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If “foodie” was a political party it would win in a landslide. At least according to the Zagat 2016 National Dining Trends survey, in which a whopping 79% of diners declared themselves to be a foodie. The survey uncovers the habits and preferences of 9,248 avid diners in 26 major U.S. cities.


Which trendy food was most-loved this year? That would be Sriracha, according to 31% of respondents, who “love it.” The hot chili sauce was followed closely by quinoa (27%), ramen (26%), and avocado toast (24%). Less love was given to bone broth (13%) and uni (sea urchin), at 12%. Green juice was the ugly duckling (11%).


American diners eat out quite a bit – okay, a ton: 4.5 meals (lunch and dinner) per week on average. Dining out most frequently are Angelenos (5.2), followed by diners in Austin and Miami (both at 5.1), and New York City, San Antonio, and Honolulu (all at 4.9). At the bottom of the list is Boston (3.8), followed by Portland, OR, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis (each at 3.9 meals out per week).

And what is all this restaurant enthusiasm costing us? The average national spend per person for dinner out is $36.30. It will shock no one to learn, New York City is the most expensive dining city in the US ($48.44), followed by Boston ($42.83), San Francisco ($40.94), Miami ($40.58) and Los Angeles ($38.21). The best value, relatively, can be had in Detroit ($28.77), followed by Minneapolis ($29.67), Atlanta ($30.46), Austin ($30.48), and Charlotte ($30.50).  


When it comes to tipping, Americans leave an average gratuity of 18.9% on their restaurant bill. Diners in Boston, who splurge on the second-highest average meal spend, are the most generous tippers, leaving 20% on average. Following right behind Bostonians are diners in Philadelphia (19.9%), Chicago (19.6%), Denver (19.4%), and Washington DC (19.3%). The nation’s stingiest tippers can be found in San Antonio (17.1%), followed by Orlando (18.1%), Minneapolis and Nashville (both 18.2%); Honolulu and Los Angeles (both at 18.5%).


Among the list of things that rub diners the wrong way, Service is the leading irritant, followed by Noise, Crowds, Prices, Food, Parking, and Traffic. Diners in Austin take the biggest issue with service (41% of the vote) while Portland, OR diners cite noise (33%) as their chief complaint. Noise complaints also outweigh complaints about Service in New York City (32%), Boston (30%), and San Francisco (26%).


Once again, American diners declare their amore for pasta – Italian is the top cuisine pick overall and in most cities. Bucking the trend are Atlanta, Austin, and Chicago, where Italian and American cuisine are tied; Charlotte, Denver, Houston, Minneapolis, Nashville, San Diego, and Seattle, which all favor American cuisine; Dallas - Fort Worth, where diners prefer Mexican; Honolulu, where people have a strong preference for Japanese; and New Orleans, where nothing beats Seafood.

How about feelings on tech at the table? When it comes to fellow diners whipping out their smartphones mid-meal, 54% of respondents nationally feel it’s “OK in moderation,” 40% say it’s “completely unacceptable, unless it’s an emergency,” 4% say “perfectly acceptable” and 2% had no opinion. Honolulu is the most accepting of mobile phone usage, with 67% of diners agreeing it’s “OK in moderation” and 7% saying it’s “perfectly acceptable.” Portland, OR condemns phone usage the most, with 51% of respondents saying “completely unacceptable, unless it’s an emergency.”

The top “dining deal-breaker” is a cash-only policy, followed closely by communal tables, jacket required, pre-fixe or tasting menu only/no a-la-carte options, a no-reservation policy, and live music.

More findings: When diners were asked whether they’d ever pay for a hard-to-get reservation, the majority of diners (71%) say “No.” And when it comes to paying the bill using a mobile app, 59% of surveyors say “Yes, I’ve done it, or I would.” As for planning a getaway to eat at a specific restaurant, the strong majority of diners (85%) say “Yes, I’ve done it, or I would.” Diners in Houston (92%) are most adventurous on this front, while New York City dwellers are less likely to plan a getaway around eating at a particular establishment (though 78% have done it or would). 52% of avid diners nationally say they make restaurant reservations via the internet. As for restaurant trends, surveyors love veggie-centric menus most (20% love them) and gluten-free dishes least (11%). The majority of respondents (51%) say they had their best meal ever at a high-end restaurant. Conversely, the least-likely locale for a best-ever meal is a local dive restaurant.

Which old-timey dish would you like to see make a comeback? Beef Wellington was the most popular pick amongst surveyors at 44%, followed by Bananas Foster (40%) and Baked Alaska, Lobster Thermidor, and Waldorf Salad, all with 26%. The least-popular old-fashioned item was Cherries Jubilee at 23%.

Visit zagat.com to learn more about this year’s results.

Posted by Charlotte Ames, Zagat

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Looking for the best bites in Los Angeles? You’re in luck because the votes are in! Today Zagat reveals its 2016 Los Angeles Restaurants results, covering more than 1,500 restaurants voted on by 8,661 avid diners. Ratings and reviews are available on Zagat.com and across Google Maps and Search to help you find the perfect restaurant for any occasion.

This year’s big winners are n/naka (Top Food), Geoffrey’s Malibu (Top Decor), Providence (Top Service), Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles (Most Popular), and Langer’s Delicatessen-Restaurant (Best Cheap Eats, $25 & under).

The average reported spend per person for dinner out in Los Angeles is $38.21, which is above the national average of $36.30. Angelenos eat out a lot - 5.2 times per week for a combined lunch and dinner, more than the 4.5 national average. When it comes to gratuity, Los Angeles diners leave a reported 18.5% tip, which is just below the national average of 18.9%.

What’s trending in LA this year? LA diners continue to love Japanese restaurants – three of this year’s Top 10 restaurants are Japanese: n/naka, Matsuhisa Restaurantand Asanebo. The DTLA (Downtown LA) neighborhood is also on the rise, as evidenced by popular, high-ranking, Downtown-dwellers Bestia and Factory Kitchen. Upscale, date-night-worthy vegan cuisine is also gaining in popularity, at spots like Crossroads Kitchen and Gracias Madre.

Congratulations to this year’s winners! Visit zagat.com to search and discover this year’s full list of the Top 50 best Los Angeles Restaurants.

Posted by Charlotte Ames, Zagat

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Zagat is revealing the results of its 2015 Burger Survey. This year, 8,748 burger aficionados from around the country participated online to rate and review patty purveyors in 17 major markets.  

Unlike Zagat’s iconic restaurant surveys where users rate the Food, Decor, and Service of establishments separately, Burger Survey participants rated and reviewed establishments specifically for their burgers, providing one overall rating that takes burger flavor, quality of ingredients, and value into account.

The top-ranking burger spots in each market are as follows:

Atlanta: Illegal Food
Austin:  Hopdoddy
Chicago: Au Cheval
Dallas: Dugg Burger
Los Angeles: Pono Burger
New York City – Brooklyn/Queens*: Peter Luger Steak House
New York City - Manhattan*: Bowery Meat Company
Philadelphia: The Blue Duck
San Diego: Rocky's Crown Pub
San Francisco: Wes Burger
Seattle: The Swinery
Toronto: Holy Chuck
Washington D.C.: Duke's Grocery

*For the first time this year, we divided New York City into two separate lists: “Manhattan” and “Brooklyn/Queens.”




Craigie On Main, Boston


Participants report eating burgers 3.9 times per month on average, typically getting their fix at specialty burger eateries (56%), general restaurants (25%), fast food spots (6%) diners (4%), or choosing to make them at home instead (9%).

49% of respondents say they are willing to spend between $10 – $14.99 on a burger, while 25% said they would be OK with spending $15 – $19.99. 14% of people would prefer not to spend more than $10, and a smaller 7% of folks would spend between $20 – $24.99 to get their fix. Only 5% of participants would be comfortable paying $25 or more for a patty. When asked if they’d splurge more than $25 on a “mind-blowing” burger, participants were evenly split down the middle – 50% said “yes” and 50% said “no.”

As for how participants prefer their burgers to be cooked, 43% are fans of medium-rare, followed closely by a 37% preference for medium. Medium-well lags behind at 12%, while the least popular options are tied on either end of the spectrum: 4% like it rare and another 4% ask for their patties well-done.

For a full round-up of the 17 best burger establishments nationwide (plus Toronto!), check out our feature on zagat.com.

Posted by Charlotte Ames, Zagat

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Le Bernardin Breaks Records; Casual Dining Continues to Gain Ground; For Second Consecutive Year, a Sushi Omakase Spot Wins “Top Newcomer” Title 

The votes are in! Today Zagat reveals its 2016 New York City Restaurants results, covering 2,237 restaurants voted on by 34,178 avid diners. Ratings and reviews are available on Zagat.com and across Google Maps and Search. Zagat guide books will be hitting the shelves at local retailers starting October 13th.

New Yorkers report eating out (lunch and dinner combined) 4.9 times per week, above the national average of 4.5 times per week. When dining out, New Yorkers are generous and leave 19.2% gratuity (above the national average of 18.9%). On average they spend $48.44 per person for dinner (vs. the $36.30 national average).

This year New York welcomed 119 hot and noteworthy newcomers vs. just 53 closings. The newcomers include a healthy crop of openings from big name restaurateurs: Mario Carbone/Rich Torrisi (Santina), Andrew Carmellini (Little Park), David Chang (Fuku), Gabriel Kreuther (Gabriel Kreuther), Enrique Olvera (Cosme), Charlie Palmer (Charlie Palmer at the Knick), Marcus Samuelsson (Streetbird), Masayoshi Takayama (Kappo Masa), Alex Ureña (Tasca Chino), Jonathan Waxman (Jams), Jody Williams/Rita Sodi (Via Carota) and Galen Zamarra (Almanac). 

The city’s biggest winner this year is Le Bernardin (Food, Service, Most Popular) which continues to break records, winning Top Food for the 7th year in a row – the first restaurant ever to win in this category for 7 consecutive years. Top Decor was awarded to the Four Seasons, and omakase sushi specialist Shuko is this year’s Top Newcomer.

Though its bar scene never cools off, Brooklyn’s restaurants had a lower-key year – especially compared to the borough’s recent history of splashy openings. Roughly 15% of openings were in Brooklyn this year, vs. 25% last year. In addition, high-profile, higher-end entries The Elm, The Grocery and Marco’s all closed their doors.

The trend towards high-quality, casual-style dining continues to grow. Last year, Coffee, Dumplings, Ice Cream, and Taco Joints were given their own special categories as a result. This year, there were so many hot and noteworthy casual destinations that new categories were added for: Ramen, Food Halls, 40 Under $40: Full-Meal Winners, and 20 Under $20: Quick-Bite Winners. Several celebrity chefs have followed suit, opening an impressive collection of casual outposts this year (such as Marcus Samuelsson’s Streetbird and David Chang’s Fuku).

Our Top Newcomers list is notably strong this year. For the second year in a row, our Top Newcomer is a sushi omakase hot spot, Shuko (last year, the Top Newcomer was Sushi Nakazawa), signaling that the high-end sushi experience is on the rise. The remainder of the roster is comprised of acclaimed hits, too: Almanac, Javelina, TuomeLittle Park, Delaware and Hudson, Upland and Cosme.

What’s old is new again – or, at least, many NYC stalwarts were reborn in new digs. Sex and the City -era hot spot Asia de Cuba, ‘80s pioneer Jams and the iconic Rainbow Room reopened after being off the scene for many years. Amanda Cohen’s Dirt Candy, David Chang’s Momofuku Ko, Danny Bowien’s Mission Chinese and Danny Meyer’s Untitled also made re-entrances in more spacious surrounds.

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

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

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Today Zagat is revealing the results of its first-ever Fast-Casual Chains Survey based on the thoughts and opinions of 6,671 fast-casual diners from around the country. The survey focuses on high-quality, counter-service restaurants that opened after 2005 with between two and fifty locations nationally.

The findings reveal that the majority of participants (80%) say they eat out at least a few times a month at a fast-casual restaurant. Of these respondents, 60% say eat fast-casual meals most often for lunch.

Chef-driven fast-casual restaurants have been popping up all over, like DC-based spots G By Mike Isabella and Spike Mendelsohn’s Good Stuff Eatery, Art Smith’s LYFE Kitchen in the Bay Area and Rick Bayless’ Tortas Frontera in Chicago. Having a big-name chef at the helm is important to diners. In fact, 65% say they are more likely to go to a place if it is gourmet or chef-driven. Additionally, 78% of folks say they would like to see more local chefs open fast-casual eateries.


Tortas Frontera, Chicago


But how popular is tipping at these counter-service spots? About one-third of participants report not tipping in fast-casual restaurants while another one-third opt to leave between $1 – $2.

Burgers are still a tried-and-true favorite, dominating as the most-consumed fast-casual cuisine. Following close behind are Mexican, American and Pizza.

When it comes to which qualities are most important in a fast-casual locale, diners say it’s Food/ingredient quality above all – followed by Cleanliness and Value. Interestingly, despite many of these spots being known for their fast-casual format, Convenience & speed fall behind in fourth place.

More than half (54%) of diners say that it is important to them that a fast-casual establishment be GMO-free. Another 59% feel that offering organic food is important.

Most diners enjoy their fast-casual meals with Family (40%), while others most frequently go it Alone (27%), with Friends (22%) or Colleagues (11%). Among those in their 20’s, the majority share their fast-casual meals with Friends most often, though this decreases with age. Eating with Family or Alone, however, increases with age.

To learn more about this year’s results, and find out where to enjoy your next fast-casual meal, check out our post.

Posted by: Charlotte Ames, Zagat

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Today, Zagat is out with all new ratings and reviews for 250 of Portland’s most notable restaurants. The results, available today at zagat.com/portland, are based on the combined opinions of 2,380 local diners who vote on the establishments they frequent throughout the year.

This year’s award for Best Food goes to Chef Gabriel Rucker’s Le Pigeon, turning out “consistently spectacular”, “creative” cuisine. Following close behind are:
2. Andina
3. Paley’s Place Bistro & Bar 
4. Beast
5. Roe
6. Toro Bravo
7. RingSide Steakhouse
8. Laurelhurst Market
9. Little Bird
10. Ataula

Best Decor goes to Departure Restaurant + Lounge, with its “very cool”, “futuristic” setting featuring “killer views of the city”, while Best Service goes to Paley’s Place Bistro & Bar, a Northwest District "foodie paradise" with "personable" staff serving up "beautifully plated" cuisine.

While many of the city’s best restaurants may be on the pricier side, Zagat’s list of Best Cheap Eats offers places with high food scores with an average cost of $25 or less:
1. Dove Vivi
2. Baker & Spice
3. Ken's Artisan Pizza
4. Pambiche
5. Apizza Scholls

According to the Zagat National Dining Trends survey, Portland diners eat out 3.4 times per week for a combined lunch and dinner, less than the 4.5/week national average. The average spent per person for dinner out is $34.36, a relative bargain compared to the national average of $39.40. Once the meal ends, diners leave an 18.3% gratuity — the lowest reported tip among the U.S. cities Zagat covers — and below the 19.3% national average.

Locals say their favorite cuisine is Italian (29%), followed by Seafood (24%), American and French (both 7%), Mexican (6%), Japanese (5%), Thai (4%), Indian (3%), Spanish and Vegetarian (each 2%) and all others totaling 11%.

Whichever cuisine suits your palate, search and discover the best places to eat in Portland and beyond at zagat.com.

Posted by: Tiffany Herklots, Zagat

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With 4th of July right around the corner and cook-out season in full swing, Zagat is out with the results of its first-ever Summer Food survey. The findings reveal the preferences and divisive opinions of more than 1,000 avid diners around the U.S.

Whether you fire up the grill at home, or leave it to the professionals, food is a major part of warm weather months. America’s most quintessential summer food, according to more than half of respondents, is the hamburger, followed by hot dog, fried chicken and fish tacos. The New York Street Dog takes top honors as the the preferred style of hot dog, with the Chicago Dog and Coney Dog trailing close behind.


The majority of diners say that ice cream is their favorite summer sweet treat (51%) - and move over chocolate, because cookies ‘n’ cream takes top honors. The runners up are Vanilla and Mint chocolate chip, followed by Chocolate, and Coffee.

As for favorite summer coffee drinks, Frozen blended coffee drink top the list overall, followed by Iced latte and Regular iced coffee.


Lobster rolls have become a hotly contested category among diners. When asked which style they prefer, the Connecticut style lobster roll (warm with butter) wins out over Maine style (cold with mayo) by nearly two-to-one.

The perfect non-alcoholic drink refreshment to compliment these savory summer eats, according to 37% of voters, is Iced tea, with the proportion particularly high in the South compared to the other regions. The preferred alcoholic drink is Beer (35%). When broken down by gender, Beer is tops overall among Males, while Females favor Margaritas.

And what foods to diners avoid most in the summer? You won’t find Hot soup (38%), Hot coffee (18%), Fondue (13%), Ramen (11%), Meatloaf (11%) or Red wine (6%) on their dinner table any time in the next few months.


When cruising the boardwalk or local carnival, the most coveted delicacy, according to respondents, is a Funnel cake/Elephant ears, followed by Corn dogs, Popcorn, Cotton candy, Snow cone, and Fried Oreos. 

From best side dishes to favorite summer fruits, be sure to check out this year’s full results.

Posted by:
Tiffany Herklots, Zagat