Ed Greenwood's stuff is excellent…but not surprise as he started the Forgotten Realms. Pretty much anything by him is compelling, particularly for those who like high-magic and a bit of dry wit in their novels.
Elaine Cunnigham also has written some great stuff; but I would recommend more highly the stuff she did for the Harpers series than her Daughter of the Drow series, though both sets of books were excellent.
R.A. Salvatore, though his books have spawned countless Drizz't Do'Urden lame knock-offs, are still some of the best books in the Forgotten Realms. The battle scenes come to life and while occasionally you just want to smack Drizz't upside the head for being a bit too "lone wolf", the moral battles he fights are nonetheless interesting and realistic for a heroic character. He also wrote the Cleric Quintet (his first set of FR books), but I haven't read them yet.
Troy Denning has some excellent work as well; any book by him is worth picking up.
Speaking of Troy Denning, he, Ed Greenwood and Jeff Grubb teamed up for a trilogy called the The Cormyr Saga; it goes through the events leading up to the Cormyr found in the Forgetten Realms Campaign Setting (ie, the "current canon" Cormyr). It's a worthy send-off to the Cormyr of Second Edition and an exciting set of stories about knights, mages and kings, even if you've never heard of Cormyr before.
Of more recent work, I really enjoyed Richard Lee Byer's "Unclean"; it's the first book in a series called The Haunted Lands that is all about Thay and Szass Tam. While I wanted to see just a bit more Szass Tam in the book, I found his other characters compelling as well; it paints a picture of Thay as being more than a playground for evil wizards, showing how people besides the Red Wizards get by in Thay.
Finally, The Last Mythal trilogy inspired my latest character, Aramuil Holimion; an excellent series if you are interested in elves, magic in the Realms, demons or all of the above. It doesn't hurt that he was a New York Times bestseller BEFORE coming to the Realms.