About Us

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meet the team


james emanuel
Executive Chef & Managing Director

We would like you to introduce you to el jefe, James! He is the Amigos Executive Chef and Managing Director. As Executive Chef, James is in charge of developing, testing, and maintaining the Amigos menu. As Managing Director, he is the one that makes big picture decisions and supervises the senior management staff. When he's not at one of the current, or future, Amigos sites, you can find him working as a volunteer paramedic, helping with community youth football, or snowboarding up at Treble Cone or in the backcountry. His favourite taco is the hamburguesa!

the amigos food and drink ethos

Since we opened our doors for the first time in 1995, the primary mission at Amigos has been to bring you fresh, tasty, and innovative Mexican food and drinks. And of course, the best way we know how to do this is by making nearly all of our food from scratch. In fact, everything we use in our kitchens and bars other than our tortillas are made fresh at the site in which you dine. However, as we move forward and continue to learn more about how every choice impacts our planet, we are now transitioning to including more sustainable practices on all sides of our business, including our food and drink.


One way that we try to achieve this goal is by using as many locally-based products as possible, and only working with New Zealand-based companies whenever we can. For example, we only buy beef and lamb from Southland and Otago and all of our seasonal vegetables are from the South Island and mainly from local regions. We also work with local micro producers such as Martinez and Basil Parsley from Cromwell and we strive to carry as many locally produced beers and wines as we are able to. Some of these include b.effect and Rhyme & Reason breweries in Wanaka, and Shaky Bridge and Hinton Vineyards in Alexandra.


Another way we are shifting to more sustainable practices is by moving towards a more plant-based menu all the time. Of course, we will always carry the crowd favourites, but we also want to offer our customers the opportunity to explore how delicious plant-based foods can be. In fact, we currently offer over 50% of our menu in a vegetarian form and nearly half of that is plant-based.


Whilst we do everything we can to maintain the balance between sustainability and affordability, we also need your help to keep having a positive impact on our planet! So the next time you come and eat some of our sensational tacos, maybe drop one of those meaty ones and grab a plant-based or vegetarian one instead! If you enjoy it, which we reckon you will, come try another next time, and then look for those ingredients in your local stores. Every little bit we do to reduce our impact on the planet helps. Did you know that a kilogram of mushrooms takes only 20 litres of water to produce but a kilogram of beef takes around 15,000 litres!? So together, not only are we reducing our methane emissions by reducing beef intake, but we are also dramatically reducing the pressure on the water ways of New Zealand.


We know we are far from perfect, as we still have to import some of the products we use on a daily basis, we still use packaging (sustainable and biodegradable as it may be), and we still have to utilise certain chemicals to maintain hygiene standards that are in line with government requirements. But every week we are working hard to make small changes at a local level that can help the future of our global environment, and we’re excited to have you be a part of it!