The jazz scene in Mexico City is alive and well. So well, in fact, that knowing where to start can be a little overwhelming. The good news is the live music calendar offers something for all jazz fans, whether you’re a hardcore devotee or just dipping your toes into the genre. To help you find your groove, here are the top jazz spots in the Mexican capital, ranging from classy cocktail bars to atmospheric clubs.
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Parker & Lenox is a beautifully styled bar in the Juárez district, just north of the trendy Roma Norte colonia (neighborhood). It’s designed to look like a 1930s speakeasy, and offers a selection of artisanal beers and classy cocktails, plus live music most nights of the week. On top of the jazz, there’s a bit of blues and comedy nights (though the latter may only be enjoyable if you’re a fluent Spanish speaker). The venue does get busy, particularly on weekends, so book a table.
A cocktail and jazz go rather nicely, but if you’re looking for something a little more substantial, hit up Pizza Jazz Café. Just a quick stroll from Metro Portales, this cozy pizzeria has a chilled atmosphere and showcases local talent. The walls are plastered in posters of music giants, such as John Coltrane, and all the delicious pizzas are named after famous jazz artists. And if you want to enter the Mexico City jazz scene yourself, there’s a popular jam night on Mondays with a welcoming crowd. Arrive early, this place gets rammed.
Stylish and elegant, Casa Franca in Roma Norte envelopes you with a well-polished aesthetic and low lighting. The bar has a comfortable, laid-back vibe and hosts live music several days a week – anything from tango and funk to jazz and blues. And if you’re traveling on a limited budget, the lack of cover fees makes this a great option.
Blue Nose has a jazz night on Thursdays run by the charismatic Diego Maroto, a jazz saxophonist from Mexico City. The gigs are held in his beautiful house near the idyllic center of Coyoacán, which lends a chilled, intimate atmosphere rarely found in commercial bars. This under-the-radar spot draws a warm, friendly crowd and there are drinks and home-made food to keep you going. Music whizz Diego programs top-notch jazz here, so if you’re interested in excellent grooves in a quirky venue, this is your place. Blue Nose is a private club, so you have to reserve. Once you’ve booked your place, knock on the big wooden door on the street and wait to be ushered in.
Pulque, an alcoholic drink made from cactus, can be an acquired taste. So combine your sampling session with a spot of jazz at Pulquería Insurgentes. Spread over three floors, this bar has a spacious roof terrace which hosts a range of live performances, DJs, talks, art workshops and even cinema showings throughout the week. On Wednesdays, there’s a free-to-enter live jazz night with great local players, styles ranging from fusion-funk to straight ahead. And if you want to stay up, there’s usually a DJ playing until the early hours, too.
If you’re a hardened jazz veteran, lover of experimental jams, or want to push yourself musically, Jazzorca is your go-to venue. Make no mistake, the music here doesn’t always make for easy listening – experimental free jazz can be intense and overwhelming to the untrained ear. But Jazzorca is a humble venue that doesn’t dress itself in a faux-swanky style, instead it entirely focuses on appreciating the music.