8/07/2012 07:30:00 AM

2012/13 Chicago Restaurants Survey Results Are Live!

As the just-released Zagat 2012/13 Chicago Restaurants Survey points out, it was a good year for the local dining industry. In particular, diners report eating out 3.0 times a week, up from 2.8 in our last survey - the first rise since the Great Recession. Perhaps reflecting diners’ renewed enthusiasm, the average tip continued to increase - to 19.4% this year, up from 19.2% in 2010. The average cost of a meal is $32.22.

The new survey includes 1,367 eateries in the Chicago and Milwaukee area as voted on by 6,211 avid diners, with ratings and reviews available through Google Maps, Search, Google+ and in bookstores.

What was a solid year for dining in general was a stellar year for chef Grant Achatz, whose Alinea topped the city’s food ratings, scoring a near-perfect 29 on Zagat’s 30-point scale and was also named Chicago’s Most Popular restaurant. His recently opened Next received Top Service honors, with a score of 29. However, Chinese Shanghai Terrace at the Peninsula Hotel won for Top Decor.

Achatz wasn't the only big-name who achieved boffo scores - in her first time out of the gate, Stephanie Izard's The Girl and the Goat received an impressive 27 out of 30 for Food, and was named the No. 3 Most Popular restaurant. The fact that 44% of Chicago surveyors say they're more likely to go to a restaurant with a celebrity chef bodes well for Izard's new restaurant Little Goat, which is set to open later this year.

Openings are the big story this year, with dozens of notable new restaurants being included in the survey. NoMI Kitchen was the Top Newcomer, followed by Perennial Virant and Roka Akor. NoMI and Perennial are both in hotels (Park Hyatt Chicago and Hotel Lincoln, respectively), and they are examples of the city's lodgings reconceiving their culinary offerings with more hip and casual concepts (spots like Argent in the Dana Hotel & Spa and The Pump Room at the Public Hotel also followed suit).

Small-plate restaurants were also hot, with spots like Tavernita, Yusho and Ada St. luring diners with easily shared dishes. A number of new BYO establishments also added to this casual vibe, with offerings like EL Ideas and Goosefoot contributing to the downscaling of fine-dining.

Check out the list of the city's 10 best restaurants here.

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