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Hot trends and food photos: Zagat reveals all in latest dining survey
September 13, 2016
We all know social media has become an important part of the food world, and Zagat’s latest National Dining Trends survey shows just how influential it can be. According to the survey, 60% of avid diners across the U.S. say they browse food photos on social media, and among them, 75% say they have picked a place to eat based on these photos alone. From trendy foods to dining deal-breakers, the survey uncovers the habits and preferences of nearly 10,000 avid restaurant goers across the nation, highlighting 26 U.S. cities.
Not only are food-obsessed American diners scrolling through their feeds to check out the latest food shots, but they have no qualms about snapping their own photos while at restaurants. Almost half of diners nationally (44%) say that they take food photos when dining out to share on social media, with the most likely food photographers hailing from Charleston, San Diego (both 53%), Austin, Miami and Orlando (all 51%). In fact, 19% say they have picked a place to eat just so they can take their own food photos.
Once they’re at the restaurant, diners are so focused on getting the perfect shot that 60% admit to stopping dining companions from eating so they can take food photos. 50% say they have taken photos of every dish at the table and 5% have even asked another table if they can photograph their dish. It doesn’t come without consequence though as 8% of those who take food photos to share on social media say they have even dropped their phone on their meal trying to get the perfect shot. Check, please!
When it’s time to post those hard-earned pictures to social media, 41% of diners say they do so right at the table, 34% say they post later that night/from the comfort of their bed, 14% say they do it on the way home, 10% save them for #tbt or later, and 1% admit slipping into the restroom during the meal. Foodie photographers in Detroit and San Antonio (both 58%) are most likely to post photos at the table.
Which foods have been showing up the most in your social media feed? Trendy foods on the rise this year include avocado toast, according to 33% of respondents who say they “love it,” which is up from 24% last year. Other trendy foods feeling the love are ramen (31%, up from 26% last year), Sriracha, and pork belly (both 31%). Honolulu diners are the biggest fans of ramen (53% say they “love it”) while Angelenos are having a moment with avocado toast (41%). Orlando diners are hip to quinoa (34% “love it” vs. 28% nationally) and a quarter of New York respondents say they “love” cauliflower rice.
Other trendy foods are so yesterday. Food mashups (i.e. cronut, ramen burger) are on their way out according to the 38% of diners nationally who say they are “over it.” Those most fed up with the trend are respondents in Seattle (50%). The top pet peeve (or dining deal-breaker) that would stop people from dining at a particular restaurant is a cash-only policy (38%), followed closely by communal tables, no-substitution policy (both 33%), reservation-only policy (20%), no-reservation policy (19%), no photos allowed (13%) and none of the above (25%). Diners in Charlotte are the most annoyed by a cash-only policy (50%) and Houston diners detest no-substitutions (48%).
Knowing where your food comes from is still hugely important according to 73% of diners nationally who say Farm-to-table-dining is a much-loved restaurant practice. Those in Portland, OR are amongst the highest proponents in the nation (79%) and those in Charlotte are at the lower end of the spectrum (68%).
When it comes to trends in mixology, respondents are loving fresh juices in cocktails (63%), but the jury is split on fancy ice in cocktails; 25% say they “love it” and 25% say they are “over it.” The other half don’t mind it or have no opinion.
Additional findings: When asked if they would ever pay their restaurant bill with a mobile payment app, 66% of diners say “Yes, I’ve done it, or I would” while 34% say “No,” compared to 59% and 41% last year respectively. When it comes to asking to charge their phone in a bar or restaurant, 41% of diners nationally say “Yes, I’ve done it, or I would.” New Yorkers are the most likely to do this (56%) and those in Honolulu are the least (29%). Almost 1 in 5 respondents (17%) admit they have or would lie about it being a special occasion in order to get a freebie while 14% have or would fake a food allergy to get a dish modified to their liking. If it feels like everyone today is a foodie, well it should.
According to the survey, 77% of respondents consider themselves to be foodies -- 41% say they are secretly foodies, but hate the term while the other 36% say “yes, with my fork on my sleeve!” For more information on the latest National Dining Trends survey, check out
Posted By: Tiffany Herklots, Zagat
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