The Best Philly Bars & Restaurants With Live Music
photo credit: City Winery
There are some days when you feel like listening to some live music and also having something great to eat. In these cases, you can try to smuggle a ribeye into a show at the Fillmore or you can just read this guide. Check out these 13 places across Philly where you can eat shrimp and grits and be serenaded by a saxophonist, post up at a laid-back spot to see some jazz, or eat a sandwich named after Miles Davis.
photo credit: GAB BONGHI
From the outside, Rex at The Royal looks like a place with real history—it’s in an old theater that was built in 1919. But walk through the glass doors and you’ll pop into a massive dining room filled with ballroom chandeliers, velvet booths, a long bar where you can get a burger, and a large staircase that leads to a private dining area. With some of the best Southern-inspired dishes in town and jazz shows a few times a week, most nights here are pretty special. Grab some excellent Southern dishes, like chicken and dumplings or the creamy skillet mac and cheese, and listen to some impressive vocal runs with a couple of friends.
This spot in Northern Liberties can get packed on the weekends, as they have live bluegrass and do one of the better brunches in the neighborhood. The aesthetic falls somewhere between a neighborhood bar and the farmhouse furniture section of Target (plus plants). The brunch cocktails like grapefruit mimosa are good too, and when you get hungry, there are Southern staples like steak and eggs, crab benedict, and buttery biscuits and gravy that you can bite into while dancing in your chair.
photo credit: City Winery
Stumble into this Center City spot on any night of the week and there’s a good chance that you’ll catch some great R&B singers, pianists, and rock acts on either stage in the venue. They also have a massively long wine list and food options like fig and pear flatbreads topped with bleu cheese, burgers, and cavatelli pasta with spicy succotash. Just make sure you grab a reservation for the big acts since it gets pretty crowded for those.
photo credit: GAB BONGHI
Vinyl Philly is a neon-lit cocktail bar and live music venue in Rittenhouse Square that features dueling pianos, live DJs, and alternative acts every night of the week. There are long leather couches along the wall (a “VIP experience” that you can reserve for free), bartenders dancing behind the long bar, and a strobe-lit stage. When it comes to the food, skip the tuna tacos and go for the cacio y pepe flatbread or grilled octopus that gets a crunchy kick from crumbled Takis on top. It’s great for a chatter-free Happy Hour or a few cocktails after dinner nearby.
Time on Samson St. is anything but lowkey. They have their floor-to-ceiling windows that are always open on a sunny day and you can practically hear the sax riffs and banging cymbals from the sidewalk. Every spot at the long wraparound bar has a decent view of the stage, and for a place that’s all about the music, the food holds its own. Everything, from shrimp and grits, to fried calamari with a Calabrian chili garlic aioli, to gigantic braised short ribs, are all perfectly acceptable, and taste great watching whatever jazz band or singer is performing that night.
photo credit: Griffin Di Stefano
When only checkered table cloths, Frank Sinatra's greatest hits, and comically large maps of Italy will do, head to The Victor Café in Passyunk Square. It's a classic Italian place—they even have live opera every night—where you can share a bottle of wine, eat creamy vegetable risotto, and perfect your spaghetti twirling technique. It's incredibly useful for a date night or weeknight when only a tasty plate of carbs will do. Grab an order of the salty veal saltimbocca along with one of their many spritzes and pretend you're at an opera house.
photo credit: SOUTH Restaurant & Jazz Club
Spring Garden’s SOUTH has an open atrium and garden indoors where you can bring all your friends and pass around dishes like lump crab cakes, salmon and crawfish stew, creole deviled eggs, and other Southern dishes. But SOUTH also hosts live jazz every night of the week, which can be a great backdrop for a romantic night out. The whole place also works if you want to drown out your friend’s endless rant about her new neighbor with a bowl of gumbo and loud percussion.
Chris’ Jazz Cafe has a simple concept: host jazz performances from Tuesdays to Saturdays and serve up some great sandwiches and mains named after jazz legends. Open since 1989, the Center City spot is a place where you’ll find regulars who’ve been coming here for decades, a few couples out on date nights, and a young group of Temple art students strumming air keys while the band plays. Go for the Miles Davis sandwich with BBQ pork shoulder topped with tidewater slaw and crispy onions or the tamarind chicken wings. Another reason we love the place: they don’t close until 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.
The food at World Cafe Live is pretty solid, with things like juicy lamb meatballs, curry chicken sandwiches, and beef tenderloin. But you’re really coming here to eat near a stage where people like Raphael Saadiq, Jason Mraz, and Billie Eilish played on before they became famous. The multi-level spot is a great place to be for a fun and entertaining night where you’ll get serenaded by someone who’s either on the radio or months away from their big break.
Fabrika, a Fishtown spot serving up homemade pasta, often hosts live cabaret and jazz performances and drag brunches. The large dining space has a wrap-around balcony with a great view of the stage in the middle of the room, long lounge chairs and tables, lots of crystal chandeliers, and plenty of glowing purple light beaming down from the ceiling. While you’re here, you can order things rabbit ragu, squid ink linguine, small plates like citrusy shrimp and scallop ceviche, and a lamb shank for the table.
photo credit: MilkBoy
Milkboy Studios is a place where everyone from Miley Cyrus, to Silk Sonic, to Jazmine Sullivan has record albums so, of course, their all-day cafe turns into a place for live music at night. It’s the kind of casual spot where you chill at the bar with an IPA, bite into a burger on a milk bun loaded with pickled jalapeños and crispy bacon, and ask a date about their favorite albums while waiting for the show to start. On most nights, you’ll need a ticket, so make sure you book a spot ahead of time, as most shows here sell out or have limited tickets at the door.
The moment you step into Midtown Village’s Knock Restaurant and Bar, you’ll probably feel like you walked into one of those singing flash mobs. They have karaoke every Wednesday, piano bar-themed nights every Friday and Saturday, and some other version of music night every day in between. There’s a long u-shaped bar inside where you can get an Almond Joy martinis or just a glass of merlot. Come here for a fun night out where you can wear that new shirt you just brought, and prepare to listen to a some talented people belt out a few bangers.
photo credit: The Twisted Tail
The Twisted Tail is a place that’s easy to walk into any day of the week and hear some great blues music while eating things like shrimp and grits, smoked BBQ ribs, and other Southern dishes. There’s a large bar, a handful of wooden tables, and back booths along the wall, and if you’re looking to casually drink outside, they have some outdoor seats, too. So you can park out front under the umbrellas on a sunny day, order some smoked wings, and let the tangy glaze and guitar riffs make your night.
photo credit: Liberty Point
Liberty Point is the largest outdoor restaurant in Philadelphia. And with multiple levels, a few massive bar spaces, and the waterfront on one side, the stage area on the second floor tends to get lost in the shuffle. Weekdays are the best time to come here for the local music acts take over the stage, since on the weekends it’s full of twentysomethings dancing to a lineup of DJ sets while sipping on margaritas. Stick to the seafood if you want something to eat, especially the steamed mussels that are drenched in a garlicky wine sauce and come with warm bread. If it’s a sunny day, just know you’ll definitely need a reservation.