New Yorkers still dine out but are spending less: Zagat

NEW YORK Tue Oct 2, 2012 6:43pm EDT

A family is served drinks at a restaurant while Occupy Wall Street activists protest through the streets of New York's Financial District on the one-year anniversary of the movement, in New York September 17, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Burton

A family is served drinks at a restaurant while Occupy Wall Street activists protest through the streets of New York's Financial District on the one-year anniversary of the movement, in New York September 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Burton

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorkers are eating out at the same clip as recent years, but they're spending less in restaurants and ordering fewer take-out meals, according to the new Zagat restaurant survey.

There were twice as many restaurant openings than closings in New York over the past year and diners still eat out three times per week -- the same number as in each of the past three years, according to the survey of 44,306 people, which will be released on Wednesday.

But the average restaurant tab plummeted nearly 10 percent this year to $39.18, and the survey also showed t hat f or the first time people reported that fewer than half their meals, 49 percent, were eaten out or taken out, continuing a decade-long slide.

Hipster Asian restaurants, featuring low-priced food with high-end flourishes, were all the rage in New York, Zagat reported.

The majority of new dining spots were informal, less expensive restaurants. Some 400 of the New York guide's 2,120 restaurants offer dinner, including a drink and tip, for less than $25.

"It's pretty clear that things have not changed much (for the better), but restaurants seem to be pretty full," said Tim Zagat, co-founder of the guides, which were established more than three decades ago.

"It's overwhelmingly the casual, inexpensive restaurants that diners are looking for," Zagat said.

"The new restaurants in the city are almost all of that kind -- but they better have good food and be fun," he said, adding that "the formal, fine-dining restaurants requiring a jacket and tie are almost of thing of the past."

Zagat collates diners' ratings and reviews of restaurants in a single guidebook. Restaurants are rated on a 30-point scale on food, decor and service.

New York's Japanese restaurants received the highest average food scores in the poll, with a 24.3 on a scale of 30. American and French eateries were virtually tied for second, though diners continue to name Italian, by far, as their favorite cuisine.

Outside of Manhattan, Brooklyn's dining scene continued to heat up. Blanca, a 12-seat arrival in the gritty Bushwick neighborhood, won raves for its $180 tasting menu.

New York's dining's scene also got several jolts of adrenalin with restaurant imports such as London's Hakkasan, Beirut's Almayass and Moscow's Brasserie Pushkin.

Eric Ripert's French seafood palace Le Bernardin was rated highest for food for the fourth consecutive year, an accolade it has taken in eight of the past 10 years. Asian fusion restaurant Asiate was cited for best decor, while Per Se took the honors for best service. (Editing by Patricia Reaney and Leslie Adler)

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