Birth of the Cool: Blue Monk Jazz Bistro

Besides my passions for food and art, I have always been a jazz buff. As a teen growing up in New York, I would stalk the clubs, listening from the street, sneaking into festival concerts during intermission, going to every free performance I could manage. I saw so many ‘greats:’ Diz, Basie, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Sarah Vaughan, Ella. You name ‘em, I saw ‘em. That  golden era is a memory, but “the melody lingers on”.

Here in our capital loca there is a small but healthy jazz scene, and I like to go and listen to live music. So it was a tuneful pleasure to discover Blue Monk Jazz Bistro, located just north of Polanco. This room, open since early 2011, was the rebirth of Papabetos, a club that lost its bearings to the wrecking ball. The club is run by Yuko Fujino, an affable Japanese ex-pat and music lover. Yuko-san hangs out and schmoozes with musicians and customers like a good club-owner should. The airy, rectangular space is just right for music, neither too big nor too cramped to listen. The sound system is pro, and thankfully, set at a perfect volume for hearing the subtle details of this, America’s classical music.

What’s more, the food is good. The reasonably priced menu (a full dinner should run about $200) offers a mélange of Asian standards such as won ton soup, fried pork in oriental spices, shrimp tempura, chicken in curry, katsudon (a Japanese rice bowl). The light salads are homey and satisfying. And there are a couple of Italian pastas for those who want to stay western. Interesting, unpretentious specials are offered as well: a recent example was a nicely seared tuna with a ginger-lemon sauce. Dinner with a show makes for a groovy evening on the town.

The club is open for lunch daily; check the schedule for live shows, which usually take place Friday and Saturday at 10. Cover fees vary, usually hovering around $150. If you want to be sure what kind of music you are going to see, simply do a search on Youtube – most musicians can be sampled. There is ample parking on the street and/or valet service.
Blue Monk Jazz Bistro
Bahía de San Hipólito 51, Colonia Anáhuac
Tel. 5525-0755, 4432-4425
Open Monday - Saturday from 1:30 PM

In the centro, visit:
Zinco Jazz Club
Motolinia 20 (basement)
Tel: 5512-3369 , Open Wednesday-Sunday, from 9pm
The best jazz club in the city is in the basement of an Aztec-Deco office building and will remind aficionados of the Village Vanguard in New York. Local groups headline; check their webpage for schedule.

For those who read Spanish, see this interesting interview with the author:

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  1. Thanks for the tip! Can't wait to go.

  2. Great! Thanks a lot for the tip. Look forward to next jazz evening!

  3. I enjoyed the interview.

    Don Cuevas

  4. Great i love jazz music.Would visit in the weekends thanks for giving the information about the parking also.