A week ago, we asked the Illawarra what their favourite pub grub was.
Across three classic dishes, residents were able to vote for their favourite version of a chicken parmi, steak sandwich and classic burger.
In each category, a shortlist of two title contenders had been selected from the finalists in the Australian Hotels Association Awards for Excellence, but in an Illawarra-only twist, voters were able to write in their preferred candidate, even if they hadn't been picked by the hotel industry's judges.
So after a hastily concocted survey which definitely didn't cost nearly half a billion dollars, the Illawarra has decided which dish is the most delish.
Best Parmi - Keah's Kitchen - Albion Park Hotel
In a sign of how well loved this local institution is, the final winner in this category was not on the shortlist, and made it into all categories without being on any of the ballot papers.
Speaking with chef and owner of Keah's Kitchen, located in the Albion Park Hotel, Keah Hidasi said when it comes to her parmi's, bigger really is better.
"They're usually quite decent in size," Ms Hidasi said.
For over a decade, Ms Hidasi has been keeping Albion Park punters satisfied, and said that beyond size, it's the home-made touches that make all the difference.
"We do our own bread crumbs and we crumb them all to order."
On top of that - literally - the Napoletana sauce is house-made and the dish is served up with a classic side salad and thick cut chips.
Best steak sandwich - Waterfront Tavern, Shell Cove
If there is one theme we're detecting here, it is that when it comes to pub food residents of the Illawarra have large appetites.
The foot-long steak sandwich at the Waterfront Tavern Shell Cove doesn't mess around. It's a sanga that means business, launched at an unsuspecting diner bursting with fillet steak cheddar cheese, tomato, red onion, roquette and blue cheese miso sauce on a super-sized sourdough baguette.
Not a solo act, this is undoubtedly a two-hander.
Best burger - Plough & Ale, Calderwood
One of the newest pubs to land in the Illawarra, the Plough & Ale has certainly made an impression on diners since it opened in winter 2022.
And diners rate the burgers.
At this Calderwood boozer the 'Boss Burgers' demand an audience. From Signature Cheese, to The Boss and the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, plus the Botanical Boss, the humble burger has taken on a new level of authority.
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