926 W. Broad St.
Fat Tuesday's, in a strip mall across from George Mason University in Fairfax, hosts bands such as Ordinary Way.
(Michael Dibari Jr. For The Washington Post)
A happy yin-yang mix of hot food and cool sounds. This unassuming restaurant, perched on the corner of a busy commercial street not far from the West Falls Church Metro stop, offers a full schedule of jazz, swing and blues. The menu features tasty Thai offerings, but you can also just hang at the bar, enjoying the blues-themed decor and a revolving gallery of dedicated players. Sunday is blues jam night, when area musicians gather to trade licks, and Tuesday is an open-mic jam.
227 Maple Ave. E.
Luke and Daniel Brindley, who operate Jammin' Java in Vienna, are talented musicians themselves, so they know how to treat performers and guests well. The venue's sound is great (there's a recording studio on the premises), the menu is an eclectic sampler of gourmet sandwiches and dandy chili and, though it holds more than 150 people and often features nationally known folk-rock acts, it still feels like a cozy neighborhood coffeehouse. There's plenty of seating, all ages are welcome and it's smoke-free. If you're looking for an opportunity to teach your children the joys of live music, this is the place.
6355 Rolling Rd.
The area's prime hard-rock club, its formal name is Jaxx Nightclub, but the vibe is undeniably casual. Besides presenting national acts that lean toward loud guitars and louder vocals, Jaxx also hosts regular "Localpalooza" events for the region's many loud and proud bands.
3971 Chain Bridge Rd.
2565 Centreville Rd.
The single name shared by two separate restaurant/pubs in Herndon and Fairfax. The appellation refers to the title character of a popular Irish film, and the appeal includes televised showings of overseas football (read: soccer) and rugby matches. The pub menu includes some esoteric variations, and the live music schedule on Friday and Saturday draws heavily from the mid-Atlantic beach scene.
The State Theatre
220 N. Washington St.
To call the State Theatre a club is to shortchange the art deco beauty of this converted movie theater and its classy presentation of near-nightly live shows. Whether you want to eat at a table, jump around the dance floor or settle into one of 200 balcony seats, the State offers both big names and local acts in a fairly plush, no-smoking atmosphere.
-- MARIANNE MEYER
Other places to hear music:
Bridges Billiards and Grill