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Americans Are Willing to Spend Big for Outstanding Dining Experiences: Survey

An average of $203 across the country.

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How much would you be willing to pay for the meal of a lifetime? A recent Michelin survey asked Americans and found that most were willing to splurge for a once-in-a-lifetime gastronomic experience, according to a press release. The Harris Poll — sponsored by Michelin — surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults and found that Americans were willing to dish out an average of $203 for a special culinary feast.

Cynthia Ochterback, Michelin's U.S. travel guide editorial director, elaborated on the results, "We discovered across every demographic that American diners would be willing to pay a sizable sum to eat the best meal of their lives at a high-end restaurant." Eater asked Ochterback what is meant by "every demographic" since it's not within the realm of possibility for some Americans to even consider spending $100 or more for a meal. Michelin and Ochterback have not yet responded.

Michelin's survey found that millennials were willing to spend the most — an average of $282 — compared to those above 45 who offered to shell out between $122 and $170. It also found that men would pay $241 for a meal-of-a-lifetime, while women were a bit more frugal, willing to pay an average of $166. The survey also broke down the results geographically, finding that West Coast diners were willing to pay $352 on average, while Northeast diners offered up $182, Southerners $149, and those in the Midwest only $148. Unsurprisingly, one thing most Americans agreed upon was that they would want their meal to be "steakhouse cuisine", with "Italian" coming in at a close second.

As Eater's roving restaurant critic has noted before, there's never been a better time to dine in America. For those looking for a high-end dining experience, there's no shortage of restaurants to pick among, from traditional fine dining experiences like The French Laundry to chefs pushing the bar with molecular gastronomy at places like Alinea in Chicago.

Unfortunately, there are also restaurants that are raising their prices as a result of the higher demand for extravagant meals. Per Se — one of the most expensive restaurants in the country — plans a price hike for 2016 and four-star Semilla has also increased its prices in recent months. Other New York restaurants to join the list of price hikes are Jean-Georges with its sweeping views of Central Park, Le Bernardin — who raised its prices earlier this year — and even burger chain Shake Shack. However, for some of the top fine dining establishments in the country, food enthusiasts should head West to the Bay Area, decreed the best fine-dining destination in the country.