Farm to Fork: local eats in the Waikato

Waikato restaurateurs are renowned for their farm-to-table approach to food. Many of the region’s best eateries are capitalising on the bounty of fresh produce, meat and dairy on their doorstep, with countless menus boasting organic, free-range and seasonal local ingredients.

Victoria Street Bistro works closely with Harmony Foods in Paeroa, who source and sell sustainable and ethically farmed meat. They get micro greens, flowers and vegetables from Frances and Kay on Hamilton's Boundary Road; leafy vegetables from Southern Fresh Foods in Matangi; and hand-made mozzarella, barrata and mascarpone from Il Casaro.

The River Kitchen, Hamilton
Victoria Street Bistro, Hamilton
Skycity Hamilton City Co-Op Food

They even source a unique blend of local flavour from Sweetree Honey: Kirikiriroa (the Maori name for Hamilton) comes from three different hives in the area. Plus, the Executive Chef’s parents even grow fresh citrus, artichokes, pickled walnuts and almonds for the restaurant.

Opened in 2015, Dough Bros is Hamilton’s latest hotspot. Husband and wife team Jake and Katherine Mitchell have integrated a farm-to-table ethic into their kitchen by building relationships with other small businesses in the area. They use coffee beans from Manuka Brothers in Hamilton, beer from Shunters Yard in Matangi, and artisan cheeses from Cilantro in Ruakura – to name a few.

The cabinet fare at The River Kitchen, another popular place with Hamilton foodies, is driven by the seasons, using only free-range eggs, organic milk and locally-sourced herbs, greens, meats and poultry. The Local Taphouse on SKYCITY Hamilton’s ground floor is another fan favourite, offering up Coromandel mussels and farm-fresh seasonal vegetable dishes.

Other eateries with a similar ethos have sprung up in the Waikato’s smaller towns.

Sweettree Honey, Hamilton
Waikato Farmers Market
Over the Moon Cheese, Putaruru

Paddock in Cambridge, an exquisite slice of small-town charm, was named in recognition of its distinctly rural surroundings – and to signify a philosophy around connecting people with locally-grown and harvested food.

Every dish at Paddock is made from scratch on premise, and the cafe prides itself on offering healthy alternatives.

In Raglan, the Conscious Kitchen at Solscape serves ‘plant-based eco-cuisine’. All of their ingredients are ethically sourced, and much of their produce is harvested from onsite permaculture gardens.

The Waikato Farmer's Markets are also a great place to source fresh local produce, with everything from baking and coffee to garden greens, cheese and honey.

These foodie spots, plus many more throughout the region pride themselves on fresh, local and healthy produce - Food doesn’t get much better than this.