Foodies flock to the Dakota Jazz Club for the gourmet Minnesota specialities but music lovers gravitate to this 275-seat downtown destination for its intimacy, style and unparalleled musical menu. Not all the sightlines are ideal but the combination of sound, warmth and proximity to the performers (no one is more than 15 yards away) can't be beat. The musical lineup is diverse and famous -- from the piano jazz ruminations of Chick Corea to the full-band funk of Tower of Power to the contemplative Americana of Lucinda Williams, plus local luminaries like Nachito Herrera and Davina & the Vagabonds. It's no wonder the Dakota has earned a stellar international reputation with music-makers and fans alike.

Runner-up: Aster Cafe, Mpls