Craving a listening experience, but want something a bit more relaxed than a concert? If you’re an audiophile who thinks everything sounds better on vinyl and find yourself tired of competing with someone else’s TouchTunes requests, then this compilation of the best music-themed bars in New York City is just what you’ve been looking for.
From a Prospect Heights vinyl-focused craft beer bar to an underground listening room where guests can choose their favorite songs, these innovative bars will make a night out feel extra exciting and melodic. Below, discover some of the chicest, sleekest and most fascinating listening rooms and record-focused bars that Manhattan and Brooklyn have to offer.
127 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012
This underground listening room and omakase restaurant went viral on TikTok for good reason. It’s the stuff of social media fantasies, with flowers on the ceiling and an izakaya-style tasting menu alongside the constantly changing musical line-up. Unlike the other bars on this list, this isn’t somewhere you drop in for a quick cocktail on a first date.
Instead, guests make a reservation for one of the two to three seatings a night, and in return, are treated to quite the spectacle. Everyone gets to choose their own song from the vinyl collection to play—and don’t worry, there’s a list online to prepare in advance. The staff then curates a playlist for the dinner based on who’s in the audience.
350 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
This new Israeli restaurant-bar hybrid in Hudson Square is a music lover’s paradise and a foodie’s dream. A DJ spins away from the extensive vinyl collection on a small stage, which also has room for two tables where folks can enjoy their dinner while being right in the middle of the action. Fair warning—the tunes are definitely loud, which makes for a vibey meal but can also make it equally difficult to talk to your dining companions. The Israeli food is just as inventive as the restaurant itself, with chickpea pods (eat them like edamame), a divine bread salad and super crispy baked potatoes topped with horseradish.
The restaurant has a musical past, as it was started by a team of DJs in Tel Aviv who created a radio station and a bar. The recently opened New York location with Chef Eyal Shani (also behind Miznon) at the helm followed the decade-long success of the Tel Aviv spot. Port Sa’id’s goal is to combine a hi-fi listening bar with local ingredients and an ever-changing menu, making for a fully immersive dining experience with a musical twist.
233 Butler St, Brooklyn, NY 11217
This stark white warehouse space houses what feels like multiple venues in one. First, an upstairs bar/listening room that looks like it belongs in a James Bond movie, then a vegan restaurant downstairs, surrounded by records while a DJ tucked away in a cozy corner plays ambient house music (although the music is constantly changing), and a lush garden outside. The crowd is just as hip as the interior decor; expect plenty of twenty- and thirty-somethings in their most Brooklyn attire. This Gowanus venue space is truly made for music lovers to feel at home—that is, if their home was incredibly chic and all white, with plenty of aesthetic plants.
Nublu and Studio 151
51 Loisaida Ave, New York, NY 10009
Nublu has been one of the coolest venues in the East Village since 2002, with records on the walls and old black and white movies playing on TV to disguise the speakers while popular musicians perform everything from indie pop to jazz. With stadium seating and a buzzy bar, there’s truly no bad seat in the house at this intimate venue and recording studio. Keep an eye on the line-up and expect the unexpected; this is where David Byrne put on a secret show, Moby DJed for a small crowd and up-and-comer Anna Shoemaker sold out a concert in the spring.
For an equally trendy pre-show dinner, visit Studio 151 on the second floor. The Alphabet City speakeasy is tucked away, but discovering the omakase/listening space is well worth it. Order a roll or grab a cocktail while listening to jazz, especially later in the evening when the sushi spot turns into a dance club.
674 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Venture to Greenpoint to hang out at this cozy bar, which serves craft cocktails, natural wines, small plates and vibes aplenty. Guests won’t be listening to TouchTunes or questionable jukebox music; instead, the entire space was specifically designed for sound. The property also houses pop-ups, like their first with Sweetie’s K-Chicken, serving Korean corn dogs.
The glowing yellow bar is home to a rotating lineup of DJs. Owner Dan Wissinger told Observer the DJs from Thursday to Sunday are constantly changing, as he and partner Max Dowaliby “try to book from every scene in New York, rather than sticking to a single genre.” Because the bar and restaurant area are both seated, listeners are treated to music they wouldn’t typically find at a club, which Wissinger described as “every genre or scene’s version of ‘listening bar music.’” Wissinger explained, “We tell our DJs to play what they would play when they’re having their friends over for dinner.”
556 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
This Prospect Heights beer bar is decidedly low-key, but with a musical twist, making it perfect for first dates or relaxed nights out. Owner Chris Maestro discovered jazz cafe culture in Japan, and wanted to bring similar vibes to New York City, so he opened this Brooklyn favorite in 2017. The craft beer bar, with a garden outside, focuses on vinyl records and has more than 5,000 options, with a focus on hip hop and jazz. The bar also boasts a lengthy tap list, with local choices from the North Fork and upstate New York.
The creative concept was so successful it expanded and opened another location in Ridgewood, Queens. One thing to know before you go? The bar does have a strict “no requests, please” policy because of its extensive collection, so guests are listening to whatever the DJ is spinning that night.
74 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217
This teeny tiny Tokyo-style listening bar in Park Slope serves up Japanese whisky and good tunes from owner Jon Carlson’s personal vinyl collection. The dimly-lit, super narrow and intimate space is perfect for date night, especially if you’re seeing someone deeply into vinyl. Expect to hear anything from Brazilian jazz to ‘80s new wave while indulging in one of the many whiskey cocktails on the menu.
Carlson told Observer the vinyl collection is “continuously growing and highly curated,” ranging from the 1940s to current music, with many songs from the ‘70s. “Hit singles playlists are not our thing, so we regularly spin full record sides,” Carlson explained, adding, “the focus is on artists who created complete albums with little to no filler tracks.” On the weekends, the DJs bring their own selections so the line-up is constantly changing.