Zagat Celebrates 25 Years in Los Angeles; 2,027 Restaurants Surveyed by 11,166 Local Diners

Survey Shows Local Dining Scene Has Improved With Low Cost Newcomers; Spago Is Most Popular; Matsuhisa Regains Top Food; Savory Is Top Newcomer

Sep 21, 2011, 03:01 ET from Zagat Survey

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Zagat revealed the results of its 25th annual Los Angeles/So. California Restaurants Survey. Since its  inaugural publication in 1987, the Survey has grown from a modest 370 restaurants voted on by 1,400 local diners who submitted paper ballots, to this year's comprehensive 2,027 restaurants, incorporating the opinions of 11,166 local diners who submit votes on and via Zagat for iPhone.

Prognosis Positive: The Los Angeles restaurant market has received positive feedback from surveyors this year, with 35% saying the scene is better than last year, compared to only 4% who said it's worse. The average meal cost has increased by 2%, to $35.56 from $34.85, almost exactly the national average of $35.55. Los Angeles diners continue to be among the most frequent restaurant-goers in the country, eating out an average of 3.4 times per week vs. the national average of 3.1, but still below the pre-recession level of 3.8 times per week. Tim Zagat, Co-Chair of Zagat Survey, says, "After 25 years, Los Angeles restaurants continue to improve. This year's crop of newcomers boasts affordability and a range of unique cuisines that have contributed to maintaining LA's role as one of the world's best dining venues."

Winners: Nobu Matsuhisa's namesake restaurant, Matsuhisa, has regained top honors for Food this year. The "stunning" speakeasy-style of The Edison has won for Decor while the award for Service went to the "meticulous" hospitality of Urasawa. Perennial favorite Spago returned as the Most Popular LA restaurant this year. The full list of winners is as follows:

Top Food

Top Decor

Top Service

Most Popular

1)  Matsuhisa

1)  The Edison

1)  Urasawa

1)  Spago

2)  Angelini Osteria

2)  Culina Modern Italian

2)  Melisse

2)  Bazaar by Jose Andres

3)  Asanebo

3)  Belvedere

3)  Providence

3)  Angelini Osteria

4)  Melisse

4)  Bazaar by Jose Andres

4)  Belvedere

4)  Osteria Mozza

5)  Urasawa

5)  Saddle Peak

5)  Sam's by the Beach

5)  Pizzeria Mozza

Newcomers: The Survey welcomed a wealth of new restaurants this year, with Savory leading the charge thanks to "the superb locavore" cuisine of chef Paul Shoemaker. Other notable newcomers include Scott Conant's NYC import, Scarpetta in the Montage Beverly Hills, Top Chef Michael Voltaggio's Ink, the Patina Group's LACMA addition Ray's & Stark Bar and Mediterranean small-plate newcomers Cleo in Hollywood's Redbury Hotel and Mezze in West Hollywood, which was named the "best dining neighborhood."

Food Trucks: Food trucks are the "best development" to ever hit the LA dining scene, according to surveyors, 24% of whom report following trucks or restaurants via social media.'s expanded coverage now offers ratings and reviews for 57 food trucks in the Los Angeles area, including the Survey's top rated trucks, Kogi Korean BBQ, Grill 'Em All and Shrimp Pimp. With locations as varied as the cuisines they serve, other notable trucks include Coolhaus (ice cream), Nom Nom (Vietnamese), Great Balls on Tires (meatball sliders), Lobsta Truck (seafood) and LudoTruck (eclectic/sandwiches), from chef Ludo Lefebvre.

Budget-Friendly Trends: Restaurateurs and chefs are responding to budget-conscious diners by putting a gourmet spin on cheap eats this year. Hot dogs have become much more than a ballpark staple, with inexpensive newcomers including Pasadena's Dog Haus, Silver Lake's Berlin Currywurst, La Brea's Wirtshaus and West LA's Steingarten LA. Also new in town are imports Papaya King (of NYC fame) in Hollywood and Coney Dog (from Detroit) in West Hollywood. Pizzerias are also popping up across the city, offering exotic toppings such as braised pork belly at Century City's Sotto, Brussels sprouts and bacon at Pasadena's Luggage Room and black truffles and kale at Stella Rossa in Santa Monica.

Back to the Future: In the 25 years since the LA Survey debuted, the local dining scene has witnessed tremendous improvements. Amid all these changes, some restaurants have stood the test of time and remain rated today, including Chinois on Main (Asian/French), El Cholo (Mexican), Grill on the Alley (American), Ivy (Californian), Jitlada (Thai), Michael's (Californian), Parkway Grill (Californian), Pink's (hot dogs) and Spago (Californian).

Health and Hygiene: Los Angeles diners have long been supporters of restaurants posting their Health Department letter grades, with 95% agreeing this year. When asked how letter grades influence their dining decisions, 45% say they would dine only at restaurants that earn an "A" and 47% more said "B or better."

Pet Peeves: This year, 65% consider it "rude and inappropriate" to text, talk, tweet or e-mail from the table, while 85% consider it "ok" to take photos of dining companions or food. As always, service irritates diners more than any other aspect of dining out, with 61% naming it their top complaint this year.

Survey Details: The 2012 Los Angeles/So. California Restaurants Survey ($15.95) was edited by Merrill Shindler, Michelle Golden, Yoji Yamaguchi, Gretchen Kurz, Todd Cohen, Cynthia Furey, Grace Jidoun and Helen Sillett. The Survey is available now in bookstores, online at and via ZAGAT for mobile. Follow Zagat on Facebook and Twitter @Zagat for news & updates.

About Zagat Survey, LLC

Known as the "burgundy bible," Zagat Survey is the world's most trusted source for consumer-generated survey information. With a worldwide network of surveyors, Zagat rates and reviews restaurants, hotels, nightlife, movies, music, golf, shopping and a range of other entertainment categories and is lauded as the "most up-to-date," "comprehensive" and "reliable" guide, published on all platforms. Zagat content is available to consumers wherever and whenever they need it: on,, ZAGAT TO GO for smartphones and in book form.

SOURCE Zagat Survey