Zagat's top picks in restaurants


Zagat rates the top American restaurants

The Zagat Survey has released its guide to America's Top Restaurants 2011, which includes ratings and reviews of the 1,552 top restaurants country-wide.

In the San Francisco Bay Area and Wine Country, the top restaurants are: Gary Danko of San Francisco, French Laundry of Yountville, Cyrus of Healdsburg, Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn of Big Sur, and Acquerello of San Francisco.

Tracking the trends, the guide surveyed more than 153,000 avid diners and revealed that the weak economy continues to cut into dining habits.

Surveyors report eating out less frequently (3.1 times per week, down from 3.3 times before the recession), being more attentive to prices (39 percent), eating in less expensive places (33 percent) and cutting back on alcohol, appetizers and desserts (17 to 21 percent).

"The percent of meals eaten out and taken out has steadily decreased from 52 percent pre-recession to 47 percent this year," said Tim Zagat, CEO of Zagat Survey. "These changes are subtle yet powerful when looking at long-term behavior."

In the last few years, many chefs bowed to the economic times and opened casual eateries. This year, there was a return to opening pricey restaurants, proving that high-end dining is far from dead.

Tthe San Francisco Bay Area and Wine Country enjoyed a new surge in high-end restaurants. In downtown Napa, Masaharu Morimoto opened Morimoto.

In San Francisco, Tyler Florence opened Wayfare Tavern, Corey Lee opened Benu, Melissa Perello opened Frances and Michael Mina opened RN74.

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