AAA revamps restaurant ratings to focus more on food

AAA has revamped its diamond rating guidelines for restaurants to reflect a growing consumer focus on food preparation and ingredients.

It's the first time the travel club has made a change to the ratings since 2009. AAA, which has approved and rated about 30,000 restaurants in North America, said the changes include heavier weighting on aspects like food sourcing, while putting less stock in a restaurant's atmosphere.

"Diners are more educated than ever before about food trends, preparation styles and ingredient sourcing. They are eager to interact with knowledgeable wait staff and culinary experts, learning how dishes are prepared and where ingredients originate. As the focus continues to shift in this direction, formalities such as opulent decor and place settings are becoming less important," AAA's Michael Petrone said in a statement.

Under the new ranking system, food-related scores now account for half of a restaurant's diamond rating.

Restaurants are assigned a diamond rating of one to five after an on-site evaluation by an AAA inspector. Basic cleanliness, comfort and hospitality requirements need to be met to be AAA-approved. Just 0.2 percent of restaurants get a five-diamond rating. In Chicago, there are only six with that designation: Acadia, Alinea, Everest, Grace, Tru and Sixteen, in the Trump International Hotel & Tower.

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