Open wide for some dining guides! Today marks the debut of the new editions of the Zagat guide and the prestigious NYC Michelin restaurant guide (more on that later). We turn first to the more proletarian Zagat, which covers 2,115 restaurants, slightly more than last year, rated online by 40,569 respondents. Here's what's new and noteworthy:
- In a stunning upset, Boerum Hill's Mile End overthrew perennial winner Barney Greengrass in the Top Deli category.
- Eric Ripert's restaurant Le Bernadin is the first restaurant to score an unconditional 29 for food since the original Bouley in 1996.
- More Bronx restaurants are featured in Zagat this year, up to 30 restaurants in the borough are included, compared to 24 last year.
- Brooklyn is also booming, scoring more top cuisine winners than ever. Zagat surveyors say NYC's best barbecue is in Williamsburg (Fette Sau), and Pacificana in Sunset Park is the best Chinese restaurant.
- The No. 1 rated newcomer of the year is Maialino, located in the Gramercy Park Hotel. (This is also the place we sent a lucky Gothamist reader to dinner for two!)
- Zagat added a new category this year: Food trucks. And according to surveyors, the top three trucks are Wafels & Dinges, Street Sweets and Van Leeuwen Ice Cream.
- The average price of a meal in NYC dipped 5 cents, to $41.76. It's a negligible decline, but the first of any kind since 2002.
Unsurprisingly, the economy is taking its toll on dining. 27% of surveyors report that they are eating out less than they were six months ago, while only 11% say they are eating out more. The Zagat survey also covered the etiquette of using a mobile device at the table. 81% of surveyors "feel it's acceptable to take pictures of their food," 64% say it's "rude and inappropriate" to text, e-mail, tweet or talk on a mobile phone at a restaurant. An exception must be made, of course, for those using the Zagat iPhone app! And as Tim Zagat warns, "You're not going to tell a young person not to text at a meal, and if you do, you're likely to lose a client for life." And they'll write a mean tweet about you, too, and you will be ruined.
83% say they approve of the Health Department's letter grading system; and 42% feel the government should require restaurants to reduce the amount of salt in their dishes. And when asked where they'd like to have their last meal, the top three restaurants were Per Se, Daniel, and Peter Luger, which was rated the best steakhouse in the city for the 27th straight year.