Is Zagat's better than restaurant reviews?

Joined Aug 23, 2000
Fie on the perfidious reviewer. Isn't Zagat's the answer, whereby a multitude of diners fill out surveys on a place, offer pithy comments, and the editors average them out and offer them to consumers?

The idea being it's what you'd get if you asked a bunch of knowlegeable friends for recommendations.

I've used the LA and NYC ones, with largely excellent results. What's your opinions of their:
1. usefulness
2. accuracy
3. possible superiority over restaurant reviewers?
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Mixed~ when I visit a city I will usually get several different books on dining, and at least one local mag. Check references in other periodicals....Zagat is not one of my favorite sources..many times mediocrity rules.
Joined Aug 23, 2000
Danielle: Zagat's is a by-the-diners rating setup. Customers rate places on a scale of 1 to 30 on various aspects of the place and offer comments. In practice the highest score I've seen is a 28, never seen a 30.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
Although Zagat's is my favorite dining guide when checking out where I want to dine in cities (or when looking for a job), will then find reviews on those restaurants I am interested in, that have more depth to them. Zagat's doesn't give a whole lot of detail about the restaurants in its guide. And though I usually find that the reviews on pretty right on, often times they are way off. Remember, its the public that reviews these restaurants, not professional critics.
Joined Mar 9, 2000

I just read an article by a New York reviewer that ripped Zagat to shreds. He feels there is politics and bias involved. Would you like me to send you a copy of the article? Sometimes an opposing viewpoint can shed light on a matter.

[This message has been edited by chefjohnpaul (edited 12-17-2000).]
Joined Aug 23, 2000
chefjohnpaul: I would very much like to see the article, thank you.

I should make clear that I'm not trying to flog Zagat's, just ask people in the restaurant biz where they find it stacking up vs. reviewers.

I've heard complaints that since anyone can send in their form to be included in the Zagat's data it's 1. open to manipulation 2. heavily weighted by buzz
Joined Aug 23, 2000
chefjohnpaul sent along an article (Nov 2000 Commentary, at, can't link to it but can be found under back issues) that pretty well chiffonades Zagats, at least as a reliable instrument.

The author writes: "Perhaps most surprising of all, respondents to the Zagat survey are not required to document—through, for example, copies of receipts—that they have actually eaten the meals they claim to be evaluating. The survey’s voting controls consist only of computer programs that scan for major irregularities and discrepancies, which would hardly prevent a shut-in living in Bozeman, Montana from voting in the New York survey. Nor is there anything to prevent determined people from voting multiple times for their friends’ restaurants, evaluating restaurants visited long ago or ranked according to the opinions of others, or engaging in conduct calculated to teach a restaurant a lesson—or make it number one. Online voting, recently introduced, will no doubt make it even easier to cast fictitious and/or ill-considered ballots."

Then it gets worse...

The author also notes in a postscript that part of the reasons Zagats is popular is for the dearth of good food criticism...

[This message has been edited by Live_to_cook (edited 12-18-2000).]
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