Zagat Survey Announces 2004/05 Chicago Restaurants Guide

Windy City's Restaurant Industry Booms; Chicagoans Are Among the Highest Tippers in the U.S.

Zagat Zagat Survey(R), the world's leading provider of consumer survey-based leisure content, today released its 2004/05 Chicago Restaurants Survey. The new guide covers 1,083 restaurants in Chicago and surrounding areas including 70 in Milwaukee. These restaurants were tested and tasted by more than 4,700 avid local restaurant-goers who used Zagat Survey's signature 30-point scale to rate Food, Decor and Service. The guide also reflects the estimated cost for a meal.

This marks the 25th year that Zagat Survey has reported on the shared experiences of diners and the 19th year that the company has covered Chicago. This year's participants dined out an average of 3.1 times per week, up from 2.8 times last year. Meanwhile, 62 percent said they were spending more compared to two years ago, underscoring the boom the Chicago restaurant industry is experiencing.

"This year, Chicago welcomed even more intriguing, creative players to the dining scene," said Tim Zagat, CEO of Zagat Survey. "Chicago has established itself not just as a great dining city, but also as a nationwide gastronomic influencer. This guide will help diners uncover both new and tried-and-true options for eating out in the Chicago area."

The results of the new Zagat Survey will be discussed today at the MasterCard International and Zagat Survey 3rd Annual Restaurant Industry Forum. Tim and Nina Zagat, the founders of Zagat Survey, and MasterCard executives will join more than 100 Chicago chefs and restaurateurs to discuss developments in the local dining landscape. The event, which begins at 8:30 am CST, will be held at The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago.

  Top Rated Restaurants:
[ ] = 2002/2003 Survey's position

Most Popular:
1. Tru [1] 6. mk [5]
2. Charlie Trotter's [2] 7. Ambria [3]
3. Frontera Grill [6] 8. Topolobampo [11]
4. Everest [4] 9. Joe's Seafood [27]
5. Gibsons Steak [9] 10. Wildfire [10]

Top Rated Restaurants, cont'd:
( ) = Zagat Rating - Based on Zagat Survey's signature 30-point scale

Top Food:
1. Ritz-Carlton Dining Room (29) 6. Tru (28)
2. Trio (29) 7. Ambria (28)
3. Tallgrass (28) 8. Mirai Sushi (28)
4. Les Nomades (28) 9. Seasons (28)
5. Carlos' (28) 10. Charlie Trotter's (27)

Top Service: Top Decor:
1. Ritz-Carlton Dining Room (28) 1. Ritz-Carlton Dining Room (28)
2. Trio (28) 2. Karma (28)
3. Les Nomades (28) 3. Japonais (27)
4. Tru (27) 4. NoMI (27)
5. Charlie Trotter's (27) 5. Tizi Melloul (27)

Top Newcomers: Best Bangs for the Buck:
1. Avec (26) 1. Superdawg
2. Le Francais (26) 2. Potbelly Sandwich
3. Japonais (24) 3. Wiener's Circle
4. BOKA (23) 4. Margie's Candies
5. Park Grill (22) 5. Gold Coast Dogs

Most Popular: Top Food:
1. Maggiano's 1. Sanford (29)
2. Sanford 2. Watermark Seafood (29)
3. P.F. Chang's 3. Dream Dance (27)
4. Lake Park Bistro 4. Ristorante Bartolotta (27)
5. Potbelly Sandwich 5. The Immigrant Room & Winery (26)

Key Zagat Survey Restaurant Findings and Trends: In addition to rating and reviewing Chicago restaurants, Zagat Survey measured consumer sentiment regarding smoking, the service industry and the local economy.

* High Rollers: Chicago diners tip an average of 18.8%, notably above the
Zagat U.S. average of 18.5%. L.A. diners are on the lower end at 18.0%,
while Atlanta diners tip the most at 19.1%.

* Service, Please: An overwhelming 78% of Chicago diners cite service as
the most irritating issue when it comes to dining out. Collectively,
noise, food, smoking, parking, prices and crowds account for the
remaining 22% of complaints.

* Buon Appetito: As in most U.S. cities, Italian is the cuisine of choice
in Chicago.

* Put it Out: 80% of diners think smoking should be banned entirely in

* Take Out or Delivery?: Chicagoans eat out or take-out 52% of all their

* Show me the money: The average cost of a local meal rose 4.0% to $31.64.

The Zagat Survey 2004/05 Chicago Restaurant Survey was edited by Alice Van Housen, a freelance writer/editor; Jill Van Cleave, a cookbook author and food consultant; Ann Christenson, a dining critic for Milwaukee Magazine; and Daniel Simmons, a senior editor at Zagat Survey. The book ($12.95) is available at bookstores and other retail outlets, through or by calling toll free at 888-371-5440.

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