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Surveyors report spending more in Zagat Philadelphia Restaurants survey

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October 11, 2012

Surveyors report spending more in Zagat Philadelphia Restaurants survey

High Tipping Proves Philadelphia Is Still the ?City of Brotherly Love?
Dining Scene Welcomes 61 Newcomers While Four Restaurants Earn Near-Perfect Scores;
Winners: Fountain ? Food, Decor, Service; Buddakan ? Popularity; Franklin Fountain ? Best Buy;
Kitchens Outshine the Front of the House; 75% of Surveyors Want to See Health Inspection Grades

Today, Zagat announced the results of its?2013 Philadelphia Restaurants Survey,?covering 1,441 restaurants in the greater Philadelphia area, including nearby New Jersey suburbs and Wilmington, Delaware. The Survey is based on the voting of 13,179 avid diners, a new record for the Survey. Zagat?s iconic burgundy guidebook has been redesigned and is available in bookstores as well as across Google Maps, Search, Google+ and mobile.

State of Dining Out:?While the dining out frequency has remained flat (2.5 meals out per week), 30% of Philadelphia surveyors report spending more this year, while only 9% say less. Philadelphians also continue to be among the most generous tippers in the nation, leaving an average tip of 19.6%, above the 19.3% national average. But despite the high tipping, service remains the biggest dining-out drawback (cited by 66%), followed by noise (16%), prices and food (6% each). Further showcasing the disparity of service in the dining scene (which has long been an observed national trend by Zagat), Philadelphia gets a 19 (on Zagat?s 30-point scale) for hospitality, while choice/diversity earns a 24 and culinary creativity earns a 23.

Shake Ups:?The sale of Georges Perrier?s Le Bec Fin ? a perennial Survey darling ? to Walter Abrams and Nicolas Fanucci (of SF?s French Laundry) is just one of a few shake-ups at the top this year. The top 10 Food list has welcomed four new restaurants, including Sycamore in Lansdowne (No. 5), Paloma in Bella Vista (No. 7) and Sketch in Fishtown (No. 10), and Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby?s vegan specialist Vedge, which has not only premiered at No. 9 for Food, but it is this Survey?s Top Newcomer, earning an outstanding 28 for Food. What?s most impressive about Philadelphia is that four restaurants have earned a near-perfect 29 for Food this year: Fountain, Vetri, Birchrunville Store and Bibou.

Winners:?The Survey?s big winner is?Fountain,?located in the Four Seasons Hotel, which wins for Food, Decor and Service while being hailed for ?impeccable? service and ?fabulous feasts.? The award for Most Popular goes to Stephen Starr?s?Buddakan,?which ousted Jose Garces? Amada (No. 2) this year. A full list of winners in our major categories is below:

1. Fountain
2. Vetri
3. Birchrunville Store
4. Bibou
5. Sycamore

1. Fountain
2. Nineteen
3. Vedge
4. R2L
5. Buddakan

1. Fountain
2. Birchrunville Store
3. Vetri
4. Lacroix
5. Vedge

1. Buddakan
2. Amada
3. Iron Hill Brewery
4. Zahav
5. Vetri

New Blood:?Among the 61 notable openings in the Survey this year is Vedge, followed in order by Queen Village?s Ela (28), Top Chef alum Kevin Sbraga?s Sbraga (27) located ?steps from the Kimmel Center,? Rittenhouse?s Il Pittore (26) and Federal Donuts (25) in South Philly. Other newcomers include expansions from top toques Stephen Starr (Route 6), Marc Vetri (Alla Spina), Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran (Jamonera), Munish Narula (Tashan) and Luca Sena (Spiga). Other standout openings include quick bites like pizza joints In Riva in East Falls and Nomad Pizza on South Street, as well as new outposts of Bobby?s Burger Palace, Jake?s Wayback and Danny Meyer?s Shake Shack.

Best Buys:?This year?s Survey includes 80 best buys and good values across the region, offering affordable and casual dining options from burgers and cheesesteaks to coffee shops, pizzerias and more. Here is a list of the top 20 best buys, including their cuisines and average meal cost:

1. Franklin Fountain, Ice Cream ($10)
2. La Colombe, Coffeehouse ($9)
3. Capogiro Gelato, Dessert ($9)
4. Green Line, Sandwiches ($9)
5. Charlie?s Hamburgers, Burgers ($10)
6. Anthony?s Italian Coffee, Coffeehouse ($11)
7. Rybread, Sandwiches ($11)
8. B2, Coffeehouse/Vegan ($11)
9. Rustica, Pizza/Sandwiches ($12)
10. Ishkabibble?s, Cheesesteaks ($11)
11. California Tortilla, Mexican ($12)
12. Bravo, Pizza ($12)
13. Maoz Vegetarian, Mid-Eastern/Vegetarian ($11)
14. Nan Zhou, Noodles ($11)
15. Di Nic?s, Sandwiches ($12)
16. Chickie?s Italian Deli, Italian ($13)
17. Luigi?s Pizza Fresca, Pizza ($12)
18. Jake?s Wayback Burgers, Burgers ($12)
19. Night Kitchen Bakery, Bakery/Sandwiches ($13)
20. Blackbird Pizzeria, Pizza/Vegan ($13)

E-Dining:?When asked about their smartphone usage, 40% of respondents admit to having downloaded a restaurant-related app, and 13% are posting on social media when they arrive at a restaurant. For 59% of surveyors, texting, tweeting, e-mailing or talking on a mobile device is considered ?rude and inappropriate? while at the table, however, 83% say that taking pictures of dining companions or food is acceptable.

Hot Neighborhoods:?East Passyunk (Birra, Stateside); Fairmount (Alla Spina, Hickory Lane, La Calaca Feliz, Lemon Hill, Paris Wine Bar); Fishtown (Pickled Heron, Loco Pez); Main Line (Paramour, Pescatore).

Letter Grades:?A full 75% of Philadelphia surveyors say they agree that restaurants should be required to post a letter grade reflecting the results of their Health Department inspection.

Cuisines:?When asked about their favorite cuisines, voters said Italian (30%), followed by American (15%), French (12%), Japanese (9%) and Mexican (8%). Here is the full list of cuisine winners:

American (New) ? Sycamore, Lansdowne
American (Trad.) ? Washington House, Sellersville
Asian ? Buddakan, Old City
Barbecue ? El Camino Real, Northern Liberties
Cheesesteaks ? Tony Luke?s, S. Philly, Springfield
Chinese ? Chun Hing, Wynnefield
Continental ? Fountain, Logan Square
Eclectic ? Lacroix, Rittenhouse
French ? Birchrunville Store, Birchrunville
French (Bistro) ? Bibou, Bella Vista
Greek ? Kanella, Washington Square West
Indian ? Shere-E-Punjab, Drexel Hill, Media
Italian ? Vetri, Washington Square West
Japanese ? Bluefin, East Norriton
Mediterranean ? Sovana Bistro, Kennett Square
Mexican ? Paloma, Bella Vista
Middle Eastern ? Zahav, Society Hill
Pizza ? Santucci Square Pizza, Multi.
Seafood ? Little Fish, Bella Vista
Soul/Southern ? Relish, West Oak Lane
S. American ? Fogo de Ch?o, Ave. of the Arts
Steakhouse ? The Prime Rib, Rittenhouse
Vegan/Vegetarian ? Vedge, Washington Square West
Vietnamese ? Vietnam Restaurant, Chinatown

Survey Details:?Zagat?s?2013 Philadelphia Restaurants Survey?was edited by Yoji Yamaguchi with local editors Drew Lazor and Michael Klein, who has worked on this guide since 1993. Zagat?s scores and reviews are integrated across Google Maps, Search, Google+ and mobile. Guidebooks ($14.95) will be available wherever books are sold.

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