We break down the rationale for some of our highly contested categories.

When this Restaurant Awards category was dreamed up five years ago, the idea was never that it would recognize "the best” restaurant in a given jurisdiction. Instead, it would celebrate the local haunts that are so vital to a neighbourhood and yet so rarely recognized in major awards categories. The editorial team then in charge drew up some rules to attempt to reinforce this: no chains, no brand-new spots, and if it’s near impossible to simply walk in—sorry, Kissa Tanto—it’s out of luck. The goal is to get places that offer great food, but, more importantly, also offer an insight into the locals who live in that neighbourhood. To that end, the judges who vote on each particular neighbourhood either live there, work there or spend a significant amount of time there. In fact, some years we've added judges for a specific geographic location—hello, North Shore—because it's important that we get the best intel we can. Sometimes the results are spot on, sometimes we miss the boat a bit. It's a category that we get a lot of feedback on—and despite our intentions, we inevitably see restaurants taking their award and proclaiming to be "the best" in their location. So we'd like to hear from you. Leave a comment below, or drop me an email at neal.mclennan@vanmag.com to let us know what you think of the rationale and how you would change it, if you could. We care—honest.

See the full list of 2018 Restaurant Awards finalists ▸▸▸