Live Music Pubs in Almaty

A live performance at the Yard House in Almaty.

4 Places with Great Live Music and Food in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Published: December 21, 2023

Almaty has many live music venues and all-night clubs, meaning that with a bit of asking around or internet surfing, one can find the perfect place to have a bite and a drink, catch a local band, and dance the night away. Some are holes-in-the-wall known mostly to locals while others are bigger venue places filled with expats and locals alike. What could be better than practicing your language skills while having fun with some new friends?

The Shakespeare Pub

Advertising itself online as an “authentic English pub” that serves dishes from around Europe, the Shakespeare Pub has a little bit of everything. After arriving around 9:15 on a Friday evening, I could hear a live band playing music inside and could not wait to see what was in store. While there were beautiful areas for seating outside, I could not pass up on the band, so I headed inside and grabbed a table near where they were playing. When I sat down, the band started playing Nirvana’s “Come as You Are,” and I knew I was in for a treat.

The menu I was given offered pizza, steak, burgers, pasta, and many other things, including a full page of curry options. I decided to keep it simple and ordered their classic bacon cheeseburger, which was a fantastic choice. With a wide variety of drink options, there was a drink to pair with everything on their food menu. Prices here are a little higher than at the average restaurant in Almaty, but still quite affordable by most western standards.

After I had placed my order, the small Kazakh cover band played everything from John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” to Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.” During their cover of “Country Roads,” a few teenagers even got up and started square dancing! When I arrived in Kazakhstan, I was ready for anything, but seeing this performed live was the last thing I had expected to see. Seeing what parts of American culture are sometimes expressed abroad is always interesting.

After the band’s set ended at 10, I finished my meal while upbeat pop music played on the speakers around me. Looking around the pub and restaurant, I realized how many diverse groups were there, from couples on dates to groups of teens hanging out and making memories. There were people of all ages and all cultures, including several American ex-pats who told me they were regulars at the pub. The Shakespeare Pub has something for everyone, and all are welcome.

Yard House Pub

On a Saturday night in Almaty, I decided to set out from my hostel and enjoy a meal at the first place I came across playing live music. After a few minutes of walking down the city’s main avenue, Dostyk, I saw a sign out front of the Yard House Pub advertising a cover band. I had already heard through word-of-mouth that their food was good, and I figured this was as good a time as ever to find out for myself.

After being seated at the bar, which gave a great view of the stage, I watched the band set up while checking out the restaurant and the menu. While the restaurant does not look small from the outside, it is even larger inside, with plenty of room to sit near the band or in a separate room/outside if you are not in the mood for some live music. The menu offered a little bit of everything, and there were even large platters specifically for large groups, so do not be afraid to check out Yard House Pub with a group of friends!

While upbeat techno music continued playing over the speakers, I got the bartender’s attention and requested a drink menu. I immediately noticed Yard House had much more on tap than the Shakespeare Pub, but the rest of their drink menu was comparable. I ordered a beer, a schnitzel with mashed potatoes and green beans, and a side of breaded mozzarella. When the food arrived, I was impressed by the portion size and the quality of the food. It was one of the best meals that I had in Kazakhstan.

As I started eating, the band returned with a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” before transitioning into a few songs by Daft Punk, so there was a lot of variety in what they played. The singers were great and hearing the instruments from only a few yards away brought everything to life. Overall, The Yard House Pub is a suitable place to hang out with friends or go on a date, and it only gets better with live music.

Pinta Kazakhstan

When a friend who was also studying in Kazakhstan reached out and asked if I would like to get dinner, we decided it was time to try out one of the higher-end restaurants near my hostel. We headed to Pinta Kazakhstan in the beautiful Kazakhstan Hotel and met there one afternoon, stopping outside to take pictures of the famous architecture of the hotel itself.

The atmosphere at this restaurant was unlike the others I had been to. Everything here was much fancier, with very attentive servers always checking to see if they could take any plates/glasses or pour you another glass of water. While this change of pace – and the increased prices – take some getting used to, Pinta Kazakhstan is a must-visit for anyone looking to enjoy some fantastic food in a classy environment in Almaty. The menu offers an eclectic mix of everything – but with everything done excellently. I had the baked lasagna and the citrus lemonade, which I can highly recommend, but I’ve yet to hear anyone say anything negative about any of their dishes.

We sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful Almaty weather and the jazz band. I had heard a lot of music in Kazakhstan up to that point, but this was the first time I had heard live jazz music, and I was fascinated. I could not find the name of the band anywhere, but I hope to be able to catch them again someday.

Kumäno

For my final taste of nightlife and live music in Almaty, I decided to check out an experimental dance performance at the Kumäno Bar. It was billed online as a modern take on the tango and flamenco, so I had no idea what to expect going into it, but I had a feeling that it would be one of the highlights of my trip. As it turns out, my prediction could not have been more accurate.

 

Kumäno describes itself as the best alternative bar in Almaty. Neon lights, chandeliers, vintage-style light fixtures, and old-school television sets wrapped in spray paint lined the walls, and the speakers played Russian punk music. I was in awe from the second I walked in, and the performance had not even begun.

Since the bar itself is so small, the performance took place outside. I followed the mass of people out into the courtyard and found a seat close to the DJ. Once the performance began, I did not look away until the music stopped. As the music played, the dancers constantly altered their movements, from violent crashes into one another to smooth displays of control as they synchronized and floated around the makeshift dance floor. Each movement overflowed with emotion, leaving us all contemplating what we had just seen.

After the dance ended, I managed to talk to one of the dancers and ask her a few questions about the performance. I could not believe her when she told me this was their first time publicly exhibiting the performance. If it went this well on their opening night, I could only imagine what it looked like with their last performance. This dance was an experience that will stick with me for quite some time.

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About the author

McLean Brown

McLean Brown, at the time he wrote for this site, was a third-year Russian major at the University of South Carolina with a minor in religious studies. He spent the summer of 2023 traveling Kazakhstan, researching folklore in the Altai Mountains, and studying the intersection between language and national identity in Kazakhstan. The material published here was produced as part of an SRAS Online Research Internship.

Program attended: Research Internships

View all posts by: McLean Brown