The customer is the critic for Zagat surveys of dining habits and favorite restaurants in America.
The latest reviews of the nation's top restaurants are available in its 2011 “America's Top Restaurants Guide," as well as on zagat.com.
Tim Zagat takes a look at what's No. 1, and what's up-and-coming around the country.
Top restaurant: Bacchanalia
Top newcomer: The Counter
Fans say the best burger in Roswell can be found at this link in a California-based chain where a lot of toppings (purportedly enough to make 312,120-plus different combinations, including vegetarian options) make their build-your-own concept a gourmet occasion, one made even more interesting by amazing onion rings and sweet potato fries and enjoyable milkshakes. It's a good place for families and fun for all ages.
Top restaurant: Sushi Zo
Top Newcomer: Noir Food & Wine
The innovative roster of small plates by chef Claud Beltran is bested only by the terrific wine selection (over 50 available by the glass) at this Pasadena eclectic, also impressing with on-the-ball service and an intimate, low-lit setting; in spite of minuscule portions and not-so-minuscule prices, the majority of locals labels it a "great addition" to the area.
New York City
Top restaurant: Le Bernardin
Top newcomer: Maialino
Danny Meyer goes Italian and nails it again at this "hot" newcomer in the Gramercy Park Hotel, a marvelous Roman trattoria mock-up with mouthwatering rustic fare (the delectable eponymous roast pig "is the thing") and impressive wines served with no pretense by a sensational staff; it's not cheap, but energetic throngs make it tough to get a reservation — though the wonderful front wine bar accepts walk-ins.
Top restaurant: Vetri
Top newcomer: Fond
Virtually all agree this bright BYOB star in a high-end storefront on South Philly's ever-growing East Passyunk strip is a can't-miss experience, thanks to Le Bec-Fin alum Lee Styer's creative, excellent New American cuisine and Jessie Prawlucki's breads and desserts, for which your mouth will keep thanking you; superb service helps make up for the noise, but space is limited, so be sure to snag a reservation.
Top restaurant: Gary Danko
Top newcomer: Frances
The euphoria is mounting at this boiling-hot Castro newcomer where chef-owner and "master at her craft" Melissa Perello (ex Fifth Floor) is blowing away the competition, delighting elbow-to-elbow foodies with a limited, changing roster of locally sourced Californian fare that's comforting and brilliant at the same time; welcoming service and delicious house wine by the ounce add to the charm, but reservations are just about impossible — fortunately, squeezing in at the walk-in bar is as good as gold.
Top restaurant: Cafe Juanita
Top newcomer: Marination Mobile
A taste explosion of Korean-Hawaiian eats is the bomb at this blue food truck with a menu that rocks, offering cheap options from pork-centric sliders and tacos to the savory, spicy splendor of kimchi rice and bulgogi and even Spam musubi. Though you'll likely wait in line, you'll get a friendly smile from the server who hands your food out the window; daily locations are listed on its website.
Top restaurant: Les Nomades
Top newcomer: Xoco
Master Chef Rick Bayless' LEED-certified counter-service-meets-haute-style River North Mexican cultivates pasión among street food enthusiasts, who brave the cosmic waits for outstanding tortas (especially any with pork), giant bowls of caldos, addictive churros and cacao bean-to-cup hot chocolate. What it lacks in comfort — an odd ordering protocol, cramped, communal seating — is forgiven once the awe-inspiring eats arrive, hot from a wood-burning oven.