Zagat 2013 NYC Restaurant Survey Reveals Home-cooked Meals Eclipse Meals Out For First Time

Zagat announced the results of its 2013 New York City Restaurant Survey today. The redesigned iconic burgundy guidebook is now available in stores, and the new ratings and reviews can also be found for free across Google Maps, Search, Google+ and mobile to help people find and discover the best local places. This year’s guide includes a record 2,120 restaurants based on the combined opinions of another record 44,306 New York City diners. Additional restaurants are also available on the above-mentioned digital platforms.

A Slow Recovery: The New York dining scene has not fully recovered from the recession and for the first time, the average number of meals surveyors report cooking at home (6.7 per week) outpaces the average number of meals they eat/take out (6.4 per week). See chart below. Fortunately, New York City’s booming tourist industry, with over 50 million visitors, has made up the difference for most restaurants. This year included 119 noteworthy restaurant openings vs. 60 closings reported in the guide. The vast majority of these newcomers are more affordable, casual places with few formal fine dining openings. The 2013 guide includes 399 restaurants that offer dinner (plus one drink and tip) for less than $25, and 641 restaurants with an average tab less than $30.

Frequency of Zagat Surveyors Cooking at Home vs. Eating/Taking Out

Winners: Eric Ripert and Maguy Le Coze’s Le Bernardin claimed the top spots for Food (for the fourth straight year) with a near-perfect 29 out of 30, as well as for Popularity (for a second year). Also holding on to their crowns are Asiate (Decor) and Per Se (Service), both in the Time Warner Center.

Diverse Newcomers: Notable newcomers are popping up all over the map. Danny Meyer’s North End Grill, a New American located in the Goldman Sachs Tower, has been voted Top Newcomer. Following behind are Talde (Park Slope),Bistro La Promenade (Chelsea), Wong (West Village) and Don Antonio (West 50s). Other hot newcomers include TriBeCa’s Atera, Mas (La Grillade) in the West Village and Daniel Humm and Will Guidara’s NoMad in Chelsea. NYC continues to be the place where international chefs/restaurateurs want to prove themselves. The city has welcomed imports like: Hakkasan (London), Almayass (Beirut), Brasserie Pushkin (Moscow) and La Mar Cebicheria (Peru).

Category Leaders: This year a whopping 18 special categories welcomed new winners:

Caribbean – Sofrito (24)
Chicken – Torishin (26)
Chinese – RedFarm (26)
Delis – Mile End (25)
Dessert – ChickaLicious (25)
French Bistro – Le Gigot (25)
Korean – Danji (26)
Kosher – Solo (26)
Mexican – Mercadito (24)
Noodle Shops – Totto Ramen (26)
Pizza – Lucali (27)
Russian – Brasserie Pushkin (26)
Sandwiches – Il Bambino (27)
Small Plates – Degustation (28)
Southern/Soul – Pies/Thighs (25)
Spanish – Degustation (28)
Vegetarian – Kajitsu (28)
Vietnamese – Omai (24)

According to the Survey, Japanese restaurants receive the highest average food score (24.33 on Zagat’s 30-point scale), followed by Spanish (23.33), Italian (23.08), American (22.74) and French (22.72). This year’s top-rated major cuisines are charted below.

Zagat 2013 NYC Restaurant Survey Top-Rated Major Cuisines

Brooklyn Scores: Brooklyn’s chefs are increasingly netting high scores. Beginning with the rise of Smith Street in 1999 and the arrival of eateries including Saul (opened in 1999) and The Grocery (opened in 2000; No. 1 in Brooklyn this year), the number of Brooklyn restaurants covered by Zagat has grown from 77 in 1998 to 250 this year. To demonstrate, a host of exciting newcomers have opened in the past year, including the white-hot, celeb magnet Reynards in Williamsburg’s Wythe Hotel (by the Diner and Marlow & Sons crew); Gwynnett St. with its creative cuisine; Bushwick’s 12-seat Blanca, which boasts a $180 tasting menu; and Carroll Gardens’ Battersby, which is being hailed as a “phenomenon” by surveyors. The rising quality of Brooklyn restaurants since 2003 is shown below.
Average Food, Decor and Service Scores for Brooklyn Restaurants 2003-2012

“The David Chang” Effect: Working its way out of the recession, the city’s food scene has been characterized by low-priced food with high-end flourishes. With pizzerias and burger joints having reached a possible saturation point this year, Asian restaurants were all the rage, including Mission Chinese, Pok Pok Ny, RedFarm (No. 1 Chinese this year), Talde and Wong. Call it the David Chang effect – these places are variations on his groundbreaking Momofuku Noodle Bar (born 2004), offering inventive Asian food, some at student-friendly prices. But there are always some on the other end of the spectrum, so New York also welcomed a few swanky spots, such as Hakkasan, Jungsik and Kristalbelli.

No Reservations: In a year where “no-reservation” policies became more prevalent (Mission Chinese, Pok Pok Ny and Battersby among them), New Yorkers have mixed opinions about the trend. When asked, 62% of surveyors indicated that they won’t wait more than 30 minutes for a table, while 18% avoid these restaurants altogether.

Overall Food Outpaces Service: When asked to rate New York City’s culinary creativity and diversity overall, diners awarded them a 26 and 28, respectively on Zagat’s 30-point scale. Comparatively, hospitality only received an 18 – this is not surprising since 58% of surveyors say service is their principal complaint when dining out, followed by noise/crowds (27%) and prices (8%).

Hot Nabes: West Village (Mas (La Grillade), Rosemary’s, Wong); East Village (Boukies, Calliope, Nicoletta); Smith Street (Arthur on Smith, Battersby, Dassara); NoHo (Acme, Saxon & Parole); Williamsburg (Gwynnett St., Reynards).

Survey Details:  The Zagat 2013 New York City Restaurants Survey was edited by Curt Gathje and Carol Diuguid with local coordination by Larry Cohn. Zagat’s scores and reviews of New York City restaurants are integrated across Google, including Maps, Search, Google+ and mobile. Guidebooks ($15.95) are available wherever books are sold.

Zagat is known as the “burgundy bible” and a trusted source for consumer-generated survey information. With a worldwide network of surveyors, Zagat rates and reviews restaurants, hotels, nightlife, movies, music, golf, shopping and a range of other entertainment categories and is lauded as the “most up-to-date,” “comprehensive” and “reliable” guide. Zagat content is integrated throughout Google, including Maps, Search, Google+ and mobile. Guidebooks are also available at all major retailers. In September 2011, Zagat was acquired by Google Inc.