On the Queen Street end of Karangahape Road, Candela is a bar and eatery inspired by the flavours and flare of the Iberian Coast. Its menu centres on elevated tapas, highlighting local produce and Latin techniques – and there’s a substantial Spanish wine list.
Leola King (who operates front of house) and chef Matt Ross are partners in life and business. They opened Candela in December 2020 and have created a vibe that is intimate yet upbeat. In April 2022, the duo expanded backbar and event space Barcita, accessible at the rear of the restaurant.
With the only source of natural light coming from the two glass doors at the front, various styles of light fixtures cast a golden glow all the way down the long space. There’s a burgundy wall decorated with hanging carpets on one side and mottled concrete on the other, dark olive leather seats and wooden floors and tables. The overall effect is textural and warm. Towards the back, a large bar is a focal point of the space.
The sharing menu is adjusted seasonally but popular fixtures tend to be grilled cabbage with chilli jam and ajo blanco, patatas bravas, and lamb belly pintxos with chimichurri. The Basque cheesecake has a following all of its own.
Drinks-wise, King is happy to talk anyone through the flavour profiles of Spanish wine. Expect mixed tinto and blanco blends in traditional Spanish style, alongside some stunning tempranillos, albarinos and sherries.
Cocktails are excellent, too. While classics are available on request, in-house signatures include the Pisco Fizz with pisco, lime, methode traditionnelle and egg whites; a gin and vermouth Martini finished with guindilla chilli pepper brine; and the Salento, with New Zealand-founded Honest rum, tonka liqueur and cold brew.
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