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Zagat tips: Texans eat out 20 percent more than any other state; Houston's No. 1 restaurant is . . .

Courtesy of Zagat
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Mark's American Cuisine Courtesy of Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
News_Marene Gustin_Tasty Valentine_Mark's American Cuisine interior
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Texans might have tightened their pocketbooks during the recent recession, but they sure didn't tighten their belts.

Houston once again leads the nation in dining out, according to the Zagat Texas Survey, released Tuesday. Overall Texans eat out 20 percent more than residents of any other state — an average of 3.8 times per week compared to 3.1 times per week nationally. But no city eats out more than Houston, whose residents patronize restaurants an average of 4.1 times per week.

Houston was also the top dining city in 2010 and 2011 — with food this good, can you blame us?

One reason Houstonians can afford to indulge? According to the survey, the average cost of a meal in Texas, at $32.17, is roughly 10 percent below the national average of $35.62 despite the fact that 31 percent of the 3,500 Texans responding to the survey said they are spending more on meals this year.

The Zagat survey restaurant ranking featured plenty of Houston's old guard restaurants, with Da Marco climbing to the top of the ranking in food, with a score of 29 out of 30. Perennials Mark's (No. 3) and Pappas Bros. Steakhouse (No. 4) also made the top five for food, but in French fare Humble's Chez Nous replaces Le Mistral in the No. 2 spot and Kanomwan fell off the list, making room for Nino's.

In dècor and service, Brennan's of Houston earned the top spot, joined by Vic & Anthony's, among the top five on both lists.

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