photo: courtesy of Bridget Montgomery; Nora Crippen lights up on Fizz's patio
Nope. You can not smoke them here or there, you can not smoke them anywhere. Not in Chicago. Not in 2008.
More than 20 states now have smoking laws; you can't light up anywhere in Ireland anymore, and even the notoriously smoky cafes of Paris will soon be a distant memory.
Smokers, those unholy cockroaches that just won't stop, are asking themselves, "Where do we go from here?" Chicago's ban seems custom designed to reinforce the New Year's Day tradition of flushing the dredges of that Parliament pack down the toilet: After all, who in their right mind would venture outside in the dead of winter just for a quick nic fix? For once, it seems easier to keep the resolution.
But if you're still not ready to call it quits and can't bear the sub-zero weather to chain-smoke in fingerless gloves, don't motor off to Indiana quite yet. Before you think about sneaking a smoke in your corner tavern, keep in mind that you can be fined up to $250 for lighting up, and your favorite dive can be fined up to $2,500 for being the scene of the crime. Fortunately, smokers aren't entirely out of options (yet).
Call it the little taqueria that could, Caganchos is here to play. Mario's Taco House stuffed its last burrito in November, then swiftly transformed into the bane of the ban's existence: a tobacco shop. A walk-in humidor occupies the space where the kitchen once was; cigars take the place of carne asadas, and specialty cigarettes and loose tobacco reign supreme. The decor-rife with mounted heads and leather couches-calls to mind the stately studies of old money. In compliance with the new state law, which states that tobacco retailers cannot carry food or liquor licenses, Caganchos will offer drip coffee and espresso only. The perfect marriage of cigarettes and caffeine is sure to be a draw, but just in case, the shop will keep coffee prices below the dollar mark.
Fizz Bar & Grill
Not willing to trade in the cocktail for the Camels? Sure, smoking indoors after the ban goes into effect has a certain "damn the man" romanticism about it, but what about the booze? If you're longing for more than a latte, and unwilling to concede defeat, hightail it over to Fizz. This lofty Lakeview spot has an obscenely large beer garden, one that they've had the foresight to winter-proof. Tented, heated and complete with a liquor license-not to mention a fountain-the space will no doubt boost Fizz's popularity before spring's arrival.
Looking for more indoor/outdoor smoking spaces? Camel is sponsoring heat lamps on Stone Lotus' new smoking patio; elbowing through the crowd at Sound Bar will get you to its swanky new heated sidewalk; and NV Penthouse Lounge is keeping its heated eighth-floor terrace intact.
Dhuwan Hookah Lounge (Rogers Park), Lincoln Park, Lisle and Morton Grove
Chicagoland's hookah lounges are sure to surge in popularity during 2008's weaning period, but Dhuwan's coming to the table with a game plan. In addition to having a stellar supply of flavored tobacco on hand for the water pipes, the four Dhuwan locations will also allow cigarette and cigar smoking. Because smokers are also habitual multi-taskers, pre-packaged food and beverages will be sold, and delivery from neighboring restaurants will be allowed as well. The Lisle location was forced to close its kitchen, so the owners have decided to open up a partner restaurant right next door. Guests can enjoy a meal before heading to the lounge for a post-dinner smoke, no snow gear necessary.
Pipe got you hooked? Lakeview's House of Hookah offers free wi-fi, a BYOB policy and over 70 kinds of tobacco. Belly dancers, DJs and a spanking new BYOB allowance await at Sigara: A Hookah Cafe and Lounge in Wicker Park.