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Modavie
Photograph: Modavie / @modavie

The best jazz bars in Montreal where music's hot and drinks are cool

Dine out and drink up at the best jazz bars in Montreal—one trip and it'll be music to your ears.

By Colin Rier
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Make no mistake, the best jazz bars in Montreal are right up there with the bustling clubs may found in New Orleans, Paris or New York. This city has been home to some of the world’s jazz legends like Oscar Peterson, and the scene here is why Montreal festivals like the Internation Jazz Festival take place annually. While jazz today may not be as vivacious as it was in the early 1900s, there are still many venues around the island that keep this storied legacy going—and with dinner and drink menus closely rivalling that of the best cocktail bars and wine bars in Montreal. From chill sessions in garden venues to fast-paced performances and upstairs speakeasy vibes, Montreal always has something on offer.

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Where to find the best jazz bars in Montreal

House of Jazz
Photograph: House of Jazz / @HouseofjazzCanada

1. House of Jazz

You can’t talk about jazz venues in Montreal without talking about the House of Jazz. It has been around since 1981, and as such the attitude of jazz has soaked itself into the building itself. The downtown location of the House of Jazz closed in 2020, but its Laval location continues brings in an ever-rotating list of local & international acts. Equipped with a full bar and full menu, this is a great place to visit for a romantic night of a delicious dinner accompanied by beautiful music.

Bistro à Jojo
Photograph: Bistro à Jojo / @Bistroajojo

2. Bistro à Jojo

Bistro à Jojo proudly proclaims to be serving up live music ‘7 on 7’. They live up to that claim with at least one act playing every night, and two acts back-to-back on most weekends. This is not a place for dinner & a show though, as it is much more of a traditional music bar with the only items listed on the menu being liquors, beers and house wines. Then again, you don’t need food when the music is this good.

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Modavie
Photograph: Modavie / @modavie

3. Modavie

Traipsing through the cobbled streets of Old Montreal, you may feel yourself taken over by the need to listen to music as charming as the street’s mosaic. Luckily for us, Modavie is supplying the more historic part of town with all of its music listening needs. Adding to the venue’s unique Montreal charm are the set-runners that fulfill the restaurant's emphasis on highlighting local acts. They take it a step further by partnering with the Université de Montréal’s jazz program to highlight up-and-coming stars in the program.

Diese Onze
Photograph: Jean-Pierre Dubé

4. Diese Onze

A modern classic of the Montreal Jazz scene, Diese Onze is located on Rue St. Denis, a street that used to be filled to the brim with jazz bars. Diese Onze is one of the few that remains and proudly carries the legacy of this city’s beautiful jazz culture.  Step down into the little basement theatre and you’ll be seduced by whatever talented musician they have up on stage. During the Montreal Jazz Festival, many of the acts playing the big stages will come here for a more intimate performance.

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Café Résonance
Photograph: Café Résonance / @resonancecafe

5. Café Résonance

One of the toughest aspects of starting out in music is finding venues that give you that first booking to get a foothold in the city’s scenes. Luckily for both musicians and their fans, Café Résonance works diligently to provide an affordable stage for young Montreal musicians, many of them coming from some of the city’s best music programs. Come hear the sounds of the scene's future.

Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill
Photograph: Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill / @upstairsjazz

6. Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill

Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill leans towards the more serious side of the jazz listening scene in Montreal. And deservedly so! Many international jazz acts make this place a routine stop on their tours. As such, on the showcase nights on Friday & Saturday the owner insists on a polite advisory that the crowd be silent and still. All attention should be on the jazz!

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Bootlegger L’Authentique
Photograph: Bootlegger L’Authentique / @bootlegger.st.laurent

7. Bootlegger L’Authentique

Wandering down the always-bustling Saint-Laurent Boulevard, you may find yourself wishing for a speakeasy away from the electro ‘unce-unce’ of all the college dance clubs that dot the Main. Your salvation will be found at Bootlegger L’Authentique. Modelled after a New Orleans style hideaway, Bootlegger offers creative cocktails paired with upbeat jazz, blues and swing performances to keep you dancing until late in the night—among many more entertainments.

Jardin Nelson
Photograph: Jardin Nelson / @jardinnelson

8. Jardin Nelson

We deserve an award for surviving the slush and slog that comes every winter in Montreal, so treat yourself come terrasse season in the city: A leisurely long dinner in the backyard garden at Jardin Nelson to the sweet soothing sounds of jazz. Alongside a reliable menu of burgers, seafood and fries, the venue keeps jazz running from midday until late at night. Not so much a venue to explore the new & upcoming musicians of the city, but to listen to their dependable house musicians.

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Salsathèque
Photograph: David Rosario

9. Salsathèque

If the slower-paced wail of jazz horns isn’t fulfilling your need of music to fuel your dance, check out Salsatheque. In a room filled with flashing lights, disco balls and a large dancefloor, the salsa rhythms spill out and implore all spectators to cut a rug. It has been operating for 37 years and has developed some fan favourite theme nights over the years. Check their website to see if there is a night that specifically caters to you.

Club 6/49
Photograph: Club 6/49 / club649.com

10. Club 6/49

Have you been longingly looking at the dance floor, but held back by the fear that you’re dancing may reveal your inexperience? Club 6/49 understands you, and it's there for you. In addition to offering their standard dance club nights, they also offer dance lesson nights such as their free beginner salsa lessons on Mondays.

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Grumpy's
Photograph: @dpattenmusic / Instagram

11. Grumpy's

This dive bar has a simple slogan that encompasses their purpose: “Live bands, cold beer, good company”. They don’t get too fancy with either the (non-existent) food, or the drinks (mostly pints and shows). They ensure there is always cheap pints available and an experienced band on stage ready to entertain spectators. If you’re looking to try your own hand at jazz, they offer an open mic night on Tuesdays, but the staged jazz nights on Wednesdays are what you want when you need a show.

La Luncheonette
Photograph: La Luncheonette / @LaLuncheonettemtl

12. La Luncheonette

In the Thunderdome that is the Saint Henri nightlife scene, there are few places that serve as a live music venue or a reliable corner café serving simple well-priced fare. Somehow La Luncheonette covers both of these needs with a short but strong menu of Guinness-chocolate cupcakes, pulled pork sandwiches and peanut energy balls. They bring the jazz in on weekends to pair with a wonderful brunch service.

The best of Montreal's nightlife

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