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Blues Alley
Photograph: Courtesy Blues Alley

The 7 best jazz clubs in DC

From casual joints to historic bars, the best jazz clubs in DC are legendary

Written by
Lori A May
Contributors
Jessica Estrada
&
Rina Rapuano
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If you find yourself in one of the best jazz clubs in DC, you’re standing on legendary turf. Known as the home of Duke Ellington and Shirley Horn (among other illustrious jazzers), Washington, DC, has long had a thriving jazz scene. Historically clustered in the U Street Corridor, the best jazz clubs are now scattered around the city. That’s even more the case following pandemic shutdowns, where DC saw a huge portion of clubs shutter under budgetary pressure. Those that live on continue to raise the roof with jazz acts of all calibers, from famous names to up-and-coming acts.

Of course, these joints are all in good company: across the city, the best live music clubs in DC offer anything from blues to R&B and other related genres, too. But if you’re here for the jazz beat, check out our list of the best jazz clubs in DC.

RECOMMENDED: the best bars in Washington, DC

Best jazz clubs in DC

  • Nightlife
  • Nightlife
  • Georgetown
  • price 2 of 4

This iconic jazz supper club, founded in 1965, has hosted major names like Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, and Ella Fitzgerald. With world-class blues, jazz acts, and top-notch acoustics, patrons find the ticket prices and drink minimum totally worth the money. Plus, this is the best spot in town to combine your love of seafood gumbo and catfish with smooth and groovy tunes.

  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • Alexandria
  • price 2 of 4

When The Birchmere made its debut back in 1966, it quickly became the go-to hub for bluegrass music. In its more than 50 years, the historic hall has grown into an internationally renowned music destination that draws artists of all calibers and genres (though jazz and blues remain at the forefront). Inside, The Music Hall is a first come, first seated basis, while The Flex Stage is where you’ll find standing audiences during performances. Enjoy a flatbread or club sandwich, then sink into the tunes of regular performers like Boney James or touring acts like Chris Isaak.

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  • Restaurants
  • U Street Corridor
  • price 2 of 4

This two-level brick-walled spot on U Street pulses with the sounds of local and international live jazz and blues acts on Wednesday through Sunday nights. The venue clings to 1920s ambience and flair with carved mahogany furnishings, while the second level features a cozy vibe thanks to a fireplace and lounge seating. It’s a swanky spot without the formal dress code. American fare like burgers, lamb chops, and herb-grilled salmon can be found here, but don’t miss the classic cocktails on their happy hour menu.

Billing itself as the “home of Roberta Flack,” this Capitol Hill venue—where the famous singer reportedly got her break—hosts a live jazz supper club Wednesdays through Saturdays. Each night varies between jazz jams, Latin grooves, and feature acts indoors while there’s also a cozy and social patio outside if you’re simply passing by. The daily drink specials are worth a look, and the food menu is focused on hearty comforts like crab cakes, Reubens, meaty burgers, and a Sunday fish fry.

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This not-for-profit jazz club, located in Brookland, runs shows for all ages on Wednesday and Sunday nights (with a $5 or $10 cash-only cover). There’s no alcohol onsite, but other beverages are just a buck. The wallet-friendly jazz venue is decorated with instruments hanging from the ceiling, and there’s a casual retro vibe here that’s hard to beat. Catch acts like The Bob Butta Trio, Paul Carr Quartet, and other features rolling through town.

  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • Bethesda
  • price 3 of 4

Originally an Art Deco theater built in the 1930s, this space went through extensive renovations before reopening in 2013 as a jazz supper club. Still boasting the vintage vibe of the original space, the club is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Breathe in the air of nostalgia and enjoy jerk wings or shrimp and grits as performances begin. Acts range from The Isley Brothers to Deniece Williams, Walter Beasley, and more.

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  • Restaurants
  • Silver Spring
  • price 1 of 4

Takoma Station Tavern is an eclectic venue with comedy on Thursdays and plenty of sports nights, but Friday night is where it’s at for jazz performances. There’s a solid rotation of ensembles, quartets, and other feature acts in a venue that’s known for its warm ambience and inviting vibe. This is a casual spot—one that’s not too demanding on the wallet—with a menu that pays tribute to beloved musicians with entrees like the Bob Marley honey jerk chicken sandwich and a Charlie Parker basket of wings.

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