Best Jazz Clubs in Washington

Jazz Up Your Evening at These Swingin' D.C. Venues

Many musical genres can be defined quite easily but try to put parameters on jazz and it will leave you scratching your head because improvisation is at the heart of this soulful music. As the birthplace of jazz legend Duke Ellington, Washington, D.C. has a number of venues that will keep your toes tappin' and fingers snappin.' 

Opening its doors in 1965, the Georgetown-based Blues Alley has welcomed many jazz legends over the years including Dizzy Gillespie and Wynton Marsalis. While taking in a show at this intimate venue, be sure to order an entrée off their menu – each selection is named after a great jazz performer. Anyone up for Tony Bennett's shrimp and artichoke hearts or Jerry 'The Iceman' Butler baked salmon? 

Some venues focus exclusively on jazz talent while others offer shows in additional to other genres of music. Be sure to check the show calendar at hot spots like the Lincoln Theatre to find out when amazing jazz acts while grace their stages.  

A number of area restaurants like Georgia Brown's and the Tabard Inn host jazz nights where performers can showcase their talent in a relaxed, causal atmosphere.

Whatever venue appeals to you, jazz up your night by heading to one of these top district clubs.


Built in 1922, this district destination hosted jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Louie Armstrong and Cab Calloway in its early years. Though the theatre was shuttered for a time, a renovation project in the 1990s brought the space back to its former glory. Today,the venue welcomes performers from a variety of different genres. Shows are for all ages unless otherwise stated. If you come hungry, don't worry. They have a bar with snacks in order to fuel up before, during or after a show. Shows are announced usually on Mondays so be sure to check their social media if there is an act you've been waiting to see. METRO: U Street/Cardoza

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: Nearly 100 years ago, this venue welcomed jazz legends and today it continues to do the same.

Gina's expert tip: If you don't want to pay for a reserved seat, make sure to come early for general admission seating as it is given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Read more about Lincoln Theatre →

Dubbing itself a European-style oasis on American soil, this venue offers both a charming place to sleep and a restaurant featuring a seasonal dish menu which changes every day and inspired by local, fresh offerings. Be sure to go for dinner when live jazz music is played at the bar and lounge every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday night. Be sure to get to shows early because setting is on a first-come, first serve basis. The lounge has quite the cozy atmosphere including a fireplace and antique furnishings. Check out their website to see which act will be gracing the stage during your visit. METRO: Dupont Circle

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: This venue offers lovely accommodations, terrific food and lively entertainment.

Gina's expert tip: Try their featured Tabard cocktail with milagro reposado tequila, amontillado sherry, Drambuie, orange bitters and peel.

Read more about Tabard Inn Restaurant →

Located in Adams Morgan, this night spot is a place where jazz and blues fans can come to have a great time and listen to some fantastic music. The atmosphere is cozy and family-friendly so wear something comfortable or get dressed up in your favorite outfit. Their menu features American fare such as pasta, pizza, sandwiches and burgers. Grab a drink at the bar where cocktails are named after jazz legends like The Duke, Fats Manhattan and the Billy Holiday Tini. Grab a spot on the patio to people watch or just enjoy a beautiful evening out on the town. METRO: Woodley Park/Zoo.

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: Comfortable atmosphere to listen to great jazz performances that will make you ready to plan an return trip.

Gina's expert tip: The best place to just listen and enjoy the music is at the bar.

Read more about Columbia Station →

Howard Theatre
Photo courtesy of Howard Theatre

First opened in 1910 and geared toward African American musical acts, the Howard Theatre underwent renovations in 2010 and reopened its doors in 2012. Some of the recent shows include Salt N Peppa, Babyface, and Jody Watley. Like many other venues, seats are on a first-come, first serve basis. Singing along to some of your favorite tunes can work up a thirst so hit up their bar for refreshments including wine and specialty cocktails or grab a bite to eat off their menu with appetizers and entrees available. Be sure to check out their nightclub when an amazing concert isn't planned. METRO: Shaw-Howard U

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: A great spot to see up and coming talent as well as famous faces.

Gina's expert tip: If you don't want to take the metro, parking is available onsite and can be purchased when you buy your ticket.

Read more about Howard Theatre →

Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club
Photo courtesy of Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club

Built in the late 1930s, this venue's former life included serving the area as a movie theater. Today, guests from all over the region come to enjoy a classic continental fare dinner along with seeing some amazing musical talent. Folks will find two different seating arrangements â€" both with great views of the stage â€" the dining area and stadium-style theater seats. Some shows will offer a dance floor for those who like to groove while taking in a show. Attire is business casual and children ages five and up may taken in a show but parents are encouraged to consider the show's suitability beforehand.

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: With shows seven nights a week, this venue is a great place to come to get delicious meal and let the music take you away.

Gina's expert tip: There is a $10 per person minimum charge for food and drink in the dining area in addition to the price of admission.

Read more about Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club →


Sunday brunch never sounded so good when you combine great food with live jazz music. If you like the show on Sundays, be sure to come back for another jazz performance held on Wednesday nights from 6 to 10 p.m. Fine Southern cuisine is on the menu at this establishment so bring a healthy appetite. If it is a beautiful crisp night, try to get a seat out on their patio. Valet parking is available during Sunday brunch service and every evening after 5 p.m. Reservations are recommended and business casual attire is suggested. METRO: Faragut North.

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: A great restaurant plus live jazz music equals a winning combination.

Gina's expert tip: Jazz performances during their Sunday brunch meal service are not to be missed.

Read more about Georgia Brown's →

Seating between 65 to 100 guests, this jazz club gives patrons the opportunity to listen to music in an intimate setting that is full of unique character. The stage may be small but the music remains big. Order a dish off their internationally-themed menu or grab a drink at their colored ceramic cave-like bar but always be prepared for a great show. Besides offering a fun venue with delicious food, the venue has formed the Twins Jazz Foundation which provides opportunities for local students to participate in weekly jam sessions and be mentored by area musicians. METRO: U Street.

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: A charming, intimate club that every jazz lover will adore.

Gina's expert tip: If you can't make it to a show, check out their live stream feed.

Read more about Twins Jazz →

KC Jazz Club
Photo courtesy of Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center is one of the country's busiest performing arts centers hosting more than 3,000 events and welcoming more than 2 million guests so you will enjoy the intimate setting they provide for jazz music. From hosting fresh, new talent to welcoming seasoned veterans, this venue is a must-visit. See a show on their intimate rooftop terrace theater or take in a performance in the cabaret setting of the club. Whichever you chose, your ears are sure to thank you. Drinks may be purchased along with light fare snacks. Check out their website to see what act will be gracing the stage during the upcoming season. METRO: Foggy Bottom

Read more about KC Jazz Club →

Walk through the doors of this Georgetown gem and you will be transported back to the supper clubs of the 1920s and 1930s. Founded in 1965, many well-known artists have played here including Dizzy Gillespie and Wynton Marsalis. While taking in a performance, treat yourself to their scrumptious menu with entrees named after jazz greats like Tony Bennett's shrimp and artichoke hearts and Jerry 'The Iceman' Butler baked salmon. This venue is known as a listening club so be respectful during performances. Once you purchase tickets, make sure you can attend because sales are final and non-refundable. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis so get there early. METRO: Foggy Bottom

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: Celebrating more than 50 years of bringing jazz to the masses, this club is a must-visit for jazz lovers.

Gina's expert tip: There is a $12 food or beverage minimum per person per show.

Read more about Blues Alley →

Jojo Restaurant and Bar
Photo courtesy of JoJo Restauarant & Bar

Blending nostalgia of the early 1920s with a contemporary flair, guests will find an impressive selection of live jazz music at this U Street venue every evening except Mondays. Opened in 2003, JoJo features two levels each with a full bar. With a vibe of an upscale restaurant without the dress code, guests can enjoy entrees such as bourbon BBQ baby back ribs, blackened salmon with shrimp wrapped with bacon and jerk chicken along with a selection of burgers, sandwiches, pasta and salads. Because of its intimate feel, visitors with large groups should make reservations ahead of time to guarantee their party may be accommodated. METRO: U Street

Recommended for Jazz Clubs because: Pairing savory dishes with top notch local jazz talent, this venue is a must for those who love great food with an unforgettable show.

Gina's expert tip: Open mainly during the evening hours, folks will want to check of their Sunday jazz brunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Read more about Jojo Restaurant and Bar →


Meet Gina Gallucci White

Gina Gallucci White is an award winning freelance writer with articles appearing in such regional publications as Frederick Magazine, The Daily Record, Montgomery Magazine and The Gazette. She...  More About Gina