Vinyl Revival: A Guide to New York's Listening Bar Scene
The Roxy Hotel New York

2 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10013

212.519.6600 https://www.roxyhotelnyc.com

Vinyl Revival: New York's New Wave of Listening Bars

Back to List

Listening bars originated in 1950s Japan under the name “Jazz Kissa”. A jazz kissa offered a space where music was played for dedicated listening rather than merely as background. Typically, a jazz kissa featured a high-quality sound system, a large music collection, alcohol or coffee and, importantly, dim lighting—so your attention could stay on the soundscape.

Over the years, American and European entrepreneurs adopted and reinterpreted the jazz kissa into what is known today as the listening bar. While the contemporary listening bar features all the same elements as the jazz kissa, the emphasis is less on silence and more on a quieter space to socialize with music at the forefront of the experience. New York City in particular has seen such a surge of listening bars pop up over the last couple of years that we decided to break down some of our favorites.  

Tokyo Record Bar & Tokyo Listening Room

With only 12 seats and reservations required, you’ll find an intimate experience at Tokyo Record Bar. Though the tasting menu and vinyl jukebox make for an impressive date night, you may find the small—but beautiful—quarters a tad limiting. Luckily, the original Tokyo Record Bar has expanded. The newest addition to their space, Tokyo Listening Room, offers DJ-based programming in a more casual restaurant setting just upstairs from the original locale. Whichever space you choose, you’ll find quality food and an emphasis on connection through music as the driving force. 

127 MacDougal St, New York; (212) 420-4777

Analogue

A listening bar with Prohibition-era vibes, Analogue is one of the few on this list more focused on cocktails than the sound system. But that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy their sonic offerings. The focus here is on analogue, thus the name, and that analog experience is delivered via their hi-fi sound system. With records playing over the vintage hi-fi setup and art deco stylings adorning the walls, you’ll feel transported far away from the hustle and bustle of this modern world. And for most of us, it’s a welcome respite. 

19 W 8th St, New York; (212) 432-0200

Upstairs at Public Records

Upstairs at Public Records feels more like a “listening lounge” than a proper bar. Large cushioned armchairs and sofas populate the loft-like space and are perfect for, well, lounging. And with a sound system anchored by oversized subwoofer speakers, the emphasis is certainly on the auditory experience. Being that this space is adjacent to the rest of Public Records—which can be rather clubby—Upstairs is a great spot to escape the scene in favor of something more mellow. 

233 Butler St, Brooklyn; (347) 529-4869

Studio 151

A speakeasy-style listening bar, Studio 151 feels at once like a great sushi restaurant and a ’90s house party. Maybe it’s the jukebox or the vinyl DJ setup but something about the experience at Studio 151 feels timeless as though you’ve stepped into another era—one with a great omakase menu. The vibe here is casual but exclusive like all the best NYC experiences.

151 Loisaida Ave, New York

All Blues 

Described as a Musiquarium on the venue’s website, this newcomer to the listening bar scene pairs music and a state-of-the-art sound system with Japanese bites and whiskey. Music takes center stage thanks to the expertly curated listening experience and framed photographs of music’s greatest contributors lining the walls. Walk-ins are welcome but reservations are encouraged.

87 Walker St, New York; info@allbluesnyc.com

Eavesdrop 

At first glance, Eavesdrop may appear to be the usual gorgeous little cocktail spot. But make it past the bar and you’ll find the back area has been strategically cultivated as a listening space with a state-of-the-art audio system blasting a carefully curated selection of records. On weekends, DJs rule the scene but on weeknights—or any night, really—this is a great place to pop in and enjoy whatever happens to be on rotation alongside some seriously delicious Japanese-inspired small bites. 

674 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn 

Lovely Day

The influence of the listening bar has spread so far that even restaurants like Nolita’s beloved Lovely Day are taking notice. Known for its Thai food, the restaurant has always had a hidden basement area for diners in the know but more recently, the space has been converted into a pseudo-listening bar. With DJs on vinyl spinning psychedelic, turkish and disco, it’s clear that the NYC dining scene has recognized the power of prioritizing a listening experience alongside the usual. 

196 Elizabeth St, New York; (212) 925-3310

WORDS Hillary Sproul 

IMAGERY Courtesy eavesdrop.nyc

You May Also Like

5 Top-Tier Coffee Shops with Outdoor Seating

coffee & cafés
stories
The best downtown coffee shops with outdoor seating, super-strong cold brews and crazy good people-watching.

Photo-Realized: The Downtown Portraits at Howl

art & design
stories
Richard Boch talks to artist Curt Hoppe about his larger-than-life portrait paintings.

Dance Your Way Through Pride

bars & nightlife
stories
The best dance floors in New York to keep you grooving this Pride month and beyond.

A Guide To The Best Ice Cream In Downtown NYC

food & drink
stories
Manhattan’s premier ice cream parlours to satisfy every kind of sweet tooth.

Downtown Dives

bars & nightlife
food & drink
stories
Pool tables, jukeboxes, and inexpensive beers on tap—our guide to the best local dive bars.

NYC Jazz Clubs To Know, According To Mark Whitfield

bars & nightlife
music
stories
The jazz guitarist shares his favorite venues in NYC and what makes each a destination worth visiting.

A Guide to the Ultimate Downtown Picnic

food & drink
take-out & delivery
stories
From specialty food and homewares stores to our favorite picnic-friendly spots—everything you need for the perfect picnic below 14th Street.

A Curated Guide to the Tribeca Film Festival

art & design
film
stories
How and where to fest and other helpful hacks.
The Roxy Hotel New York

2 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10013

212.519.6600 https://www.roxyhotelnyc.com
Best Rate Promise