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America's Top Barbeque, Burger and Pizza Restaurants According
to Zagat's 2010 America's Top Restaurants Survey

Surveyors Say Service is Number 1 Complaint, but is Improving; Austin is Best Value

NEW YORK, Oct. 21, 2009 - The results of Zagat's 2010 America's Top Restaurants survey were released today on, covering thousands of eateries across 45 U.S. markets. In the survey, over 145,000 diners shared their opinions about dining, especially on how the past year's economy affected the restaurant industry.

Hard Times: This year, the national percentage of meals eaten out or taken out declined from 50% to 48%, and the national average of restaurant meals per week dropped from 3.3 to 3.2. These losses are magnified by sobering changes in surveyors' dining habits - 43% say they're eating out less, 41% are more price-sensitive, and 36% are eating in less pricey places. As 22% are skipping appetizers and/or desserts, 19% are cutting back on alcohol. Meanwhile to save money, 10% go to expensive places for lunch in lieu of dinner, and 7% are simply less likely to try new places. A stolid 26% say the economy has had no affect on their dining habits, while 44% are cooking more and enjoying it.

Good Times: In spite of the year's economic woes, surveyors are finding some reasons to smile. Overall, there were more good new restaurant openings than closings. Over the past year, 54% of surveyors nationwide say they are finding better deals at restaurants, 40% feel their patronage is more appreciated, 31% are finding it easier to get reservations and 22% of surveyors feel that service has improved. When they do dine out, 20% of surveyors are making online reservations, up from only 8% less than five years ago. In a nod to their health, another 20% say they are eating healthier. However, service is still a problem for the industry, with 68% naming it the top complaint. Overall, surveyors report that they are taking advantage of dining deals, e.g., 62% in San Francisco, 71% in New York, and 75%% in Los Angeles.

"There's no doubt that the recession has seriously affected diners' habits across America," said Tim Zagat, CEO and Co-Founder of Zagat Survey. "Yet all our surveys highlight how the industry is adapting to the needs of the diners, offering better value, service and bargains for the wallet-weary. It may take time, but we are convinced that the industry will weather the storm and emerge stronger."

Bargain Hunting: This year, many premier chefs are launching bargain spinoffs. In Atlanta, the owners' of Bacchanalia (Top Food winner) have opened Abattoir. In San Antonio and Charlotte, the chefs of Top Food winners Le Reve and Barrington's have respectively opened wallet-friendly Italian Il Sogno and New American Good Food on Montford. Likewise, New York's Daniel Boulud has opened DBGB and San Francisco's Perbacco is about to open Barbacco. In addition to the many recession-friendly openings this year, prix-fixe menus and extended Restaurant Week deals have allowed diners to enjoy fine dining affordably.
Economics: The national average meal cost this year is $34.62, up 1.2% from last year's $34.21. Among the most expensive restaurants, the average cost has gone up only 0.49%, from $76 to $76.37. While Las Vegas remains the nation's most expensive dining city at $44.44, Austin is a comparative bargain ($26.74). The average tip has increased slightly this year to 19.1% nationally, compared with 19.0% last year. This year, St. Louis and Philadelphia diners are the nation's best tippers, coming in at 19.6%, while Hawaii and Seattle are the worst tippers, giving just 18.4%. And as companies cut back on budgets, surveyors claim that only 15% of their meals out are for business. 

Cuisines: Surveyors say Italian is their favorite cuisine, with 27% of the nationwide vote. American food came in second with 16% of the votes, followed by Japanese and French (11% each), Mexican (10%) and Thai (8%). Not only is Italian the favorite, but it's also among the best; an Italian restaurant appears in the Top 5 food rankings in over 50% of the markets covered in this guide. Also, Italian food is eaten more often than any other national cuisine, with variations of American coming in second.

To Your Health: Green dining has been on diners' radars for some time now, but even in the poor economy, 61% of surveyors around the country are willing to pay more for "green" products and menu items, up about 5% from last year. When it comes to their health, 69% consider low-carb, low-fat, heart-healthy menu items to be important, while 65% say trans fats should be banned from restaurants.

Fare-ing Well: As reflected on, the following are cuisine winners in their respective markets:

    Atlanta - Sam & Dave's
    Boston - East Coast Grill
    Chicago - Smoque
    Hawaii - Scotty's BBQ
    Las Vegas - Lucille's
    Long Island - Smokin' Al's BBQ
    Los Angeles - Phillips BBQ
    New Jersey - GRUB Hut
    New York - Fette Sau
    New Orleans - Joint
    Philadelphia - Bomb Bomb BBQ
    San Francisco - Buckeye Roadhouse
    Seattle - Pecos Pit BBQ
    Washington D.C. - Urban Bar-B-Que Company
    Westchester/Hudson Valley - Big W's

    Atlanta - Vortex B&G
    Boston - Mr. Bartley's
    Chicago - Wiener's Circle
    Hawaii - Duane Ono's
    Las Vegas - In-N-Out
    Long Island - George Martin Grill
    Los Angeles - In-N-Out
    New Jersey - Five Guys
    New York - burger joint
    New Orleans - Port of Call
    Philadelphia - Rouge
    San Francisco - In-N-Out
    Seattle - Red Mill Burgers
    Washington D.C. - Matchbox
    Westchester/Hudson Valley - Blazer Pub

    Atlanta - Cameli's Pizza
    Boston - Galleria Umberto
    Chicago - Spacca Napoli
    Hawaii - Brick Oven
    Las Vegas - Metro Pizza
    Long Island - Massa's
    Los Angeles - Pizzeria Mozza
    New Jersey - DeLorenzo's Pies
    New York - Di Fara
    New Orleans - Theo's
    Philadelphia - Osteria
    San Francisco - Cheese Board Collective
    Seattle - Serious Pie
    Washington D.C. - Pasta Plus
    Westchester/Hudson Valley - Johnny's

    Atlanta - Chopstix
    Boston - Sichuan Gourmet
    Chicago - Lao
    Hawaii - Kirin
    Las Vegas - Wing Lei
    Long Island - Orient
    Los Angeles - Din Tai Fung
    New Jersey - Hunan Taste
    New York - Philippe
    New Orleans - Royal China
    Philadelphia - San Kee Duck House
    San Francisco - Yank Sing
    Seattle - Szechuan Chef
    Washington D.C. - Peking Gourmet
    Westchester/Hudson Valley - Aberdeen

    Atlanta - Tamarind Seed
    Boston - Brown Sugar / Similans
    Chicago - Arun's
    Hawaii - Mekong Thai
    Las Vegas - Lotus of Siam
    Long Island - Siam Lotus
    Los Angeles - Jitlada
    New Jersey - Origin
    New York - Sripraphai
    New Orleans - La Thai
    Philadelphia - Nan
    San Francisco - Manora's Thai
    Seattle - Thai Tom
    Washington D.C. - Thai Square
    Westchester/Hudson Valley - Bangkok Spice

    Atlanta - MF Sushibar
    Boston - o ya
    Chicago - sushi wabi
    Hawaii - Sushi Sasabune
    Las Vegas - Nobu
    Long Island - Aji 53
    Los Angeles - Urasawa
    New Jersey - Ajihei
    New York - Sasabune
    New Orleans - Sushi Brothers
    Philadelphia - Bluefin
    San Francisco - Kiss Seafood
    Seattle - Kisaku Sushi
    Washington D.C. - Makoto
    Westchester/Hudson Valley - Sushi Nanase

The Survey in Detail: Ratings and reviews of America's Top Restaurants are available in a full range of formats:, (for web-enabled mobile devices), ZAGAT TO GO for iPhone and smartphones and ZAGAT nru for Android. The 2010 America's Top Restaurants guidebook ($15.95) was edited by Bill Corsello and is on sale at all major bookstores or online at For information about the survey and to find additional statistics, please visit And remember to connect with Zagat via Facebook and Twitter!

About Zagat Survey, LLC
Known as the "burgundy bible," Zagat Survey is the world's most trusted source for information about where to eat, drink, stay and play around the globe, and as such has become a symbol of quality. Zagat Survey rates and reviews airlines, restaurants, hotels, nightlife, movies, music, golf, resorts, shopping, spas and a range of other entertainment categories in more than 100 countries. It has been lauded as the "most up-to-date, comprehensive and reliable guides ever published" and as "a necessity second only to a valid credit card." Zagat content is available in print, on the web, on the mobile web, iPhone, BlackBerry and on TV. For more information, visit


Zagat Survey, LLC

Also See: Need to Know Revelations from Zagat's 2009 U.S. Hotels, Resorts & Spas Survey / November 2008

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