10Best New Orleans jazz clubs for feeling the groove

Jazz is the beating heart of New Orleans, as important to this city's soul as a rich pot of gumbo, a second line parade and the charming architecture that defines neighborhoods like the French Quarter and the Marigny.  To listen to local musicians play authentic New Orleans jazz, you need to dive into neighborhoods beyond the Bourbon Street scene, although there are still a few must-visit clubs in the French Quarter. One of the best places to start is the Marigny, just up from where the Mississippi bends into its famous crescent, an original Creole neighborhood named for 19th century aristocrat and good-time-guy Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville. In the past decade or so, the Marigny has emerged as a mecca of nightclubs, bars and restaurants, most of which are frequented by a mix of both locals and tourists.   Here is arguably the best place in town to hear all kinds of live music, including straight ahead jazz.  On any given evening, you can swing dance at Spotted Cat, hear brass at d.b.a. and most Fridays Ellis Marsalis’ straight ahead jazz at Snug Harbor.  There are clubs in the Treme, uptown on Oak Street, along St. Claude Avenue. All for your listening pleasure.

Monteleone Hotel Carousel Bar
Photo courtesy of Hotel Monteleone

All dressed up and ready for some cheek to cheek? This revolving bar in the elegant Monteleone Hotel fits the bill. With live music by talented vocalists like Robin Barnes and Lena Prima, the Carousel Bar makes anybody feel like a sophisti-cat....  Read More

French Quarter

Everyone – old and young, from far and near – feels welcome at this cozy German-style beer hall. Patrons, seated near the fireplace or on the patio, puff cigars, down their favorite imported beers or sip cocktails made with European...  Read More

The Spotted Cat
Photo courtesy of New Orleans CVB

The Spotted Cat is always crowded, it's true, but if you like gypsy swing and traditional jazz, you'll fall in love with this Frenchmen Street sweet spot. Crowds always spill onto the sidewalks during festival times and game weekends, so expect...  Read More

Historic Bywater

Don't let the seedy environs deter you from this casual, comfortable Bywater hangout. Vaughan's is one of the best dive bars in town, brought to local infamy by Kermit Ruffins; regular Thursday night gigs. Kermit retired last year from late...  Read More

Renovating the divey Candlelight Lounge seems sacrilegious, but after a month of sprucing the iconic Treme restaurant on Robertson reopened early in 2016. Good thing, because this institution is home to the Treme Brass band every Wednesday...  Read More


Pressed tin walls and a narrow dance floor are part of the charm of the Maple Leaf. Live bands play genres like Zydeco, rock, blues and funk showcasing the city's best talent. Unannounced sit-ins are not uncommon; Bruce Springsteen once dropped...  Read More

Located inside the Royal Sonesta in the French Quarter, Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse offers local talent seven nights a week, no cover charge, in a swank, upscale setting. Mayfield is a Grammy-award winning jazz trumpet player and educator...  Read More

This stalwart spot is where many New Orleans musicians including Harry Connick, Jr. served their apprenticeships. Maison upholds the city's famous jazz and Dixieland tradition, one of the few clubs on Bourbon Street that can stake that claim....  Read More

French Quarter

Just show up and expect to stand in line at this wonderful venue just off of Bourbon Street. But you can also order tickets online and go in at the front of the crowds, guaranteeing your party one of the hard bench seats in front of the band....  Read More

Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro

You have two options at Snug Harbor, the jazz institution on Frenchmen Street in the Marigny. Sit at the bar or in the dining room and eat - the steaks and burgers are excellent -and you'll hear whoever is performing on live TV. Or pay the...  Read More


Meet Beth D'Addono

Beth D'Addono is a food and travel writer obsessed with flavor, exploring cultures, street music and the city of New Orleans.

After spending years flying in regularly to research stories,...  More About Beth

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