By Shawn Chitnis

GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – Xicamiti La Taqueria Bistro is one of only three restaurants in Colorado named to Yelp’s “Top 100 Places To Eat in the U.S. 2019.” It ranks eighth in the country a little more than a year after it opened for business.

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“When we come back, the place was packed outside, a lot of people waiting to get in,” said Walter Meza, the owner of the restaurant of the night the list was released. “Since Tuesday (un)til yesterday, the day has been packed. Everyone wants to go to this place.”

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(credit: CBS)

The list came out on Jan. 8 and people quickly flocked to the restaurant located on Washington Ave. next to a liquor store. Drivers coming off the highway have to make a U-turn to access the parking lot. It’s a location that could easily be missed so diners have to know about it in advance.

For 16 months, the business has built a loyal audience, and now Meza says the increase in customers is up 40 percent thanks to the Yelp recognition.

(credit: CBS)

“We’ve been blessed. People have been really nice with us,” he said. “It’s amazing, we didn’t expect this reaction from customers.”

Meza worked in the restaurant business for years as a bartender, server and manager, but never in the kitchen. He brought along his wife to launch this new restaurant, taking advantage of the location and opening when he was ready to make the move into ownership.

“I don’t know who’s crazier, me or my wife,” he said. “She’s always backing me.”

Xicamiti means sweet potato flower, named after its similar shape to the vegetable but more commonly known as a Dahlia. Guided by their heritage and faith, they live by a Spanish phrase meaning, “the time of God is the best.”

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Since the restaurant was acknowledged by Yelp, not only has business picked up, but Meza has more staffing in the kitchen and the dining room. He even reduced hours in between lunch and dinner to make sure he was operating at the same level that provides the quality he expects for his customers.

“It’s been amazing. It’s been amazing,” he said of the restaurant’s run so far.

(credit: CBS)

Yelp explained its methodology for selecting 100 restaurants factored in reviews and ratings.

“We considered both the rating and the volume of the reviews, while accounting for the overall volume of reviews in each business’s area so as not to disadvantage businesses in areas with relatively low review volume,” the company said in a statement. “Businesses must be primarily a restaurant or place to eat a meal to be included on the list.”

Two other restaurants made the list in Colorado: Monse Pupuseria in Colorado Springs and The Rolling Pin Bakeshop in Denver.

Xicamiti features decorations highlighting the Mexican holiday, “Dia de los Muertos,” at all its tables. He hopes it can be a reminder of the culture his food celebrates and shows his customers there is much more than they may know.

But the restaurant also has a wall hanging celebrating the kind notes from customers so far. Napkins or receipts with handwritten messages from customers now fill a picture frame, Meza says he will have another one he can put up soon. A reminder of the act of faith he and his wife took with their business and the success they are already enjoying with the restaurant.

“No steps behind, keep going forward,” Meza said. “Let’s put anything on God’s hand.”

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LINK: YELP Top 100 Places to Eat in the US 2019 | Xicamiti on Facebook

Shawn Chitnis