DC’s best jazz clubs

The capital has spawned some jazz greats—and its intimate jazz venues still get toes tapping. Discover the best concerts in town with our guide to Washington, DC jazz clubs

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Blues Alley jazz club in Georgetown

Blues Alley jazz club in Georgetown


With the likes of Duke Ellington and Shirley Horn hailing from the city, Washington, DC has long been home to a thriving jazz scene—and though there aren't a huge number of them, this town's jazz venues are renowned for their quality.

For sophisticated jazz and world music head to the legendary Birchmere—the former bluegrass and country institution is an atmospheric place to while away a night. Bohemian Caverns, in DC's historic African-American corridor, serves up chilled beats and sultry gigs from internationally-renowned acts. And Twins Jazz—run by sisters Kelly and Maze Tesfaye—is worth a visit not only for its roster of musical legends but also for its sideline in hearty Ethiopian food.

Jazz is ingrained in DC's history—to get to know the city, it's well worth paying a visit to a club or two. So if you're after sinking some beers while soaking up some smooth beats, read on for Time Out's guide to Washington's best jazz clubs.

The Birchmere

Originally a bluegrass, folk and country institution, the Birchmere is one of those venues artists can’t bear to outgrow. Patty Loveless might play a couple of nights here in the fall before heading to Wolf Trap in the spring, and Merle Haggard’s annual gigs always

  1. 3701 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA, (W Reed Avenue & Russell Road)
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Blues Alley

Some patrons consider the cover charges here outrageously high, especially as there is also a two-drink minimum per person for each set, which usually lasts just under an hour. Others are just so thankful that they have a small space where first-rate acts such as Mose

  1. 1073 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Georgetown, (M Street & Jefferson Place)
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Bohemian Caverns

After being shuttered for 30 years, the legendary Bohemian Caverns reopened in 2000. While it has not quite restored the glory days of U Street single-handed, it has found a place among the revitalized nightlife in the historic African-American corridor. Christian

  1. 2003 11th Street, NW, U Street Corridor, (U & V Streets)
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Chi-Cha Lounge

Ecuadorean entrepreneur Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld has taught DC to relax to a Latin beat. Since opening Chi-Cha, he’s expanded to Dupont Circle (Gazuza), Georgetown (Mate) and Arlington (Gua-Rapo). All follow the same formula: deep velvet couches, candlelight, Andean

  1. 1624 U Street, NW, U Street Corridor, (16th & 17th Streets)
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Eighteenth Street Lounge

Love it or hate it, ESL remains the city’s trendiest and most exclusive lounge, widely renowned (or notorious) for its strict door policy. Should your attire (or your connections) please the notoriously fickle doormen and you’re granted entrance through the

  1. 1212 18th Street, NW, Dupont Circle, (M Street & Jefferson Place)
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HR-57

This unassuming club recently upgraded to a larger spot—a former church on H Street—after migrating to the corridor from 14th Street a few years back. The principal attraction here is jazz and blues; the place is named after the US House of Representatives’

  1. 1007 H Street NE, H Street Corridor, (10th & 11th Streets)
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Twins Jazz

The twins here are owners Kelly and Maze Tesfaye, and their well-worn jazz club regularly features locals (Lenny Robinson, Michael Thomas) and national (David "Fathead" Newman, Eddie Henderson) players. The headlining cuisine is that of the twins’ native Ethiopia,

  1. 1344 U Street, NW, U Street Corridor, (between 13th & 14th Streets)
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