can bring from home. The outdoor patio hosts monthly free cigar tastings. 11724 N 56th St., Temple Terrace, (813) 985-1300

Club Habano Cigars

Former cigar salesman Pedro Rivero Jr. brought a little bit of Ybor to Carrollwood with the recent opening of Club Habano. The cigar store and lounge serves wine, beer and sangria, made with a secret ingredient Rivero only tells his customers. The shop has domino tables, leather couches and big-screen televisions. The smell of Spanish cedar, not cigar smoke, fills the air. 11642 N Dale Mabry Highway, Carrollwood, (813) 269-0400

Edward's Pipe & Tobacco

Don't be surprised to see people waiting outside the door when Edward's opens at 8 a.m. This cigar shop has a loyal following that comes for the cigars, camaraderie and coffee, which is free all day. Founded in 1960, the store carries a variety of smoking products, including high-end lighters and wooden pipes that were once made on site. Smoke a stogie in the lounge or drop by for a 4 p.m. domino game. The store recently added a patio for hosting events and watching football. 3235 Henderson Blvd., Tampa, (813) 872-0723

Gaspar's Cigar Shoppe

A former UPS store inspired D.C. Goutoufas to open a cigar lounge where people could access their lockers for a smoke 24 hours a day. Gaspar's operates as a normal cigar lounge during the day, with a coffee bar and TVs. Late night, Goutoufas locks up the retail area with a metal partition and lets members come and go using an access code. 3765 S West Shore Blvd., Tampa, (813) 831-0100

King Corona Cigars

Owner Don Barco describes his shop as a microcosm of what Ybor used to be. Customers can smoke a cigar, get a shave in the barber shop, order a Cuban sandwich in the cafe or sip port at the bar. Founded in 1938, the store carries a good selection of guayaberas, panama hats and humidors. The patio area makes for great people-watching along Seventh Avenue. 1523 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City, (813) 241-9109

El Sol Cigars

Founded in 1929 by Guy and Mary Saitta, El Sol is considered the oldest cigar store in Tampa. Grandson Robert Saitta runs the business today, selling and shipping El Sol Cigars made in small factories in Tampa, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Also available: antique cigar cutters and boxes and cigar label T-shirts. Old photos of the family making cigars grace the walls. 1728 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City, (813) 248-5905

Metropolitan Cigars

There's no specific place to light up, but customers are welcome to test drive a new purchase. The store sells it all, from lighters to cutters to humidors and other cigar accessories. Antoinette Capitano and her family run the business, which was founded by her husband, Sonny Capitano Jr., about 15 years ago. The family is friends with Bill Cosby, who's been known to stop by every so often for a chat and a smoke. 2014 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City, (813) 248-3304

Stogie Castillo's

This cigar lounge has comfy leather couches, chess tables and even a big TV set up with Guitar Hero. On weekends, passersby can watch a cigar roller at work in the front window. 1600 E Eighth Ave., Centro Ybor, (813) 418-6937

Smoke and be merry

The 10th annual Cigar Heritage Festival in Ybor City runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.

Where: Ybor City's Centennial Park, on Ninth Avenue between 18th and 19th streets.

Admission: Free, with $5 suggested donation.

On the Web: cigarheritagefestival.com.

Smoke and be merry

The 10th annual Cigar Heritage Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at Ybor City's Centennial Park, on Ninth Avenue between 18th and 19th streets. Free, with $5 suggested donation. cigarheritagefestival.com.

A history to savor 11/13/08 [Last modified: Saturday, November 15, 2008 12:43am]
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