ADDRESS:   130 Quay St, Auckland CBD
MAINS:   $22 – $90
CONTACT:   09 242 1570
SCORE:   16.5 / 20

Beyond the stunning brick- and-tile work suggesting a traditional Andalusian kitchen is a fiery menu, backed up by the contents of an impressive bar with a separate gin list. And it’s open from mid-morning to night. What more could you ask for? Jo Pearson – ex-executive chef of Hipgroup’s stellar collective (Amano, Ortolana, The Store and more) – reigns. That means you are in safe and seasoned hands. Pearson’s travels have taken her around the world in the interests of research. She brings back all she’s absorbed and applies it with finesse in Tāmaki Makaurau. At Alma, that means skilful cooking over an open fire with great knowledge of, and respect for, fresh flavours and provenance. In Pearson’s hands, nothing is average; every dish is elevated. This is innovative food that still includes a nod to the Spanish classics.

IN BRIEF: The Andalusian queen of the quay