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Meal costs on rise, says survey

The ubiquitous Zagat survey has just released its guide of leading national restaurants for 2005, along with the finding that the average cost of dinner out is climbing. According to the 2005 America's Top Restaurants Guide, the national average meal cost has risen 3.1% to $31.51. Last year, the average cost rang in at $30.57.

Concurrently, the survey found that what Americans leave on the table has risen as well. The average tip given in a full-service restaurant is now 18.6%, up from 18.4% last year.

"The healthy increases in consumer spending on dining...are signs of returned consumer confidence," said Tim Zagat, the survey's CEO.

In related news, the survey revealed that Italian food continues to hold the top spot in ethnic cuisine, with 31% of Americans calling it their favorite. Asian food came in second, at 25%.

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