Zagat Releases 2013 Washington DC/Baltimore Restaurants Survey
Zagat announced the results of its 2013 Washington, DC/Baltimore Restaurants Survey. A record 16,363 diners have spoken, voting on 1,472 restaurants in the DC/Baltimore areas.
On the Rise: According to the Survey, diners report eating out more often than in the last Survey with an average of 2.8 meals per week, up from 2.6, but still below the 3.0 frequency pre-recession. Furthermore, 33% say they are spending more than a year ago, compared with 9% who say less. While surveyors report the average tip has reached a generous 19.3%, a 61% plurality says that service is their main complaint. This is consistent with the other 45-plus markets surveyed by Zagat in the U.S. and indicates that service is still the "weak link" in the industry. Overall, 37% of DC surveyors say the dining scene is better than last year, compared to only 2% who say worse; in Baltimore, 24% say the dining scene is better, while 3% say worse.
New and Notable: Newcomers are thriving and surprising this year. The DC/Baltimore-areas have welcomed 88 notable openings. In DC, the new Thai venture from Johnny Monis (of Komi), Little Serow, has shocked the dining scene with a remarkable 28 for Food (on Zagat's 30-point scale) after less than one year since opening, earning the No. 12 spot on the Top Food list. Other top DC newcomers include Pearl Dive Oyster (26), Ray's to the Third (25), Mellow Mushroom (25) and Graffiato (24). In Baltimore, celeb chef Michael Mina has combined "creativity, flavor and attention to detail" with the Inner Harbor views to produce Top Newcomer Wit & Wisdom (23), in the Four Seasons. Rounding out the top newcomers are Waterfront Kitchen (22) and Bond Street Social (19), both in Fells Point.
Winners: In DC, Patrick O'Connell's Inn at Little Washington is back on top this year, winning the trifecta for Food, Decor and Service with near-perfect 29's across the board for a "life-altering experience." The award in DC for Most Popular goes to Clyde's. This year, Frederick has been added into the DC section of the guide, where Bryan Voltaggio's Volt and Vietnamese Lucky Corner have taken the No. 7 and No. 9 spots for Food, respectively. In Baltimore, Cindy Wolf's Charleston is once again on top, winning for Food and Service for a third straight Survey, and adding top honors for Decor this year, while Woodberry Kitchen repeats as Most Popular. When it comes to bang for the buck, the "friendly" and "cute" coffeehouse Buzz and Harford County ice cream shop Broom's Bloom Dairy take top honors. In the Annapolis and Eastern Shore areas, Vin 909 and Bartlett Pear Inn have surged to earn the No. 4 and 5 spots for Food, respectively, in the Baltimore-area section of the guide.
More Debuts: In DC, notable local toques have presented new ventures including Society Fair (Cathal Armstrong), Elisir (Enzo Fargione), Mintwood Place (Cedric Maupillier) and Bryan Voltaggio's Family Meal and Lunchbox (No. 3 Bang for the Buck), as well as small-plates purveyors such as Bistro Bohem, Boqueria, Sugo Cicchetti, Mike Isabella's Bandolero (and Graffiato) and fast-casual options Bobby's Burger Palace and Burger, Tap & Shake, Fishnet, and Shophouse Southeast Asian Kitchen. Baltimore has welcomed a variety of new restaurants helmed by independent owners rather than established chains and management companies. Of note are Hampden's Food Market, Canton's Fork & Wrench and Thames Street Oyster House in Fells Point. Baltimore has also welcomed homespun pizzas from Hersh's Pizza in South Baltimore, gastropub Of Love and Regret in Canton and Kettle Hill in Power Plant Live.
E-Dining: At no-reservations places, 67% of surveyors say that they are willing to wait no longer than 30 minutes to be seated, and 15% more avoid such places altogether. When asked about their smartphone usage, 44% of respondents admit to having downloaded a restaurant-related app, and 14% are posting on social media when they arrive at a restaurant. A commanding 85% of respondents say taking pictures of dining companions or food is acceptable, but 53% consider it rude to talk, text or e-mail on a mobile device while dining.
Cuisines: When asked about their favorite cuisines, voters said Italian (25%), followed by American (18%), French (13%) and Japanese (9%). Here are the cuisine winners in both greater metro areas:
American (New) – Inn/Little Washington, Washington, VA
Middle Eastern – Zaytinya, Penn Quarter
American (Trad.) – Mike's "American," Springfield, VA
Pan-Asian – Source, Penn Quarter
Burgers – Ray's Hell Burger, Arlington, VA
Pizza – Pupatella Pizzeria, Arlington, VA
Chinese – Peking Duck Restaurant, Alexandria, VA
Seafood – BlackSalt, Palisades
French (Bistro) – Bistro L'Hermitage, Woodbridge, VA
S. American – Fogo de Chao, Penn Quarter
French (Cl.) – L'Auberge Chez Francois, Great Falls, VA
Southern – Vidalia, Golden Triangle
French (New) – Marcel's, West End
Spanish – Isabella's, Frederick, MD
Greek/Med. – Komi, Dupont Circle
Steakhouses – Prime Rib, Golden Triangle
Indian – Rasika, West End, Penn Quarter
Tex-Mex – El Mariachi, Rockville, MD
Italian – Obelisk, Dupont Circle
Thai – Little Serow, Dupont Circle
Japanese – Makoto, Palisades
Vietnamese – Lucky Corner, Frederick, MD
Mexican – Oyamel, Penn Quarter
American (New) – Charleston, Harbor East
Japanese – Sushi King, Columbia
American (Trad.) – Miss Shirley's, Multi.
Mex./Span. – R&R Taqueria, Multi.
Chinese – Red Pearl, Columbia
Pizza – Johnny Rad's, Fells Point
Crab Houses – Faidley's, Downtown West
Pub Food – Koco's, NE Baltimore
French – Tersiguel's, Ellicott City
Seafood – Black Olive, Fells Point
Greek – Samos, Greektown
Steakhouses – Prime Rib, Mt. Vernon
Indian – Ambassador Dining, Homewood
Thai – Thai Arroy, South Baltimore
Italian – Di Pasquale's, East Baltimore
Survey Details: Zagat's 2013 Washington DC/Baltimore Restaurants Survey was edited by Josh Rogers, with local editors Olga Boikess, Martha Thomas and Dina Gan as well as consulting editor Marty Katz. Zagat's scores and reviews are integrated across Google Maps, Search, Google+ and mobile. Guidebooks ($15.95) will be available wherever books are sold.
Zagat is known as the "burgundy bible" and is a 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, published on all platforms. Zagat content is integrated throughout Google, including Maps, Search, Google+ and mobile. Guidebooks are also available at all major booksellers. In September 2011, Zagat was acquired by Google Inc.
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