The finalists have been announced in the Waikato Hospitality awards and represent the top-notch dining establishments in the region as voted by the hospitality industry.

Famed for its charcuterie platters in a riverside setting, new eatery Mr Pickles picks up five nominations for outstanding ambience and design, outstanding bartender for Jackson White, outstanding chef for Maurice Montero and emerging chef for Harriet Boucher. Maître d’ and co-owner Matthew Pedley also receives a nomination for local food hero.

Neighbourhood eateries steal the show in the battle for best restaurant with Alpino Cambridge, Alpha St Kitchen & Bar and Hayes Common all nominated.

They’re up against stiff competition however with fine dining establishment, Palate taking the final nomination. Hospitality establishments in rural settings are also recognised in the category of outstanding suburban/regional experience with Cinnamon Café, Punnet, Red Kitchen, Te Awamutu and the Sugar Bowl Café all receiving nominations.

Those looking for a place to get a great drink won’t be disappointed with the region’s growing assortment of top notch bars recognised. Craft, Keystone Bar and Restaurant the Helm Bar and Kitchen and Wonder Horse all receive nominations for the title of Best Bar.

The Waikato community is also able to vote for its favourite establishment in the People’s Choice Award category.

Fifteen awards will be handed out to the best of the Waikato hospitality industry. From crew members, to suppliers, to establishments – the best of the best will be celebrated for their contribution to creating a world-class hospitality scene in the region.

CEO Marisa Bidois says, “With almost half of Hamilton’s population being under 30 and home to more than 80 different ethnic groups, it’s no surprise that the region is able to offer some of the nation’s most diverse and exciting places to drink and dine.

“The awards are really an opportunity to recognise those providing an exceptional experience to the dining community and spread the word about the amazing places there are to drink and eat in the region.”

Voting is open until Sunday, 4th August and the winners will be revealed at the awards evening on Monday 12th August.

Presented by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, Waikato Food Inc. and Lexis ComplyHub, the Waikato Hospitality Awards were created to celebrate the legendary people and businesses bringing first class dining experiences to the region.

Tickets to the event are on sale now, to purchase or for more information regarding the awards please visit

Voting links are here for industry and here for people’s choice.

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