The 2014 San Francisco Bay Area Zagat Guide comes out today with 1,495 area restaurants covered in its pages, including all the usual suspects (and some new ones).
Gary Danko, the contemporary American restaurant near Fisherman's Wharf celebrating its 15th year, again topped the list as the most popular restaurant (and as the place with the best service and best food). Tartine Bakery was the favorite place under $25 and Sierra Mar, with impressive views in Big Sur, had the best decor -- in case you go to restaurants for the decor.
The Zagat Guide is compiled after surveying 17,505 people -- on the theory that a better understanding of restaurants will come from crowd-sourcing than from one high-end critic. Since Zagat was bought by Google in 2011 for $151 million there have been some small changes. Google revamped and relaunched the website and mobile app earlier this summer, which is free now. Zagat also is partially merged with Google Maps, so that Zagat suggestions come up in Google Maps when users search. In the age of so much information online, though, Zagat has also hinted that it may move more towards an editor-cultivated model (as opposed to the surveying crowd-sourcing model). The apps already include in some cities curated lists from editors of suggestions.
While most people use the Zagat Guide to get food suggestions, the 2014 survey also includes an overview of Bay Area residents' eating habits.
According to Zagat, in the Bay Area we're eating out an average of 4.2 times per week -- less than the national average of 4.4 times per week -- and ordering take-out 1.7 times per week, but we're spending more when we do go out ($41.87 per person on dinner, as opposed to $40.54 nationwide). Although we're paying more, we're tipping less -- just 18.4% v. the 19% national average. For shame!