Close, and the Cigar: A Tour of Newark’s Smoke Lounges

By Justin Williams and Lawrence Krayn

Sometimes you need a rest from the regular bar and club scene. Rather than turning up, you want to relax in nice chair, sip on a fine cocktail, and slowly smoke a fine cigar. The good news is that Newark has a pretty deep roster of places for you to do just this. Here’s an overview of our favorites:

Railroad Cigars
188 Pulaski St, Newark, NJ 07105

Lawrence: Deep in the Ironbound, Railroad Cigars has been one of my go-to cigar joints for years. The huge walk-in humidor is riddled with options. There is also an array televisions mounted on the wall beneath a cavernous ceiling, regularly playing various games. The pool table is always busy, and the chairs positioned throughout the first floor remind me of a favorite basement recliner.

Justin inspects Rail Road’s considerably large humidor room.

On some nights, there is a DJ spinning mellow house music. When its crowded, and if you can earn VIP status, the space upstairs provides for a more secluded experience, overlooking all the bustle below. This is a BYO spot, but the large bar is a great place to crack one, spark up, and meet new friends.

Justin: This place has an amazing selection of cigars from its huge humidor room and African American police officers with pensions. Ladies, if you’re looking for a stable man, who enjoys the finer things of life, this is the place to go! Really comfortable leather chairs for watching sports too!

Torch Lounge
998 Bergen St, Newark, NJ 07112

Lawrence: Torch Lounge was an excellent experience for a guy who loves good drinks, great company, and exceptional cigars. We were warmly welcomed by a few regulars, seated at the bar, and quickly offered recommendations. Tee, the owner, rolled out the red carpet for us. He took requests for the playlist (I asked for the Stylistics, fitting the mellow mood), gave us some nice t-shirts, and helped me select one of his original hand-rolled cigars.

Tee, owner of Torch Lounge.

That is what I believe is the highlight of Torch, aside from the great company. Tee really knows what he’s doing, creating cigars full of flavor, but subtle enough to possess a trademark smoothness. Incorporating ingredients like vanilla and almond, I was quite honestly blown away by how nice his creations were. If and when you do stop in, pick up a few for later. Sunday football is also a big deal at Torch, and Tee has a traveling cigar lounge (on wheels) for private events. If the vibe, atmosphere, and palette-tantalizing cigars travel with it, I’ll be booking very soon.

Justin: This was the most insanely friendly experience I’ve ever had at a bar in Newark. Tee literally made an announcement over his loudspeaker welcoming us to the Torch family. Lots of great people with great stories in here too. The drinks are super affordable and the the custom vanilla cognac cigar took it to another level. In contrast to Railroad, Tee is a Newark firefighter.

Jimenez Tabaco
31 Liberty St, Newark, NJ 07102

Larry: A downtown staple, Jimenez continues to serve up a great ambiance, exceptional original cigars, and exquisite cocktails. Most times of the year, sitting outside is a great idea. The courtyard, with a vegetation-lined perimeter, serves as an elegant oasis, seemingly separate from the arena district.

Lawrence (far right) shares a view of the courtyard of Jimenez Tabaco with friends.

Inside, the décor is as timeless as it is quintessential to a smoke lounge. Comfortable chairs, quiet conversations, and dim lighting give Jimenez the feel of an early 20th century living room. The bar, while small, is a serious focal point. Well-versed bartenders serve up classic and innovative cocktails that go quite well with the unique selection. Cigar-making is a family tradition at Jimenez, and anyone who spends a few hours here will start to feel and be greeted like family. 

Justin: If someone who lives in NYC asks me, “what can I do in Newark that I can’t do here?” I take them here. This is a true speakeasy. You feel like you are breaking and entering into a nondescript home to enter. Once you’re inside, you see the beautiful historic furniture, the intricate woodwork and classic artwork. When you add cigars made by a genuine Cuban master blender, great service and some of the best cocktails in the city, you’ve got a truly one-of-a-kind experience. This is a great place for a date who isn’t too smoke sensitive.

Casa del Tabaco
608 Broadway, Newark, NJ 07104

Lawrence: Casa Del Tabaco is a serene masterpiece even before you walk in. It has visible staircases through 3 stories of windows, which we later found out, led to two private lounges, accessible 24/7 to paying members (for $250 a month). A beautiful brand new walk-in humidor with an excellent selection, an authentic jazz soundtrack, and Espresso. Friendly faces chatted in Spanish while the Monday night football game aired without sound.

A.J., on staff that night, is a veteran of cigar lounges across the state, and really knows what he’s doing. Casa is one of only 3 official Arturo Fuente stores in the nation, and it does not disappoint. Perhaps it’s fitting to have such a smoke-lounge mecca in this city, since according to A.J., Newark has quite the cigar scene, and it continues to blossom.

AJ (pictured here) has years of experience at other cigar lounges and even he’s impressed with Casa del Tabaco’s amenities.

Justin: This place is baller. It’s only 3 months old, has memberships with 24 hour access, a state-of-the-art ventilation system, a small roof deck and two different private rooms. This place is the perfect next-door neighbor to Marbella Lounge because it’s another unexpected luxury space on North Broadway.

*Some other cigar bars in the city include The Cave Cigar Lounge, Status Cigar and Hookah Lounge and The Green Room Cigar Lounge.

Justin Williams is a Newark resident, comedian and producer of the Brick City Comedy Revue. He also teaches African history at the City College of New York.

Lawrence Krayn Jr. is a Newark resident and lifelong New Jerseyian. He graduated from Rutgers University-Newark with a B.A. degree in Political Science and received his J.D. at Rutgers Law School-Newark. A practicing attorney by day, Larry spends much of his spare time engaging in creative projects. He sees Newark as a vibrant hub for the arts, and is an avid fan of various local creators. He has been a musician for many years under the moniker “IL Lusciato”, and hosts a weekly live podcast on current events, entitled “The Logic and Larry Podcast”. Whether fiction or non-fiction, his writing is heavily influenced by his immediate surroundings and his own life experiences.

Featured photo by Justin Williams