On Tuesday Zagat (the skinny burgundy restaurant guides that rhyme with "the cat") released the 2012 America's Top Restaurants Survey, covering 1,578 of the top restaurants in 45 U.S. markets.
In the Tampa/Sarasota market, Beach Bistro in Holmes Beach took top honors (it has appeared on the "top restaurants" list for a number of years), followed by Tampa's Pane Rustica, Bern's Steak House, Restaurant B.T., Armani's and Mise en Place; Clearwater's Café Ponte; Longboat Key's Maison Blanche; and Sarasota's Bijou Café.
In a list of "other noteworthy places" newcomers Ciro's Speakeasy & Supper Club and the Refinery in Tampa, as well as Owen's Fish Camp in Sarasota, join longtime favorites Bonefish Grill, Ceviche, Columbia Restaurant, Derek's Culinary Casual (Sarasota), Michael's On East (Sarasota), Salt Rock Grill and SideBern's in the 2012 edition.
This year's survey incorporates the votes of more than 156,000 local diners who dined out an estimated 25 million times in the past year.
In addition to the top restaurants, the survey offers statistics on national comparisons for average meal costs, percent tips and other diner habits. Of those surveyed in Central Florida, diners leave an average 19.5 percent tip (higher than the national average of 19.2 percent) and eat out 3.4 times per week (the national average is 3.1 times).