Where To Listen To Live Jazz & Feel Sexy
That new black turtleneck isn't going to wear itself.
Jazz, aside from being a great American art form, is arguably the best genre of music to enjoy in a bar or restaurant. It’s a soundtrack that never fails to make us feel sexy, sophisticated, and briefly consider whether or not to whip out our phones and order a beret. Maybe don’t do that. But definitely do keep all the places on this guide in mind next time you want to have yourself a jazz night. These restaurants and bars all have weekly jazz nights where you can snap to a saxophone while you pretend you’re a poet from the ‘50s.
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
Jass is a charming Buena Vista restaurant with live music playing at an ideal volume, and a dining room that feels like a fun antique shop. Music is not just a rare occurrence here. It usually happens Thursday, Friday, and Saturday around 8:30pm and consists of a few jazz players tucked neatly into the corner of the dining room (but call to ask about the current week's jazz schedule). This is where you want to be if you're also trying to eat. The Mediterranean food is good (and reasonably priced). Get the clay pot of lamb, which comes encased in a dome of brioche your server will slice open at the table.
photo credit: Tasty Planet
There is no Miami jazz guide without Lagniappe. The wine bar has long been one of the best places to drink wine, eat cheese, and listen to jazz in Miami. This is still very much the case, even though this place can get seriously crowded. Lagniappe’s music happens every night, from 9pm to midnight, and they’re consistent about posting the week’s music lineup online. Just know that the music generally happens inside—not on the spacious back patio—so expect a fairly snug seating/standing situation.
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photo credit: Courtesy Understory
Understory, which you may have known in its previous life as The Center For Subtropical Affairs, is a Little River house that’s been converted into a venue and now hosts all kinds of performances and events. Understory is one of the coolest hospitality spaces in town and will also give you slight high school house party flashbacks. On Thursdays from 8-11pm, jazz takes the stage in the backyard, which is so much bigger than it looks from the street. They have a nice cocktail program, too. This is a great date night option or an unexpected place to take those friends of yours who only ever go to the same two bars. Just a head’s up: cover for jazz night is $15.
photo credit: Cleveland Jennings
There are a couple guarantees that come with a night at The Gibson Room on Coral Way: You will eat something delicious and there will be some form of musical entertainment happening on the corner stage. Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually when jazz is happening on said stage (Gibson Room is good about posting their weekly music schedule online, in case you're curious). This place works great for sitting solo at the bar with a martini and a thick cheeseburger, but it's also perfect for a third date or night out with friends who're down to share oxtail ramen and snap their fingers to a jazzy piano.
It’s not the biggest jazz night in town, but squeezing close to inebriated strangers is what makes The Corner so great. And this place’s longstanding Tuesday jazz night is still one of our favorite times to visit the classic Downtown cocktail bar (that makes a very solid hot dog, by the way). The jazz starts around 10pm and happens inside the bar, wedged into the corner. Come early-ish if you want a table. If you don’t care if you sit or stand, come any time before 1am, when the music ends and the late-night crowd takes over.
The Fish House
The Fish House is the only place in Miami where pirates and jazz collide (please email us if we’re wrong). The dining room decor of this Sunset seafood spot includes a buccaneer corralling a shark and a giant gold seahorse. But The Fish House has a secret: an area called BackRoom, where they host live music Wednesday through Saturday (Wednesday is jazz night). BackRoom is separated from the rest of Fish House, and it feels like stepping into a nautical Mardi Gras afterparty, with purple and green beads strung on a lamppost, glass chandeliers, and giant bubbles hanging from the ceiling. There’s a $5-$7 cover charge, and it’s better to call and reserve a table than take your chances at the door. It’s a great spot to eat some shrimp and enjoy sea bass while jamming to jazz bass.
Soya E Pomodoro
Soya E Pomodoro is a dim, cavernous space carved into a Downtown office building. They also do live jazz here Thursdays and Saturdays from 7:30 to 10pm. That's our favorite time to come, and it's when this romantic restaurant gets even more romantic. You're not coming just for jazz—you'll be eating too. Luckily the food here is not just something you have to endure to enjoy the music. It's very good, especially the eggplant parm and their slightly sweet pear/ricotta pasta.
This classic Gables bar and restaurant is a lovely place to slowly sip a cocktail while nodding along to an upright bass. Jazz happens every Saturday from 8pm to midnight. And what a jazz-appropriate space this is. The Globe feels more like a house than a bar. It has a very Shakespearean aesthetic—with Renaissance paintings all over the walls and little wooden tables scattered around the space, each with a candle in the center. They serve food, but feel free to just drink and listen to music beneath the striking portrait of a bored-looking ancient Roman person.
photo credit: Tasty Planet
Before The Anderson was The Anderson, it was a divey piano bar. And the Upper East Side bar, with its liberal use of animal print and mirrored surfaces, is still an excellent place to sip something strong and listen to someone tickle the ivories. (Sorry, we promised ourselves we wouldn’t use that expression.) Jazz night at The Anderson is every Wednesday at 9pm. It’s usually chill enough that you can easily find a table and have a conversation between songs, so keep it in mind for a weeknight date. The Anderson also serves tacos and barbecue in the backyard too.
photo credit: Courtesy The Betsy
The Betsy Lobby Bar
Full disclosure, The Betsy Hotel doesn’t have a jazz night so much as a lobby jazz piano player. Nonetheless, the rotating piano players (who are there every night from 7pm to 11pm) are talented, and if you’re looking for a nice hotel lobby bar to pretend like you’re a character on White Lotus, this is it. The Betsy is also on the least chaotic chunk of Ocean Drive there is. Maybe don’t travel across town to come here just for the music, but do keep it in mind as a viable South Beach option for a little live jazz, a martini, and a convincing setting to play tourist.
photo credit: Courtesy Neme Gastro Bar
Neme Gastro Bar
You can get dinner and a show at some restaurants. But at Neme, you get two shows for the price of one dinner. On the left side of the restaurant is a stage, and that’s where you’ll get your first performance of the evening. They have live music every night, but Thursday and Friday nights are for jazz. To the right of the stage is a whole other kind of display: the kitchen, which really stands out against the restaurant’s warm brick walls and blue ambient lighting. It’s an actual open kitchen too—the kind where you can see all the way down to their shoes. The menu is solid and broad, with entrees from steak to pasta. But we prefer sipping a mojito at the bar and mindlessly munching on tostones while watching cooks in white coats dance around each other to the dizzying beats.