Mr Pickles Bar and Eatery, Hamilton.

The finalists of Waikato’s Hospitality Awards have been announced, representing the region’s elite dining establishments as voted by the hospitality industry.

Riverside eatery Mr Pickles frequently featured, picking up five nominations for outstanding ambience and design, outstanding bartender, for Jackson White, outstanding chef, for Maurice Montero, and emerging chef for Harriet Boucher. Matthew Pedley, co-owner and Maitre d’ also received a nomination for local food hero.

The battle for the best restaurant was hotly contested for by Alpino Cambridge, Alpha St Kitchen & Bar, Palate, and Hayes Common, all picking up nominations. Not only are the finest establishments recognised, but also those nestled in rural settings. Cinnamon Café, Punnet, Red Kitchen, Te Awamutu and the Sugar Bowl Café all received nominations for the category of outstanding suburban/regional experiences.

Food was not the only focus here, great places to drink were also recognised, with some of the regions hottest bars competing for the coveted title of the best bar. Craft, Keystone Bar and Restaurant, the Helm Bar and Kitchen, and Wonder Horse all received nominations for this.

Foodies located in the Waikato community are also encouraged to participate in voting for the people’s choice award category. Voting is open until August 4th, and winners will be revealed at the awards evening on August 12th.

Restaurant Association CEO, Marisa Bidois, said, “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.”

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.

In addition to these nominations, a reminder to those based in Christchurch to get their votes in for their favourite dining establishments, as voting has just opened. Visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/ch2019_nominations to cast your vote.

For more information on the Waikato Awards, please visit www.hospitalityawards.co.nz/waikato.