The Best Bars for Live Music in SoHo

Ling Tang /
Ling Tang / | © Culture Trip
Amy Schulman

Food Editor

Live music playing in a bar can be great or it can be really, really not great. Don’t leave anything to chance, choose one of these sure-fire live-music bars for your night out in SoHo.

City Winery


Josh Ritter is seen here performing at City Winery
© Al Pereira
At City Winery – part winery, part full-service restaurant, part ticketed music venue – guests mill around tables facing an elevated stage, swirling wine made in gargantuan barrels downstairs. There’s a full dinner menu for those who want to eat during the show, but there’s no food and drink minimum. Come 8pm, the lights dim and the clattering of silverware fades, allowing the main act to take the stage. Be sure to buy tickets in advance as shows tend to sell out quickly.

Baby Grand

Bar, American

An enormous neon sign hangs above the bar at Baby Grand
© Akira Ruiz

Karaoke might not technically qualify as live music, but a couple of drinks at this teeny-tiny bar on Lafayette Street will get even the most karaoke-phobic traveler belting out ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. The incredibly narrow space is always packed with a beer-drinking crowd, whooping and applauding, no matter who is holding the mic.

Ear Inn

Bar, American

Live music reverberates throughout the Ear Inn – the oldest continuously operating bar in the city – on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays. The EarRegulars own Sunday evenings, filling the room with brassy jazz; on the other nights, the performers rotate, playing everything from bluegrass to classic rock.

Azul on the Rooftop

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Mexican, Cuban

Azul on the Rooftop
© Azul Rooftop

What better pairing is there on a summer’s evening than rooftop views and live music? At Azul on the Rooftop at the Hotel Hugo, guests lounge on comfy couches, taking in a sweeping view of Downtown Manhattan. Cocktails are bright and tropical – try the Lady Liberty Moonshine (Belle Isle Honey Habanero, Leblon Cachaça, passionfruit and pineapple-orange agave syrup) – and go down particularly well during Sunday’s Cuban night, when Grupo Irek keep the crowd in high spirits. During the off-season, the show moves indoors to the Bar Hugo.

Antique Garage

Restaurant, Healthy, Middle Eastern

What was once an old mechanic shop is now Antique Garage, a Mediterranean restaurant marrying meze with jazz. The dark, brick-lined space more closely resembles an extravagant apartment: gaudy chandeliers hang from the ceiling and funky, mismatched plates grace each table. You can catch some live jazz almost every day – evening performances start at 7pm and musical weekend brunches get going at 12.30pm. If you love a bit of Jazz, check out the other great jazz clubs in New York.

Botanica Bar

Bar, American

Tucked away in this sunken dive bar is a cavernous back room where young professionals gyrate to ’70s and ’80s soul music. However, the DJs are often swapped out for a live set, replacing records with rock. If you arrive before 8pm, you’ll be treated to a happy hour of $3 beers and $3.50 mixed drinks.

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