Zagat Survey today released its Texas Restaurants guide covering 1,505 restaurants in Austin, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston and San Antonio. With over 5,000 surveyors weighing in on the best spots to dine across the state, the guide reveals that Texans dine out more often than their peers in the rest of the country. This may be due, in part, to the fact that Texas has some of the nations' best dining values.
The survey also shows that Japanese food is becoming increasing popular throughout the state, with restaurants in all major cities capturing new spots in the Top Ten Food rankings.
"The diversity of dining options and the number of talented chefs in Texas is as big as the state itself," said Tim Zagat, CEO of Zagat Survey. "And with the cost of dining so reasonable, it's no wonder people in Texas dine out as frequently as they do."
Top Food: Dallas/Ft. Worth's French Room (28), Mark's (28) in Houston and San Antonio's Le Reve (29) recaptured this year's Top Food honors in their respective cities. For the first time, a Japanese restaurant has been rated #1 for Food in Austin. The honor goes to Uchi (28), chef Tyson Cole's chic digs in Zilker.
Nation's Most Frequent Diners: Houstonians dine out more than any other major market according to the latest Zagat survey, with surveyors reporting an average of 4.2 meals out per week. Residents of the Metroplex and San Antonio report an average of 4.0 meals out per week and those in Austin/ Hill Country eat out on average 3.7 times per week.
The Zagat national average is 3.3 meals out per week. Boston and Philadelphia residents report the lowest number of meals out per week at 2.7, with San Diego, New Orleans and New York City coming in at 3.3 times.
Some of the Nation's Best Dining Values: While the cost of dining in Dallas/Ft. Worth is the highest in the state, with diners spending an average of $34.61 per meal, it's about a buck more than the U.S. average of $33.67. However, average tabs in Austin ($26.74), Houston ($29.10) and San Antonio ($27.33) are considerably more affordable and amongst the lowest in the U.S. cities that Zagat surveys.
Overall, price increases since our last survey were modest, but inflation at the top 20 most expensive eateries was more pronounced: 7.6% annualized in Austin, 3.8% in Dallas/Ft. Worth, 5.5% in Houston and 6.7% in San Antonio. Not surprisingly, 66% of Texas surveyors say they spend more per meal than they did two years ago, but 85% say they're still eating out as much or more than they did two years ago.
While popular destinations like SoCo, Manor Road and Barton Springs' "Restaurant Row" continue to thrive, a new dining scene has developed around Northwest Austin's mammoth new retail and residential complex, The Domain, where openings include Daily Grill, Jasper's (from noted Dallas chef Kent Rathbun), Joe DiMaggio's Italian Chophouse and upscale tea shop The Steeping Room.
Austin's homegrown establishments, especially those that make use of locally grown products, like Italian newcomer Sagra, Wink and Zoot are leading the "green-centric" charge that consumers support. In fact, 59% of surveyors feel it's important that food is locally grown and 51% are willing to pay more for sustainably raised food.
Dallas has seen an influx of celebrity chefs opening up shop - a sign that Big D is as much about cuisine as it is about the Cowboys. New additions like Charlie Palmer's eponymous New American at the Joule Hotel, Laurent Tourondel's BLT Steak in the Galleria and Tom Colicchio's Craft at Victory Park show similarities to the goldrush of restaurant empire building of Las Vegas.
Lone Star State chefs including Dean Fearing (ex Mansion on Turtle Creek) whose namesake restaurant at the new Ritz-Carlton and David Bull, who recently opened Bolla, an Italian eatery at the Stoneleigh Hotel are also adding to the top-notch dining options of the city.
Emerging neighborhoods in southern Dallas and Ft. Worth are also flourishing with Tillman's Roadhouse in the Bishop Street Arts area and Nonna Tata, an Italian in Ft. Worth's Hospital District.
The much-anticipated newcomer, Reef, is now delivering innovative seafood in a refreshingly unpretentious Midtown space, helping to reinforce the local trend of casualness in fine-dining restaurants.
The popular Uptown Sushi spawned a spin-off, Blue Fin, and just as the appetite for sushi continues unabated, so does the trend for small plates, exemplified by new wine bar SoVino. Highlighting both those trends is Soma, which opened with a bang in early 2008 on increasingly bustling Washington Avenue with star chef Robert Gadsby.
Another big name, Robert Del Grande, just launched The Grove in Downtown's Discovery Green with Ryan Pera, formerly of nearby 17, at the helm. The suburbs welcomed a slew of stylish new eateries including Neapolitan-rooted Amici in Sugar Land with its Vallone family pedigree, French-influenced Aura in Missouri City and Pearland's Killen's Steakhouse.
Northside developments have prompted some in-town haunts, such as Bistro Thyme, to move to outer Loop 1604, while others, like Aldaco's and Silo, are opening branches in the area. Joining them there this year will be La Frite chef Damien Watel, who promises a casual Continental bistro in the far northern reaches, and chef Scott Cohen (ex Las Canarias and Pesca) who is bringing his affinity for local ingredients to his new role as corporate chef for the Watermark Hotel Company.
Japanese on the Rise: From every corner of the nation, diners recognize and relish in the fresh, simple ingredients and artful presentation that exemplifies Japanese cuisine. In nearly every major market that Zagat surveys, Japanese restaurants are popping up all over the Top food lists, and the story is no different in Texas. Austin's Uchi is the city's top rated restaurant with Musashino close behind at #7. Dallas has 3 Japanese restaurants in the top 10, Tei Tei Robata (#2) Teppo Yakitori (#4) and Yutaka Sushi (#8). Houston has Kanomwan (#4) and Japanerio's (#10), and San Antonio, welcomes Godai Sushi (#5) to the top 10.
The Guide: As with all Zagat guidebooks, the 2008 Texas Restaurants survey is made by consumers for consumers. In addition to Top Lists for Popularity, Food, Decor, Service, and Good Values, the guide lists the Key Newcomers in each city, and maps the Most Popular restaurants.
The survey results are also available on ZAGAT.com.
The 2008 Texas Restaurants guide ($14.95) was edited by Michelle Golden, Claudia Alarcon, Mike Riccetti, Julia Celeste Rosenfeld and Kay Winzenried. The guide is available at bookstores and other retail outlets, through ZAGAT.com or by calling 888/371-5440.
About Zagat Survey, LLC
Known as the wildly popular "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 104 countries and 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 Palm and Windows Mobile operating systems, on BlackBerry, on mobile phones, and on TV. For more information, visit ZAGAT.com or go to our web page for Zagat Survey for more books.
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Source: Zagat Survey, LLC
NEW YORK, March 20, 2007 /PRNewswire/ --