New survey dishes up revealing data on Austin's snooty diners
There's no denying that this country loves to grub. Google and Zagat teamed up to question over 9,000 diners across the U.S. to determine The State of American Dining in 2016. The national survey reveals some major insights into Austin's restaurant scene — and the diners themselves.
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of Austinites consider themselves foodies. While 40 percent of local respondents confidently claim the title, another 35 percent say they secretly hate the term, and 24 percent completely reject the label. It makes sense that most of us are foodies though, because locals also report dining out an average of 6.2 times per week.
Those meals are easier on our wallets than the rest of the country. Austin's self-reported average for one dinner is $30.48, which ranks among the five least expensive price tags. When it comes to tipping, Austinites matched the national average of leaving an 18.9 percent gratuity.
So what kind of food are we spending all that dough on? Italian and American cuisine tied for our favorite culinary genre, each with 13 percent of the vote. Mexican food came in next with 11 percent, followed by steakhouse fare (10 percent), seafood (9 percent), Japanese (8 percent), and Indian (7 percent).
Fifty-three percent of Austinites claim they had their "best meal ever" at a high-end restaurant, while neighborhood joints, local dives, and home kitchens all tied with 15 percent. Although we love going out, our dining deal breakers include jacket requirements (44 percent), cash-only establishments (37 percent), prix fixe menus (23 percent), and communal tables (22 percent).
It may not be a deal breaker, but Austinites are very concerned about the quality of service at local restaurants — 41 percent of respondents said that service was the No. 1 problem with dining experiences, the highest reported percentage among all cities. Behind service, we're annoyed by parking (16 percent), crowds (15 percent), noise levels (14 percent), prices (9 percent), food quality (3 percent), and traffic (2 percent).
Surprisingly, phones aren't that annoying to Austin diners. Sixty-six percent report that using a phone at the table is okay in moderation, with only 31 percent claiming that it's totally unacceptable. As far as food trends go, we're mostly over gluten-free dishes, but pretty evenly split on veggie-centric menus and mason jar drinks. Chefs, take note: Austinites are still digging Sriracha, ramen, and quinoa.