Comedienne Heather McDonald performs at The American Comedy Co.
Comedienne Heather McDonald performs at The American Comedy Co.

Everyone likes to laugh, especially after a long, tough week. The American Comedy Co. downtown is a great place to do that. They get well-known stand-up comedians (assumedly on their way to L.A. where they make the big bucks) to make a stopover in San Diego for a night or two. The intimate venue is located underground, and puts you just a few feet away from the talent on stage. There’s usually at least one opening act before the headliner, so you’ll hear from two or three comedians during a show. Get there early to take advantage of table service that delivers food and alcohol to your seat before and during the show. The earlier you get there, the better your seat will be. Oftentimes they schedule a headliner to do an early show (about 7:30 p.m.) and then a second, later seating (about 9:30 p.m.). Stick around after the show for photos with the headliner on stage. I’ve been to a few shows at The American Comedy Co. (all were great), but without a doubt my favorites were Heather McDonald and Garfunkel and Oates. Way to make me LOL, ladies.

For more entertainment and delicious food, head over to Cafe 21 to check out their new live music program. Beginning at 7 p.m. nightly, Cafe 21 is keeping the music alive downtown by picking up where previous tenant Croce’s left off. They have a varied lineup with some great talent, including:

  • Monday– Rock ‘n’ Roll: The UpShots perform covers from the 1950s, 1960s and 1980s
  • Tuesday– Pop/R&B: Vocalist Rebecca Jade sings popular hits in a bluesy, soulful tone
  • Wednesday– Opera: Opera singer Daniel Hendrick projects his powerful tenor to sing the classics
  • Thursday– Flamenco: Rotating Flemenco performances
  • Friday– Classic Hits: Singer/songwriter Camia Gonzalez sings in both Spanish and English
  • Saturday- Classic Rock: Lead singer of local cover band HoneyRock, Marcela Mendez sings music from the 1950s through today
  • Sunday- Country: Singer/songwriter and guitarist Nathan Stickman plays mellow, acoustic country rock

I highly recommend going on Tuesday nights to hear Rebecca Jade, who has opened for Boyz II Men, Erykah Badu and Vanilla Ice. She made it difficult for me to leave the restaurant because I didn’t want to miss out on whatever song was next on her set list. Her voice reminds me of Etta James and Joss Stone.

Rebecca Jade performs at Cafe 21
Rebecca Jade performs at Cafe 21

The entertainment isn’t the only good thing at Cafe 21. Although it’s a popular spot for brunch, Cafe 21 has a great dinner menu, too. Start with the mixed “fries” consisting of avocado, eggplant and portobello mushrooms breaded with gluten-free rice flour, or try the roasted beets with goat cheese-stuffed dates, roasted walnuts and balsamic vinegar shallots.

The mixed "fries" and beets at Cafe 21
The mixed “fries” and roasted beets at Cafe 21

All the entrees look tasty, but I love the spaghetti squash and shrimp that comes with sautéed mushrooms, peppers, onions, spinach, fontina cheese, feta and garlic toast. It’s light, fresh and has garlic-y, cheesy goodness. The curry-seared scallops have a really interesting flavor combination between the jumbo scallops, mashed potatoes, yellow curry yogurt sauce and fried leeks. Who knew curry could pair well with scallops?! Finish off the meal with the flourless chocolate cake, served warm with vanilla ice cream. If you stick around to enjoy more music, try the jalapeño pear margarita for a spicy, happy ending.

The spaghetti squash and shrimp at Cafe 21
The spaghetti squash and shrimp at Cafe 21