22 Vibrant restaurants and bars in SA that offer live music

Including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria.

05 Aug 2017
 
harrington's, cape town

(Image by Harrington's)

Cape Town

Alma Café, Rosebank

Alma Café is as homey and as comfortable as it gets. The small space feels like a friend's kitchen or lounge, and on live music nights, it's jam packed, creating a wonderful atmosphere. Wednesday nights are for walk-ins, with no cover charge, and you can enjoy their burger and beer special while watching a couple of bands. On Sundays, the live music event requires a booking and a cover charge, which includes a meal.


(Image by Alma Café)


Café Roux, CBD and Noordhoek

This is one of the very few establishments that is completely dedicated to live music. They now have two branches, both totally different, the original being at the Farm Village in Noordhoek and the newer branch on Shortmarket Street in town. They've thrown in some big local acts to their list of gigs and continue to do so. The Noordhoek restaurant caters to families with a great outdoor section for kids, while the town branch is more of an evening venue for adults. Their gig nights are in collaboration with Wolf Trap wine and bookings are required for events. You can do this via Web Tickets. Although it's about the music, neither restaurant disregard the necessity of good food. Expect dishes like duck confit, a variety of breakfasts, burgers, salads and steaks, with specials changing frequently.

Carlyles, Vredehoek
This neighbourhood pizzeria has locals streaming in for a quick bite or an after work drink at the bar. Its relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere coincides with good, consistent food. They often host music nights, which vary week to week - mostly local Cape Town acts. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for information on upcoming events.

The Odyssey, CBD
The Odyssey is an authentic gastropub on the ever happening Bree Street. It offers a charming and dynamic two story space with a dining room upstairs, attached to a balcony with a long bar below. The food is gourmet pub food with special attention given to burgers as well as other comfort classics like risotto, bangers and mash and fish and chips. Enjoy live music at the Odyssey on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Saturday nights are followed by a DJ from 8 pm and between 4 pm and 6 pm, it's two-for-one burgers.


(Image by The Odyssey)

Bay Harbour Market, Hout Bay
It's not a restaurant but it's a serious market, with a myriad of food options and lots of tables to sit back, watch the bustle go by, and enjoy the band. The market runs over the weekend, with Friday nights offering a real festive vibe that attracts both locals and those from further away. The musicians change weekly so keep an eye on their Facebook page for details. The food options are endless with Mexican cuisine, curries, poke bowls, fillet steak rolls and there's also a fully stocked bar with all the craft options you desire.

Mantra Café, Camps Bay
The Melissa's café isn't only good for a Saturday morning eggs Benedict. Wednesday nights are dedicated to 2-for-1 pizzas and music. This starts from 6.30 pm, just as the sun dips behind the ocean. The musician or band changes weekly, so keep an eye on their Facebook page. Pizza options include Parma ham, fior di latte and fresh rocket as well as caramelised onion, goat's cheese and walnut salsa, along with a few others.

Piano Bar, De Waterkant
This quaint spot fits snuggly into De Waterkant's picturesque Napier Street, with the gentle humming of jazz spilling out of the bar, making it all the more charming. With inspiration taken from New York jazz clubs, The Piano Bar spins this with African flair and some serious local talent. They have music on every night, combined with excellent cocktails and a tapas menu that does a lot more than simply accompany the live music, offering exotic and vibrant flavour pairings.


(Image by Piano Bar)

The Crypt, CBD
This place is a Cape Town landmark, sitting beneath St Georges cathedral, built in 1898. It forms part of the cathedral's Dean's mission of the church being for all people, and so live music at The Crypt invites people of all cultures and backgrounds to enjoy the soulful sounds of jazz. They also serve food that focuses on French and local cuisine with dishes like bitterballen, grilled Camembert, Karoo lamb and hake goujons.

Harrington's, East City
This swanky bar is still fairly new, and bursting with energy on music nights. The interior features an eccentric mix of textures and accents with an overall 1920s feel with velvety booths, draped curtains, ritzy deco lighting and art nouveau wallpaper splashed with pink neon light. It's the new place to be and they do a mean cocktail and fancy tapas to complete the picture. Music nights take place on weekends with Thursdays offering live jazz, which really pulls a crowd.


Johannesburg

Social on Main, Bryanston
Locals flock to this well-loved spot and understandably so – they’ve managed to get the ultimate balance of what they call “not quite a restaurant and not quite a bar but a mix of the two”. The menu features gourmet-style street food with a distinctive South American smoky flair throughout. You can expect tapas-style dishes to share, burgers, seafood and snacks like popcorn in various flavours, jalapeño poppers and more. The drinks menu is extensive and features an array of colourful cocktails, margaritas, craft beer and wine. The live entertainment happens on Sundays from 2 to 6 pm, featuring different local SA artists each week. Entry is free but booking a table is essential to avoid disappointment. 


(Image by Social on Main)


'86 Public, Braamfontein
'86 Public is known for their scrumptious variety of over 20 different pizzas of which the majority of the food menu is made up.  The space is small and cosy and the bare wood tables are all situated very close together. It is the ultimate place to enjoy pizza and drinks and on selected Saturdays and Sundays, diners are spoilt with live music.

The Orbit, Braanfontein
The Orbit bistro is the place to be for serious jazz lovers. Situated in the ever-evolving Braamfontein, this restaurant hosts a new live jazz act every evening, making it stand out from all the others who only have live music on the weekends. Consistently good jazz music together with a bistro-style menu is what keeps diners coming back, time and again, and also what makes getting a reservation quite a mission. Please note that some nights an admission fee is required.

The Good Luck Bar, Ferreirastown
The Goodluck Bar has acts like the award winning Mi Casa, gracing their stage regularly. Housed in an ancient industrial warehouse, this bar hosts bands of all genres so don’t go expecting the same type of music over and over. The menu features snacks like nibble platters, pizza, ribs and naturally an extensive list of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.


(Image by The Good Luck Bar)


Churchills Bar, Melrose Arch
Churchills is reminiscent of an upmarket British pub with the Union Jack being a prominent feature of the interior. On Wednesdays, they have jazz evenings and they have a DJ on Saturday evenings. Typical pub fare is what you’ll find on the food menu and single malt whiskey and champagne makes up the most of the drinks menu.

Durban

Bertoua Café Lounge, Berea
Bertoua is a very stylish, upmarket restaurant that offers that quintessential big city dining experience. When you enter the space, you could be anywhere in the world, with little clue to its Durban's surroundings, and an all round worldly feel. The restaurant offers live jazz on Sundays with a band playing original compositions, from 3 pm onwards. The international menu includes steaks, hearty salads, breakfasts and fresh fish.


(Image by Bertoua)


St. Clements, Berea
St. Clement's is the definition of unpretentious and inviting and is owned by a group of authors and musicians. The warm atmosphere and laid-back style of dining have kept locals visiting for years. The food sticks to simple classics with a Thai flair, with dishes like chicken cashew stir fry, avocado and chicken burger, prego rolls, and peri peri prawns. The owners' appreciation for the arts has prompted many music and poetry evenings at the restaurant, these events very much suited to the charming old house that it sits in. Keep an eye on their Facebook page or contact them directly to find out about events.

The Chairman, Point
The Chairman is a real Durban gem, which sits in an era of underground music clubs and soulful old jazz. It's an old world lounge and bar, which stands in honour of all the great and unheard jazz musicians of South Africa's past, and a place that today provides a platform of appreciation for local talent. The space itself is full of character with Chesterfield leather sofas, worn brick walls, ornate deco chandeliers and an overall eclectic, retro look. The food is good too with dishes like pizzas and various bar snacks, as well as an exciting cocktail menu. Check their website for upcoming events.

Woodstock Music, Bar and Bistro, Glen Ashley
Woodstock's mission is to give patrons a space where they feel comfortable, content and surrounded by good vibes. At the heart of this mission is the music, with about two to three gigs a week, some regulars to the bar and some specials guests from further away. On the menu you'll find light meals like wraps, salads, Trinchado and chilli poppers as well as a selection of nachos, steaks and burgers.


(Image by Woodstock)



Port Elizabeth

Bridge Street Brewery, Brickmakers Kloof
Bridge Street is a restaurant, microbrewery, bar and music venue all in one. They produce their own beer under the same name and know that the best food for beers are burgers, pizzas, steaks and a selection of tapas style snacks, which you can find at the restaurant. The open plan space encompasses an outdoor area, with regular and often big name acts, playing in the open air. It's a brilliant vibe and ideal for large groups.

The Music Kitchen, Newton
This place is one of a kind and one of the best music venues in PE. The large shed is simply laid out with tables and benches and integrates with an outside lawn area allowing the music to be the main event. Food is as fuss-free as the non-existent decor, with classic burgers, nachos, grilled chicken, ribs and a snack basket. There are veggie options for both burgers and nachos too.

Something Good, Summerstrand
This spot featured in our roadhouses guide, offering that traditional roadhouse feel, without the sitting in your car bit. Stop off for a view of PE's exquisite coastline and fill up on burgers, pizzas, milkshakes and more. The restaurant has earned merit with its simple philosophy with both its food and set-up, making it a great place for families. The outside section is also a drawcard. They generally have live music on weekends so keep an eye on their Facebook or contact them for specific dates and gigs.


(Image by Something's Good)


Pretoria

Railways Café, Centurion
A very quirky café with a garden area that resembles a junk yard, scattered with bits and bobs and chairs crafted out of re-purposed steel baths and wood. The wacky decor adds to the fun of it all and forms part of their initiative D’afrique Fairtrade Foundation which sees community development through up cycling and design assistance for 'side-walk' artists. Their originality and 'local is lekker' philosophy, which extends to their menu, has earned them prominence in the Pretoria area. Intimate gigs are a regular occurrence, so keep an eye on their Facebook for details.


(Image by Railways Café)


Where do you go to catch some live music? Let us know if we've missed your favourite spot by commenting below!

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