Good problems to have are still problems, as the food lovers of New Orleans know so well these days. Dining around this city is a sumptuous pleasure. But picking the destination can be vexing. It’s only grown more difficult as so many new restaurants keep opening, bringing so many different cuisines, flavors and trends for our consideration.

That’s why this guide is designed to help you get to the heart of the matter, with 120 recommendations across the metro area. For each selection here, I tried to address two questions: why each restaurant is compelling, and why it might answer the particular need or occasion that brings you to the table.

They’re arranged by neighborhood and selected for a combination of variety in style and price. They range from restaurants that perfectly capture the essence of fine dining to walk-up stands that could be ideal for your appetite at the right place and time. Throughout, you’ll find breakout lists for best bets in more specific categories and a grid for my top picks for certain dining needs by neighborhood.

There are many new restaurants included here. But none are less than 3 months old, a threshold for consideration that does leave out some exciting new prospects, like Shaya, Kin, Angeline and Sac-a-Lait, to name just a few. Also, some restaurants I might otherwise have included here were scratched in light of recent chef shuffles. We’ll revisit them again once the changes have a chance to settle in.

None of this should suggest that restaurants not found here are somehow unworthy of your time. But this is my current short list. What each place included here shares is my confidence in its consistency and its ability to deliver on the promise of its particular niche.

I have designed this guide as a user’s manual for the incredibly rich and varied dining scene we enjoy in New Orleans. Of course it reflects my own experiences and opinions and, to some degree my tastes. Throughout the project, however, I have strived to ensure that it reflects the way New Orleans actually dines out today and shows the variety, inventiveness and tradition that give our restaurant community such life.

With any restaurant recommendation, I hope to get a post-meal report to learn how the pick worked out. When you have feedback, you can always get in touch at imcnulty@theadvocate.com.

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.