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Bar Magda

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Down the stairs behind an unassuming door on Cross St, you’ll find Filipino flavours in dishes using Aotearoa’s seasonal produce.

You’ll be forgiven for taking a minute to find it, but let us help you out: marked by an X on the door, Bar Magda is hidden away on Cross St, just a few minutes walk away from the main Karangahape Rd drag. Once you open the door, walk down the stairs, and you’ll find a restaurant bathed in the low glow of red and orange, appropriately moody for an underground bistro. The place is bisected roughly in half, separated by the open kitchen, with the intention to create spaces for both bar-goers and diners (the drinks here are as serious as the food, so coming in for a late-night round and snacks should definitely be on the cards).

Bar Magda is the brainchild of chef and co-owner Carlo Buenaventura, and an interpretation of Filipino food as through his experience of the Phillipines (particularly Mindanao, in Southern Phillipines, where he’s from) and Aotearoa, refined over the years through frequent pop-ups. Aotearoa produce through a Filipino lens, he likes to call it. (Buenaventura is a well-known hospitality figure in Auckland, having previously worked at Orphans Kitchen and Gemmayze St, among others; he’s also previously been runner-up for Metro’s Restaurant Personality of the Year.)

At Bar Magda, Buenaventura serves up his version of familiar Filipino flavours and dishes – like suglaw, usually a pork and fish ceviche dish, or pyanggang, where Buenaventura employs pork ribs instead of chicken – but you shouldn’t expect a traditional adobo, whatever that may look like for you. Dishes are designed to be shared, with the communal concept taken to its height with the “Magda Feast”, a banquet-style set menu option. It’s food that no one else is doing in Auckland. 

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