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The standard line on the Dakota is that it has the best food of any jazz club in the country. That's got to be true, but doesn't really cover it. When there is no music playing at all, the Dakota is a very classy lunch or dinner spot. At lunch in the dining room you'll find the best salads in downtown, along with unexpected sandwiches. During dinner, the spacious, contemporary dining room's well-spaced tables are graced with a rotating list of all-American originals. When there is live music, in the two-level bar and concert area, the Dakota offers all kinds of edible treats to enhance your jazz-going experience--or quiet your teenager into appreciating the beauty before him: fun, forthright desserts, skinny fries, and killer burgers.
With Curtiss A.
There's something inherently mysterious about the Pines' dusky, timeless folk music—the way it sinks into the listener's bones like a deep winter chill, the way it only improves with time and age like a bottle of wine forgotten in the cellar for... More »
Secret Stash, the local label specializing in digging up neglected musical nuggets of the past, unearthed a treasure trove of vintage local R&B that had mostly fallen off the radar and last year released the collection as Twin Cites Funk & Soul:... More »
The Beautiful Dreamers trio is just one of the seemingly endless projects of prolific and innovative guitarist Bill Frisell. Joining him is Eyvind Kang on viola and drummer Rudy Royston, who both approach their instruments with the same... More »
Bluegrass phenomenon Ricky Skaggs has enjoyed a long, prolific career still celebrated in contemporary alt-country circles. A master of mandolin, guitar, banjo, fiddle, and vocals, Skaggs has always grounded his work in traditional bluegrass,... More »
With barely a day's notice, Prince launched a three-day, six-concert mini residency at the Dakota Jazz Club in January. Combine the last-minute adrenaline, the intimate environment, and the cold-as-hell weather, and these shows proved to get Twin Cities fans rethinking what was possible -- or impossible, if you consider the $250 tickets for the Friday night shows featuring the Purple One backed by his new all-female band. Progressing from instrumental jams the first night to the... More »
Since moving from St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis in 2003, the Dakota has firmly established itself as the preeminent jazz venue in the city. You can regularly catch impassioned performances from jazz legends like McCoy Tyner and Roy Haynes, as well as rising new stars like Esperanza Spalding and the Bad Plus, with most artists frequently performing two sets in one evening or multiple-night stands to accommodate the demand without losing the intimacy the warm room provides. The relaxed but... More »
The Twin Cities are immensely fortunate to have two superb jazz clubs: St. Paul's Artists' Quarter and the Dakota in downtown Minneapolis. Both offer a steady stream of local talent, in intimate settings that encourage easy mingling of patrons and artists. So what puts the Dakota over the top? First, the club is regarded as one of the premier jazz clubs in the world, which means its rep is as solid in Stockholm, Sweden, as in Stockholm, Wisconsin. Second, the breadth of artists visiting the... More »
Having already booked a table at the Dakota for business lunches, after-work drinks, and dinner, we're always looking for yet one more excuse to sample Jack Riebel's haute-American cooking. And here it is: late-night happy hour. It only runs on Fridays and Saturdays, starting at 11 p.m., but we're all getting a little bit old for staying out past midnight on a Tuesday, aren't we? The food-and-drink specials are worth waiting for the weekend: half-price cocktails made with our homegrown fave,... More »
The Dakota is hardly the only jazz club in town, or even the only great one (St. Paul's legendary Artists' Quarter is a perennial contender). But the Dakota's 1-2-3 punch is hard to compete with: Its incomparable acoustics make it one of the best-sounding environments for live jazz (or R&B or blues); its cuisine is among the best in downtown Minneapolis; and if any major jazz luminaries are on tour, the Dakota is where they play. In just one recent month the venue hosted tenor sax star... More »
With a notoriously schizoid tendency to waver between smugness and insecurity about their own attributes, Minnesotans may be genuinely shocked when it finally sinks in that the Dakota ranks among the premier jazz clubs in the known world. It's long been an open secret shared by jazz's elite musicians, nearly all of whom, over the past couple of decades, have graced the Dakota stage in St. Paul and more recently in downtown Minneapolis. The success stems from the enlightened management of... More »
No less than jazz pooh-bah Wynton Marsalis recently opined that the Dakota ranks among the top 10 spots in America to hear jazz. He's right. But don't take his word for it. Check out the monthly parade of renowned artists who grace the Dakota's stage and invariably go away singing the club's praises and raring to return. It's pretty much been that way for more than 20 years, first in St. Paul's Bandana Square and for the last few in downtown Minneapolis. There was something about the old... More »
The Dakota and jazz have history. Between opening in Bandana Square in 1985 and reopening on Nicollet Mall in 2003, the club saw a world of music pass through its doors. George Benson made the Dakota his informal jamming spot. Mourners gathered there to remember "Captain" Jack McDuff. The new Dakota kept a grand piano at its center, but doubled the seating and improved the sound. Now this spot has history, too. New Orleans legend Dr. John rode out Hurricane Katrina here, and in the grinding... More »
The Artists' Quarter is funkier, cheaper, and a better spot to hear up-and-comers, and there are certainly other small and mid-sized spots in town where one can hear great jazz, but the Dakota is this category's perennial winner for a reason. Hearing world-class live jazz in a small setting is one of life's great joys--especially when the acoustics are as good as they are here; the Dakota is simply one of the best-sounding rooms in the country. The downtown Minneapolis spot consistently... More »
Our perennial winner in the "Best Jazz Club" category has strengthened its status by moving to elegant new digs in downtown Minneapolis. We actually miss the beleaguered Zinc--we loved the spacious bar, bitter Bastille cocktails and tangy lemon tarts. But now with the Dakota moving in, we feel like the movie version of Bridget Jones--getting to sleep with Hugh Grant, but ending up with Colin Firth. Moving from strength to strength, people! With the right proportion of polished wood floors to... More »
The salad of the year was a mushroom salad. Well, not really. It wasn't really a mushroom salad, officially. Officially, it was a spinach and arugula salad, but it had a whole forest floor's worth of pale mushroomy marvels in it: ghostly oyster mushrooms, spidery enoki mushrooms, a few golden chanterelles with that subtle fruity scent they have. The spinach and arugula were dressed with a bit of fragrant rosemary oil, scattered with all those mushrooms, planted with a dollop of fresh, sharp... More »
How St. Paul, a medium-sized city in a predominantly white metropolitan area, came to be blessed with a trio of marvelous jazz joints is one of the more pleasant mysteries of modern times. Under the steady hand of musician-proprietors Kenny Horst and Billy Petersen, the Artists' Quarter has been a touchstone for stellar local jazz bands while mixing in the occasional national act--Eric Alexander or the Fred Hersch Trio, for instance. More recently, Brilliant Corners has emerged as a coffee... More »
Lowell Pickett's little-club-that-cooks is becoming a perennial in these pages, but not for lack of worthy competition. The Artists' Quarter's new, must-see basement space in downtown St. Paul is as spacious as it is swinging--an aesthetic gem that consistently showcases local and national talent. That said, there's just no denying the Dakota's play list, which rivals that of any jazz club in the country, outside of New York and San Francisco. And ask the world-class musicians who play the... More »
Have been multiple times to The Dakota, and have seen both national and local artists. Service is always excellent and the food top notch. This is one of the Twin Cities' pre-eminent venues. A night out here is always a special occasion for my wife and me.
The atmosphere was the only thing decent until the band started. Our waitress was the worst part she was so slow. We saw other waiters and waitresses pass by us several times, however our waitress only did one sweep once every hour. It was an hour after she took her drink orders before we got them. To give a little back story, the restaurant was not even half full. When we gave her our payment it took her an hour to get back to us. The music was horrendous (Sophia Shorai) and you have to pay to see her for $5 it should just be free. When a problem arised on our bill the manager came over and said he couldn't do anything...well I asked for a Grapefruit Refresher and it tasted like flat soda with lemon sour and told him I did not like it and he said he couldn't do anything. The management and maitre'd's were snobby and stuck up like this is the best place in the world and it just isn't the best. My advice go somewhere else to spend your $$$.
With a notoriously schizoid tendency to waver between smugness and insecurity about their own attributes, Minnesotans may be genuinely shocked when it finally sinks in that the Dakota ranks among the premier jazz clubs in the known world. It's long been an open secret shared by jazz's elite musicians, nearly all of whom, over the past couple of decades, have graced the Dakota stage in St. Paul and more recently in downtown Minneapolis. The success stems from the enlightened management of Lowell Pickett, who cares deeply about the music and consistently books an exciting blend of musical legends, up-and-comers, local stalwarts, and even youngsters representing the next generation of jazz greats. International artists like Malian Toumani Diabaté and Brazilian Ivan Lins, blues greats like the Holmes Brothers, and a steady post-Katrina stream of characters like Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, and Irvin Mayfield from the other end of the Mississippi have diversified the Dakota's lineup in recent years. Friday and Saturday late-night sessions have opened things up even more. Then there are the outstanding features that we've come to expect from the Dakota: great sound; an intimate, convivial atmosphere that often feels like the band is set up in your living room; and a brilliantly conceived and executed menu. New York, Paris, Timbuktu: The Dakota ranks with the best.
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