New Zealand is not only rich in natural resources but in talented chefs and restaurateurs who are turning the harvest from land and sea into exquisite edible experiences. Here, Cuisine picks out the best of these from across Aotearoa.

Alpino Homesick Auckland-based Italians have been known to spend their days off driving 150 kilometres to Cambridge, just to get a taste of Alpino. We know why: a warm, groovy sense of belonging envelops the old Cambridge post office. Graze casually or eat fancy, Alpino will admirably tend to you, regardless. 43-45 Victoria St, Cambridge, 07 827 5595, alpino.co.nz

Amok It would be easy to, er, run amok as you work your way through the menu of this new-ish kid on Majoribanks. Old hands Thom Millett and Natasha Piper have relocated from Sydney to deliver a wildly eclectic food style. It’s cheeky, it’s original and the drinks list is totally Aotearoa/Aus. 18 Majoribanks St, Mt Victoria, Wellington, 04 260 1175, amok.co.nz

Bar Céleste This urban chic, French-style modern bistro delivers quirky wines, classic dishes and a raw bar that will have you begging for seconds. The beers are as hip as the wines and span a good range. Bustles like a busy bistro but stays cool and collected nonetheless. 146B Karangahape Rd, Auckland CBD, 021 579 874, barceleste.com

Bar Magda Blink and you’ll miss the dark, mysterious and uber-cool Bar Magda. Listen for the Cuban-inspired beats drifting up the stairwell. Here, izakaya bar meets Cuba, the Philippines, Peru. Savour texturally confident food plus flavour combinations you’ve never dreamed of. The wine and cocktail list is up there with the best. 25B Cross St, Newton, barmagda.co.nz

Bar Yoku Tokyo’s tucked-away bars inspired Shawn McGowan to stamp his own imprint on Japanese food, while paying homage to some of New Zealand’s finest. McGowan (ex-Amisfield, Pegasus Bay) knows his stuff, while his wife Juliana performs perfectly front-of-house. Adventurous yakitori options, commendable vegan mentions and an on-point beverage list complete the delightful package. 20 Welles St, Christchurch Central, 03 365 1055, baryoku.co.nz

Besos Latinos Lots of Latin-kissed morsels from central and southern America delivered with ample enthusiasm by Mexican chef Luis Cabrera and his wife Cecilia Lara. Their take on ceviche is spectacular, the Chicharrón de Mariscos is superb – but the Besos margaritas are the best this side of Mexico. Olé! 132 Halsey St, Auckland CBD, 09 218 4846, besoslatinos.com

Bistronomy has long enjoyed season-ticket status on our awards list. The iconic neighbourhood lovely has seen a few changes, the latest being that Jason Brown (ex-Elephant Hill) has picked up the business from former chef/owner James Beck. Fear not: Bistronomy continues to deliver deliciousness, comfort and joy. 40 Hastings St, Napier, 06 834 4309, bistronomy.co.nz

Bracken It’s Dunedin. It’s Scottish. And so is chef/owner David Burt – a perfect fit. Come to this classic old villa for a six- or eight-course dégustation, with a flight of either wine or whisky to match. Clever concepts and flavours feature (house haggis included). Smart staff know their stuff. 95 Filleul St, Dunedin Central, 03 477 9779, brackenrestaurant.co.nz

Cinderella Cinders has a covered courtyard downstairs serving elaborately conceived snacks, and modern European cuisine in its upstairs bistro. It’s here that cosy, familiar French, Italian and Catalan inspirations get a modern tweak, so try the unctuous pork rillette. All is ethically sourced. Cinderella proves a true modern-day princess. 278 Willis St, Te Aro, Wellington, 022 169 3504, cinderellawinebar.co.nz

Clarence Bistro The former post office now delivers a new message: clean, green values and a farm-to-plate process. The Clarence experience is also big on well-concocted cocktails, a comprehensive wine list and attentive service. Executive chef Perrin Yates’ inventive efforts stamp a firm mark on Tauranga’s rapidly developing food and drink scene. 51 Willow St, Tauranga, 07 985 8923, clarencetauranga.co.nz

Coco’s Cantina Noisy, vibrant and bright, Coco’s has been a stalwart of the K Rd dining scene for a long time. Its neighbourhood eatery vibe is acceptably grungy and keeps people coming back. A generous seasonal menu supports local producers and the use of free range and organic ingredients. 374 Karangahape Rd, Auckland CBD, 09 300 7582, cocoscantina.co.nz

Cotto Everybody has their favourite at Cotto. Ours is the zucchini fritti: the lightest, brightest, zestiest introduction to a menu with fixed-priced plates for every course. The hand-made pasta is legendary, desserts warrant mention, and there’s a decent bar. The young pup pop-up has grown up. It’s now a K Rd fixture. 375 Karangahape Rd, Auckland CBD, 09 394 1555, cotto.co.nz

Dragons When other chefs seek yum cha, this is where they come. If you don’t want a comfort dumpling, a 26-page menu covers each and every Cantonese-base: whole fish, live fish, Peking duck – you name it. Slick service bolsters this operation. A confined but competent drinks list. 25 Tory St, Te Aro, Wellington, 04 384 3288, wellingtondragons.co.nz

Federal Delicatessen It says a lot about a place when people pine for its offerings when they’re out of reach. Introducing the Fed’s matzo ball soup and Bloody Mary – foodie Elle Armon-Jones’ first fuel pick for when restrictions eased from the dark days of level 4 lockdown. Need we say more? 86 Federal St, Auckland CBD, 021 905 345, thefed.co.nz

Fleurs Place The legendary Fleur Sullivan’s restaurant is on the jetty, so what you get is what’s lifted from the water on the day. Other southern delicacies include tītī (muttonbird). Pair it with vegetables from small organic growers from around the region. Drink the region’s finest, too. 69 Haven St, Moeraki, 03 439 4480, fleursplace.com

Gin Gin You don’t have to like gin to be a fan of Gin Gin on Regent. So before you eye up the drinks list, take a look at the menu. There are pizzas (stracciatella, fermented chilli, garlic and lemon) and there is Tora Collective blackfoot pāua. All eyes are on this clever hot spot. 4-6 New Regent St, Christchurch, 03 365 1560, gingin.co.nz

Hali Inati’s younger brother is more a jeans type than its smart-suited sibling. But under the guiding hands of owners Lisa and Simon Levy, the good genes still shine through. Head chef Cian Curtin adeptly delivers a (sustainable) seafood-prominent menu in this bright, chic first-floor bistro. A drum-roll for desserts. Delicious cocktails, too. 166 Cashel St, Christchurch, 03 261 6129, hali.nz

Harbourside Ocean Bar Grill Long has Harbourside commanded pole position in the Ferry Building, overlooking Waitematā Harbour. To its credit, it does not rely on the view as its principal drawcard: the menu has much to savour, too. It’s principally pescatarian, perforce, but there’s meat and game and a good drinks list as well. Ferry Building, Level 1, 99 Quay St, Auckland CBD, 09 307 0556, harbourside.co

Huami Behold Chinese cuisine of cinematic proportions. Huami – which means nectar – serves its excellent food in a setting with a hint of showmanship. The gamut is well and truly covered, from contemporary fine-dining dishes to more down-to-earth wontons and dumplings. Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas curates the wine list. SkyCity, 87 Federal St, Auckland CBD, 09 363 6699, skycityauckland.co.nz/restaurants/huami

Jano Bistro Chef Pierre Fenoux shines the light on seasonally inspired, innovative menus that showcase the best of New Zealand produce with a nod to his French homeland. Spontaneity is a big part of this dégustation line-up, largely influenced by what’s freshest and best. Dishes are admirably matched with wines and non-alcoholic beverages.  270 Willis St, Te Aro, Wellington, 04 382 9892, janobistro.co.nz

La Marée An accomplished Australian chef cooking a French-themed menu using high-quality Kiwi food brands in the heart of Wynyard Quarter may seem like a recipe for risk. However, chef Marty Kindleysides, reasonably new to the role, makes it work seamlessly. The result, especially the chargrilled octopus, is well worth investigating. 21 Viaduct Harbour Avenue, Auckland CBD, 09 354 7478, lamareerestaurant.com

Mary’s The brainchild of Casey McDonald – head chef at Craggy Range – this upscale diner is less formal than its Craggy counterpart. McDonald oversees the operation; chef Josh Christie delivers on a top promise of fabulous food. A fiendishly clever, hot and costly Josper grill is in operation. Craggy Range wines predominate. 15 Joll Road, Havelock North, 06 650 7770, marys.co.nz

Mason Even in Newtown, well known for alternative bars and coffee shops, Mason stands out. Owner/chef Matt Hawkes (ex-Rita) blends Italian style with Middle Eastern touches. There are several vegetarian options, the sharing plates sparkle with bright flavours, and deliciously obscure components will arouse your curiosity and taste buds. 3 Wilson St, Newtown, Wellington, barmason.co.nz

Meat & Liquor Steakhouse Up the stairs, through the big red door you’ll find a menu big on… meat. But not just any sort. Only ethically farmed prime cuts make it, they say. The same goes for the partners on the plate. Find them above Frederic’s – the entrance is from King St. 34A Egmont St, New Plymouth, 06 759 1227, meatandliquor.co.nz

Mesita is Spanish for ‘small table’ and this cosy, candlelit restaurant and wine bar is tucked away off Martinborough’s square. Wednesday is taco night, Thursday is comfort food (think gourmet burgers and fried chicken). The Latin American-inspired menu changes weekly, the wine list is small and local, and the cocktails are excellent. 14C Ohio St, Martinborough, 022 309 7965, mesita.net

Miro We love the way head chef Liam Summers creates everything from scratch and his abundance of creativity shines in some absolute hero dishes. Attentive staff, tasty beverages and a nurturing ambience in this heritage art deco 2011 quake-survivor building more than complete the brief. It has a well-deserved, dedicated following. 176 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch, 03 925 9909, miro.nz

Mister D The sight of hospitality royalty duo Prue Barton and David Griffiths is one huge guarantee that good times await. Their menu isn’t just on trend, it sometimes sets the trends. All bases are covered in this Napier central spot: well-trained servers, a decent drinks list, simple food used in playful ways. 47 Tennyson St, Napier, 06 835 5022, misterd.co.nz

Mr. Pickles Bar & Eatery The whole idea of Mr. Pickles – the Waikato riverside restaurant conceived by Mat Pedley and business partner Maurice Montero – is about treating people as they want to be treated themselves. On that basis, diners are on to a winner. Go with the intention of sharing and don’t miss the charcuterie section. 298 Victoria St, Hamilton Central, 07 839 7989, mrpickles.co.nz

No 7 Balmac A fire three years ago didn’t kill them, and Covid couldn’t keep them down either. Now Māori Hill’s long-loved local has seasoned pro Greg Piner (Pier 24, Vault 21) at the helm, assuring continuity. Owner Katrina Toovey gives him free rein to deliver a flavour-forward menu, showcasing ingredients with great flair. 7 Balmacewen Rd, Māori Hill, Dunedin, 03 464 0064, no7balmac.co.nz

Pasta & Cuore This is the place for fresh pasta made by Italian chefs and cooked exactly as it should be: simple, unadulterated, seriously good. It’s food just as you’d find in a rustic trattoria in Italy. The dishes are from owner Stefania Ugolini’s family notebooks and chef Gabriele Marangoni expertly executes each one. 409 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden, 09 630 9130, pastaecuore.co.nz

Ponsonby Road Bistro This stalwart serves its customers like old friends. An eclectic menu covers traditional bistro fare with Indian, Japanese and Italian dishes. PRB meets a number of needs – from a quick dinner to a full night out. There’s a traditional and suitable drinks list, plus smart and knowledgeable wait staff. 165 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, 09 360 1611, ponsonbyroadbistro.co.nz

Prego This Ponsonby institute has been around so long, some of its foundation fans now dine here with their grandchildren. What more proof do you need other than the success of longevity? Regulars will feast on old faves: pizza, pasta, pesce and carne. It may be an oldie, but it’s an emphatic goodie. 226 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, 09 376 3095, prego.co.nz

Prohibition Smokehouse One of a family of super-cool hospo babies owned by Andre Shi, Prohibition Smokehouse is unashamedly meat focussed, with some superb cuts in its dry-ageing meat lockers. Chef Quillan Gutberlet leads the team with exciting tastes of the south. Inside or out, slam bang on The Octagon, you’ll find comfort meets style. 10 The Octagon, Dunedin Central, 03 479 2018, prohibitionsmokehouse.co.nz

Riverstone Kitchen Just 15km north of Oamaru, this southern charmer is the domain of chef/owner Bevan Smith who has at his very fingertips an abundance of good produce from the extensive vegetable gardens and orchards that surround and define this address. The menu changes regularly to showcase ingredients at their very peak. 1431 State Highway 1, Oamaru, 03 431 3505, riverstonekitchen.co.nz

Rothko at Sculptureum Set within the tailored gardens of the Sculptureum, Rothko is a superb place to relax and dine on diverse and interesting fare. It’s surrounded by their vineyard where they grow chardonnay and red grapes, and the wine list is as quirky as the property. There’s a beautifully curated art collection, too. 40 Omaha Flats Rd, Matakana, 09 422 7375, sculptureum.nz

Sage at Paroa Bay Highly skilled chef Daniel Fraser presents a showcase of local ingredients with almost obsessive provenance. He features home-grown and absolutely top-quality, ethically sourced ingredients from carefully selected suppliers. Service is simple but attentive and knowledgeable. Paroa Bay wines dominate the list, with a connoisseur’s selection of imported, pricey gems on top. 46 Otamarua Rd, Paroa Bay, Russell, 09 403 8270, thelindisgroup.com

Salty Pidgin Bar & Bistro Once it was the Brooklyn Café & Grill – food doyenne Lois Daish’s place. That pedigree continues under the deft hand of head chef Amy Gillies. Salty Pidgin performs so well as a local, it pulls in outsiders, drawn by a concise menu bolstered with daily specials. Forever fresh and good. 5 Todman St, Brooklyn, Wellington, 04 385 9137, saltypidgin.nz

Shed 5 If you haven’t been to Shed 5, you haven’t been to Wellington. The Queen’s Wharf stalwart opened in 1992 and is still one of the capital’s capital seafood spots. Head chef Geoff Ngan started here as a commis way back; now he’s the biggest fish. There’s an in-house fishmonger, too. Queen’s Wharf, Wellington Central, 04 499 9069, shed5.co.nz

Social Kitchen Maybe it has something to do with its former incarnation as a Salvation Army citadel, but the team here takes caring and sharing to the next level. They say their food is made to be enjoyed by all and it’s all served up in a warm and welcoming space. 40 Powderham St, New Plymouth, 06 757 2711, social-kitchen.co.nz

Somerset Cottage The star at 30 Bethlehem Road offers two menus: one classic; one weekly. “Some dishes we are simply not allowed to remove because they have become so strongly associated with us,” says Anne Butcher, who along with partner, co-founder and chef Rick Lowe serve their passion on a multitude of magnificent plates. 30 Bethlehem Road, Bethlehem, Tauranga, 07 576 6889, somersetcottage.co.nz

State Bistro Let us state things clearly: here you’ll find wicked little cocktails, banging bar bites and a main dining-room experience built on an elegant menu that covers all the very best of favourite bistro bases. This culinary hotspot has a refreshing approach from chef Carl Maunder , delivering experiences intensely focussed on the delicious. 31 Gover St, New Plymouth, 06 758 5373, statebistro.co.nz

Sugo As the name suggests, Sugo is, well, Italian. Chef Ian Harrison presents a generous menu peppered with pasta (house-made), pizza and a beautiful plant-based twist on some Latin classics. That’s just part of a snazzy line-up. The drinks list offers a cool mix of Italian and local, plus a dedicated spritz bar. 19 Wharf St, Tauranga, 07 571 4138, sugosugo.co.nz

The Bistro Locals and tourists alike love this gem of a restaurant. Owners and operators Jude and Tiffany Messenger have six children and the offspring will often pitch in with the parents. Chef Jude (ex-Huka Lodge) enhances simple dishes with prodigious use of locally sourced seasonal ingredients treated with care. 17 Tamamutu St, Taupō, 07 377 3111, thebistro.nz

The Sawmill Brewery and Smoko Room A warm and vibrant space that creates a positive impact on its community and its environment with a menu that will immerse you in fresh and clever local flavours. You’ll find carefully selected wines, many produced from grapes harvested by hand, and an outstanding selection of Sawmill unpasteurised beer. Great beer, with roots. 1004 Leigh Rd, Matakana, 09 422 6555, sawmillbrewery.co.nz

The Shed at Te Motu Head chef Yutak Son, who took the helm in 2021, comes with great cred: Sidart, Orphans Kitchen, Black Estate. He cooks with flair and style. While the food is casual, it’s carefully prepared and as much as possible is locally sourced. Service seldom misses a beat; the drinks list is mightily appropriate. 76 Onetangi Rd, Onetangi, Waiheke Island, 09 372 6884, temotu.co.nz

Wallingford Restaurant One of the country’s oldest homesteads has a fine-dining restaurant that even those not overnighting can sink into. Hosts Chris Stockdale and Jeanette Woerner oversee matters impeccably; they’ve got their own garden and they grow their own truffles. Suppliers are all within cooee, underscoring the Wallingford ethos of keeping things local. 2914 Porangahau Road, Wallingford, Hawke’s Bay, 06 855 4701, wallingford.co.nz

WBC The former boot factory now cobbles together a short, sharp menu with largely Asian-based flavours. A light, bright dining room is enhanced by banquette seating, large blackboards and an open kitchen. You’ll find some fine wines; more than 40 are cellared and the majority are available by the glass. 1st Floor, 107 Victoria St, Te Aro, Wellington, 04 499 9379, wbcrestaurant.co.nz

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the details given. Lockdowns and travel restrictions have provided challenges. We strongly advise checking restaurant websites for opening hours and contact details as the past year has shown that things can change without notice.