WASHINGTON – The average American eats 4.8 meals per week in restaurants or 249 total restaurant meals per year (both dining in and carry out), according to the first LivingSocial "Dining Out" survey of consumer behavior. Conducted in August among 4,000 online Americans by Mandala Research, the survey also revealed the following facts about eating habits, culinary choices and favorite foods:
- The most popular restaurant meal is lunch, with 2.6 eaten on average each week (both carryout and dining), followed by sit down dinners (1.4 per week) and brunch/breakfast (.8 per week).
- Nearly half of respondents (45 percent) described themselves as "meat lovers," 22 percent as a "sweet tooth" and 19 percent as "fast food junkies." Only 18 percent described themselves as "health nuts" and 5 percent as "vegetarians or vegans."
- More than one in three respondents (35 percent) described themselves as "experimental eaters," 25 percent as "foodies," and 11 percent as "locavores." Only 4 percent regularly eat at the growing number of food trucks in major cities.
When respondents were asked to rank their city's dining scene, New York, Chicago and San Francisco finished in the top three slots. Houston, Dallas and Washington, DC rounded out the top six. The worst dining out cities in the US were Seattle, Sacramento and in last place – Detroit.
Four types of restaurants dominate the eating scene with the survey responders saying they frequently eat Italian (65 percent), Mexican (62 percent), Chinese (59 percent) and pizza (58 percent) more than 22 other types of cuisine.
Regional favorites were also strong: Bostonians backed their Irish roots with Irish cuisine, Atlantans like delis, many Detroit residents enjoy Middle Eastern food and many people in Seattle enjoy Vietnamese food.
When asked which new type of restaurant they'd most recently tried, Thai finished on top, beating out 25 other types of cuisine. Outside of the big four, the other top finishers among new cuisines tried by respondents included seafood, Sushi, Greek, BBQ and Indian foods.
LA residents are more likely to describe themselves as "fast food junkies" than residents of any other major U.S. city. More Los Angeles respondents said they sit down for brunch or breakfast than in other major city.
New Yorkers rank their city the best in the country for its dining scene. They also consider themselves the "most experimental" eaters in the country and top "foodies." The city also ranks first among Italian eateries visited by diners.
When asked to describe their eating habits, more Capitol City diners say they don't eat meat than in any other metropolis polled. The city also leads the nation in residents who enjoy Ethiopian cuisine.
Minneapolis-St. Paul respondents revealed they eat out fewer times a week than residents in any other major US city. The Twin Cities also ranked last among residents who eat out on dates.