On this night four bars got together with students from Universidad Iberoamericana to organize an event called Playing For Change to foster positive change through music and arts education for children around the world. The new bars at La Plaza are El Depa, El Tigre, La Prisión and 664 which is Tijuana's area code. El Depa and El Tigre are where the action is. The owners of these four bars are working together to make La Plaza a destination for Tijuana and San Diego's mipsters (Mexican hipsters) and bar hoppers once again. I could sense this feeling of community as I spoke with Leo Soto of El Depa. His bar is actually a converted apartment that has different "rooms". One of them is like a dining room with a large round table where some local students where having a great time and I had to join them and drink a couple of cervezas for the sake of this review. Most of them said that they used to go to Calle 6ta but feel that El Depa has more personality and a community feel to it. El Depa also has a great terrace with grills to get a "carne asada" going and overlooks the action below. I had a few friends there so we decided to pool our vast resources and were able to entice one of the employees to go across the street to buy some meat, vegetables, tortillas and salsa to get our barbecue going.
Leo mentioned that El Depa has a house party vibe and it was definitely the case on this night with everybody relaxing by the barbeque with a bunch of friends listening to really cool music.
After our "carne asada" we went downstairs to El Tigre and had a conversation with Juan Carlos Bucio who is a veteran of Tijuana's nightlife scene. He mentioned that they were looking for a place to open a bar and chose La Plaza after talking with some friends. They all agreed to work together to create a scene and chose La Plaza because of its location and low rents. El Tigre is on the ground floor so they have live bands most weeks that people can enjoy from the shared patio out front. On this night they had everything from DJ's to rock bands and folk singers. The artists playing on this occasion were Sixties Guns, La Tira Cómica and Deck B and had the crowd dancing and having fun. One of the great things about "having" to go to bars for reviews is having people bringing you a beer in the middle of an interview and that is exactly what happened. Juan Carlos brought me one of the local brews that they have on tap. On this occasion they had Ley Seca Pale Ale and Silenius Brown Ale and both of them were great. The bands were playing inside El Tigre and people were watching from a small plaza with a fountain out front. Xavi Vilaplana, AKA Sixties Guns, and Sofia Medina were among the organizers of the Playing For Change event. They mentioned that their goal was to show that Tijuana also has a good side and that it's not all about partying. The city has been maligned for a long time but there's a new generation of socially conscious kids that want to make a difference.
It is really great to see young kids working together to offer people from both sides of the border a new place to hear great music, party in a community atmosphere and being active in social causes. I recommend you come and visit Tijuana's best kept secret before it blows up. La Plaza has gone through many incarnations throughout the last couple of decades. It is once again being transformed into a gathering place for Tijuana's in crowd.
Follow Genaro on Twitter at @SuperChangoTJ