A new Zagat survey tracks American dining out trends and behaviors
October 27, 2010 | By Bret Thorn
New Orleans diners tip the best, Hawaiians the worst, diners think that texting at the table is rude and that food should be locally sourced, organic or sustainably raised.
Those were among the findings of Zagat's survey of 153,000 diners as it compiled its 2011 America’s Top Restaurants guide, which was released Wednesday.
Sixty-eight percent of participants in the survey said they thought it was important for the food they eat to be locally sourced, organic or sustainably raised, and 60 percent said they would even pay more for such food. Nearly a third, 31 percent, said they sought out restaurants specializing in such “green” cuisine.
Most diners — 85 percent — said it was fine to take pictures of food and each other at restaurants, but 63 percent said texting, tweeting and talking on cell phones was rude and inappropriate.
Diners are eating out a little less than before the recession — 3.1 times per week, compared with 3.3 percent. Thirty-nine percent said they are paying more attention to price, 33 percent said they’re eating in less expensive places, 17 percent said they were cutting back on alcohol, and 21 percent said they were ordering fewer appetizers and desserts.
Still, the national average price of a meal rose 2.2 percent in the past year to $35.37. New Orleans, where the average tip is 19.7 percent, has the lowest average meal cost among Zagat survey participants — of $28.36.
Right behind New Orleans diners in tipping are Denver, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Ohio, where tippers leave an average gratuity of 19.6 percent
On the low end, Hawaiians tip 18.4 percent on average, and diners in Sacramento and San Francisco tip an average of 18.6 percent.
Las Vegas is the most expensive city to eat in, with an average meal price of $44.44.
"Prune your life of the things that drain you, and trust God to lead you to the works that keep you growing and healthy" -courtesy of Chef Traci Veno
“The war against hunger is truly mankind's war of liberation.” -- John Fitzgerald Kennedy
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock
"A con man's job is not to convince skeptics but to enable people to continue to believe what they already want to believe." -- Unknown
"Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time." -- Marian Wright Edelman
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.