Zagat Reports So. Florida Diners Eat Less for Less

High-Profile Chefs Invade South Florida; Average Meal Cost among Nation's Highest; Palme d'Or Sweeps Top Food, Decor and Service; Hakkasan is Top Newcomer; Zagat Content Available On-the-Go for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and More

Dec 02, 2009, 00:01 ET from Zagat Survey, LLC

NEW YORK, Dec. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Just in time to help hungry diners navigate the town for Art Basel, Zagat has released its 2010 Miami/So. Florida Restaurants Survey, covering 1,057 restaurants in the Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach areas. The new guide codifies the opinions of over 6,100 local diners about the dining scene in Southern Florida and how the past year's economy has affected their dining habits.

Ain't No Sunshine: The new Survey shows a dramatic drop in dining out, down from 3.7 times per week in the last Survey, to an average of 3.2 times this year. Confirming this, 34% of surveyors say they're eating out less than two years ago; only 20% say "more." Furthermore, diners report being more attentive to prices (42%), eating in less expensive places (34%), skipping appetizers and/or desserts (21%) and cutting back on alcohol (19%) due to the weak economy.

Silver Lining: From the customer's point of view, there are upsides to the downturn: 63% of surveyors report finding better deals; 37% say they feel their patronage is more appreciated; 36% find it easier to land a table; and 19% are eating healthier. And while 77% of diners cite service as the No. 1 restaurant complaint, 26% say they've noticed an improvement in service since the economic downturn.

"South Florida has long been a major dining destination, but the crop of chefs coming into the area has really enhanced this image," said Zagat Survey CEO Tim Zagat. "While restaurants new and old are struggling to stay afloat, we remember that dining out is inextricably woven into American culture, and will continue to be a vital part of daily life despite the tough economic times."

Winners: The Biltmore Hotel's Palme d'Or swept the Top Food, Decor and Service honors in this Survey, combining "exquisite" New French cuisine with "magnificent" service and "old-world elegance." Joe's Stone Crab took the award for Most Popular yet again, while the "beautifully designed" Hakkasan won for Top Newcomer. The full list of winners is as follows:

                Miami/Dade    Ft. Lauderdale/Broward   Palm Beach
             ---------------- ---------------------- --------------
Top Food        Palme d'Or      LaSpada's Hoagies     11 Maple St.
------------ ----------------  --------------------- --------------
Top Decor       Palme d'Or             Cero            Sundy House
------------ ----------------  --------------------- --------------
Top Service     Palme d'Or         La Brochette       Four Seasons
------------ ----------------  --------------------- --------------
Most Popular Joe's Stone Crab     Blue Moon Fish      Abe & Louie's
------------ ----------------  --------------------- --------------
Top Newcomer     Hakkasan      Acquolina Ristorante  Village Tavern
------------ ----------------  --------------------  --------------

Moving In: Miami is a metropolis known for its distinct culture as well as its connections with the financial and entertainment industries. This year, several world-renowned chefs and restaurateurs have set their sights on the South Florida scene. In Miami, NYC's BLT Steak and Scarpetta and London's Mr. Chow and Hakkasan have all moved into the neighborhood, while Broward County welcomed Stephen Starr's Steak 954. Todd English opened Da Campo Osteria in Ft. Lauderdale and has locations of Wild Olives on the way in Boca Raton and West Palm Beach. Also on the horizon are locations of Danny Meyer's popular Shake Shack and a branch of Daniel Boulud's db Bistro Moderne.

Economics: The average cost of a meal in southern Florida is $39.86 - up 1.3% annually since the last survey. This is not only above the national average of $34.62, but also among the most expensive in the nation, behind Las Vegas, New York City and Long Island. Among the most expensive restaurants, the average cost is up 2.1% annually, from $79.87 to $83.25. Tipping has increased from 19.0% to 19.1%, on par with the national average.

Bargain Dining: Amid the swell of top restaurants is an equally impressive list of great values to be found in Miami, led by this year's Best Bang for the Buck, S&S, an "old-fashioned diner" with "homestyle cooking" located Downtown. In Palm Beach, Sloan's Ice Cream, sure to "satisfy any sweet tooth," takes top honors, while Ft. Lauderdale's LaSpada's Hoagies, boasting "the holy grail of hoagies," wins the award. The guide lists over 200 good-value restaurants, including lists of prix fix lunches (under $30) and dinners ($40 and under) as well as moderately priced and ethnic cuisines. The top five Bangs for the Buck are:

                           Best Bang for the Buck
         Miami/Dade       Ft. Lauderdale/Broward          Palm Beach
    ------------------    ----------------------      -----------------
1)          S&S              LaSpada's Hoagies        Sloan's Ice Cream
--  ------------------       ------------------       -----------------
2)      Dogma Grill          Jaxson's Ice Cream          Pizza Girls
--  ------------------       ------------------       -----------------
3)    La Sandwicherie        Lime Fresh Mexican           Five Guys
--  ------------------       ------------------       -----------------
4)       Baja Fresh            Cheese Course           Brass Ring Pub
--  ------------------       ------------------       -----------------
5)  Lime Fresh Mexican         Pizza Rustica            Pizza Rustica
--  ------------------       ------------------       -----------------

On The Go: Zagat content is available whenever and wherever diners need it, in a full range of formats:, the award-winning (for web-enabled mobile devices), ZAGAT TO GO for iPhone, Android and smartphones and Zagat's free augmented reality application nru, also for Android. These mobile applications offer signature ratings, reviews and cost estimates, as well as features ranging from click-to-call and online reservations capability to location-based widgets.

To Your Health: This year, 72% of local surveyors say they consider it important to have low-carb, low-fat, heart-healthy menu items available; 57% say it's important to have locally sourced, organic and sustainably raised food. When it comes to trans fats, 65% say they should be banned. As for posting the results of a restaurant's latest health department inspection on the door, an overwhelming 89% of diners vote "yes."

Overall: When asked to rate Miami's overall dining scene, the back of the house won, receiving a 20-rating for diversity and a 19-rating for creativity. The front of the house scored 17 for table availability and a 13 for hospitality, offering lots of room for improvement.

The Survey in Detail: The 2010 Miami/So. Florida Restaurants guidebook ($14.95) was edited by John Deiner, Bill Citara, Rochelle Koff and Jan Norris, and is available in all major bookstores or online at For information about the Survey and to find additional statistics, please visit And remember to connect with Zagat via Facebook and Twitter!

About Zagat Survey, LLC

Known as the "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 more than 100 countries. It 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 mobile web, iPhone, BlackBerry and on TV. For more information, visit

SOURCE Zagat Survey, LLC