Whether you thrash around to punk rock or spend your time singing the blues, music is ingrained into the very fiber of our beings. Thankfully, there are a lot of bars around the world that indulge our passion (and our absurd vinyl collections) when we’re looking for a fun night out. From rowdy dive bars in France — where the bar owners are known to brawl with patrons — to bizarrely Bowie themed high teas, these bars and cafes are the best local haunts for music fans.
Spiritland (London, UK)
Platform 9 3/4 isn’t the only hidden gem around London’s bustling King’s Cross station. If you’re not so fast on Harry Potter and prefer delving into the British music scene, you might want to stop over at Spiritland. The space has changed hands a couple times — transforming from a former coal-sorting factory to an infamous rave venue — but it’s always kept its air of mystery.
During the day, Spiritland is a cafe and workspace, but in the evening, it transforms into a bar that hosts album launches and artists talks. The space is said to have one of London’s best sound systems which makes DJ night extra-popping.
Depeche Mode Baar (Tallinn, Estonia)
Okay, Depeche Mode are a classic, but Estonians take the fandome to a whole new level. Depeche Mode Baar is everything a fan of the ‘80s new wave outfit could ever want.
The bar was created by a Depeche Mode mega fan in 1999 (about a decade or so after their rise to fame) and features themed cocktails like “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “Master and Servant.” What flavors are those? Who knows, but it sounds like a real rabbit hole. Grab a cocktail, watch the non-stop onslaught of Depeche Mode music playing on the bar’s TVs and stereo and hangout around the autographed memorabilia that lines the walls.
Little Soul Cafe (Tokyo, Japan)
If you’re a vinyl collector visiting Japan, popping in Little Soul Cafe for a whiskey is a must. The space feels like a pop-up bar set in the basement of the world’s dingiest record shop.
To visit Little Soul, you’ll have to venture just west of Shibuya to the Shimokitazawa area, but the trip is well worth it. The cafe boasts around 1,000 LPs including rare disco and soul collectors items. Play an old favorite or find something totally new. Each LP has been hand-picked by the cafe’s owner Miachan, who doubles down as the spot’s bartender and disc jockey.
If you’re thinking of blasting off to another planet, Blackpool has a Ziggy Stardust-themed haunt a little closer to home.
Ziggy’s Cafe Bar (Blackpool, UK)
Is there anything we really need besides the unusual pairing of Tapas and Ziggy Stardust? David Bowie was just about as groundbreaking as this bizarrely-themed bar and cafe. The family-run joint is absolutely covered in Bowie photos and has a Ziggy Stardust-themed menu — from the “bean genie”chili to the lighting bolt-clad strawberry cheesecake.
One of the main draws of Ziggy’s Cafe Bar is the Bowie-themed tea. It’s a safe bet there’s no other place on this planet where your cakes will be served on vinyl LPs and CDs with a backdrop of Ziggy merch. If that’s not your jam (and clotted cream), it’s impossible to not like the Mars chocolate-filled “Life On Mars” milkshake.
Vinyl (Austin, Texas)
Half speakeasy, half record collection — Vinyl in Austin, Texas is everything a modern day music lover could want. Don’t let the hipster look fool you. This secret underground lounge gives a sense of calm and class to a city overrun with hard-partying indie rock bands during SXSW.
If you want to give Vinyl and it’s 10,000 LPs a visit, you’ll have to venture around the rowdy Sixth Street area and hit up Teller’s Music Bar. You can access this secret gem through an unmarked door inside. If speakeasies aren’t your thing, Teller’s does boast an array of live bands, so it’s worth the trip alone.
Gs (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Gs describes itself as an “eclectic hot mess of love, lust, hunger and thirst” — all the things that make the city of Amsterdam great. It also happens to have a loose hip-hop theme and a massive bloody Mary menu.
Gs has three locations: two on land in the Pijp and Jordaan neighborhoods, and one brunch boat that sails through the canals. Their bloody Mary menu is on a re-purposed vinyl record that isn’t complete without a cheeky cartoon of Drake. Slurp up a “Bloody Kimchi,” a Korean-style bloody Mary, or nab a brunch cocktail only fit for a rap god. The “Bloody Baller” comes with Ciroc vodka, Fiji Water ice cubes, and caviar (sadly, you must bring your yacht and gold chain).
The Carter (Sydney, Australia)
Who run the world? This Cater family-themed canteen is a full homage to hip hop’s royal family. No, it’s nothing like hanging out at the Louvre with Bey and Jay, but we’ll take what we can get.The Carter has an upscale vibe that’s inspired by Jay Z’s famous Manhattan bar, the 40/40 Club. To give it a little Brooklyn edge, the walls are peppered with street art. Chow down on some “Carter chicken wings with Bey’s hot sauce” or indulge in a “Biggie 1kg T-bone steak.” The “Crooked Hillary” cocktail is sure to get you a little tipsy (and a little angry at American politics).
The Carters are cool, but Johnny Depp’s former bar is the stuff rock and roll legends are made from.
The Viper Room (Los Angeles, California)
It’s impossible to mention a list of bars for music lovers without at least glossing over the infamous Viper Room. The Viper Room is a thing of rock and roll lore. It’s the death place of child actor Rivers Phoenix and was — at one point — owned by Johnny Depp and his business partner who mysteriously disappeared. Its history includes mobsters and secret celebrity poker rings somehow involving Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire.
Today, The Viper Room is thought to be haunted by more than just Phoenix’s ghost. If you think Ghost Adventures is a pile of grass-fed, gluten-free baloney, the bar is still host to a variety of up-and-coming acts, so there’s no reason not to check out the live music.
Mercury’s (Zanzibar City, Tanzania)
If you happen to find yourself in Zanzibar, the birthplace of the iconic Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, you might as well enjoy a pint in the loosely Queen-themed bar Mercury’s. As one Trip Advisor patron put it: “Named after the Queen frontman but not belonging nor visited by him.”
Mercury’s claims to serve up Freddie’s most prized dishes, including “Freddie’s favorite salad.” It’s unclear exactly what that entails, but the restaurant is right on the beach — straight between real life and fantasy. In other words, it’s conveniently close to the ferry that takes people to Dar es Salaam, so what do you have to lose?
The Stone Roses Bar (Leeds, UK)
Believe it or not, there is more than one Stone Roses-themed bar in the UK. What do you expect from one of the bands that pioneered the British rock scene in the late ‘80s? This particular Stone Roses Bar happens to rest an hour and fifteen minutes outside of the band’s hometown of Manchester in the student-filled city of Leeds.
If you’re not a fan of the Stone Roses, it’s best to avoid this bar on Saturdays, when they dedicate an entire hour to the beloved band. Other than that, it’s host to a couple of club nights and Lily Allen’s face is — for some unknown reason — plastered across the door of the women’s bathroom.
Bop Cafe (Porto, Portugal)
Coffee, cocktails, and vinyl — is there anything else you really need? This music-lover’s paradise in northern Porto has a low-key vibe, which makes it the perfect place to sip some coffee and listen to one of the 2,000 records for sale (yes, it’s also a record shop).
As far as food goes, the cafe serves up some tried and true classics like burgers and bagels. There’s something for everyone. Since it doubles as a bar, the drink menu is available ’til one AM — making it a great late night spot to chill out among some of your favorite LPs.
You’re going to want to head to Kuma’s Corner with an empty stomach (and some ear plugs)!
Kuma’s Corner (Chicago, Illinois)
Chicago is known for a few things: blistering cold, deep dish pizza, and a totally decent system of public transportation. None of those things are heavy metal, but Kuma’s Corner brings the rock nonetheless. This bar’s claim to fame is its metal-themed burgers, which use iconic bands like Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Mastadon as inspiration.
If you’re not a fan of loud music, be advised to stay away. The bar claims “Kuma’s and metal goes together like beef and bacon,” and serves up a rowdy soundtrack chock full of metal hits (and they “don’t care” if you don’t like it). There are four locations across Illinois and one Indiana, but if you can’t make it out, they’ve got a Spotify playlist to help you listen along anyway.
Opry City Stage (New York, New York)
The legendary country music institution, The Grand Ole Opry, ventured to New York with this brand new bar. This expansive, four-floor space is completely dedicated to all things Americana. There’s live music around the clock — from 8 am until 1 am — and an impressive display of memorabilia from artists like Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash.
As far as eats, the restaurant has a southern theme with barbeque leanings (because what else would you it while listening to country music?). Enjoy some staple sides like fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese. Unfortunately, it’s temporarily closed, so you’ll have to wait to chow down on some extra-sweet monkey bread.
Ain’t Nothing But Blues (London, UK)
If metal isn’t your thing and you’d rather relax while listening to the blues, this Oxford Street bar is a local London favorite. Ain’t Nothing But Blues is exactly as advertised. As London’s original blues bar, the place is brimming soul.
Ain’t Nothing But Blues caters to fans and musicians alike. Enjoy an impromptu show from both well-known and anonymous musicians or brush up on your own chops. The bar caters to the after-work crowd who are sick of their soul-sucking day jobs — there are early evening blues sessions every day of the work-week from 6:30 pm until 8 pm.
Spice Of Life (London, UK)
Spice Of Life is a traditional pub that has more history than the United States of America. It’s thought that there’s been a tavern in that space since 1750, but the actual pub has been around since 1898. Needless to say, a lot of rock and roll royalty has passed through its doors.
Aside from being a regular haunt for the Sex Pistols throughout the 1970s, the pub has hosted performances from icons like Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, and Jamie Cullum. With an open mic every Monday night, you never know who you’re going to see. They might just be the next thing (or an undercover celebrity looking to test out some new tunes).
Another local UK haunt feels at home for vinyl fanatics.
Dead Wax Social (Brighton, UK)
Calling all vinyl enthusiasts! Dead Wax Social is a dangerously cool bar crafted specifically for vinyl lovers. This pub is tucked away in the quaint, seaside village of Brighton and celebrates the areas booming music scene, which spawned indie heavy weights like British Sea Power and the Kooks and punk newcomers like Gnarwolves and Muskets.
Dead Wax Social hosts various album launch nights, but the record-clad walls also make for a great private listening party. There are record players all around the space for listening solo. Enjoy your favorite indie rock album and some excellent craft beer from local breweries.
Nevermind Bar (Barcelona, Spain)
This Nirvana-themed Barcelona bar rests about 5,400 miles from Kurt Cobain’s hometown of Seattle, Washington. That doesn’t mean grunge isn’t still kicking here. This place is a hotbed for skaters and ‘90s music fans alike.
Nevermind Bar has a raucous playlist of rock, punk, and metal. The clientele of tatted-up skater kids enjoy skate videos playing around the bar’s various TV screens. Happy hour is what really brings the punks to the yard with beers at just € 1.50 each and endless, free popcorn. The space is just a stone’s throw from the famed skate spot MACBA, so you can relax after popping a few ollies.
La Feline (Paris, France)
La Feline feels like a slice of Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the romantic city of Paris. The small 1950s-themed bar is pandemonium at its finest — and not for those who don’t dabble in a little light punk rock. The weekends are the rowdiest and it’s not uncommon to see patrons dancing on tables to everything from The Pixies and Nirvana to Sonic Youth.
Jameson and High Life are a favorite at this rock club, which keeps its doors open until the early morning hours of 2 am. The club also hosts live gigs and film screenings on certain nights if thrashing around to “Where Is My Mind” isn’t your deal.
Elvis Presley Bar (Glasgow, UK)
You may not want to head over to Glasgow’s Prestwich Airport by choice, but Elvis Presley Bar is certainly worth a visit if you ever find yourself flying in or out of Scotland. Elvis only went to the UK one time and stopped over at Prestwich for just 90 minutes in 1960 on his way home from Germany, where he was serving in the military. To commemorate those famed 90 minutes, an Elvis-themed bar was erected in his honor.
It’s unclear exactly what Elvis Presley Bar serves as the menu isn’t online, but we’re crossing our fingers it skips over the haggis and goes straight for the peanut butter, bacon, and banana sandwiches.
Le Fanfaron (Paris, France)
When CBGBs was sold off, the world lost one of the greatest dive bars in history. Thankfully, Paris’ Le Fanfaron stepped in. This rock and roll dive bar only plays vinyl. They don’t accept credit cards and there’s just one (likely disgusting) toilet. Of course, we don’t expect the bathroom to be as infamous or as flooded as CBGBs, but maybe that’s a good thing.
Le Fanfaron’s owner Xavier is famous in his own right for his massive collection of vinyl (and also throwing tantrums online and getting into barside fights). His candlelit haunt is pretty much everything you could want out of a rock and roll dive.