We love our neighborhood restaurants here in the Twin Cities, and apparently the rest of the country does too. OpenTable just released its 2014 list of the 100 best neighborhood gems in the United States, and three Twin Cities restaurants make the cut: Heyday, Lucia's Restaurant & Wine Bar, and Nico's Tacos.
The list is based on reviews submitted by over 5 million verified OpenTable diners. Over 19,000 restaurants in all 50 states were eligible for the honor, though all restaurants included in the list had to meet a minimum score on the OpenTable rating system and "neighborhood gem" had to be selected as one of the restaurant's special features.
According to Caroline Potter of OpenTable, "The winning restaurants on this list are in many ways the heart and soul of their neighborhoods, offering much more than delicious meals. They provide a place that inspires a real sense of community and pride, making local area foodies feel right at home, night after night."
All three restaurants on the list just so happen to be in the Uptown/Lyn-Lake area of Minneapolis, which is fairly well known for its abundance of neighborhood dining options. Lucia's Restaurant & Wine Bar has been an Uptown staple for nearly 30 years and a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement in the Twin Cities. The kitchen is currently run by chef Ryan Lund, who continues to make the delicious and approachable food that Lucia's is renowned for. With its close proximity to Lake Calhoun, sidewalk patio in the summertime, and access to nearby retail on Hennepin, this is one of the city's hottest dining spots.
On the newer side of the spectrum, Nico's Taco & Tequila Bar has been open less than a year and was initially met with mixed critical reception. Yet, it's not uncommon to see a patio full of people scarfing down some tasty tacos and sipping fine tequilas. The location has housed several other "neighborhood gems" (Birdhouse, Duplex, Pandora's Cup), so it's a spot certainly worthy of gem status.
Minneapolis's hippest new restaurant, Heyday, also made the top 100 list. Only open for about two months, this one's a bit of a surprise, but only because voting started on June 1, 2013, and ended on May 31, 2014 -- which means that Heyday managed to outrank 18,900 restaurants on OpenTable in just over a month's time. That's saying a heck of a lot, but given the waves this Lyndale neighborhood restaurant has been making, maybe it isn't a shock after all.
To learn more about OpenTable's top 100 neighborhood gems list and to find out what other restaurants in other cities made the grade, you can check out the release here.