San Francisco: Fillmore Jazz District Day Trip
The “Fillmo’s” hippest lounges and nightspots in a three-block radius
Why go now: Since Yoshi’s opened, there’s no place like the Fillmore for a jazzy night out.
Why the Fillmore was cool: In the 1940s and ’50s, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong performed at the more than two dozen nightclubs dotting “the Harlem of the West.”
Why it’s cool again: Live music at six spots in a three-block radius? The heyday is back, baby.
Say it like a local: Call it Fillmo or the ’mo. Lit hit: Part of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings takes place in the Fillmore.
Best combo: Chicken in spicy berbere sauce and a set of live jazz at Ethiopian restaurant Rasselas ($$; 1534 Fillmore St.; rasselasjazzclub.com).
For rhythm with your rutabaga: Catch live jazz at the Fillmore Farmers’ Market (9–1 Sat; O’Farrell and Fillmore Streets; pcfma.com).
Get your fireside groove on: Sip Champagne and enjoy a serenade at Sheba Piano Lounge ($$; 1419 Fillmore; shebalounge.com).
And don’t forget: The Fillmore Auditorium (1805 Geary Blvd.; the fillmore.com), which still packs in a rock ’n’ roll crowd.
Other fresh, fun spots to hear jazz
Thursdays through Saturdays, the intimate, nightclubby Orinda House books real jazz pros—musical colleagues of Tommy Dorsey, Vince Guaraldi, Lou Rawls, and other legends—to play for a steak-eating crowd. The occasional old-school Cotton Club-style dinner shows are especially fun. $$; 65 Moraga Way; orindahouse.com —Steve Cey
Friday nights, Sacramento’s swing-dance underground heads to the vintage Eastern Star Ballroom for Midtown Stomp. Twice a month, the music’s live. If your Lindy has lost its hop, just listen and watch, or hit the swing lessons (included in admission) before the main show. DJ nights $7, live-band nights $12; 2719 K St.; midtownstomp.com —Kate Washington
On weekend nights, N’awlins-style jazz heats up year-old Roux Louisiana Kitchen, where fried oysters, crayfish etouffee, spicy coleslaw, and beignets are relished in an opulent dining room. On sunny Sunday afternoons, take your po’boys to the patio. $$; 3055 Olin Ave., Santana Row; http://www.rouxkitchen.com”>rouxkitchen.com —Lisa Taggart
Share your weekend finds. Favorite new restaurant? Local hike? Email your suggestions to the weekend guide editor at mailto:[email protected]
Mackenzie Geidt | From the February 2009 Issue