"America's favorite" quote-laden guide book doles out "praise" and "scorn" once again with its 2014 guide to Los Angeles restaurants, out today. Though many complain that the guide is "outdated" and "unreliable" in the age of Yelp, Zagat ratings still make a "splash" every year when they're released.
What's different this year in L.A., according to the Google-owned Zagat? Well, the big news is that Urasawa, the famously expensive Beverly Hills Japanese restaurant, is no longer the No. 1 restaurant in town. That honor goes to Asanebo in Studio City, which broke through the 28-out-of-30 point ceiling and got a 29 for food (there have been no L.A. restaurants with more than a 28 in recent years). Having L.A.'s number one restaurant be in the Valley? Shocking, I say!
Bestia was voted 2013's Top Newcomer, scoring a 25 of 30 on Zagat's scale (and that's even though Alma scored higher for food, with a 26 -- Bestia beat Bon Appetit's pick for top new restaurant in America because Alma scored poorly with Zagat for "decor" -- priorities, people!). Meanwhile, Melisse won Top Service, Sugarfish got the nod for Most Popular restaurant, and Gjelina won for Best Buy, earning a top ranking for food under $25.
The guide has a whopping 115 lists this year, with a few new ones like "Tops by Occasion" across a variety of scenarios ("lunch with your agent" -- no, really) and location-specific lists around local landmarks.
Of the 1,499 restaurants as rated and reviewed by 19,694 diners, Asanebo is the only one to notch 29 on the scale. Seven scored 28 points: Urasawa, Sushi Zo, Hamasaku, Mélisse, Matsuhisa, Providence and Angelini Osteria.
According to Zagat, L.A. diners eat 2.4 dinners out per week. L.A. also spends an average of $38.62 per person, just under the national average of $40.53.
What else? L.A.'s No. 1 dining irritant? Noise. 76 percent of diners say they avoid restaurants that are too loud.
Zagat's 2014 guide is available in local bookstores and at zagat.com.