Remember...instruments? We know it’s been a while. They’re similar to other objects in that you can hold them, only they make people happy by way of sound. Now that concerts aren’t a thing, you may be missing the feeling of listening to something other than a podcast in your headphones. Luckily, some NYC bars and restaurants are hosting regularly scheduled live music outdoors. The next time you’re looking to improve date night, or you want to drink a glass of wine and read a book next to some outdoor jazz, here’s where to go.
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Cafe Erzulie, a Haitian cafe in Bushwick, often hosts live performances, Caribbean music nights, and steel drum bands in their backyard (as well as stand-up comedy). While you’re here, you can order things like plantain chips with guacamole, Haitian patties filled with beef, and a platter of black rice, pikliz (a spicy pickled relish), and sweet green peas. Make sure to follow Cafe Ezrulie on Instagram so you never miss something great.
The Grange’s wooden, string-lit sidewalk cafe looks like a deck in a home improvement show. It’s a charming place to bring a date or your family for American dishes like spicy cauliflower steak and scallops, especially because they host live jazz nights on Sundays from 6pm to 9pm. You can make a reservation for this Harlem spot’s outdoor (or indoor) area through their website.
If you often wake up on the UWS on Sundays, watch TV, and eat eggs that are slightly overcooked, you should change up your weekend routine with this all-day Australian cafe on 96th Street. Gertrude opened up at the end of summer 2020, and they’ve been hosting live music most weekend morning - with acts like a guitarist who worked on Cats the musical. It seems reasonable that the only way to improve banana bread and a cortado is by adding in some upright bass. You can stay up to date with their events on Instagram here.
St Mazie in Williamsburg has outdoor shows Tuesday through Sunday, as well as during brunch on the weekends. In case you need more convincing, there’s also a back garden and daily Happy Hour that starts at 6pm. While they always take walk-ins, you can email email@example.com to reserve your spot.
This New Orleans-inspired jazz bar hosts live music on Broome Street on the LES every Wednesday through Sunday from 6pm to 8pm. In case you’re worried it’ll be busy with people walking by intrigued by the saxophone on the sidewalk, know that you can secure a table ahead of time for outdoor dining. Also - starting on October 23rd, you can watch indoor shows in their music lounge on Fridays and Saturdays (there will be a $15 per-person fee for booking a table).
There are three facts to memorize about this live music bar in Elmhurst. They have outdoor shows almost every night starting at 7pm, they sell platters of jamon iberico, and you can even bring your own instruments on Sunday night for their weekly community jam sessions. Find more info on their schedule and drink menu of mostly Queens-brewed beers here.
Every Saturday and Sunday between noon and 5pm, this South Bronx spot hosts bottomless brunch with live DJs or drummers (like this incredible drummer named Anthony Anderson) as well as unlimited mimosas and sangria for $24. Make sure to follow their Instagram here so you don’t miss any events.
Between the spacious sidewalk setup, fresh pasta, and great wine, going to this west Soho restaurant will probably make your week. But going to Cafe Altro Paradiso when they have live jazz on Sunday night may make you weep. You can make a reservation for either their indoor or outdoor dining area here.
If you’re looking to significantly improve a random Tuesday night, go to Rue B in Alphabet City and drink an Old Fashioned while you listen to live jazz. They post info about their nightly musical performances on Instagram here, but you can generally expect shows to typically run from 7pm to 9pm. On Saturday nights, they always host a barbershop quartet out front called Scout Ford And The Blue Moons. A tip: you can hear the band from the outdoor seating areas at Haile and Frangos Peri Peri.
This music bar in Crown Heights opened in the summer of 2020, and it’s somewhere you should pin on your Google Maps if you enjoy things like frozen cocktails and saxophone solos. Their outdoor areas has different performers every night. Check out their menu and schedule here.
We have fond memories of drinking chalice-sized martinis while listening to an accordionist or three-piece bands play in the corner of the small, dark space at this East Village Russian spot. Now Anyway Cafe is bringing the same swirl-your-vodka energy outside. They have musicians who play inside with all of the doors open almost every night.
This Japanese jazz bar is one of those rare Midtown spots that makes you forget you’re half a mile from Auntie Anne’s in Penn Station. But now they’re offering live music, sake, and delicious cod roe spaghetti on their sidewalk every night starting at 5pm. Music typically starts around 6:30pm, but we’d recommend showing up early to get a seat. Tomi isn’t taking any reservations at this time.
Fruances Tavern in FiDi is so old and historic, it has its own attached museum (which is currently open to the public). They have an outdoor set-up where you can drink some whiskey and eat pub food like crispy fish and chips, all while imagining which condiments John Adams may have preferred on his French Fries. Check the schedule here so you don’t miss their live music on weekends.
This Caribbean restaurant on Staten Island is equipped with a fire pit, strings of hanging Carriflags, turf patches, and a swinging love seat. They often host live music nights and $5 drink specials. Come here for guava margaritas, juicy jerk chicken, and a big plate of island pasta.
This Israeli restaurant in Park Slope has a live band playing almost every night, which should only make your crispy lamb arias and barley risotto taste better. They don’t accept reservations, but you can stop by and grab a table between 10am and 10pm every day.