Jazz music began in New Orleans about 100 years ago when African, Caribbean, and European Americans created a sound unique to the U.S. Although jazz music’s roots lie farther east, San Francisco is home to some amazing jazz venues, including SFJAZZ Center: the first performing arts center in the country dedicated solely to the genre. Here is a guide to the best places to listen to live jazz in San Francisco.
Open for dinner and drinks, Sheba Piano Lounge is an intimate jazz lounge and Ethiopian restaurant. There is live music every night starting at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday and 9:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The different performances could be anything from Afro-Cuban jazz to violinists. Along with the delicious Ethiopian food like injera, a flat bread, which can be enjoyed before or during the performance, Sheba Piano Lounge also serves specialty cocktails.
Also open for dinner and drinks is Club Deluxe, a pizza joint paired with live jazz music and cocktails. Located on Haight Street, Club Deluxe is known for its delicious wood-fired pizza. The small bar also serves small plates, salads, tacos, desserts, and, of course, drinks. Club Deluxe gives off a vintage New York aura, with live jazz music every night.
The Boom Boom Room is a small, dive-y club in Lower Pac Heights that offers dancing, drinking, and live blues, jazz, funk, or soul music six nights a week. The live bands begin at 9:00 p.m. in this small and intimate venue with a cover charge.
Serving new and traditional American cuisine in a stunning two-story dining room, Bix is a combination of a speakeasy, a supper club, and a stylish saloon. With a sophisticated atmosphere, Bix has live jazz music every night and is known for their classic drinks and wines.
Also serving new American dishes is Comstock Saloon. On Fridays, from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., customers can get a free lunch at Comstock Saloon by purchasing two alcoholic drinks. Live jazz music plays regularly, but not every night in this rustic and vintage-style bar. However, the bar and lounge is fairly upscale.
Located on the second floor inside The Mystic Hotel, Burritt Room + Tavern is a new American restaurant and bar that offers live jazz music Monday through Saturday night. The lounge pairs modern cuisine with retro décor and enjoyable live music that does not overpower customers engaging in conversation. The bartenders provide great service, and there is commonly a minimal wait time for a table. Included on the menu of this modern American tavern are items like the grilled niman ranch pork shank with Fregula pasta, candied kumquat, salt roasted beets, and cider honey reduction.
Starting in 1983, SFJAZZ became a cultural center for jazz music, with over 300 performances each year at the new, 36,000-square-foot SFJAZZ Center built in 2013. Costing $64 million to construct, the new SFJAZZ Center was the first venue dedicated solely to jazz music in the country. Although the venue can accommodate up to 700 people, the performing arts center still provides an intimate atmosphere. Every year, the SFJAZZ Center holds the Jazz Festival, SFJAZZ Summer Sessions, as well as free concerts in the summer at the Stanford Shopping Center and Levi’s Plaza.
For over 30 years, Les Joulins Jazz Bistro offers live jazz music every day without a cover charge. The bistro serves French-Mediterranean cuisine with performances starting at 7:30 p.m. The wait time to be seated is always brief, and all ages are welcome at Les Joulins. The menu consists of steaks, seafood, pastas, and regional dishes, and new American food is served for breakfast and lunch.
Amnesia Beer & Music Hall, San Francisco | Courtesy of Amnesia
Amnesia Beer & Music Hall
Amnesia is a live music venue with jazz performances on Wednesdays from about 10:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. The bar focuses on local music while serving up delicious craft beer that is unparalleled, constantly refreshed, and affordable. Amnesia has been a music venue for 16 years, providing live entertainment every night with different themes, such as Bluegrass Mondays and Jazz Wednesdays. The Jazz Wednesdays go from 6:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. each week. They start with a Rhythm & Blues Happy Hour, then to Gypsy Jazz by Gaucho, and ends with midnight modern Jazz with Eric Garland’s Jam Session. In addition to Bluegrass Mondays & Jazz Wednesdays, they host some of the best local and regional touring musicians almost every other night of the week, from indie rock to international flavor.
Mr. Tipple’s Recording Studio is not actually a recording studio run by Mr. Tipple; it’s a unique bar with live music. Mr. Tipple’s is a great location for a drink and live jazz every night. Connected to the restaurant next door, Cadence, the venue is a vintage bar with an old school blues vibe. Mr. Tipple’s offers delicious craft cocktails, beers, a couple of wines, and new American small bites like sandwiches, sundaes, and crispy potatoes.