Industry News | September 24, 2008

A Look at San Francisco Diners

Bay Area residents are among the nation's most tech-savvy, wine-loving, and health-conscious diners, according to the 2009 San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants guide released today by Zagat Survey. Based on the opinions of 8,755 frequent diners, the survey covers 1,212 eateries in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Monterey Peninsula, the Wine Country, and Lake Tahoe. All told, the surveyors ate roughly 1.5 million meals in the past year.

Pricing: The average cost of a Bay Area meal rose 4.4 percent to $38.70 this year, compared to $37.08 last year. This makes San Francisco one of the nation's most expensive dining venues. The national average among the cities Zagat Surveys is $34.03, with Las Vegas on the high end at $44.44 and New Orleans, the country's best bargain at $26.18. Nonetheless, 78 percent of Bay Area residents are eating out as much or more than 2 years ago.

"Restaurants have raised prices to help cover the cost of California's new health care initiative," says Tim Zagat, CEO of Zagat Survey. "Between rising meal costs and the struggling economy, patrons' pockets are hurting. Hopefully, the new health care benefits will motivate front-of-the-house staff to improve service."

Going Green and Healthy: As a green movement leader, the Bay Area prompted the law that prohibits using trans fats in restaurants across the State. Sixty-nine percent of San Francisco residents say they support this. Reflecting their environmental consciousness, 89 percent of San Francisco surveyors say that they consciously choose tap water over bottled water. Meanwhile 86 percent of surveyors feel that locally grown food is important, 71 percent are willing to pay more for organic food and 68 percent say that they're looking for low-carb, low-fat, and heart-healthy menu items.

Favorite Cuisines: Twenty-three percent of San Francisco surveyors say they prefer Italian, followed by Japanese cuisine (15 percent). Showing the diversity of San Francisco's tastes, other cuisine favorites include French (14 percent), American (13 percent), Mexican (8 percent), Thai and Chinese (each at 7 percent) and Indian (6 percent). Each of these cuisines are well represented in the new guide, e.g. 134 Italian and 62 Japanese restaurants.

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