You're more black-clad jazz band than school-color football team. More coffeehouse poetry reading than drunken pubcrawl. But where's a budding intellectual such as yourself to go? Turns out your options are copious and, most times, free. Now all you have to do is make friends with that guy down the hall who has a car. In alphabetical order:
Café 828 (828 Sixth Ave., Downtown) is a lot swankier than the name suggests. Perfect for Parents' Weekend when Dad or stepdad or drunken legal guardian picks up the dinner tab. Will, the bartender, is as good as Tom Cruise circa Cocktail. When you've had your fill of damn-fine food and live jazz, take the elevator to the top for one of the best rooftop views in San Diego (which, until some inclusive jerk from CityBeat wrote about it, was also one of San Diego's best-kept secrets).
Claire de Lune (2906 University Ave., North Park) hosts Poetic Brew every Monday night-the event where you'll find the Saul Williamses of this fair city. As one of the longest-running open-mic poetry gigs in town, wordsmiths from far and wide come to share fresh verse. While you're there, stop in across the street at Spread for a tasty, nutty snack. Peanut butter sushi, anyone?
Dizzy's (344 Seventh Ave., Downtown) is closed down on nights the Padres are in town because finding a parking spot is harder than finding WMDs in foreign countries. But Dizzy's is San Diego's most dedicated jazz joint-the default destination for true fans-with high, open-raftered ceilings that make for a cozy setting to see local gems like bluesman Earl Thomas and Hollis Gentry III belt out a tune or three. Suggested donations for refreshments help keep the place running, so hand over those laundry quarters, because jazz musicians are poorer than you. Trust us.
Galoka (5662 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla), open Thursday through Sunday, is a triple sensory threat offering vegan Indian cuisine, an ever-evolving art gallery and live music. Sometimes jazz, sometimes local troubadours and sometimes downtempo DJs, Galoka has something for everyone's beret-wearing inner genius-child.
Hot Monkey Love Café (5960 El Cajon Blvd., College Area) looks just like your friend's living room. You know, that boho one who lives in Ocean Beach and invites her musician friends over to smoke out and jam 'til they break some law about smoking out and jamming. Stuffed-animal monkeys occupy every nook and cranny, yet the shop's owners are cool, not creepy. Thursdays are jazz jam night, with regulars wandering on and off stage with their trumpets and saxophones. If you're at SDSU, this is where you'll spend most of your time (especially since we all know that, unless you're blowing the chancellor, you only got three units due to overcrowding).
Tuesdays at the Onyx Room (852 Fifth Ave., Downtown) is an absolute must-hear. Grab a seat in the speakeasy lounge with your Jack and Coke in a coffee mug while local jazz star Gilbert Castellanos fires it up with his band. It's the sort of place that marries the downtown socialite atmosphere with the bohemian lifestyle and somehow doesn't come off like it's trying too hard.
Sip This! (4121 Park Blvd., Hillcrest) is the kicky little outdoor coffee shop situated next to vintage clothing boutique Frock You. Weekends feature classic films shown just like at Balboa Park's Screen on the Green, but without the crowds or screaming kids.
Voz Alta (1544 Broadway, Downtown) is a small box of a room with a stage and rows of folding chairs, located in a slightly dilapidated building next to a dive bar that's just dubious enough for the art crowd to love. Spoken word, multimedia events and live jazz by some of the most avant-garde musicians in town are the prime fare at this loveable crack in the earth.
So there you have it. Bohemians, hippies and general non-conformists, there're no more excuses for not going out and meeting new, fascinatingly cerebral types just like you, every night of the week. Well, except for the fact that no one in this city is as snarky, smart or cynical as you. But you'll get over that once you take that “Overcompensating For Your Intellectual Inferiority With a False Front of Superiority” class led by that one lesbian who's won all those academic publishing awards.