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So after that over-stuffing Happy Hour (at McCormick & Schmick's), what Carla calls the perverse side in me is out, rampant. Need something sweet. Touch of dessert.

She's out till ten, so still time. I’m walking down Market. Stop at Third to cross. Then notice the absinthe-green sign of a word that has always seduced me big-time: “Tabac.” Makes you think smoky Paris, Tangiers, maybe.


This place has coffee. This place has gelato. This place has little round zinc-like tables outside, with clumps of students passing round a hookah snake, talking class transfers and physics.


This place draws me in.

Beth, the gal serving up coffee mostly, says they have $5 quiches, or dessert items like baklava for $2.75. And an Americano coffee for $2.25. Hookahs? $18.95. Forget it.



But I do go for a baklava and cawfee. Then I’m thinking, why not a tiny cigar? I never smoke these things. Never took to smoking, except puffing at parties to be cool. But I always noticed: my most intense, kinda brilliant friends did. Like, seem to want to live a short but interesting life. Death Wish 25, you might say.

Whatever, tonight I cave. Beth leads me to the humidor, shows me a bunch of cheroots. “These,” she says, pointing to a box of Gran Havana Pencil cigars, “are made here, by our company.”

Oh yeah. Gran Havana Cigar Company. Cuban seed, guys rolling up there in the Gaslamp, on Fifth. Not sure where they moved. Man, I've heard of locovore, but locosmoke?

I get one ($5) and head outside. Soon enough Beth’s there with my coffee and cigar-shaped baklava (nutty, delicious). I light up, sip up, take a chew, lean back, go “aah.”


And then ruin it by thinking of Sigmund Freud. Cigars killed him. Mind you, he never didn’t have one in his mouth, they say.

Still, halfway through, I’m about done. I make sure I have enough coffee left to drown the smoke taste. I know, I'm playing at it.

But this was good. Gave me the sweet-fix, people watching moment I needed. Kinda shades of Van Gogh. Night Café.

Guess we’ve got to face it: Café life has arrived in San Diego.

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