Updated at: 10-06-2023 - By: John Lau

New York City, a vibrant metropolis known for its diverse sights and sounds, boasts an exceptional array of live music bars to suit any mood or preference.

Immerse yourself in the rich musical heritage that this city offers by exploring our list of the 23 best live music venues in NYC.

Experience unforgettable performances that make up the heart and soul of NYC’s nightlife scene.

23 Best Live Music Bars In NYC

Bowery Ballroom

Bowery Ballroom

Ah, the legendary Bowery Ballroom – a must-visit spot for any live music enthusiast in NYC. Ranked as the #1 Best Club in America by Rolling Stone magazine, this iconic venue at 6 Delancey Street offers an intimate and captivating setting with a capacity of 575 people.

As part of the  best live music bars in New York City, Bowery Ballroom showcases various local bands across different genres, making it your ultimate destination for experiencing some of the finest entertainment and nightlife around.

Plus, their state-of-the-art sound system ensures each performance leaves you mesmerized and wanting more.

Brooklyn Bowl

Brooklyn Bowl has earned its spot as one of the Best Live Music Bars in NYC, offering a unique entertainment experience that’s perfect for those seeking a night filled with lively tunes and good vibes.

Owned by concert promoter Peter Shapiro, Brooklyn Bowl has received numerous accolades such as being named the Best Live Music Venue in Las Vegas by Travel + Leisure.

Its press coverage highlights not only its distinction as an unparalleled travel destination but also showcases the wide variety of musical talent it attracts each year.

Mercury Lounge

At the heart of NYC’s Lower East Side, you’ll find Mercury Lounge, one of the best Live Music Bars in New York City.

As someone struggling with alcoholism, it can be challenging to find social events where alcohol isn’t front and center. It’s nice to know that at Mercury Lounge, you get to focus on enjoying incredible artist performances rather than feeling pressured by the constant presence of booze.

The Blue Note

The Blue Note

As someone who enjoys the nightlife scene in New York City, The Blue Note has been a longtime favorite music bar of mine. Established in Greenwich Village in 1981, this legendary jazz club is renowned for featuring intimate live performances by some of the most well-known musicians in jazz history.

Whether you’re into classic or contemporary jazz music, The Blue Note never disappoints with its impressive lineup of performers and welcoming ambiance.

As one of the best live music bars in NYC, it’s not uncommon to rub shoulders with famous artists while enjoying a drink or two at the bar.

The Apollo Theater

As someone who loves live music and entertainment, one of my favorite spots in NYC is definitely The Apollo Theater. Located in the heart of Harlem at 253 West 125th Street, this historic venue has been an important cultural institution for over a century.

Known as the “Soul of American Culture,” The Apollo Theater is truly iconic and has hosted some of the greatest performers in history, from Duke Ellington to James Brown.

For those struggling with alcoholism or addiction issues, attending a show at The Apollo Theater can be an incredibly uplifting experience. Whether you’re into jazz or hip hop or soul or rock n’ roll, there really is something for everyone here.

Irving Plaza

Irving Plaza

As someone who loves the live music scene, I highly recommend Irving Plaza as one of the best entertainment establishments in NYC. This concert hall and performance space has a rich history that dates back to 1978 when it first opened its doors.

The venue is located in Union Square, Manhattan, making it easily accessible by public transportation. One unique feature of Irving Plaza is its classic lobby where guests can grab a drink before heading up one flight to the main area.

Known for hosting some of the most memorable musical performances in New York City, Irving Plaza has been featured on various city guides such as  “50 Best Concert Venues.” From indie rock bands to world-famous artists like Lady Gaga and U2, this music venue offers an acoustic experience like no other.

Jazz Standard

Jazz Standard is a popular spot for those looking to indulge in jazz music and live performances. It’s located in the heart of Manhattan and boasts a cozy atmosphere that draws people seeking a laid-back night out.

As one of the best live music bars in NYC listed above, Jazz Standard caters to music lovers looking for nightlife entertainment. They also offer great drinks and food options that will keep you fueled throughout the evening.

With jazz musicians playing regularly, you can expect top-notch musical acts every night at Jazz Standard.

Joe’s Pub

Joe’s Pub is a must-visit music venue if you’re looking for an authentic and diverse live music experience in NYC. It  offers performances across various genres, from cabaret to modern dance to world music.

At Joe’s Pub, you’ll find a capacity of 187 people within a cozy setting that encourages intimate performances. The restaurant serves delicious food and drinks while the artists on stage showcase their talent with passion and energy.

The Knitting Factory

The Knitting Factory

As someone who enjoys a good drink and live music scene, The Knitting Factory has always been a personal favorite. It’s also known for its eclectic programming featuring alternative genres from all over the world.

Founded in 1987, The Knitting Factory has expanded into Knitting Factory Entertainment (KFE) and now operates in different cities worldwide. However, as someone who frequents their third NYC location since its inception, there’s something special about this venue.

It exudes a gritty charm that attracts an artistic community seeking cultural hotspots within nightlife entertainment.

Rockwood Music Hall

As someone who appreciates good music and a lively atmosphere, I highly recommend checking out Rockwood Music Hall when you’re in New York City. Located on the Lower East Side,owned by “The Professor” Ken Rockwood, this venue is known for showcasing singer-songwriters and up-and-coming artists – often for free or a small cover charge – making it accessible to all music lovers.

Whether you’re looking for a new performance space to experience fresh sounds or simply want to enjoy some nightlife with friends while listening to great live music, Rockwood Music Hall has you covered.

Baby’s All Right

As someone who struggles with alcoholism, I am always on the lookout for live music venues that offer a fun atmosphere without being too overwhelming.

Located in Brooklyn, this bar and restaurant boasts a fantastic sound system and intimate concert space for up to 280 people.

But what really sets Baby’s All Right apart from other venues is its craft cocktails and gourmet bar food offerings. They are truly top-notch! Plus, if you’re not in the mood for live music, they also host DJ nights that keep the dance floor packed.

Arlene’s Grocery

Arlene's Grocery

As someone who struggles with alcoholism, finding a safe and enjoyable place to enjoy live music can be difficult. Thankfully, Arlene’s Grocery in the Lower East Side district of Manhattan offers a unique space that caters to both music lovers and those looking for a fun night out without relying on alcohol.

But it’s not just karaoke that makes Arlene’s Grocery special. With nightly concerts featuring up-and-coming musicians or established acts, there is always something new and exciting happening at this establishment.


As someone who loves live music, I highly recommend checking out Drom in the East Village. This venue is a gem for its cultural diversity and range of music genres, with jazz, electronic, and soul being just a few examples.

The Cutting Room

The Cutting Room is a legendary music venue in the heart of New York City, offering up some of the best live performances you’re likely to see anywhere. This intimate space has been serving up great food and drinks alongside incredible shows since 1999.

With a capacity of up to 450 people, it’s an ideal spot for anyone looking to catch some amazing artists and performers in action while enjoying a night out on the town.

Whether you’re into jazz, rock, or anything in between, The Cutting Room has something for everyone on their event calendar.



I have to admit, SOB’s is one of my  favorite live music bars in NYC. Located in the Hudson Square neighborhood of Manhattan, this world-renowned venue offers an incredible variety of sounds inspired by Afro-Latino culture.

For anyone looking for a unique and offbeat nightlife experience, SOB’s should be at the top of your list. The moment you step into this sleek and stylish space, you’ll feel like you’re transported to another world.

With live performances ranging from salsa dance parties to jazz ensembles and DJ sets spinning everything from hip-hop to reggae tunes – there’s something for everyone at SOB’s.

The Bitter End

As an alcoholism advocate, The Bitter End is one of my favorite live music bars in NYC. This iconic nightclub and folk music venue has been hosting nightly shows since 1961 and is a must-visit destination for any music lover.

Many famous artists have graced their stage over the years, from Bob Dylan to Lady Gaga. But what I love most about this venue is its timeless appeal. Despite being located in Greenwich Village, which may not be as bohemian as it once was, The Bitter End continues to attract a diverse crowd of locals and tourists alike who come to enjoy good music and delicious cocktails.


One of my personal favorite live music bars in NYC is Pianos, located on the Lower East Side. This cozy venue has a laid-back atmosphere and regularly hosts up-and-coming indie bands and artists.

They have two stages – one downstairs and one upstairs – so you can catch multiple acts in one night if you’re feeling adventurous.

For those who love piano entertainment specifically, Pianos also occasionally features solo pianists or dueling piano players for an extra bit of fun.

City Winery

City Winery

City Winery is a hidden gem located along the Hudson River in NYC. As someone who struggles with alcoholism, I appreciate the fact that this venue offers alternative entertainment options beyond just drinking.

Their live music events are held in an intimate setting, where you can enjoy great wine while listening to rock stars and indie music artists perform on stage.

Additionally, City Winery is more than just a live music venue. They offer wine tasting eventscomedy shows, and even podcast recordings for those who want to broaden their entertainment horizons.

Fat Cat

One of the most popular live music bars in NYC is Fat Cat. Located in Greenwich Village, this underground dive bar offers a unique experience for jazz lovers and party-goers alike.

The bar features live music every night, with a variety of talented performers showcasing their skills on stage.

As someone struggling with alcoholism, it can be difficult to find enjoyable nightlife options that don’t revolve around drinking. Luckily, Fat Cat offers an alternative atmosphere where you can enjoy great music and games without feeling pressured to consume alcohol.

The laid-back vibe of the bar makes it easy to relax and have a good time, even if you’re sober.

The Jazz Gallery

The Jazz Gallery is a non-profit listening room and performance space in NYC that showcases progressive jazz music without the need for alcohol or drugs.

It’s considered one of the most imaginatively booked jazz clubs in the city by The New York Times and has been included in various lists of the best live music bars and jazz clubs in NYC.

The intimate setting also offers an opportunity to connect with fellow jazz enthusiasts without feeling pressure to drink.

Attending a show at The Jazz Gallery can be an enjoyable way to experience the vibrant jazz music scene while staying sober and connected with others who share similar interests.

The Iridium

The Iridium is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves live music in NYC. It’s been around for over 25 years and has showcased the best rock, jazz, and blues artists from all over the world.

One unique feature about The Iridium was that the legendary Les Paul played there every week for almost 15 years until his passing at age 94.

He is credited with creating many of the electric guitar techniques used today and influenced countless other musicians throughout their careers.

Terra Blues

This classic blues bar located in Greenwich Village offers a traditional space that transports patrons to another era.

With over 20 years of history, Terra Blues has become an iconic venue for lovers of blues music and jazz clubs alike. Boasting a modestly-structured space that can hold up to about 30 people at once, this saloon-style establishment is perfect for intimate and personal performances.

And with its location right on Bleecker Street, it’s easy to get lost in the city’s night-time vibe without feeling too overwhelmed by crowds or noise pollution.

The Village Vanguard

If you’re a fan of jazz music and live performances, then The Village Vanguard should be at the top of your list. This legendary club in Greenwich Village has been open since 1935 and is considered to be one of the best live music bars in NYC.

The club’s esteemed history includes hosting some of the biggest names in jazz, including John Coltrane.

As someone struggling with alcoholism, I have found solace in spending evenings at The Village Vanguard enjoying world-class jazz ensembles while sipping on non-alcoholic drinks.

Not only is the music exceptional, but this iconic club also has a dress code that makes for an excellent excuse to dress up and experience some classier nightlife.


After exploring the 23 best live music bars in NYC, it’s clear that the city is home to some of the most iconic and legendary establishments in the world. From jazz clubs to rock venues, these bars offer plenty of options for locals and tourists alike looking for a night out with great drinks and even better music.

Whether you’re on a date or just want to enjoy a cocktail while listening to live performances, there’s something for everyone at these top-notch drinking establishments.