New Zagat Listing: Wi-Fi Hot Spots

Times Staff Writer

Tonight’s menu: Appetizer. Check e-mail. Main course. Surf Web. Dessert. Log off.

Computer chip giant Intel Corp. and the leisure class bible Zagat Survey have produced a guide to the best restaurants and hotels in America that offer wireless fidelity, or Wi-Fi, Internet access.

The guide includes Zagat’s signature, and sometimes snooty, comments on food and decor. It doesn’t, however, rate the quality of Wi-Fi hookups on Zagat’s traditional 1-30 scale. Or on any scale.

And snagging a listing in the guide doesn’t necessarily mean that a Wi-Fi hot spot knows it’s hot.

“Nobody brings their computers in here,” said Margot Kramer, manager of Breeze in the upscale Century Plaza Hotel & Spa.


“We get a lot of businessmen, lawyers and entertainment people, but they’re too busy making deals to go online.”

Intel and Zagat released the “2003 Wi-Fi Hotspots” guide this week at the Intel Developers’ Forum in San Jose.

It lists 12 restaurants and two hotels in Los Angeles and dozens of others in San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Chicago that offer Wi-Fi service. Entries are in alphabetical order. The list also is in the current edition of the New Yorker magazine.

Businesses such as Borders Books, Starbucks coffee shops and McDonald’s restaurants were among the first to offer Wi-Fi to attract compulsively connected customers.

Now joints such as Jan’s in L.A. are getting into high-speed access.

Customers who use the service are in “the younger crowd, around 20 to 40 years old,” said George Siafaris, who manages the Beverly Center coffee shop. “They usually sit outside with their laptops and a salad or sandwich.”

Wireless technology is a fast-growing sector in the sluggish technology industry. There are some 20,000 hot spots worldwide offering Wi-Fi access, a number market research firm IDC forecasts will grow to 120,000 by 2005.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer, is spending more than $300 million to promote its Centrino wireless chip technology for laptop computers. The company expects the number of wireless hand-held devices -- including cell phones and personal digital assistants -- to top 2.5 billion by the end of the decade.

The full list of the spots in the five cities is available at