It's a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit that the 'Openings and Closings' report in the American-Statesman's Food & Life section has seen about seven times more restaurant openings than closings this year. The scene is almost impossible to keep up with, not to mention catch up to.

In my first year as the newspaper's restaurant critic, I've visited more than 175 restaurants, cafes, food trailers, taco trucks and snow-cone stands. But there are still dozens of places to visit before I could reasonably declare an 'Austin Top 10' or name a 'Best Chef.' We'll save that for next time.

This Dining Guide will focus on what I've experienced so far: the Newcomer of the Year, 25 terrific dishes, notable restaurant comeback stories and brief reports on 100 of the steakhouses, sushi bars, pizzerias, cocktail revival halls and burger joints I've hit since I became the restaurant writer last November.