Plus, the rest of Zagat's 2018 top dining trends.

Elisabeth Sherman
January 08, 2018

Best case scenario, you’re going to eat at a restaurant this year (unless you’ve set the very admirable, though impossible-seeming, goal of cooking every meal for yourself in 2018). Even though you’re likely practiced at going out to eat by now, don’t expect that everything about the experience will be the same in 2018. Dining out in the New Year will come with its own set of etiquette you’ll have to become accustomed to. How much will your meal cost? Is it okay to go out to eat two times a day? How much should you tip? Will restaurants even want you to keep tipping? As you prepare yourself for a year of eating in restaurants, you may want to familiarize yourself with Zagat’s 2018 National Dining Trends Survey—which has answers to these questions and more. Zagat interviewed 13,000 food lovers and restaurant fanatics for the 2018 survey, and this is what it found. 

People are willing to pay more

Zagat’s survey found that on average, Americans tip around 18 percent, but a further 43 percent are in favor of abolishing tipping altogether even if it means hiking up menu prices. Meanwhile, Philadelphians are the best tippers, typically leaving about 20 percent, while people in Portland are the worst, leaving on average 16.5 percent.

Feel free to dine out as much as you want

Whether they just don’t feel like cooking or can’t get enough of the menu at their favorite restaurant, Americans go out to eat on average 4.9 times per week—leaving just two days to stay in for a quiet night at home. Another upside of this trend? You should never feel embarrassed for showing up at your favorite local eatery for the third night in a row again.

Dining out is still expensive, though

On average, a meal at a restaurant costs $36.40 per person, but in a city like New York, it’s even more expensive, coming in at about $46 per person. Yes, if you want the convenience (and luxury) of eating at a restaurant every night, it’s going to cost you.

If you’re annoyed by backless stools, you’re not alone

70 percent of the people Zagat surveyed said that they are “over it” when it comes to this style of seating. The second most annoying aspect of dining out probably isn’t as surprising: 24 percent of people said noise ruined their meal. Don't be surprised if you see regular old chairs coming back into vogue at restaurants this year.

Have food, will travel

Zagat found that 54 percent of diners would travel at most 30 minutes “just to eat a certain dish,” but only 13 percent of people would hop on a flight to do the same. However, 56 percent of people said they’d gladly cram in multiple lunches and dinners while on vacation in order to experience all of the new city’s culinary offerings.