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Recommended Without Reservations

Like most people, you probably have your own list of "best restaurants" -- the places you depend on for an extra special meal, to celebrate with family and friends, to entertain clients, to recommend to others. Whether it's the menu, the service or the atmosphere, those restaurants draw you back again and again. It's easy to know the best places to eat in your hometown, but when you're on the road, it helps to have a recommendation from someone who knows the local flavors.

Robert Tolf, Florida Trend's restaurant editor, is someone who knows just about all there is to know about the restaurant scene in Florida. In our fourth edition of the Great Florida Restaurant Guide -- presented free to subscribers along with this issue of Florida Trend -- you're getting his recommendations on the top 500 restaurants in cities and towns all across the state.

The guide's easy-to-use digest size and regional format will help you find a great place to eat when you're traveling in Florida for business or pleasure. And we know you do a lot of both -- dining out and traveling. Our most recent research study found that Florida Trend subscribers eat in a restaurant an average of 21 times each month and take an average of 17 business or vacation trips each year.

In addition to the listings of the top 500 restaurants, the guide includes the list of 25 restaurants that rated top recognition as the prestigious Golden Spoon Award winners for 2005.

We've been presenting Golden Spoon Awards every year since 1967, and our shiny Golden Spoon plaques are on the walls of only the very best restaurants from Pensacola to Key West. I'm always delighted to see them in restaurants I visit because I know I can expect a delicious meal. Longtime winners of the Golden Spoon are featured in the Golden Spoon Hall of Fame (see page 4 in the guide).

And because there's always something new and exciting on the restaurant scene, be sure to check out Tolf's list of 20 best new restaurants and his menu of "Chain Favorites" -- Bonefish Grill, Bahama Breeze, Morton's of Chicago and 17 other chain operations featured on page 19 in the guide.

To help make your selections even easier, the listings include information on cuisine, suggested attire, average check amount, reservation policy and credit cards accepted.

The Great Florida Restaurant Guide is a great resource to share with business associates, friends new to the state or those just visiting. If you'd like additional copies for your own use or to share with others, call 800/829-9103 for more information. And when you're online, visit www.FloridaTrend.com and click "Restaurant Guide" for web links to Golden Spoon Award winners and select restaurants, including the 48 restaurants whose advertisements appear in the guide.

Of course you don't have be a restaurant critic to recognize a great restaurant when you find it, so please share your recommendations. The ballot on page 1 of the guide is your opportunity to make nominations for next year's Golden Spoon Awards and tell us about new restaurants you've discovered. As always, your feedback is important to us, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Bon appetit!

Lynda Keever can be reached by e-mail at LKeever@floridatrend.com.