For a city host to one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world, it seems only natural to want to know more about its local jazz scene. Enter the following Montreal jazz clubs, arguably the best in the city. These venues offer live music, dinner, drinks and the kind of atmosphere that makes you want to linger long past last call.
Sleek, intimate with a casual-come-chic vibe, Dièse Onze feels posh and polished, with a mild see-and-be-seen vibe to echo the sentiment. Food is along the lines of fusion/French bistro. A charming terrace in the back is open during warmer months. Feedback on this Plateau neighborhood jazz club is predominantly positive. Good locale for dates.
Location: 4115-A St. Denis (between Duluth and Rachel)
Modavie is one of the city's highest rated restaurants on Tripadvisor. Add live jazz to that rep and you've got the perfect evening. The venue is elegant, service is smart, and musicians follow the pace and pulse of the room, so much so that if you're not careful, you might just fall into the music.
Location: 1 St. Paul West, corner of St. Laurent
Upstairs Jazz Club
Visiting Montreal with only enough time for one jazz club? Go Upstairs. It's a local favorite. The food -Italian, burgers, Southern and Cajun style- is passable to good, depending on who you ask, and it can get crowded fairly quickly. As for ambiance, there's a nice, casual, New Yorkish feels to the place. Dress up or down, either way, you'll fit right in. Playing jazz seven nights a week, every day has a different theme, from jam nights to international artist showcases.
Location: 1254 MacKay (below Ste. Catherine)
Most people come here for the terrace. Why? It's STUNNING. Do yourself a favor and don't look up photos of Jardin Nelson before going if it's your first time. It's way more fun that way. Add live jazz to that ridiculously gorgeous courtyard and you've got the ideal Montreal midsummer's night nailed.
Location: 407 Place Jacques Cartier, corner of St. Paul Est
House of Jazz
One of Montreal's veteran jazz clubs that's still standing, House of Jazz has been around since 1981, pumping out live jazz pretty much every night of the week. The interior has this opulent cabaret feel that hits you the moment you walk in the door and spot the venue's brass detailing and over-the-top chandelier. Conveniently located near the outdoor Montreal Jazz Festival hub.
Location: 2060, rue Aylmer
Replacing Gainzbar as of late September 2015 is Nestor, a brand new Prohibition-era style lounge with cocktails to match located on the strip of Plaza St. Hubert in la Petite Patrie. A totally relaxed, down to earth vibe, it has. And while Gainzbar's jazz nights are no more, Nestor proposes Monday live blues nights here and there.
Location: 6289 Rue St-Hubert, corner of Bellechasse
Open since the fall of 2012 in Montreal's Plateau neighborhood, Résonance Café isn't so much a jazz club as it is a jazz café, one chock-full of vegetarian and vegan snacks -cornbread, veggie spreads, chili, soup, even the café au lait can be served with vegan milk- and the requisite coffees as well as really affordable beer. A well-lit, clean, spacious interior, most evenings feature local jazz acts. As for the crowd, expect a range from early 20s to 60s. A down-to-earth breath of fresh air for the local scene and a great spot for people looking to check out affordable, admission-free live music in a relaxed, unpretentious environment.
Location: 5175A Avenue du Parc (between Laurier West and Fairmount West)
Bistro à Jojo
Bistro à Jojo is not a jazz club. It's a blues bar in operation since 1975. THE blues bar to beat any blues bar in Montreal. Besides, blues is like jazz's cousin, twice removed. Playing live music seven days a week in a small, intimate setting, everyone I've ever spoken to who's spent time there raves about the place. It's also walking distance from the Montreal Jazz Festival's outdoor perimeter, a fantastic pit stop for visitors looking for a live, high energy experience. Stay inside for the show or take a breather outside on the sidewalk terrace for choice people-watching. And don't worry about dress codes. Bistro à Jojo is as casual as you can get. Just one note: the Bistro doesn't serve food.
Location: 1627 St-Denis