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The Best 11 Restaurants in the U.S.A.

You have to admit, this would be the ultimate vacation: Eat your way from coast-to-coast at the best 11 eateries.

Let the venerable "Zagat 2008 America's Top Restaurants Dining Journal" ($15.95 at your favorite bookstore) be your travel agent. The research that went into this book was formidable. The guide covers 1,416 restaurants in 42 major markets and is based on 23 million meals experienced by over 132,000 surveyors. The average surveyor ate out 3.3 times per week and spent an average $33.29 for a typical dinner, a 2.3 percent increase over last year. Other notable dining trends this year can be summarized in three words: green, healthy and casual.

Eleven restaurants in this year's Zagat survey earned a near perfect 29 out of a possible 30 for food:

  1. Bacchanalia in Atlanta, Georgia
  2. Barrington's in Charlotte, North Carolina
  3. Carlos' in Chicago, Illinois
  4. Jean-Robert at Pigall's in Cincinnati, Ohio
  5. Thomas Henkelmann in Greenwich, Connecticut
  6. French Room in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
  7. Sanford in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  8. Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey
  9. Gary Danko in San Francisco, California
  10. The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia
  11. Xaviar's at Piermont in Westchester/Hudson Valley, New York

What are the latest trends in restaurant dining?

  • 67 percent of diners say they are spending more per meal than they did two years ago, while only 5 percent say they are spending less.
  • The most costly U.S. city for dining out is New York City with an average tab of $39.46.
  • The least expensive U.S. city for dining out is Austin, Texas with an average tab or $25.30.
  • U.S. restaurants cost roughly half of what eateries do in London ($79.46), Paris ($74.24) and Tokyo ($69.58).
  • Even at fine dining establishments, diners are insisting on casual dress.
  • Nationwide, 55 percent say they would pay more for organic food.
  • 69 percent say it's important for restaurants to make heart healthy items available on their menus.
  • The verdict on smoking is overwhelming with 77 percent of diners saying they'd eat out less if smoking were permitted in local restaurants and only 2 percent saying they'd dine out more.
  • The nation's most generous tippers are in Denver (19.5 percent), Detroit and Philadelphia (19.4 percent), all exceeding Zagat's national average of 19 percent. West Coast diners in San Francisco and Los Angeles are among the least generous at 18.4 percent, while Honolulu averages a desultory 18 percent tip.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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