Tala Vera Cantina

4.5 out of 5 stars
based on 3 Reviews
155 State Street
Rochester, NY


jazz, blues, singer songwriter, big band

Paid via…

  • Cover?: Yes (2 votes)  
  • Minimum draw to get paid?: No (1 vote)  
  • Free food?: Yes (2 votes)  
  • Free drinks?: Yes (1 vote)  No (1 vote)  

Business practices

  • Non-profit?: No (1 vote)  
  • Musician-run?: Yes (1 vote)  No (1 vote)  
  • Rental fee?: No (2 votes)  
  • Books local acts?: Yes (2 votes)  
  • Books out-of-town acts?: Yes (2 votes)  
  • Promotes the acts it hires?: Yes (1 vote)  No (1 vote)  


  • Piano?: Yes (2 votes)  
  • Piano in tune?: Yes (2 votes)  
  • Keyboard?: No (1 vote)  
  • Drumset?: No (1 vote)  
  • Direct box?: Yes (1 vote)  
  • PA system?: Yes (2 votes)  
  • Sound person?: Yes (2 votes)  

The room

  • Stage?: Yes (2 votes)  
  • Backstage/Green Room?: No (1 vote)  
  • Space for dancing?: No (1 vote)  
  • Primarily background music?: Yes (1 vote)  No (1 vote)  
  • Serves Food?: Yes (2 votes)  
  • Liquor License?: Yes (2 votes)  
  • Capacity: 50-300 (2 votes)  

Incorrect info? your correction!

Reviews from musicians


Outta Dodge

1 Review
5.0 out of 5 stars   


Please note that Tala Vera is, sadly, CLOSED.


Sasha Eastwick

1 Review
5.0 out of 5 stars   


3/10/2012 "We here at Anonymous Willpower would like to thank Tala Vera for treating us with love and respect. We truly had an amazing time last night. Andro Zoombot loves you!!! - Suzi Willpower

3/25/2012 "All I can is WOW what an evening!!!! Went to TALA VERA This evening to hear and experience the debut of the Natalie B Band. The ambviance waswarm friendly and the cuisine was excellent." - Paul Conley

4/25/2012 ..."Tala Vera is the coolest place to play music! Thank you to all who came out tonight, and keep supporting Rochester's musicians- and have some great Mexican food as well! Bernard Matthews is a musician, sound man, recording specialist, drink and food server- he does it all in this great place on State Street in Rochester. Let's make the city the vibrant cultural center that it can!!! - Bill Tiberio



5 Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars   


I've played as a side man in a few groups at this venue several times. Tala Vera is one of the newest venues in Rochester, has one of the best stages for small group jazz, has an amazing sound engineer and recording equipment, and is perhaps one of the most frustrating places I've ever played in.

The first frustration stems from Tala Vera's largest demise: location. Being on State Street in the city means that there's little if any walk-in traffic at dinner time. Most people want to get out of the city after work. So that means you're responsible for bringing the crowd...something the venue owner banks on for the success of the restaurant.

The second frustration with Tala Vera is the food and drink prices, which I feel are very inflated to account for the lack of customers. One beer with tip can run you over $5 for domestic. The average dinner can run you upwards of $15. It doesn't take a professional food critic to realize upon presentation and tasting that the food is not worth that.

The problem with the food and drink prices pertaining to live music acts is that fans come to watch a show and are somewhat expected to buy from the menu, which turns a live music show with a $4 cover easily into a $60+ venture for a couple. Many live music fans of jazz are college students in this area and simply don't have that kind of money.

The final frustration with the venue stems from the owner himself. He spends much of his time justifying his business practices to musicians and patrons who find his food and music deals substandard.

So bad food and bad location means pretty paltry sums in the money deal. The owner tries to offset this somewhat by offering a professionally mixed down recording of your performance. This offer is enticing to many young musicians who take the opportunity. I've spoken to at least one band leader who said he never received the recording(s) he was promised.

Bernie seems to have an idealized notion of what the live music scene is like (book a gig, bring a crowd, play your butt off, bring a bigger crowd, get a record deal, move to Hollywood, become a star...all at Tala Vera), and has little if any personal experience being a musician in that scene. The local musicians have really embraced him and have done lots to try and keep his doors open. From my perspective, I don't see Bernie trying to understand what problems truly lay out there in live music today, and has yet to adopt the kind of symbiotic approach other successful music venues in the area have adopted.

Overall I would've rated this venue at 2 stars due to overpriced food, bad location, and ownership. The sound equipment and live streaming capability brings it up to a 3. But I don't see this venue becoming a destination demand for musicians and fans as long as it's run by an owner who refuses to acknowledge that the live music business has changed and is as endangered as his restaurant will be if something doesn't happen soon.

PS- Location location location! You have to be able to bring in walk in customers, and customers for the food as well as the music. Make your food delicious, your prices reasonable, and take good care of your musicians. As long as Netflix and Hulu exist, banking almost exclusively on the music is a surefire way to run a business in the ground.