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Consumer Trends

Indy picks: Diners name their favorite independent restaurants for 2014

What do consumers’ favorite restaurants have in common? Judging from Zagat reviews of the top eateries in 20 cities, “knowledgeable” and “smart” staffs, “low-key” and “understated” settings, “fabulous” and “amazing” food, and “inventive” and “innovative” menus are some of the traits that set them apart.

Among the independents leading Zagat’s 2014 America’s Top Restaurants Survey, well-knowns Le Bernardin in New York City and Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas are considered worthy splurges by consumers because of their “stunning” meals and “meticulous” service. Newcomers such as Katsu in Chicago and Neptune Oyster in Boston stand out, diners say, because of authentic dishes “worth dying for,” and “professional” and “friendly” servers, despite expensive checks.

And that’s typical. Although respondents lauded some restaurants for being a “good value” for what they were, they continue to recognize—through their scores and their patronage—those concepts that offer a unique experience for their money.

Zagat’s 2014 America’s Top Restaurants:

Atlanta: Bacchanalia
Austin: Uchi
Boston: Neptune Oyster
Chicago: Katsu Japanese Restaurant
Dallas/Ft. Worth: Saint-Emilion
Denver: Carlos’ Bistro
Houston: Da Marco
Las Vegas: Joël Robuchon
Los Angeles: Asanebo
Miami: NAOE
Nashville: Etch Restaurant
New Orleans: Cochon Butcher
New York City: Le Bernardin
Philadelphia: Fountain
Portland: The Painted Lady
San Antonio: Chez Vatel & Bistro
San Diego: Sushi Ota
San Francisco: Gary Danko
Seattle: Nishino
Washington, D.C.: Rasika

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