Sometimes all you need is a mellow night of good jazz and drinks. The Magic City has no shortage of spots – but you’ve gotta know where to look.
Luckily you do. We put a call out for your favorite spots, and boy did you deliver.
Whether you live down in South Dade or up in North Miami, you’ve got at least one spot in your ‘hood for some sax. And if you’re near the city center, you’re kinda spoiled. Here are the local faves, according to you.
Want even more live music tips? Local musician and jazz guru Chad Bernstein, the founder of Guitars over Guns and a member of both Spam All Stars and ¡Suénalo!, has a local music newsletter full of tips on upcoming shows that’s one of our faves. You can sign up here.
Neme Gastro Bar
When we asked for your favorite spots to catch jazz, Neme Gastro Bar in Coral Way was the local fave by a landslide. They have a jazz performance of some kind pretty much every night of the week, so you can jam and listen while enjoying their tapas and cocktails. Check their events calendar ahead of time to see when your faves are coming.
The decadent Olympia Theater opened its Downtown doors in 1926, serving as Miami’s “grandest silent movie palace and Vaudeville house” for more than 40 years. By the 1980s, however, the aging theater needed significant repairs. Restoration projects have brought the sparkle and shine back to this magical venue. Today the Olympia Theater is a Downtown jewel, with a stunning night sky complete with twinkling stars on the ceiling, gold turrets lining the balcony, and an enormous stage for performances of all kinds, including jazz in the Lobby Lounge every second Wednesday of the month.
(Photo Courtesy of Phillip Pessar/Flickr Creative Commons)
Le Chat Noir
If you’re into wine, cheese, jazz, or all of the above, this cozy little French wine cellar tucked away in a nondescript spot in Downtown should be your go-to. The best nights are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, when live music livens up the room. And if you’re craving a meal, they’ve got a mean panini menu, too.
Serving up deliciously crafted cocktails into the wee hours of the morning, The Corner is the ultimate local hipster bar. To truly celebrate this glorious city, and get a nice good buzz while you’re at it, order the Hurricane, a drink complete with two different types of rum, four types of fruit, a herbal liqueur, and of course some bitters. Feeling a bit more fancy? Go for the The Aristocrat, a classic made up of gin, cucumber, lemon, and sage. An insider’s tip — they’ve got a great happy hour during the week from 4 p.m.-8 p.m., and serve up some mean Chicago dogs for just $3. On Tuesday nights you can catch great jazz bands as well.
This Coral Gables spot has an elegant vibe and a hearty menu that makes it easy to hit the $20 minimum for food and drink that takes the place of a cover for this music scene staple, one of the only spots in Miami to catch live jazz on a weekend night. The Globe regularly features both standard and latin jazz organized by their resident musical director, Rodolfo Zuniga.
The Betsy Hotel
The swank Betsy Hotel’s Live Music Series has been offering Miamians jazz on South Beach for more than six years. It’s no surprise that it’s stuck around: there’s never a cover charge to sit and watch musicians play in the hotel’s Lobby Salon. The times change season to season, so be sure to check the hotel events calendar to plan your listening session.
Ball & Chain
Established in 1935, this bar is older than the road that is now Calle Ocho. Through the years, it’s hosted a wide range of musical legends, from Ella Fitzgerald to Tito Puente, Jr. Although it was shuttered in the mid-90s, it’s come back full force — with palmetto leaf fans and salsa playing deep into the night in a nod to the neighborhood’s Cuban influences. Be sure to try some of their incredible cocktails — the tobacco-infused old fashioned is our favorite.
The live jazz performances are every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
WDNA Jazz Gallery and UM Frost Music
If you want to get really intimate, WDNA, Miami’s jazz music radio station, hosts live shows at their studio in Coral Gables. Friday and Saturday nights the station brings in jazz performers for Jazz Encounters – when you can bring your own instrument and join in – and Fine Arts Concerts, which are for the bands only. They also host the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music jazz hour every Thursday morning at the studio at 11, and those are always free. Frost music students also perform at the UM Maurice Gusman Concert Hall, but the schedule varies.
Miami Jazz Jam: Lagniappe
“Lagniappe” literally means “something given as an extra gift” – and this spot feels like that. It’s a no-reservation grill with a hefty wine list for you to enjoy, either out at one of the mismatched table and chair sets in the garden or inside on one of the couches while jazz bands play under the hanging lights and cozy ambiance, taking you straight to New Orleans. It’s no wonder Miamians love to linger over drinks here for hours. Be sure to check their music schedule for when your favorite saxophone player is coming.
Wynwood Yard was one of our favorite spots to catch live music even before it started hosting live jazz on Wednesday nights, and we’re loving the new addition to the lineup. What’s better than catching great music outdoors with a Della bowl and a beer? Not much. It’s not every Wednesday, so check their calendar before you head over.
What they do: Live music, food, drinks
Website: Visit Here
Price: Free entry
Hours: Monday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to late
Address: NW 29th Street, between N. Miami Ave. and NW 1st Ave.
Miami Jazz Jam: Churchill’s
Normally, Churchill’s pub is a punk dive bar, but every Monday night it becomes one of the best spots in Miami for catching live jazz. They host the Fernando Ulibarri Group with guests every week. If you need to take a break, pop over to the room next door for the Theatre de Underground’s weekly open mics.
When Club Space got new ownership, the walled-off bar space inside it formerly known as Libertine became Floyd Miami, a cozy spot with a speakeasy vibe and the same iconic chandeliers. Jazz bands play the lounge every Thursday night, filling up the dim old-timey room with tunes that match the cozy feel.
Miami Jazz Cooperative’s Open Stage Club Mondays
The Miami Jazz Co-op hosts what it calls a “Rent Party” every Monday night at the Open Stage Club gastropub, bringing a bunch of jazz musicians together to jam the night away. There’s usually food and drink specials to enjoy while musicians in the co-op play a dinner show.
South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center
SMDCAC brings all kinds of cultural performances to the Cutler Bay area – everything from plays to cabaret to comedy. And with live jazz shows at least once a season, South Dade residents don’t have to make the trek north for some quality sax.
Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA)
It’s a little off the beaten path, but MOCA is worth the trip, especially because of all the great programming they do that can be paired with a visit to the galleries. It’s a mix of local and international artists, and you never quite know what you’re going to get there. Plus, they do great lectures and classes by local and visiting artists. The last Friday of every month, there’s a free jazz performance outside in the courtyard, plus free admission to the museum (donations greatly appreciated).