OK, it's a fair question: Why would we print a guide to our favorite amazing eateries in the midst of an economic crisis? Haven't we heard about the oncoming depression?

Oh, believe us, we know. When money's tight, the last thing you want to do is spend big bucks on a mediocre meal. Luckily, the changes in the economy are a lot easier to swallow when you've got an incredible plate of house-cured meats or flourless chocolate cake in front of you. To make sure you get the most for your money in these trying times, we've spent the past two months eating our way across the city. We ditched a few restaurants that cost more than they should and replaced them with joints that deliver value over luxury. And, although our Restaurant of the Year, Sel Gris, definitely isn't cheap, we guarantee you chef Daniel Mondok's out-of-this-world food is worth every penny.

We've made a few other changes, too. Here's the rundown.

THE DIRECTORY We've done our best to make this year's guide indispensable. We want you to find it handy enough to keep in your glove box and refer to all year—olive oil smears be damned. We've provided more ways than ever to find a great meal. In these first pages our favorite restaurants are indexed alphabetically, by the days they're open and by the meals they serve.

THE MAP Every year readers write asking us to include a map of our favorite restaurants. Here you go.

RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR In addition to our favorite new restaurant, we honor the very best brunch, happy hour and dessert we tried this year.

LISTINGS We organized our reviews by cuisine this year, to make the guide more user-friendly. Restaurants that have opened since August 2007 are marked with a NEW icon.

HIGH FIVE Throughout the listings you'll find our top picks in 25 different categories. A few of these restaurants aren't in the top 100, but you can find their addresses on page 69.

RESERVATIONS Places that won't take a reservation for a four-top might as well not take them at all. The ones we've listed as taking reservations will hold a table for four or fewer.

NO-SHOWS Don't see your favorite restaurant here? Check our Cheap Eats guide next March (the 2008 guide is here) or our new Market Guide in April. If it's not there, we probably haven't heard of it. Send me your must-try tips at bwaterhouse@wweek.com. We'll head on over.

THE MONEY THING Every restaurant here has a dollar rating:

$ Inexpensive:most entrees under $15
$$ Moderate: most entrees under $20
$$$ Expensive: most entrees under $30
$$$$ Very expensive: most entrees more than $30

As always, while the hours we've listed are accurate as of Oct. 3, they are subject to change. So call before you go. And cheer up—after all, in this town we already grow our own food. We're ahead of the curve.

Happy eating,
— Ben Waterhouse, editor