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Stories by Ian Pike

Chinese achievers, American idiots — La Jolla Playhouse stages Tiger Style!

What pants are and how they work

Mike Lew’s Tiger Style! is a kind of 21st-century bildungsroman for sibling protagonists, Jennifer (Jackie Chung) and Albert Chen (Raymond J. Lee), and it tells its story largely by holding popular stereotypes up to the ...

San Diego’s most overrated burgers

Hype wedged into a bun

Salt separates the bland patties from the ones that sing hymns of meaty goodness. Thus, in the salty spirit, while my brilliant colleagues (each one infinitely more well mannered, and supremely more qualified than me) ...

Screaming down the plains

Oklahoma boasts natural beauty, friendly people, and a unique sense of itself

If you have half a heart, you’ll leave New Village Arts’ Oklahoma! happily humming “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’” while visions of scurrying chicks and ducks paint a picture of pastoral grandeur second to none. ...

Here's to you, crabby old bitches

Avenue Q's overarching message

There’s a scene in the first act of Avenue Q (playing through August 28 at the O.B. Playhouse) where Kate Monster (Catie Marron) argues with her boss, the ancient Lavinia Thistletwat, voiced and performed by ...

The aesthetic of popular restaurants is in flux

Et Voilà does it anti-hipster

For those who didn’t catch Barbarella’s take on Et Voilà in June, here’s the TL;DR version: she found the restaurant charming, (i.e. “a ‘nice’ establishment, yet you don’t feel out of place if you happen ...

San Diego’s only dedicated chicken-and-waffles restaurant

Lemon Grove’s Da Chicken Coop

If you want to know about Da Chicken Coop, there is only one question that matters: How does it stack up against Roscoe’s? Aw, stop groaning. You have to ask. There is no other metric ...

Restaurants worth treating as occasions

Where going out is still a treat

Amid a vibrant social dining scene like ours, it’s easy to take restaurants for granted. Their very existence becomes a matter of convenience. We are either too busy or too lazy to cook, and keeping ...

You should've taken a break from Pride to see The Twentieth Century Way

(No disrespect to Kesha.)

Nothing says “equality and an end to homophobia” quite like garbage in the streets and drunk, sunburned straight people enjoying an excuse to slip on a tutu and some sequined leggings.

Hipster sensibilities

Most of the jokes in Sense and Sensibility are pretty subtle....

It’s not every day that a musical adaptation of English Regency drama comes chock full of hipster jokes. But, Paul Gordon’s Sense and Sensibility at the Old Globe, directed by Barbara Gaines, made me stop ...

While you were disco-napping...

Twentieth Century Way at Ion Theatre

Congratulations, Pride attendees! By all accounts, Pride weekend was a huge success. Tens of thousands enjoyed the music festival, parade, parties, and (of course) the endless day-drinking. The corporate sponsors must be so happy to ...

What is “San Diego-style” barbecue?

Mark’s Bark does it in Normal Heights

So much is (justly) made of barbecue styles. It’s the ultimate sign of a culinary asshat to say, “You can’t get good XYZ-style barbecue outside of XYZ place.” But there’s a nugget of truth in ...

Audiences eat up cutesy pie

But critics call shenanigans on Every Night’s a Show Night

Last month, New York–based dance troupe, Monica Bill Barnes & Company put on a single performance of Every Night’s a Show Night, a self-styled work-in-progress, at San Diego Dance Theatre. To the tune of excellent ...

How is dictatorship still a thing?

Gaddafi couldn’t even trust his own food

Unless you saw it at SD Fringe, none of you reading this will see Qaddafi’s Cook, which dramatizes the life of a Mexican chef who tripped on Ayahuasca and took a job as one of ...

Skip this Gaslamp barbecue

Bugsy’s has had enough time to get better

I give new barbecue joints the widest berth of all restaurant debuts. In my experience, really getting the production schedules dialed in takes a lot longer for barbecue, and the first few months tend to ...

Are you theater people?

A rich and tricky question. Ask it of yourselves before and after attending Matt Thompson’s The Complete History of Theatre (Abridged) at the Point Loma Playhouse. As the play’s second act finally delivers the titular ...

If this place vanished off the face of the Earth…

Not enough value at Leña Craft Mexican

In the past, I’ve relied upon summing up any restaurant’s worth with a single question: Would I eat here again? I’ve considered that a foolproof barometer, an easy either/or situation for whether I could recommend ...

Murder at the Howard Johnson’s — probably not meant to serve as a rich cultural study of 20th-century Americana

Fried clams

More than once during Scripps Ranch Theatre’s production of Murder at the Howard Johnson’s, ditzy would-be femme fatale, Arlene (Maelyn Gándola), refers to HoJo’s fried clam strip dinner with lustful glee. This is perhaps the ...

The only fitting approach

Stupid Fucking Bird at Cygnet

About halfway through the first act of Cygnet Theatre’s production of Aaron Posner’s Stupid Fucking Bird, after the “showing” of the play-within-the-play, but before the “We need new forms” speech, occurs a brief dialogue between ...

A visit to Camp David

An extra-heavy dose of folksy wisdom

Perhaps there’s a secret society of actors who have played the President of the United States. Membership is as simple as standing onstage, or in front of a camera, and portraying the holder of this ...

Normal Heights is not Memphis

Burnside begs to be described as “unpretentious”

A little while back, I caught wind that hipster sandwich shop Burnside had rebooted itself with a barbecue theme. As self-appointed local barbecue doyen, a position I realize is somewhat oxymoronic, I knew I had ...

Sharks rampage in La Jolla

Kayakers hooted and hollered as large threshers took them on sleigh rides out to sea.

May the Fourth. International Star Wars day to some, but to La Jolla kayak fishermen, it will forever be the beginning of the Wide Open Thresher Bite of 2016. The gray, windless day — with ...

Boundaries of exploitation

Our Lady of Kibeho is a rarity in a world where racism is easy and honesty’s tough.

Before Moxie Theatre’s production of Katori Hall’s Our Lady of Kibeho even started — as audience members found their seats, and while director, Jennifer Eve Thorn, eyed the room in anxious anticipation — I began ...

Poor little rich girl

Obscure and fractious ideas in Dinner With Marlene

The conflict between Old World aristocrats and American New Money was once a real concern. The peerage dreaded the inevitable wresting from their hands of social privilege by plucky upstarts with Gilded Age fortunes. In ...

Taquerias up and down the coast, inland and outland

My jams

I know what I like. No matter what the cuisine, I go here for this, there for that, and somewhere else for a third thing. Up and down the coast, inland and outland, there are ...

This argument denigrates theatergoers

Being an audience member isn’t just a passive process of watching and absorbing. It requires engagement.

Small productions, such as ion theatre company’s Jesus Hates Me (directed by Glenn Paris and Claudio Raygoza), lack big budgets, so actors double as techies. During scene changes, they might be mere feet from the ...

Estranged from the darkness

Where will you be when the world ends?

Where will you be when the world as we know it ends? What will you be doing? Will you be at home, tucked in bed and sleeping soundly with your beloved at your side? Or, ...

The takeout junkie trope

Odd to hold such merciless opinions on something so innocuous as takeout food

In Scripps Ranch Theatre’s production of Skin Deep, female lead, Maureen Mulligan — played to the Irish Catholic spinster extreme by Brenda Adelman — seems to survive on a steady diet of takeout food, the ...

Trust is the issue

Hillcrest newcomer has presentation skills and not much else

It seems like everyone wants to be at Hillcrest’s Trust, ordering expensive hipster nibbles and struggling to be heard above the din (though in all fairness we are assured that the installation of noise baffles ...

To accept Renaissance foolery

The Venetian Twins would unravel pretty quickly in real life.

“I just can’t tell the man I intend to marry apart from his twin brother,” said no one, ever. At least, not in real life. Nowhere is it written that comedy ought to be more ...

The duck soup kicks

J&T Thai Street Food becomes a third option

Before I left on my Euro Odyssey 2015, I would have divided (if pressed to do so candidly) the local Thai food scene into two camps: Sab-E-Lee and Everything Else. I know. Haters gonna hate. ...

Who's afraid of Grampy Pike?

George could step right in whenever my grandfather needed a break

“I didn’t know there was so much humor,” said audience member Kim during the first intermission, an hour into Intrepid Theater Company’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? She remembered the story from watching the 1966 ...

Chekhov skewers theater culture

Comedy? Muhahaha

Whether torn by love (Masha, Treplev, and Nina), antagonized by the unstoppable march of aging (Arkadina and Sorin), beset by ideas of their own mediocrity (Treplev, again, and Trigorin), or burnt to cinders by the ...

Give us an inch...

San Diego, I Love You (I Love You Not) as a Choose Your Own Adventure agency

I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books as a preteen, probably because every classroom in school had a near-complete set on the shelves. That, and we didn’t have iPhones to stare at. The best part ...

Masuo Sato returns to Masuo’s

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

Once upon a time, Masuo Sato opened up a sushi restaurant in Solana Beach. He did well, endearing himself with the locals. His restaurant built a reputation as a reliable sushi joint where friendly people ...

Puck will make amends

An antireview

Within moments of The Metromaniacs’ opening lines, I had visions of Blackadder dancing in my head. Specifically, I thought about an episode of Blackadder the Third, in which the Prince Regent (Hugh Laurie) hires a ...

Delectable bones at D’Carlos

Horse-themed restaurant knows barbecue

Some of you may remember that a while back I undertook an epic journey throughout the county in search of barbecue. I found good and bad in ample amounts, but the ordeal was so strenuous ...

This could be the best bread in the universe

Pacific Time has got it going on, apparently

I could spread Nutella on Pacific Time’s challah till Kingdom Come, and I haven’t seen such pretty baguettes since 2009. Oh, to be a fly on the wall while their baker feeds his starters and ...

Relevancy for the less-than-rabid

Art that is not too serious, too fancy, nor expensive

The arts carry a terrible burden. They are supposed to elevate our culture, to separate us from the beasts. Art moves the Guggenheim Foundations of the world to unburden themselves of money by the truckload ...

We didn’t understand her exhaustion

My mother doesn’t get as much space in my early memories as does my dad. She worked during the day and went to school at night for years that felt like decades in my little ...

Hillcrest boba station open on Fifth Ave

Trinitea Tea expands service, decorates with glorious artworks

Does anyone remember when “bubble tea” was the new hotness? The raging popularity of milk tea loaded with swollen tapioca balls created a niche market overnight, and opened the gate for a bubble bubble, so ...

Harbor Breakfast finds its feet

Little Italy breakfast nook is quite the looker and serves up a tasty sandwich, too

Despite being something of a hot mess in its early days, Harbor Breakfast has gotten its act together. The restaurant gave the appearance of having rushed into opening much later than expected, which barely makes ...

Now Try This: Chi Chocolat's Cafe Mocha

Made with real chocolate! And some apple pie candy, to boot.

Until contrary information comes to light, the wildly energetic proprietor’s claim that Chi Chocolat’s mocha is “the only one in town with liquid couverture chocolate in it” will have to stand. And what a mocha! ...

Overpriced and unappealing

Bird Rock Oyster and Sushi Bar wants too much for too little

Bird Rock Sushi and Oyster and Sushi Bar took over the old Station Sushi, opening at the end of the summer. On paper, it seems like a great idea. Who doesn’t love mariscos and sushi ...

¡Ay chapulines!

University Heights tapas bar joins the thin ranks serving up bugs

Would you look at that. Insects are popping up just everywhere! The Reader’s other Ian gagged on some crickets at Tacos Perla over the summer. Recently, little fried bugs crawled onto the specials board at ...

Can the Buffalo Public House work in Hillcrest?

Brazilian-influenced restaurant faces stiff conceptual challenges in competitive neighborhood scene

Brazilian cuisine receives little exposure in the US. Churrascaria restaurants, like Rei do Gado and Fogo de Chao, contribute to the popular image of South American carnivorism, where diners disappear beneath mountains of roast meat. ...

Circa tries to fill some big shoes

Neighborhood bistro faces memories of Farm House Cafe, and holds its own in the process.

Tempting as it is to mourn the Farm House Cafe’s departure from Adams Avenue until the prophesied reappearance of Olivier and Rochelle Bioteau’s restaurant in larger quarters somewhere far from University Heights, uptown diners ought ...

Pillbox Tavern's good look, cold beer, and typical eats

Solana Beach bar and grill puts a nice face on a good location, even though the menu's a bit dated.

No big-name design firm attached itself to Solana Beach’s Pillbox Tavern, but the group that opened the bar and grill includes plenty of restaurant industry vets, and their collective expertise turned out a nice looking ...

Are you Santa enough?

Gift’s got stamina Hillcrest Craftsmen at the Planet Rooth Design Haus make heirloom-quality furniture out of reclaimed wine and bourbon barrels. Elegant in the way that overstuffed classic American furniture will never be. Sturdy and ...

Reserved fare for modest brunchers

Bankers Hill's remodeled Royal Cafe expands breakfast menu with some lighter options.

The doorway between the Royal Cafe and the Royal Food Mart in Hillcrest disappeared during the recent remodel. In its place, a bigger menu materialized, replete with more substantial breakfast items (about $6-$10), and some ...

Primus rocks the Chocolate Factory

Claypool and crew put on "kind of a play" at Cal Center for the Arts Escondido

“I know we’re Primus and we suck,” said frontman Les Claypool, to cheers from the packed California Center for the Arts in Escondido. “But if you want to yell and scream, get it out of ...

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