66-68 Tyler St, Britomart, Auckland
09 394 1416
Big, busy and opulently dressed, Amano offers stylish Italian-themed dishes from a produce-driven menu and serves as a great all-day spot. A good mix of Italian and New Zealand wines are on offer, too, with a sizeable Italian aperitif selection all delivered with brisk and efficient service.

7-12 Fergusson St, Feilding
06 323 2797
This regional fine-dining establishment, run by husband- and-wife team Jenni and Andrew May, serves up meat dishes in the starring roles, such as peppered venison tenderloin with smoked mussels, or sous vide lamb. The surrounds are warm and inviting providing guests with an environment full of wellbeing.

333 Parnell Rd, Parnell, Auckland
09 379 8756
One of the longest-standing fine-dining establishments Auckland has to offer, Antoine’s has been delivering excellent cuisine for an impressive 40 years. Chef/owner Tony Astle hosts a nostalgic menu with signature dishes of beef carpaccio and steak tartare or the marinated snapper with smoked avocado cream and tomato chilli relish. A special place for a special occasion.

76a Golf Course Rd, Wanaka
03 443 2299
In a French-inspired bistro with a stunning vista overlooking the Southern Alps, head chef Mario Rodrigues provides a full dinner service with some of the best ingredients Central Otago has to offer – think Ōra King salmon served alongside superb wines from Wanaka-based and family- owned Maude winery. This is destination dining at its finest.

Black Barn Rd, Havelock North,
06 877 7985
The charming establishment has an open fireplace around which to enjoy the skillful creations of exec chef Henry Gordon and Chef Jason Brown. Baked Ōra King salmon sits on a bed of onion and labne. An excellent selection of Black Barn and other wines.

17 Marine Parade, Queenstown,
03 442 6994
This restaurant with its lush interiors and multiple fireplaces is a welcoming place indeed on the Queenstown waterfront. The menu is large and suitably meat orientated with particular reverence given to the steak selection. Fish and seafood make decent appearances too and executive chef, Thomas Barta, does justice to them all.

2/478 Cranford St, Papanui, Christchurch,
03 352 7784
Oversized doors swing open to present a dining room illuminated by glass chandeliers. Here a simple choice awaits: a five, seven or nine-course dégustation menu created by chef Darren Wright and expertly paired with wines. Plates present a journey around the main protein: salmon with a silky skordalia, heightened with an extra umami hit from crumbled mussel roe and spiked by acidic miner leaves.

91 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell, Auckland
09 303 9660
Cibo, boasting some 25 years in the business, is testament to restaurants that understand the terms of service required to last this long. The food is upmarket, with an Asian flavour running through much of the cuisine, though still cooked in a European bistro style – such as the duck-leg confit and seared/baked duck breast with baby carrots, pear and kimchi. The wine list is long and caters nicely for expense-account lunches and the well-heeled alike.

376 Karangahape Rd, Auckland
09 300 7582
Owners Renee and Damaris Coulter describe this as a simple neighbourhood restaurant serving home-style Italian food. And that it is, from the homely atmosphere to the perfectly prepared pasta. Seasonal delights feature on the menu too, providing unexpected flavours among more-classical dishes. Food is both delicious and unpretentious.

375 Karangahape Rd, Auckland
09 394 1555
Fresh pasta and bare wooden tables are a match made in heaven and this rustically charming venue is as fun and noisy as the food is fresh and packed with flavour. Ravioli is filled with richly flavoured shredded duck and paired with a simple artichoke purée. The wine is a nice mix of Italian and local.

1 Tees St, South Hill,Oamaru
03 434 5696
Using aspects of their South American/Italian and Spanish heritage, owners Yanina and Pablo Tacchini have brought a little of their own culture to Oamaru through their bistro- inspired establishment. The unique menu features a large selection of daily-made fresh pastas alongside such favourites as empanadas and seafood paellas and the stronger flavours of Argentinian meats.

25 Tory St, Wellington,
04 384 3288
A stalwart on the Wellington yum cha scene, Dragons has arguably one of the best Chinese food offerings in the capital. As you might expect, dumplings feature heavily on the yum cha lunch and dinner à la carte menus but also expect to see dishes such as crispy roasted pork, duck pancake wraps and plenty of delectable seafood dishes.

11 Egmont St, Wellington,
04 801 6891
Offering edgy but familiar food, this eatery is well suited to its surrounds in a sleekly converted carpark tucked down a laneway. Championing worthy ideals, butchery is done on site and the whole beast is used. Produce is locally sourced and fermentation and preservation aid in a zero-waste objective. A welcoming spot for dining.

Shed 22, Princes Wharf, Auckland
09 309 9866
In an absolute waterfront position in central Auckland, Euro has seen its fair share of diners. The wine list is expansive and the food is tried and tested, offering well- established favourites such  as freshly shucked oysters, beef tartare, scotch fillet and lamb rump. In summer be sure to get an outdoor table to see Auckland at its best.

86 Federal St, Auckland,
09 363 7184
Al Brown’s take on an old- school, New York-Jewish deli boasts a mighty fine matzo ball soup. Other usual suspects on the menu include goulash, pastrami, pickles, bagels and sandwiches, all served in a casual drop-in environment. Save room for the ‘famous on Fed’ NY cheesecake served with cream and strawberries.

7 Beach St, Queenstown,
03 442 6768
With a passion for seafood, owner Darren Lovell sources the freshest South Island fish for his always busy Queenstown favourite, Fishbone. The menu features clams, pāua, prawns, crayfish and mussels to name only a few of the seafood options. But you get the picture. It’s seafood at its best. Desserts are also excellent and the wine list is well honed.

The Old Jetty, Moeraki,
03 439 4480
Fleur Sullivan bases her food on premium local ingredients. She is best known for her fish and seafood, but also promotes lamb and beef from hand-picked farms. Letting the excellence of the ingredients shine, she favours simple cooking techniques and honest presentation, all in line with the rustic barn-like charm from which she serves the food.

Shop 15-16, St Kevin’s Arcade,Auckland
09 600 1545
In a trendy off-street-dining establishment located just off K Road, one stumbles upon Lebanese home cooking at its best. The generous food is served in perfect sharing portions, well-cooked and singing with great Middle Eastern flavours – hummus is silken in consistency and tabbouleh is vibrantly packed with fresh herbs.

85-87 Customs St, Viaduct Harbour, Auckland
09 358 1093
The latest offering from Simon Gault, Giraffe celebrates the best of New Zealand food with modern European-inspired cuisine made with ingredients from local producers and growers wherever possible. The result is a daily-changing menu brimming with the choicest cuts of red meats and seafood. The wine list has plenty to offer with a large assortment available by the glass.

141 Manners St, Te Aro,Wellington
04 384 5755,
Specialising in Anglo-Indian cuisine, this centrally located restaurant dishes up some of the best curries in town. Flavours are created through fragrant spices hand-blended by the in-house chefs. The traditional plates of rogan josh, vindaloo and butter chicken are in play alongside some more original Indian delicacies such as Goan pork and venison curry.

Cnr Customs St East and Gore St, Auckland
09 379 1860,
Michelin-starred chef Marc de Passorio melds French cuisine with the best local ingredients at the flagship restaurant of the SO/Auckland hotel by Sofitel. An amuse bouche blends earthy mushroom flavours with local horopito and the signature dish, vodka crayfish, is worth the talk. As is often the case with the French, the desserts are exceptional.

The Ferry Building, First Floor, 99 Quay St, Auckland,
09 307 0556
This glamorous restaurant occupies prime real estate overlooking Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour and idyllic views provide an excellent setting to enjoy top-notch seafood. Kingfish is filleted to perfection and cooked to its best. Expect to see clams, pāua and crayfish too. And, if seafood is not for you, there’s plenty of meat and game on offer.

87 Federal St, Auckland,
09 363 6699
This restaurant delivers excellent Chinese food served in a setting with a hint of showmanship: Peking ducks swing from the ceiling while fresh crayfish swim none too merrily in large tanks. Of the sharing dishes, the dim sum is hard to go past. Bite-sized handcrafted wontons and dumplings are encased in flawlessly executed translucent skins.

67 Shortland St, Auckland,
09 320 4387
Offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, head chef Alfie Ingham provides accessible food with a twist. Breakfast might see smashed broad beans and chilli, while lunch and dinner offer bistro food indicative of the season – think spanner crab on soft polenta. Good service and wine follow suit and the plush chairs are so comfortable one could stay all day.

2 Dunmore St, Wanaka,
03 443 6536
In the heart of Wanaka, Kika serves up modern Italian fare tapas style. Plates are designed for sharing, or there is a ‘just feed me’ option with a main, two sides and a dessert. This might include a crisp, light, puffed panelle sitting atop whisked rosemary aioli, shavings of culatello, slivers of almonds and a scattering of deep-fried chickpeas, in a masterfully created traditional peasant-styled dish. The chocolate mousse cake is perfectly balanced somewhere between sweet and bitter.

181 Cuba St, Wellington,
04 384 2213
Seasonal and ever changing are the key components of the menu at Loretta. Nourishing dishes in winter with hearty pies and stews and vibrantly flavoured salads across the warmer months are always delicious. Dessert is a high point with a vast array of flans, tarts and cakes on display.

178 Hurstmere Rd, Takapuna,
Auckland, 09 488 9976,
This North Shore eatery serves up a modern and unique interpretation on Filipino cuisine. A tapas, main or set-sharing menu provide an eye-wateringly good read and offer an array of the choicest proteins – think crispy pork belly or 10-hour braised beef cheeks. If in doubt, the signature dish, ‘taco pao’, serves up beetroot buns filled with sticky pulled pork plus assorted condiments and will leave you with a smile on your face.

7 Balmacewen Rd, Māori Hill,Dunedin
03 464 0064
With a neighbourhood feel, this eatery serves up bistro-styled fare – comfort food cooked using classic techniques. The décor puts comfort at the forefront too and the dining room is a warm, inviting, rustic space. Vegetables come straight from the on-site garden and plenty of great Central Otago wines feature on the wine list.

132 Cuba St, Te Aro, Wellington
04 213 9981
In a bright and lively environment, 1154 Pastaria serves the freshest daily-made pasta you will find this side of town. Classic pasta dishes are reinvented in original ways – think macaroni with gorgonzola, pumpkin and spinach for a nice spin on an old classic. The wine list is small and all are organic.

118 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland
09 378 7979,
Fermenting and foraging have all been making their mark recently and Orphans Kitchen, driven by sustainable practices, offers all this in a daily-changing menu. Try the pickled red cabbage and feijoa treacle with lamb loin or the pale yellow pickled eggs that are expertly balanced between sweet and sour. A small but good wine list.

409 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden, Auckland
09 630 9130,
Pasta does not get any fresher than this with a menu that features all the classics: tagliatelle with prosciutto or spaghetti all’amatriciana plus a great selection of gnocchi, ravioli and tortellini. There’s a good wine selection with a strong Italian focus to match perfect pasta handmade with love.

479 New North Rd, Kingsland, Auckland
09 849 7741,
This ambitious little Kingsland bistro is soaring to great heights on the Auckland food scene. In a French/European-styled menu that fuses with its Kiwi roots and the best seasonal produce available, you can find deliciously clever cuisine served with skill and much heart.

165 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, Auckland
09 360 1611
Aucklanders know not to pass up a night out at Ponsonby Road Bistro. In a sophisticated yet easy-going environment, bistro fare is turned out with care. From tender duck confits to comforting winter pies, the well-balanced flavours hit the right note. The wine list is extensive and the cocktails pack some punch.

226 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland
09 376 3095
Always busy, fun and welcoming, Prego shines like a beacon on Ponsonby Road. The menu rarely changes, nor does it need to since part of this restaurant’s charm lies in doing what it does very well. Reliable, flavoursome fare, such as creamy alfredo pasta or fish of the day served on risotto anchored by a rich sauce is brought to you in an energetic, family-friendly environment.

1431 State Highway 1, Oamaru
03 431 3505
Owner Bevan Smith belongs to a new breed of chefs who place ethical approaches and working with indigenous produce at the forefront of their practice. Expect the freshest produce from bountiful kitchen gardens alongside slow-cooked pork shoulder from pigs raised in the Hunter Hills, and exceptional service.

40 Omaha Flats Rd, Matakana,
09 422 7375
The Matakana-based team at Rothko works with local producers and suppliers wherever possible which allows them to embrace fresh seasonal flavours and regional fare. This reflects in a menu that provides diners with an array of quintessential New Zealand flavours delivered in the magical setting of a sculpture garden.

5 Todman St, Brooklyn,Wellington
04 385 9137
Straddling the line between neighbourhood drinking hole and chic eatery, Salty Pidgin offers an inventive and clever menu stepping beyond bistro with aplomb with the likes of chilled raspberries that provide contrast to a rich chocolate fondant. The wine list is organic and biodynamic with some great seldom-seen wines up for grabs.

Cnr Lower Hobson and Customs St West, Viaduct Harbour, Auckland
09 356 7249
This is a great destination restaurant offering up spectacular views over Viaduct Harbour. The drinks list is a standout with excellent cocktails and mocktails alike. Plenty of seafood with the ‘Soul Classic’– salt-and-pepper squid – a firm favourite. Crayfish, whitebait and other firm- fleshed seafood options will  sate the appetite and the view is indeed good for the soul.

28 Grey St, Wellington,
04 499 3496
Fine dining from chef Ashish Dhar who pulls together refined, modernised cuisine reflective of his homeland Kashmir with touches from all over the East. Expect the likes of Kashmiri chilli pork belly with coriander wasabi mash, spring-onion sauce and puffed black rice. The extensive wine, cocktail and spirits list is a high point.

136 Old Tai Tapu Road, Kennedys Bush, Christchurch
03 322 4731
Famous for their pizzas, the Bicycle Thief in Canterbury does other things very well too. Take the separate vegan, gluten-free and entirely dairy-free menu offering up a plethora of the best seasonal vegetables (and more) in town. The service is special too.

17 Tamamutu St, Taupō,
07 377 3111
With warm décor, endearing service and a menu proudly hosting the best of local, The Bistro in Taupo is always a good choice. Game makes appearances, such as their signature rabbit terrine, delicate and flavourful working harmoniously with salsa verde, house pickles, pistachio nuts, crème fraîche and sherry syrup.

Cnr The Boulevard and Smales Farm Ave, Takapuna, Auckland
09 972 9060
Offering a seasonal and ever-changing menu, this Takapuna bar-restaurant is not to be missed. The interior is full of modern charm with twining vines and indoor greenery to soften the edges. The wine list is superb with the best releases from New Zealand and abroad – and a large scope of them at that.

305-307 Waikoukou Valley Rd,Waimauku, Auckland
09 9655024
Chef Des Harris combines creativity with substance and satisfaction in a menu of pasture-to-plate delectables like heritage pork terrine with farm ferments and walnut mustard. With this comes a superb venue, big portions and excellent value for money. A highly pleasing experience by day or night.

76 Onetangi Rd, Waiheke Island, Auckland
09 372 6884
In a rustic shed on a working vineyard, this eatery offers a modern menu made up of small and large plates designed for sharing. Ingredients are often plucked straight out of the on-site gardens and the staff, as you might expect, have a real understanding of the Te Motu wines and know exactly which to offer with meals.

609 State Highway 16, Kumeu, Auckland
09 412 6454
The kind of neighbourhood bistro everyone wishes was on their street. It serves equally well for a languid Sunday lunch as it does for functions, aided by an outdoor plywood cabana area separate to the main building. Ingredients are treated with reverence expertly worked into dishes that let them shine – think salmon fillet with crisp kohlrabi sticks tossed with watercress, walnuts and miso dressing balanced to a tightrope walker’s standards.

21 The Strand, Onetangi, Waiheke Island, Auckland
09 372 8846
This energetic beach spot, just across the road from Onetangi beach, boasts both a sprawling space and fine menu. Good produce and seasonal fare lead the charge here and are served up in delicious and inventive ways, as with the battered crispy cabbage, ambitiously spiced or the Te Matuku oysters and sauce mignonette.

16 New Regent St, Christchurch
03 366 2727
Climb up 27 steps and into this bustling, heritage space for a well-rounded meal with a focus on fresh, local ingredients. You might get the Tai Tapu venison loin with choux potato, celeriac and chestnut purée, spring veg, redcurrant and onion chutney, and brandy jus. A great wine list with plenty of Canterbury wines on offer.

Martinborough Hotel, Memorial Square, Martinborough
06 306 8350
This Martinborough restaurant and pub has roaring fires and lush interiors. It delivers a wine list with two solid pages devoted to Martinborough wines. Food is of the fancy pub variety with classic French aspects such as the cassoulet with duck confit and a brioche crumb.

1st Floor, 107 Victoria St,Wellington
04 499 9379,
Inside this vibrant art deco abode, a short and sharp menu delivers fragrant fresh food that leans toward Asian flavours. There’s tom yum squid, zhong dumplings or a flavoursome duck gado gado with crispy coconut and peanuts. It would be hard to go wrong here although giving a miss to the well-crafted dessert menu might do it.