Mexico City is an absolutely huge city with an almost overwhelming number of things to do. There are great events going on every day of the week, and it can be hard to know where to start when you first arrive. Here we list our ten favourite places to go see jazz in the city, ranging from classy cocktail bars to modest, atmospheric clubs where it’s all about the music, meaning there are options for both budget travelers and those who want to treat themselves. Whether you’re a casual listener or a hardcore fan, there will definitely be something that you can enjoy in one of Mexico City’s many jazz venues.
Zinco Jazz Club
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Located right next to Mexico City’s Zócalo in the historical centre, Zinco Jazz Club attracts some of the biggest international names in jazz that come to Mexico. Its programme is really varied, meaning on one day there might be an American big band playing swing, the next a Mexican jazz-funk group, and the following day two Czech cellists reinterpreting their native folk songs. The venue is quite inconspicuous from outside, but once you find it you’ll descend from the street into a chic bar with a range of drinks and food on offer, as well as some great music.
Another one of the most popular places to see jazz in the city, Parker & Lenox is a beautifully laid out bar in Colonia Juárez, which is just north of the trendy Roma Norte barrio. Designed to look like a ’30s speakeasy, this bar offers tasty artisanal beers and classy cocktails, as well as live music on most nights of the week. There are also jam sessions that take place here, although they are not very regular, so if this is something you’re interested in it’s worth checking the bar’s Facebook page for schedules. Booking a table is recommended, particularly on weekends, as this place can get quite busy.
Hidden inside La Surtidora Don Batiz, to get into Jules Basement you have to enter through the restaurant and ask a bouncer standing next to a freezer door to let you in. The door, in fact, opens to stairs that descend into this smart cocktail bar, and this touch of theatrics makes you feel like you really are entering a clandestine speakeasy. There are two resident jazz and blues bands that play on Tuesdays and Wednesdays which are great fun, and on other nights of the week there are a mixture of electronic DJs who get the party going. With excellent cocktails and a really lively atmosphere, this is great place to go and let loose for the evening.
If you’re not wanting to see jazz in a trendy cocktail bar, then Pizza Jazz Café may be the place for you. A few minutes’ walk away from Metro Portales, this very cosy and humble pizza restaurant has a really nice atmosphere and showcases lots of local jazz talent. Its absolute dedication to the music is very clear; the walls are plastered in posters of jazz giants like John Coltrane, and all of its delicious pizzas are named after famous jazz players. For those who want to do some playing themselves, there’s a popular jam night on Mondays that has a great atmosphere and is very welcoming to new musicians. This place gets very full, so arrive early in order to have somewhere to sit, and to get your name on the list if you’re wanting to play.
Stylish and elegant, Casa Franca envelopes you with its well-polished aesthetic as soon as you walk through the door. This Roma Norte bar has a comfortable, laid-back atmosphere and hosts live jazz on several days of the week, which can be anything from straight-ahead, tango, funk to blues. The events don’t have cover fees so you can see music quite cheaply here, making this a great option if you want to see jazz in a stylish setting without spending too much. This bar also hosts occasional jam sessions, so if you’re interested in these then it’s best check their Facebook page.
Blue Nose is a very recently opened jazz night on Thursdays that is run by the charismatic Diego Maroto, a jazz saxophonist from Mexico City. The gigs are put on in his beautiful house near the idyllic centre of Coyoacán, which lends a really laid-back and intimate atmosphere to the concerts, something which can be hard to match in commercial bars. This under the radar spot draws a warm and friendly crowd, and there are drinks and home-made food to keep you going, which makes this a really nice way to spend a relaxed evening. Being an expert on the music that plays in the city, Diego programmes some fantastic quality jazz here, so if you are interested in a really unique way to see some good jazz, then Blue Nose comes highly recommended. This is a private club so you have to reserve in advance through the Facebook page in order to get in, once reserved just knock on the big wooden door on the street to be ushered in and then sent into the house.
A tequilerìa specialises in tequila, a mezcalaria in mezcal, and so a pulquerìa offers another of Mexico’s unique alcohols: pulque. This cactus-made drink is an acquired taste and may not be for you, but even so Pulquerìa Insurgentes is definitely worth checking out whilst you’re in Mexico City. Spread over three floors, this bar has a spacious roof terrace with a range of live performances, DJs, talks, art workshops and even cinema showings all throughout the week. On Wednesdays there is a live jazz night with some great local players, with styles ranging from fusion-funk to straight ahead, and if you’re wanting to stay up there’s usually a DJ playing until the early hours, too. This is a cheaper option than many of the other places listed and the jazz night is free entry, so it makes a great option for those who want to see some nightlife and culture in the city on a budget.
In La Condesa, Mexico City’s most fashionable barrio for going out, you will find the restaurant/bar Groove tucked away just south of Parque Mèxico. Designed to make you feel as comfortable as you would at home, Groove has a really laid-back atmosphere and numerous sofas you can sink into, so it makes a nice place to spend an easy evening. There are numerous deals on drinks on throughout the week, as well as live music programmed on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays which often includes jazz. The shows are informal and relaxed, and the background music played can be great too, so if you’re wanting something different from the swanky bars in La Condesa this could be a great option for you.
For those who are hardened veterans of jazz, lovers of experimental music, or ordinary listeners who are wanting to push themselves out of their comfort zone, Jazzorca is your go-to venue for free jazz. Make no mistake, the music here doesn’t make for easy listening, and those who have not listened to experimental free jazz before will likely be a bit overwhelmed by the intense music that gets put on here. However, if you’re interested in this music style, Jazzorca is a humble jazz club that doesn’t try to dress itself up in any kind of swanky style, and instead is entirely focused around appreciating the music. They are only open on Saturdays, and it’s worth checking in advance on their Facebook that they are definitely going to be open.
Tucked away down what looks like an alleyway in the Roma Norte barrio, Patio Aurora is a lively spot spread between a stylish outside space and an indoor bar area. Although this mostly has DJs playing late into the evening, on Wednesdays and occasionally on holidays the outside patio hosts live jazz by players from the local scene. The buzzing atmosphere of the patio makes a great space to see some music in, and there are plenty of enticing cocktails on offer to keep you going through the evening.