Philly’s Best Jazz Joints
13 bars and restaurants where the best players play.
While it’s a genre often overlooked in the mainstream, Philly has a deep history of jazz musicians — and great spots to hear some of the best locals and touring acts over drinks or dinner. In honor of Jazz Appreciation Month, we put together a list of some of the top longtime spots where you can hear some seriously amazing performances, plus a few eclectic spaces that are newer to the game and helping to introduce the genre to new audiences.
South Restaurant and Jazz Parlor, Fairmount
Robert and Benjamin Bynum are two of the biggest names in Philly’s enduring jazz and dining scene. After their erstwhile club Zanzibar Blue, which ran out of the basement of the Bellevue, closed in 2007, they opened several of the spots on this list. South combines authentic Lowcountry ingredients like Anson Mills grits and Carolina Gold rice with jazz acts in the restaurant’s club space almost every weekend.
Bob & Barbara’s Lounge, South Street
Amid the karaoke and the drag shows, the quintessential Philly dive still features no-cover “liquor drinking music” from The Crowd Pleasers on Friday and Saturday nights.
Manayunk Brewery, Manayunk
When Center City’s 23rd Street Cafe closed in 2015, its longstanding weekly jazz jam moved out to Manayunk — where you can still hear tunes from local groups on Tuesday nights.
Chris’s Jazz Cafe, Center City
The Sansom Street icon features a slate of sandwiches on its menu named for jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, with ticketed live jazz performances almost every night.
LaRose Jazz Club, Germantown
This Germantown Avenue spot hosts local acts and Sunday night open jams with combos, singers, and spoken word. Tony Williams and the Giants of Jazz draw a faithful crowd every Monday evening.
Relish, West Oak Lane
Catch live a different live jazz every weekend — Thursday through Saturday nights — and enjoy some of the best modern Southern food in Philly while you listen at this Bynum Brothers joint.
Six Feet Under, Washington Square West
M Restaurant’s Gene LeFevre opened this subterranean gastropub last summer and quickly added Sunday jazz brunch to its weekend lineup.
Time, Market East
The whiskey-centric bar and restaurant on Sansom Street features live jazz from resident bandleader Pete Gaudioso in its 60-seat dining room during dinnertime, with more bands, artists, DJs, and open mic nights performing late night.
Heritage, Northern Liberties
This upscale Northern Liberties spot — like Time, part of Jason Evenchik’s Vintage Syndicate restaurant group — combines seasonal, locally sourced cuisine and more than 30 beer taps and a deep cocktail menu with live music ranging from salsa to bluegrass. Jazz is always on the calendar for Tuesday Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
This Bynum Brothers spot, which regularly features live soul, gospel, and jazz performances, serves Southern comfort fare like mac ‘n’ cheese, chicken and waffles, and red velvet cake, plus a massive Sunday jazz brunch buffet.
Paris Bistro & Jazz Café, Chestnut Hill
This Bynum brothers collaboration with chef Al Paris combines a 1930’s throwback Parisian vibe with French-inspired cuisine in the dining room and live music in their jazz cafe space Thursday through Sunday evenings.
Sassafras Bar, Old City
This cozy hangout on 2nd Street has been in business for 45 years, with an old-school vibe to match. The menu features solid tavern fare plus occasional no-cover live jazz performances.
MilkBoy, Market East
A quartet performs for their Jazz Under the Stairs series at MilkBoy’s Chestnut Street location semi-regularly on Tuesday nights — and even better, there’s no cover charge.