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Zagat is out with the results of its 2014 Holiday Tipping Survey, revealing that generosity is at an all time high. More than 800 respondents nationwide came to Zagat.com to tell us who they tip, how much they give and why they are shelling out this holiday season.
At this time of year the most common tip to give is money followed by gift cards, a bottle of wine/spirits and baked goods. The average reported cash tips across a variety of service personnel are the highest they’ve been since 2011 - steadily rebounding from a dip in 2012. Thirteen percent say they are planning to tip “more” this year vs. only 3% who say “less.”

When asked about the reasoning behind who and how much they tip during the holidays, respondents say “based on wanting to express gratitude” (53%), “where it’s deserved for work and assistance” (29%), “obligation” (14%), “fear of negative consequences if I don’t” (2%), and other reasons (2%).

And if you’re giving something other than cash, be careful of what you choose -- 27% of surveyors admit to re-gifting non-cash gifts.

Happy Holidays!

 Posted by Tiffany Herklots, Zagat

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The results of Zagat’s 2015 San Francisco Restaurants Survey are here! This year 7,932 local diners shared their opinions of over 1,600 Bay Area restaurants. Ratings and reviews, as well as more than 100 curated lists are available today on Zagat.com, Google Maps and Search.

This year Kokkari Estiatorio wins big, taking Top Food and Decor honors, eclipsing Gary Danko who previously held the Top Food spot for the past 5 years consecutively and 11 times since 2003. However, the team at Gary Danko has much to celebrate, winning major titles Top Service and Most Popular (and coming in at No. 2 for Food). This year’s SF/Bay Area Top 10 Food list is as follows:

  1. Kokkari Estiatorio 
  2. Gary Danko 
  3. Quince 
  4. The French Laundry 
  5. Evvia 
  6. Acquerello 
  7. Boulevard 
  8. La Folie 
  9. Frances 
  10. Benu 

According to the survey, the average reported spend per person for dinner out is $41 (vs. $39.40 nationwide). But you don’t have to go broke for good food in San Francisco. Based on the survey results, Zagat editors compiled a list of the Bay Area’s “Best Buys” - or places with high food scores and an average cost of $25 or less:

  1. Tartine Bakery & Cafe 
  2. Cheese Board Pizza 
  3. b. Patisserie 
  4. 4505 Burgers & BBQ 
  5. 4505 Meats 
  6. Fremont Diner 
  7. Mama’s 
  8. Zachary’s Chicago Pizza 
  9. Arizmendi Bakery 
  10. Fatted Calf 

In addition, some of this year’s most exciting tables include hot newcomers The Commissary serving up Spanish-influenced Californian cuisine by Traci Des Jardins, the Bernal Heights Japanese ICHI Sushi + NI Bar, Siamese Kin Khao tucked away in the Parc 55 Hotel near Union Square, Lazy Bear, the brick-and-mortar version of the popular underground pop-up, as well as Pabu, Tosca Cafe and Urchin Bistrot.

San Francisco diners are avid but not the most generous. They eat out 4.5 times per week for a combined lunch and dinner - exactly on par with national figures. As for gratuity, they leave a reported 18.7%, which is below the 19.3% national average.

Diner Habits and Preferences:

  • Noise is the No. 1 dining irritant (28%) among San Francisco diners followed by Service (25%), Crowds (14%), Prices (13%), Parking (8%), Food (7%) and Traffic (2%). The biggest complaints relating to Noise are bad acoustics; unruly babies/children; loud music and people on mobile phones. 
  • When it comes to cuisines, diners say Italian is the favorite (25%), followed by American (12%), French (10%), Japanese (10%), Seafood (7%), Mexican (6%), and Thai (5%). 
  • When choosing a restaurant to dine at, 80% of respondents said they consult online menus, 77% say consumer reviews, 63% say restaurant websites, 38% look for photos and 16% seek out blogs. 
  • As for cell phone use, 29% say they text or email at the table "occasionally", 42% say "rarely" and 24% claim "never." 
  • When it comes to farm-to-table dining, a practice the Bay Area has led for decades, 71% of surveyors still report they "love" the movement. 

For additional results and to explore Zagat’s Top 50 restaurants in San Francisco proper, visit zagat.com/sanfrancisco.

Posted by Tiffany Herklots, Zagat

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Looking for the best bites in Los Angeles? You’re in luck because today Zagat is out with the results of it’s 2015 Los Angeles Restaurants Survey, helping you find the perfect restaurant for any occasion.

This year’s results are based on based on the opinions of 9,469 diners who collectively rated and reviewed more than 1,400 LA restaurants. This year’s big winners are Mélisse (Food), The Bazaar by José Andrés (Decor), Providence (Service) and El Cholo (Most Popular). See our full list of the Top 50 restaurants by Food rating.

Below is a list of top spots by cuisine category:

New American: Bashan                                  
Trad. American: Dal Rae Restaurant            
Barbecue: Bludso's BBQ                                
Burgers: In-N-Out Burger                  
Californian: Darren's Restaurant        
Chinese: WP24                                                  
Continental: Dal Rae Restaurant                    
Delis: Langer's                                                  
Dim Sum: Hakkasan Beverly Hills                
Eclectic: Ink                                                    
Gastropubs: The Tripel                                    
French: Mélisse                                                
Italian: Michael's on Naples Ristorante            
Japanese: Sushi Gen
Korean: Park's BBQ
Mediterranean: Lucques
Mexican: Cook's Tortas
Pizza: Pizzeria Mozza
Seafood: Providence
Steakhouses: Chianina Steakhouse
Thai: Jitlada Restaurant
Vegetarian: Crossroads Vegan

Congratulations to this year’s winners! For more information on what’s new in LA, check out French Food in LA: The Best, the New and More and 11 Tasting Menus to Savor. New Ratings and reviews can be found today at Zagat.com and across the Google products you use everyday including Search and Maps.

 Posted by Tiffany Herklots, Zagat

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The votes have been tallied! Today we are releasing the results of Zagat’s Philadelphia Restaurants Survey, covering more than 650 restaurants based on the combined opinions of 5,000 local diners. Ratings and reviews are available today on Zagat.com and across Google products, including Search and Maps.

Philadelphians dine out 3.7 times per week and are among the most generous tippers in the country, leaving a reported 19.8%, second only to Austin diners, who leave 20%. The average spend on dinner out in Philly is $37.07 per person, which is below the national average of $39.40.

This year’s crop of Zagat-rated restaurants include a mix of classic favorites and exciting newcomers at every price point. Big winners are Vedge (Top Food), XIX Nineteen (Top Decor), Fountain Restaurant (Top Service) and Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant (Most Popular). Good food doesn’t have to break the bank as evidenced in this year’s list of Best Buys ($25 & Under): 1. Dinic’s 2. Capogiro 3. Sweet Lucy’s Smokehouse 4. Honest Tom’s Taco Shop and 5. Cafe Lift.

According to 26% of diners, Italian is their favorite cuisine. Check out the city’s Top Italian restaurants as well as other favorites, American (17%), French (9%), Seafood (9%), Steakhouses (7%) and Japanese (6%).

Eight-five percent of respondents say they seek out online menus before choosing a restaurant, and 67% report making their restaurant reservations online. 84% admit to having eavesdropped on a conversation at the next table, and 67% of them say they “love” farm-to-table dining.

Be sure to visit zagat.com/philadelphia to search and discover Philadelphia’s best restaurants.

Posted by Yoji Yamaguchi, Zagat Senior Editor

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Today we celebrate Miami’s 30 under 30, the city’s up-and-coming culinary movers and shakers. This year’s class is a talented and diverse bunch, including chefs, mixologists, a social media maven and even a beekeeper.

Be sure to check out the full round-up of honoree bios and photos as well as Miami’s 30 under 30 by the Numbers below.


 Posted by Tiffany Herklots, Zagat

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Today we tip our hats to Zagat’s 2014 San Francisco 30 Under 30 honorees. Our 3rd annual San Francisco list, released today, is made up of the young culinary trailblazers under the age of 30 who are making waves in the industry. From Wine Directors and Chefs to a Head Pizzaiola and Butcher, this year’s list reflects the diversity of the San Francisco food scene.

The 2014 class includes 22 men and 13 women (including five business duos), and the average age is 27. Fourteen of them work in the drinks biz, thirteen are chefs, four are sports enthusiasts, two like to travel by motorcycle and one honoree lives on a houseboat.

For full bios - and more fun facts - check out zagat.com/sanfrancisco. Cheers to this year’s winners! 

Posted by Tiffany Herklots, Zagat

Posted:
2015 Big Winners are Le Bernardin (Food, Service), Daniel (Decor), 
Gramercy Tavern (Popularity) and Sushi Nakazawa (Newcomer)
Brooklyn Breaks Records; Casual Restaurants Gain Ground; Steakhouses Sizzle 

The votes are in! Today Zagat reveals the results of its 2015 New York City Restaurants survey covering more than 2,139 restaurants as voted on by 30,592 avid diners. Ratings and reviews are available today on Zagat.com and across Google Maps and Search. Zagat guidebooks will be hitting shelves at local retailers starting tomorrow.

New Yorkers report eating out 4.7 times per week (lunch and dinner) and spending on average $48.15 for dinner (per person), which is well above the $39.40 national figure. When eating out, New York diners are generous and leave 19.3% for gratuity. As for home cooking, respondents prepare 5.7 meals per week at home, compared to 6.8 meals per week, nationally.

This year New York welcomed 160 noteworthy newcomers vs. just 82 closings, the largest differential since 2005. Big name chefs and restaurateurs are investing in the local dining scene with major openings: Danny Bowien (Mission Cantina), Andrew Carmellini (Bar Primi), Bobby Flay (Gato), Marc Forgione (American Cut), Daniel Humm (NoMad Bar), Keith McNally (Cherche Midi) and Danny Meyer (Marta).

The city’s big winners this year are Le Bernardin (Food, Service) which continues to break records for its 13th year in the survey as Top Food (6th consecutive year for Top Food), Daniel (Decor), reclaiming its throne and ending Asiate’s 7-year winning streak, Gramercy Tavern (Most Popular), edging out Le Bernardin (now #2) for Most Popular and the omakase-only Sushi Nakazawa (Newcomer).

Another positive sign of the times: dining in Brooklyn has hit an all-time high. The borough is now home to an unprecedented 340 Zagat-rated restaurants - a 28% increase over last year - the biggest jump in 20 years. Key Brooklyn newcomers include Bergen Hill, Berg’n, Cherry Izakaya, Dover, French Louie, Humboldt & Jackson, and Marco’s.

While fine dining may always be in, casual dining options are on the rise as suggested by shake-ups on the Most Popular list - 5 Napkin Burger (No. 3 up from No. 29), Shake Shack (No. 4 up from No. 25), 2nd Ave. Deli (No. 14 up from No. 32), and Katz’s Deli (No. 18 up from No. 27). Moving down the ranks are haute establishments: Daniel (No. 11 down from No. 4), Eleven Madison Park (No. 23 down from No. 6), Per Se (No. 28 down from No. 14), and The Modern (No. 34 down from No. 21).

Indicating the depth and diversity of the New York market, there were 18 cuisine categories with new winners this year including Barbeque: Mighty Quinn’s; Ice Cream: Ample Hills Creamery; Noodle Shops: Chuko; Pizza: Paulie Gee’s; and Spanish/Tapas: La Vara. Chef-restaurateur couple Alex Raij and Eder Montero sweep the Spanish category with La Vara, Txikito and El Quinto Pino taking the top three spots, respectively.

A cut above the rest, this year we welcomed eight new steakhouses into the mix: American Cut, Charlie Palmer, Fogo de Chão, Il Mulino Prime, M. Wells Steakhouse, Raizes Churrascaria, Reserve Cut and Texas de Brazil. As for French restaurants, New York says ‘Oui’ to newcomers Cherche Midi, Claudette, Dirty French, French Louie, Ladurée, Margaux, and Rotisserie Georgette.

When asked what irritates them most about eating out, diners cite Noise (27%), Service (27%), Prices (21%), Crowds (15%) and Food (5%) as their top complaints. 41% of diners say they are less inclined to go to a restaurant with a cash-only policy, 84% admit to having eavesdropped on a conversation at the next table, and 49% say they “love” Brussels sprouts.

Visit zagat.com/newyork to search and discover this year’s best New York City Restaurants.

Posted by
Tim and Nina Zagat, Co-Chairs, Zagat