Tasting Table Unearths Which Dining Experience Is The Best - Exclusive Survey

When dinner time rolls around, what's the best way to enjoy it? Eating in or dining out? Do you look forward to dressing up to the nines and eating at a fancy restaurant? Or is putting on a record, uncorking a bottle of wine, and cooking a nice meal at home more your style? Home cooks and professional chefs alike debate the choice.

As the Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten herself puts it, "I'd like to think that when I invite friends to my house, they know what I'm really saying is, "I love you; come for dinner." Indeed, there's nothing quite like a cozy homemade meal. But on the flip side, after a long day at work, chef Kristen Kish doesn't really enjoy cooking for herself, and others feel the same way. Sitting down to dinner at a restaurant might be more to their liking.

Admittedly, it's a tough call. If food is such a special thing that our entire platform at Tasting Table is dedicated to it, then the dining experience itself must be just as special. That's why we asked 626 readers about their preferences to find out, once and for all, which dining experience is the best — and the results are in. (Keep reading to see where your favorite is ranked.)

Foodies are flocking to restaurants

First up, 4.79% of our respondents said they prefer eating at the bar, which is about as varied a dining experience as they come. Eating at the bar can mean grabbing a burger and watching the game at casual eateries, such as the best dive bars in Nashville. Or it means enjoying $2 oysters during happy hour at seafood spots like Sel Rrose in Manhattan.

Next up, 15.50% of readers favor eating outside of a restaurant. This isn't surprising, given that the alfresco dining scene is popping off nationwide at places like Chicago's rock 'n roll bar Mother's Ruin, French bistro Le Petit Triangle Cafe in Cleveland, Ohio, and beachfront restaurant 1 Pico in Santa Monica, California. Coming in at second place: Home cooks, rise up. 37.38% of survey participants said their favorite dining experience is eating at home.

Without further ado, in first place, the most favored dining experience is eating inside a restaurant. According to 42.33% of participants, or 265 people, when they want to enjoy a meal, they're visiting a restaurant for it. Judging by recent traffic trends, it looks like more people are opting to dine in these days. 75% of U.S. adults said they feel comfortable going to a restaurant or cafe in April, up from 60% about a year ago, per a Morning Consult study.