Zagat Announces Results Of 2011 Restaurant Guide

Zagat has released the results of the 2011 America’s Top Restaurants guide.  The guide includes diner ratings and reviews from more than 1,500 of the top restaurants around the country.  More than 150,000 avid diners provided the results for the survey.

The guide lists the top restaurants, but also numerous bits of information on dining habits, spending trends, and a number of other topics foodies will find interesting. 

The guide found that with so many restaurants offering free Wi-Fi, more than 60 percent of respondents think restaurants should limit how long guests can linger during high-traffic hours.  The availability of Wi-Fi and smartphones has made texting, tweeting, and web surfing as persistent as talking on the phone at the table, and more than 60 percent of people find it to be just as rude.

The survey also offers a bit of news for restaurant owners, though its news they likely learned throughout the year.  Respondents said they are eating out less often.  The results show that Americans eat out an average of 3.1 times each week, down from 3.3 times each week before the recession hit.  In addition to the decline in visits, respondents said they are more conscious of prices (39%), opting for less expensive restaurants (33%), and cutting back on alcohol and pre- and post- entrée options. 

The guide also found that the average price of a meal rose by 2.2% to $35.57.  The increase in average meal price may be the key to the return of expensive fine-dining restaurant openings.  After spending recent years taking a backseat to casual, affordable restaurants, expensive fine-dining restaurants made a comeback in 2010.  A number of new fine-dining establishments opened during the year reversing a trend that had seen consistent declines in recent years.