We all love great food but hate the sticker shock.
The pain has gotten worse, thanks to skyrocketing food prices–up 40% in the last year, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Restaurants absorb those hikes as best they can, but mainly they pass them on to their customers and hope for the best.
So where to find tasty fare at (relatively) tender prices?
No one carves up the $600 billion restaurant industry like the food fanatics at Zagat, publisher of those ubiquitous rectangular restaurant guides. Zagat surveys hundreds of thousands of customers and assembles ratings–from 1 to 30–on food quality, décor and service, as well as the estimated cost of a dinner for one person, including one drink and tip. Zagat has compiled data on 18 metro areas throughout the United States.
To find the most delicious, affordable vittles across the nation, we created our own rating system based on Zagat’s research. (You could do this on your own but we saved you the time.) Using Zagat’s easy-to-use online database, we divided each restaurant’s food score by its average cost, and ranked the resulting ratios top to bottom.
We defined restaurant as a full-service, indoor, sit-down establishment where orders are taken and meals are served to customers by wait staff. This meant culling critically acclaimed food-truck services, like Marination Mobile in Seattle, which serves up scrumptious Hawaiian-Korean fusion fare.