Zagat '09 Released: Keller Reclaims Top Spot From Danko

For the Bay Area, today marks Zagat Day 2009, which means that the usual publications have run their pieces (below) and the little burgundy book is currently being passed around offices and kitchens as we speak, because as much as Zagat has struggled to adapt to the changing media world, it's still relevant for many reasons. Namely, tourists tote it as a restaurant bible, and more than a few locals still abide by it as a guide and directory. In other words, good showings usually equal dollars. And of course, there's the bragging rights.

So what's new this year? Well, the entirely-muddled numerical system and silly quotes still persist, but you expected that. The big news is that Thomas Keller finally returned to his rightful throne atop the food rankings after a six-year run by Gary Danko. Actually Cyrus beat out Danko too, joining the French Laundry atop the list with a score of 29, though TFL supposedly beat Cyrus by a fraction of a point (fun with inexplicable Zagat numbers, everyone). Rounding out the next tier: Danko, Erna's Elderberry, Kaygetsu, Sierra Mar, Quince, La Foret, Marinus, the Ritz and Sushi Ran, all with scores of 28.

Further tidbits:

1) One restaurant that plummeted significantly in the food rankings: Hubert Keller's Fleur de Lys, which placed fifth last year with a score of 28, was bumped all the way down to the fourth tier (26th place, if our counting is correct) with a score of 26.

2) Curiosities in San Jose: La Foret cracked the top ten for the first since '04 while Manresa dropped five spots to 18th.

3) Aside from Keller's triumphant return to the top, other winners include Big Sur's Sierra Mar, which skyrocketed up to sixth place from nowhere andQuince, which also cracked the top ten. The House and Chapeau also fared well, placing in the top 20 with the big boys.

4) The Most Popular remained pretty much a mirror of years past, with Gary Danko leading the way once again. In fact, the top ten has the same restaurants as last year, aside from Chez Panisse replacing its cafe: Danko, Boulevard, Slanted Door, French Laundry, Michael Mina, Cyrus, Aqua, Delfina, Kokkari, Chez Panisse.

5) Other category winners include Garden Court for Best Decor, Seasons for Best Service, and Saigon Sandwiches usurped In-N-Out to take the Best Buys crown.

6) The average cost of a meal went up 4.4% to $38.70 this year, compared to $37.08 last year.
· French Laundry Wins for Food and Gary Danko for Popularity [MarketWatch]
· French Laundry, Cyrus top Zagat picks [Chron]
· Latest Zagat guide: San Jose restaurant cracks Top 10 [SJMN]
· San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants 2009 [Zagat]

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