An international news outlet says it's time to "forget Sydney" and make a culinary pilgrimage to Auckland instead.
In an article for Bloomberg, writer Amy Louise Bailey highlights Ponsonby restaurant Orphan's Kitchen, Ostro and Amano in Britomart, and Masu and Depot on Federal St, as she tracks the course of the city's growth to become "one of the most innovative culinary destinations in the South Pacific - rivalling even Sydney and Melbourne."
Bailey, who grew up in Auckland in the '90s, notes the city's food scene has come a long way from the "conventional" white table clothed restaurants serving up chocolate sponge cake to a city where restaurateurs are standing out for embracing New Zealand's Maori heritage and utilising the country's compact geography to source local, seasonal produce - a trend in top food establishments the world over.
The article cites the 2000 America's Cup and subsequent Viaduct development as the catalyst for Auckland's food transformation, identifying the period as an era where ingredients such as kumara and octopus became celebrated "stars on the plate".
Restaurant Association of New Zealand general manager, Nicola Walsren, tells Bailey the Viaduct was "Auckland's first real hospitality precinct" and says it created a domino effect now seen in the dining hubbubs of Ponsonby and Britomart.
Meanwhile, the Hipgroup's co-founder, Jackie Grant, is praised as being "at the heart of Auckland's culinary revolution" after starting Cafe on Kohi in 2004 and latterly establishing her nose-to-tail Italian restaurant, Amano.
Bailey quips: "If Auckland's food scene was slow to build, it's currently evolving at a rapid-fire pace."
And as another boat race appears on the horizon, Bloomberg predicts Auckland is sailing into a fresh boom in hospitality opportunities with several new developments underway including the massive mixed use development, Commercial Bayand hotel brands such as Park Hyatt and Sofitel, both moving in ahead of the 2021 America's Cup.
The article includes a list of top dining spots, from restaurants Depot, Ostro, Masu and dessert mecca Milse, to popular weekend markets such as the "ritzy street food" of Parnell's La Cigale and Ponsonby Central, described as "akin to New York's Chelsea Market".