One of the first concerts I ever went to see was Kanye West at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, SC during college. His hit song “When it all Falls Down” had just come out, and I was playing it on repeat. So naturally, I put on my J.Lo bodysuit and was ready to dance my way all the way to the front of the stage. Fast forward a few years and I’m living in San Diego, attending a concert at the House of Blues downtown among a much mellower crowd. As a child of the 80s, I love a good power ballad from Journey, Heart or Bon Jovi. But when they’re not available, a good 80s cover band will usually do the trick. And that’s how I ended up strumming on my air guitar to the band Tainted Love in the intimate music venue on Fifth Avenue. It was a high-energy show that delivered on its expectation of playing only covers that we had memorized over the years. House of Blues holds concerts nearly every day of the week, and also serves food (including a gospel brunch on Sundays) and adult beverages.
Around the corner on Broadway, new Guadalajaran restaurant Pipirins just opened within the last month, specializing in carne asada. The fast-casual spot is not like your typical taco joint making food for the masses. At Pipirins, everything is authentic and made fresh to order, including the tortillas, homemade horchata and flan. When ordering from the modest, reasonably-priced menu, you can get carne asada, bone-in strip loin, chicken or chorizo asada – served on tortillas or skewers. Most entrees include white corn tortillas and either Peruvian beans or salad. We started with homemade tortilla chips (baked not fried), two types of salsa (one spicy, one avocado-based), pico de gallo, and pickled onions and carrots. I recommend getting the queso fundido as an appetizer, since a bowl of melted cheese is never a bad idea. Any since their speciality is carne asada, try it Pipirins style or on skewers – the meat has a great campfire flavor. I also really liked the juicy, flavorful pork chorizo that has a little kick to it. For dessert, ordering the homemade flan is a must. It has just the right amount of caramel sauce, and the creamy texture is spot on. The homemade chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting is also delicious and moist. I don’t usually like horchata because it’s too sweet and tastes like a milkshake to me, but since Pipirins makes it in-house they have much more control over the sweetness. It’s served with ice (not frozen) and tastes similar to an iced chai tea latte. Muy bien!