Zagat announced the results of its 2013 Los Angeles Restaurants Survey, covering 2,082 restaurants in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara and Orange County as voted on by a record 18,450 diners. The redesigned iconic burgundy guidebook is now available in stores, while the new ratings and reviews are available for free across Google Maps, Search, Google+ and mobile to help people discover the best local places.
Newcomers: Ink, by Top Chef champ Michael Voltaggio, is this year's Top Newcomer, earning a 26 for Food on Zagat's 30-point scale. Diners say Ink serves up "obscenely tasty" New American-Eclectic creations and "killer cocktails." Following behind are Thomas Keller's "fabulous" Beverly Hills outpost of Bouchon Bakery, "dang-original" Downtown sandwich specialist Baco Mercat, "instant hot spot" Milo & Olive from the Huckleberry team in Santa Monica and Westwood's "brilliant" Umami Burger spin-off, 800 Degrees Pizzeria.
Trends: Exotic sandwiches (Baco Mercat, Bouchon Bakery, Fundamental LA, Mendocino Farms); gastropubs (Larry's, Little Bear, The Pikey); booze-focused boites ( Freddy Smalls, Hot's Kitchen, Next Door by Josie, Post & Beam); pizza (Crust Pizza Bar, 800 Degrees, Milo & Olive, Settebello).
(According to Bouchon Bakery, their sandwiches are the French version of fast food – delicious ingredients between excellent bread. Sandwiches are both traditional, with some dry-cured ham, Emmenthaler and sweet butter, for example, and also playful, such as a cashew nut butter and apricot jam – Bouchon’s take on peanut butter and jelly).
Key Stats: LA surveyors report eating out 3.5 times per week on average. That's the same as last year, but more than their counterparts in other serious foodie cities like New York (3.0) and San Francisco (2.9) as well as the national average of 3.1. As for tipping, Angelenos give 18.7%, compared to 19.3% nationally. This is in line with other West Coast cities, such as San Francisco and Seattle, but less than most East Coast cities. When asked to rate LA's culinary diversity and creativity overall, diners awarded them a 26 and 23, respectively, on Zagat's signature 30-point scale. Hospitality only received a 17 – not surprising since service is cited by 61% of diners as their main complaint. Quite simply, service is the industry's "weak link," not just in LA, but nationwide.
Winners: This year's Top Food award goes to Hiro Urasawa's Beverly Hills Japanese, Urasawa, where "every dish is a work of art and a labor of love." It's worth noting that five of this year's top 10 restaurants are Japanese.Sir Winston's, anchored on the Queen Mary, wins for Decor, and Providence wins Top Service with its "superb," "knowledgeable" staff. 101 Coffee Shop, the late-night Hollywood hang, is this year's Most Popular restaurant. Cheesecake Factory is the Most Popular Chain, and In-N-Out Burger is the No. 1 Best Buy.
Digital Dining: Thirty-five percent of respondents say that they have downloaded a restaurant-related app to their smartphone, and 12% are posting on social media when they arrive at a restaurant. While 85% of surveyors say it is "ok" to take photos of food or companions, 58% consider it "rude and inappropriate" to talk, text, tweet or e-mail when at the table.
Food Trucks: While 43% occasionally patronize one of the city's many food trucks, only 19% make it a point to follow favorites via social media. This year's top food trucks are 1. Grill 'Em All Truck, 2. Kogi Korean BBQ, 3. Buttermilk Truck, 4. Ludo Truck and 5. Border Grill Truck.
Cuisines Favorites: When it comes to their favorite cuisines, a plurality of surveyors picks Italian (26%), followed by American (15%), Japanese (15%), French (11%), Mexican (8%), Thai (7%) and Chinese (7%).