A Little Night Music in Hell’s Kitchen
Hell’s Kitchen is arguably one of the city’s more musical neighborhoods. For starters, it is home to about a half-dozen supper clubs where you can listen to jazz or show tunes while dining. (See our earlier post here for details.) Lovers of classical music probably already know that the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, home to the Orchestra of St. Luke and the city’s first rehearsal and recording space exclusively for classical music, is here as well. Ditto the Baryshnikov Arts Center, which frequently hosts chamber music concerts as well as dance and other performances. Also in the neighborhood is Terminal 5, a venue that can hold up to 3,000 people for rock, hip-hop, pop, and rap concerts (upcoming shows include singer/songwriter Betty Who on May 22, hip-hop artist Lizzo on May 23, riot grrrl pioneers Bikini Kill on June 1, and as part of her first tour in 15 years, singer/songwriter Dido on June 19).
Those who prefer more-intimate venues, however, will also find plenty to choose from. At the bars and restaurants below you can listen to everything from traditional Irish music to country tunes to samba.
570 10th Avenue (between West 41st and 42nd Streets)
Having opened in February 2017 on the fourth floor of the Yotel hotel, the Green Room 42 is one of the city’s newer venues. Like most other cabarets, this 130-seat space offers something for just about everyone. Supper-club legends KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler will perform an evening of duets on May 14; the following night, Steven Brinberg brings “Simply Barbra” back to the club to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Streisand film “Hello, Dolly!”; performers from Broadway productions including “Wicked” and “A Little Night Music” will perform a tribute to the music of the 1990s, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” on May 19; songstress Vivian Reed offesr “A Little Bit of Soul, a Little Bit of Pop” on June 15—and that is just a sampling. Although there is no food or drink minimum, chances are you will want to treat yourself to one of the Green Room 42’s Mediterranean-influenced dishes, such as the vegetarian meze or chicken Marrakesh, or to a house cocktail (the Fake News, a medley of mescal, Aperol, and orange juice, is as eclectic as the cabaret’s lineup).
939 Eight Avenue (between West 55th and 56th Streets)
This Cuban restaurant/bar was named after a song that is an unofficial anthem of Cuba, so it is no surprise that live music is as much a part of its offering as Cuban sandwiches, plantains both sweet and savory, flan de leche, and more than a dozen varieties of rum. A band plays rumba, salsa, and other Cuban music just about every night, and the lack of a dance floor does not mean there is a lack of people dancing.
761 Ninth Avenue (at West 51st Street)
Taco Tuesdays are also Live Music Tuesdays at this laid-back restaurant and bar specializing in craft beers and comfort food with a Tex-Mex flavor. Acoustic duo Rosemount Post, singer/guitarist Kandice Brending, and singer/songwriter Bex are among those who have recently played here. If you would rather take the stage yourself, swing by on Wednesdays for half-priced wings followed by karaoke.
626 11th Avenue (at West 46th Street)
The Landmark is not a pub pretending to be a classic Irish saloon; it is the real deal, having been in operation in the same spot since Patrick Henry Carley founded it in 1868 (it was a speakeasy during Prohibition). You can still quaff a pint of Guinness at the wood bar beneath the tin-panel ceiling and tuck into corned beef and cabbage amid wood-paneled walls (though the menu also has its share of more cosmopolitan offerings, such as vegetarian spring rolls and Long Island duck breast). And every Monday night you can join Don Meade, a fiddler, banjo player, and all-around maven of Irish music, and his friends for a traditional Irish music session.
306 West 39th Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues)
A convivial bar and restaurant with an extensive list of craft beers and a food menu of casual favorites (burgers, fajitas, lobster ravioli), Rattle N Hum West is on most evenings a great place to hang out with friends and watch a game on one of the myriad large-screen TVs. On Saturday nights starting at 10 o’clock, however, it is also a place to sing along to Shake Rattle & Roll Dueling Pianos, a pair of pianists who play audience requests of all genres, all while encouraging plenty of singing and dancing along.
661 Ninth Avenue (between West 45th and 46th Streets)
Samba Kitchen & Bar brings not just the tastes but also the sounds of Brazil to Hell’s Kitchen. On Wednesday nights (and during Sunday brunch) you can listen to live samba bands and watch pros—and audience members—dance along. There is no cover charge, but you may find it difficult to resist ordering caldo verde, feijoada, or a caipirinha while you are there.
331 West 51st Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues)
Spoonfed NYC prides itself on its modern interpretations of Low Country cuisine—think fried chicken and biscuits served with broccoli mashed potatoes, shrimp and grits in a tomato-wine sauce, and truffle sweet-potato hush puppies. But its music calendar speaks to the restaurant’s Broadway roots: Chef Randy Stricklin-Witherspoon was a caterer for “Hamilton” and other shows before opening Spoonfed in 2017. Pianist Paul Bachelor plays show tunes and standards on Friday evenings, and fellow pianist Bill Goffi hosts a singalong most Thursday nights. The Chris Crocco Fluid Trio play jazz on alternating Wednesday evenings, and other jazz and cabaret artists periodically perform as well, either in the main dining room or in the smaller upstairs space.
315 West 39th Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues)
In Irish mythology, Tír na Nóg—literally “Land of the Young”—is a paradise of eternal youth and happiness. This Irish-American bar and restaurant cannot promise everlasting youth, but it does aim to spread some happiness with its Saturday night performances by the Basket House Band, a trio specializing in rousing traditional Irish music. More happiness can be found on Tír na Nóg’s menu, which includes both Irish mainstays (fish and chips, bangers and mash) and New American dishes (pan-roasted free-range chicken with wild mushrooms, horseradish-crusted salmon fillet with sweet potato, bacon, and corn mash), along with a solid beer selection and several variations of Irish coffee.
735 10th Avenue (between West 50th and 51st Streets)
Live country music can be difficult to come by in Manhattan, but thanks to the Waylon, it is not impossible to find. This honky-tonk restaurant/bar regularly serves up contemporary and traditional country bands alongside bowls of chili, Frito pies, pulled pork sandwiches, whiskey, and frosty mugs of beer. Angry Kickin’ Feet, Bobby McGrath, and Justin Spivey are just a few of those who have performed here so far this year.