Are you an average L.A. diner? Zagat breaks down the profile

Sushi continues to top the Best Food category in Zagat's annual Los Angeles restaurant roundup.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Things to know about diners in Los Angeles: They rely on restaurants for half of their meals. They get annoyed at noisy eateries. They’re mostly fine with food photos, but not so much with table tweeters. They’re check splitters.

Oh, and they really, really like sushi.

So finds an annual survey from Zagat, the restaurant and nightlife reviewer now owned by Google.

A sushi restaurant topped the best food list for the fifth straight year, as Studio City eatery Asanebo unseated Urasawa in Beverly Hills for the chief spot.


The Sugarfish sushi chain was named the most popular eatery, while Bestia in downtown Los Angeles was deemed the top newcomer.

The Belvedere in the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel was a lock for best décor, while Melisse in Santa Monica clinched the service award. Gjelina Take Away, a more casual spin-off of Gjelina in Venice, was named the top contender for value.

Winners by cuisine included Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery for delis, Din Tai Fung for Chinese food and Bludso’s for BBQ.

But the Zagat data, compiled from a collection of nearly 1,500 restaurants with input from nearly 20,000 diners, also profiles foodie Angelenos.

Locals eat 2.4 dinners out each week, slightly more than the national average of 2.3 meals. But they spend $38.62 on average per person, nearly $2 less than Americans as a whole.

Nearly 7 in 10 Angelenos split restaurant bills evenly across the group, while 17% calculate charges based on each individual’s orders. And 15% request separate checks.

On bills without service charges, locals tip an average of 18.5%, according to Zagat.

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Nearly half of respondents said they make restaurant reservations online. A slightly smaller group calls dibs on tables over the phone, while the remainder do it in person or not at all.

Certain Southland eateries are notorious for their epically long waits. Some 49% of Angelenos refuse to wait more than 30 minutes to be seated, while 34% are even more impatient and will leave after 15 minutes. A more laid-back 2% don’t care about the wait as long as there’s a bar.

Maybe that’s why Angelenos aren’t as wild about brunch as they’re often made out to be. Only 6% of respondents said they go nearly every weekend, while 57% said they make it out rarely and only for special occasions.

Zagat also inquired about dining atmosphere and found that noise levels are considered the top irritant to patrons in Los Angeles, followed by service and then prices. More than three quarters of diners said they avoid restaurants that are too loud.

The same percentage said they don’t mind children in upscale restaurants as long as they’re well-behaved. But 7% said they don’t like seeing kids scampering among white tablecloths. And 9% said fancy eateries should at least limit the presence of howling babies.

As for adult behavior, 58% of Angelenos don’t mind fellow diners who take moderate amounts of photos of their food and companions. An equal number, however, think it’s rude and inappropriate for restaurant guests to text, email, tweet or chat on their phones at the table.


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