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Eating out: What you'll pay in 15 cities
Your tab for dinner can differ wildly depending on your location.
December 22, 2005: 8:38 AM EST
By Jeanne Sahadi, senior writer

NEW YORK ( 'Tis the season to overeat and to overspend on all those meals out with friends and family.

A recent Zagat survey ranked 12 major U.S. cities and three major international ones, according to the average cost per meal out. The survey also measured the average meal cost at the 20 priciest restaurants in each city.

New York takes the No. 1 spot in the United States. An average meal in Gotham costs $37.61, while your tab for a meal at the most expensive restaurants will average $112.49.

San Francisco, at No. 2, isn't far behind. An average meal there costs $35.52, but you get a much better deal at the top spots relative to New York, since swank meals in the Bay Area average a mere $85.27.

The survey also ranks New Orleans at No. 12, though the survey was conducted before Hurricane Katrina struck and included many places that were devastated by the storm.

The bills at restaurants in all 12 U.S. cities, while hardly cheap, are dwarfed by the tabs at restaurants in Tokyo, London and Paris.

In Tokyo, expect to pay an average of $70.64 for dinner out, and $181.08 for a meal at a top restaurant.

In London, an average meal out will run you $67.69. But you'll enjoy a relative bargain for those high-end meals compared with Tokyo diners because you'll only need to fork over an average of $142.40.

Keep in mind, if one drink at dinner is just a warm-up for you, you probably will pay much more than the survey suggests. The meal costs compiled by Zagat's include only one beverage and the tip.

And speaking of tipping, even though New York tops the U.S. chart for highest average dining costs, it ranks as No. 8 when it comes to leaving money on the table.

Philadelphia earns the No. 1 spot, with diners there paying wait-staff an average of 19.2 percent.  Top of page

What you'll pay to eat in 15 cities
Major U.S. cities Average meal cost Average meal cost
at 20 priciest restaurants
New York $37.61 $112.49
San Francisco $35.52 $85.27
Las Vegas $34.60 $70.67
Miami $34.41 $65.52
Washington, D.C. $33.26 $68.94
Chicago $31.64 $79.51
Los Angeles $31.21 $69.29
Philadelphia $30.91 $65.99
Boston $28.88 $62.13
Seattle $25.56 $62.12
Atlanta $24.72 $55.70
New Orleans $24.45 $52.76
12-city average $31.06 $70.87
National average $32.60 $66.81
International cities    
Tokyo $70.64 $181.08
London $67.69 $142.40
Paris $62.97 $174.19
Average $67.10 $165.89
Source: Zagat's 2006 America's Top Restaurants Survey
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