Dining in New Orleans always has been big, but these days, it's been growing and changing like we've never seen.

How to take it all in, to explore what's new and to still enjoy what's timeless and essential to our city's unique culinary life? This dining guide is designed to answer that call.

Our Essential 100 shows the rich diversity of great dining options across styles and price in our city. These are the top picks I would give a friend seeking advice or to any New Orleans newcomer eager to learn why our restaurant community is so special.

The categories follow below. For more on how the Essential 100 were selected, click here.

MODERN AMERICAN/CASUAL

FDG American/Casual

MODERN AMERICAN/UPSCALE

FDG modern american/upscale

SANDWICHES

FDG sandwiches

SEAFOOD

FDG seafood

SOUTHERN

FDG southern

CREOLE/CONTEMPORARY

FDG creole/contemporary

BREAKFAST

FDG breakfast

VIETNAMESE

FDG Vietnamese

STEAKHOUSE

FDG steakhouse

SPANISH

FDG spanish NEW

PO-BOYS

FDG po-boys

MIDDLE EASTERN

FDG Middle Eastern

THE NEW ORLEANS NEIGHBORHOOD EATERY

FDG new orleans neighborhood eatery

PIZZA

FDG pizza

MEXICAN

FDG Mexican

LATIN AMERICAN

FDG Latin American

ITALIAN

FDG Italian

BAR & LOUNGE

FDG bar & lounge

JAPANESE 

FDG japanese

FRENCH

FDG French

CREOLE CLASSIC

FDG Creole Classic

CAJUN

FDG cajun

CHINESE

FDG Chinese

BURGERS

FDG burgers

BARBECUE

FDG barbecue

CREOLE ITALIAN

FDG creole italian

Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.