IF you're after the best steak or burger at a NSW pub, the state's peak hotel body recommends you look no further than the Hunter.
Pub awards have poured in for a raft of the region's hoteliers in the Australian Hotels Association's awards after a ceremony in Sydney.
Rutherford's Bradford Hotel claimed regional hotel of the year while Hotel Jesmond can boast the best burger. The Bradford also won best regional casual dining (northern).
The two hotels led a field that including Maitland's Windsor Castle Hotel clinching the best regional TAB venue category, Harrigan's named best retail liquor outlet, Shortland Hotel awarded for best draught beer quality and Scone's Thoroughbred Hotel topping best steak.
Iris Hotel Group also won group hotel operator of the year. The organisation operates venues including Peden's Hotel, Shaft Tavern, Argenton Hotel, Sydney Junction Hotel at Hamilton and the Gunyah Hotel.
The winners join more than 20 nominees from the Hunter including the Stag and Hunter, Cambridge Hotel, Warners at the Bay, Lambton's The Mark Hotel, Kurri Kurri's Chelmsford Hotel and more.
The regional chef of the year category included six nominees from the region: Aaron House (Commonwealth Hotel), Brent Hetherington (Bradford Hotel), Jeff Umbaugh (Gunyah Hotel), Jessica Garnham (Rutherford Hotel), Paul Thornton (Hotel Jesmond) and Rocky Clack (Windsor Castle Hotel).
Mr Thornton claimed the honours.
Regional hotel of the year's shortlist included the Argenton Hotel, Bradford Hotel, Harrigan's, Hotel Jesmond, Shortland Hotel, Rutherford Hotel and the Windsor Castle.
AHA Newcastle Hunter president Rolly de With said the awards reflected the region's venues and their focus on community and exceptional service.
"These days our hotels really are lifestyle venues," Mr De With said.
"They provide employment opportunities for people of varying ages and skill sets, they provide millions of dollars back into their communities, a place to come together whether that's with family, friends of colleagues.
"They offer great dining, the chance to enjoy live entertainment, and these days even school holiday activities for the kids.
"When it comes to your local pub, there really is something for everyone and that's not a coincidence. Pubs have always existed to serve their local communities, and this is just further proof of our industry's commitment to improving on that model year after year."
When it comes to your local pub, there really is something for everyone and that's not a coincidence.
Best family friendly: Toormina Hotel (Narellan Hotel highly commended)
Best live music venue: The Sheaf, Double Bay (Cambridge Hotel highly commended)
Heart of the community: Public House Management Group
Best regional local: Settlers Inn Hotel, Port Macquarie
Best metropolitan local: The Fiddler, Rouse Hill (Ambarvale Hotel highly commended)
Best bush pub: Armatree Hotel (Nevertire Hotel highly commended)
Best outdoor experience: Barangaroo House (Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel highly commended)
Best late night venue: Goros, Surry Hills
Best sporting entertainment venue: Northies Hotel, Cronulla (Coogee Bay Hotel highly commended)
Best regional TAB venue: Windsor Castle Hotel, East Maitland
Best metropolitan TAB venue: Sports Hotel, Bankstown (Station House Hotel Campsie highly commended)
Best retail liquor outlet: Harrigan's (Post Office Hotel Gulgong highly commended)
Best draught beer quality: Shortland Hotel (The Squire's Landing The Rocks highly commended)
Best NSW wine list: The Squire's Landing The Rocks
Best regional gaming venue: Bradford Hotel, Rutherford
Best metropolitan gaming venue: Wentworth Hotel (El Cortez Hotel Canley Heights highly commended)
Best social media activity: Sidebar Haymarket and Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel (joint winners)
Best promotional concept: Greenwood Hotel
Best unique bar experience: Imperial Hotel Erskineville
Best innovative refurbishment: The Trinity Surry Hills (Stag and Hunter Mayfield highly commended)
Best regional new/redeveloped venue: Tattersalls Hotel Armidale (George IV Inn, Picton)
Best traditional pub accommodation under $130: Prince of Wales Hotel Gulgong (Nags Head Hotel Adamstown and Northern Star Hotel Hamilton highly commended)
Best deluxe pub accommodation: Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel (Headlands Austinmer Beach highly commended)
Best steak: Thoroughbred Hotel Scone (Willow Tree Hotel highly commended)
Best parmi: Tydvil Hotel and Bistro Broken Hill and The Ophir Hotel Orange (joint winners)
Best steak sandwich: The Oaks Neutral Bay (Moko Eastwood highly commended)
Best cheap eat meal: Prince of Wales Hotel Gulgong (Shelbourne Hotel Sydney highly commended)
Best regional casual dining (northern): Bradford Hotel Rutherford
Best regional casual dining (southern): Robertson Public House and Kitchen
Best regional casual dining (western): The Railway Hotel Parked (Jack Duggans Irish Pub Bathurst highly commended)
Best metropolitan casual dining (CBD and eastern): Hotel Rose Bay
Best metropolitan casual dining (northern): Eastwood Hotel (Daniel San Manly highly commended)
Best metropolitan casual dining (southern): El Cortez Hotel, Canley Heights
Best metropolitan casual dining (western): The Sackville Hotel, Rozelle
Best restaurant: Priscillas, Imperial Hotel Erskineville
Industry rising star: Ricci-Lee Wheeler, Hunt Hospitality (Jonathon Williams, Central Hotel Shellharbour highly commended)
Apprentice/trainee of the year: Jackson Partridge-Sharpe, Headlands Austinmer Beach (Jake Mayled, Tattersalls Hotel Armidale highly commended)
Regional chef of the year: Paul Thornton, Hotel Jesmond (Tahir Akim, Terrigal Hotel highly commended)
Metropolitan chef of the year: Ian Royle, Hotel Rose Bay (Mark Holland, Paddo Inn highly commended)
Individual hotel operator of the year: Toby Chick, Hotel Rose Bay
Group hotel operator of the year: Iris Hotel Group
Regional hotel of the year: Bradford Hotel, Rutherford
Metropolitan hotel of the year: The Fiddler, Rouse Hill