Tustin Magazine
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 BEST CIGAR STORE

Maxamar Ultimate Cigars
3744 E. Chapman Ave., #E
Orange, CA  92869
(714) 633-3000


Maxamar Ultimate Cigars is so unassuming from the outside.  Tucked away in the corner of a strip mall, you'll miss it if you aren't looking for it.  Even when you enter, you are greeted with a hodgepodge of recliners and chairs facing a big screen television.

But the humble trappings are all forgotten when you enter the humidor.  You enter into a humidor room that would be large for most any other store, and then realize that there is another room beyond the first.  That room is perhaps four times larger than the first.  For a cigar lover, it's almost a religious experience. 

The selection is enormous, and the prices are very low compared to most other stores. By way of comparison, I had jotted down some cigar prices during a recent visit to the humidor at Total Wine and More.  I would expect those prices to be lower than a dedicated cigar store since Total Wine is intended to be a discounter.  However, the prices were all about the same; quite an accomplishment for a brick and mortar cigar store.

Maxamar's has also made itself a central location for cigar activities in Orange County. Get on the mailing list, and you will be notified of frequent cigar tastings and other activities.

My only criticisms are that many of the cigars were not priced (I don't want to have to ask, "how much is this cigar, how about this one, and this one?"), and the proprietor needs to spend a little time organizing the place. I'm OK with a little clutter and the feeling that I am searching for a cigar, but I physically could not get to some of the cigars that were blocked by another case. 

But these are minor points. If you are looking for a huge selection of cigars at great prices, you would do well to make the drive to Orange. For that huge selection, reasonable prices, and the feeling of a "cigar smoker's heaven" that it engenders, Tustin Magazine names Maxamar Ultimate Cigars the Best Cigar Store in Orange County.

-- Aaron Morris

Maxamar Ultimate Cigars
3744 E. Chapman Ave., #E
Orange, CA  92869
(714) 633-3000
www.maxamarcigars.com

_________________________________________________________

Very Honorable Mention -- Tony's Fine Cigars

Tony’s Fine Cigars opened in late 2007 at the corner of Red Hill and El Camino Real, in the same center as Starbucks, Robeks and Subway.  I visited shortly after the opening, and while I was impressed with the fine job they had done in picking a killer selection of cigars, the store was still in its infancy.  Like a good cigar, I wanted to see if it would improve with time.  I've visited this great store since then, but on October 23, 2009 I visited with the specific intent to check out the inventory and to see if it had earned a "best cigar store" designation.

When you walk into the humidor at some places, you find the cigars neatly organized and a very set assortment.  Indeed that is what I found the first time I visited Tony's.  But I like a place where I can do a little exploring; where a few of the cigar boxes have been stacked on one another from the owner bringing in new varieties to see how the customers like them.  Sort of an organized disarray.

Tony's has now achieved that feel.  Even though the walk-in humidor is small, they've packed in a large number of varieties; enough that you get to do some exploring.  I can tell when I'm dealing with cigar amateurs based on the selection offered, but it is apparent from the selections at Tony's that they know how to pick a cigar.  Most of my favorites were there, including some very good Gurkhas.  Yes, the perfunctory Acid cigars are there, a cigar that I find obnoxious and cloying, but I recognize that they are very popular with those that like a flavored cigar.

The most pleasant surprise is the prices Tony's charges.  I almost hesitate to point this out because I don't want them to realize what they are doing, but I have to assume they have visited other stores. I had not focused on the range of prices on prior visits, but recently I met a friend there to help him pick out a cigar to pay off on a bet on the Dodgers.  He wanted to make good on the bet and provide a good cigar, but quite reasonably he didn't want to spend more than $10 on anyone who could be a fan of the Phillies.  At most of the cigar stores I have visited, finding a good $10 cigar is often impossible, with the proprietor taking on airs that you would even be trying to make such a purchase.  At Tony's, there are many cigars in that price range, but not because they are selling low end cigars, but rather because they are charging fair prices for quality cigars.

On all my visits I have been impressed by how seriously they take their customers’ passion for cigars. Any business can add a humidor and call itself a cigar store, but one of the owners, Miranda Baskharoon, approached cigars like a science, taking nine months of courses in Cigarology (a word I just made up).  If you are new to cigars, or a cigar veteran who just wants to try something new, Miranda can advise you.  On my latest visit, Tony himself helped me and his expertise was evident.

I also like the eclectic feel of the store.  Long before I ever smoked a cigar I used to go to cigar stores for the great tchotchkies they offered.  Tony’s is like that, offering not only quality cigars and all the accouterments, but merchandise as varied as collectable knives and pipes.

                                                                                                                            -- Aaron Morris

Tony's Fine Cigars
1450 El Camino Real, #D
Tustin, CA  92780
(714) 665-2218

Open 7 days a week
Mon. - Thurs.   8:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Fri. - Sat.   8:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Sun.   10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

 

 

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