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La Casa del Tabaco
1115 Revolución Avenue, Tijuana
(011-52-66) 85-52-48

A zillion signs hang out on Revolución advertising "real" Cuban cigars. Most, according to "Casa" owner David Tourgeman, are made in Mexico. He proudly shows a gold-surrounded certificate naming him as an "Establecimiento Especialista" by the Habanos cigar organization in Cuba (slogan: "Unique since 1492"). "I am in Cuba often. I sell only Cuban," he says. "It's not that other cigars are bad. But these have their own character." He has a humidor lined in Spanish cedar. ("Pine will contaminate the cigars. American cedar will contaminate them worse.") He lights customers' cigars with a Spanish cedar taper so they don't draw in the petroleum flavors of a lighter. The cigar everybody asks for -- the Cohiba -- can cost from $17 to $40. But you can get small Cubans starting at just $3. He makes only "Cubita" coffee -- espresso coffee from Cuba. "You Americans can't take it back with you -- the coffee or the cigars -- so a lot come to sit outside with their coffee and enjoy them here."

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