“You mean strangers come into your house to eat?” I get this kind of a reaction, eyebrows furled, voice balanced between confusion and curiosity at least once a week when I tell people that I run a restaurant out of my home. Although the closed door scene is a popular Buenos Aires dining trend with some 40 active puerta cerradas and a few websites that open up the opportunity for home chefs to host dinner parties for strangers, the community is still a bit of an anomaly. And maybe that is because, just as the porteño culinary scene is in a state of amazing evolution, every month it seems like a new closed door is popping up with something different to offer. No one thing defines the closed door restaurant concept. With that in mind, we’ve chosen some of our favorite closed doors, one for every occasion.
Low Key Dinner Party
NOLA is the brain child of Liza Puglia, the New Orleans born, New York trained chef who has become one of the scene’s queen bees in an impressively short amount of time, so popular that NOLA will be opening a brick and mortar establishment in the coming months. Although we absolutely love her four course Mexican-Creole meal (which comes with fantastically chosen wine pairings) we can’t get enough of her Broeder’s Beer Night. Every Thursday night NOLA and local brewery Broeder’s collaborate on a Southern inspired meal. Her trademark: fried chicken, mash, homemade biscuits and gravy, with the entire evening paired wonderfully with three pints of Broeder’s craft beers. The atmosphere is casual and fun, with four tables large enough to host a little more than 30 guests.
It’s no secret that Buenos Aires is not the most vegetarian friendly of cities. We are meat obsessed and proud of it! But every once and a while you just want a fresh salad and there’s nothing wrong with that. The tagline for Jueves a la Mesa says it all, “It’s good to eat plants.” The home of chefs Sofi Madriz and Meghan Lewis is a small oasis for vegetarians and carnivores in need of a meat and pizza breather, where every Thursday about 15 strangers rub shoulders over a thoughtful three course meal. To make the night just that much more unique, the meal is paired with local organic wine and topped off with homemade dark chocolates and ginger tea.
In Search of the Perfect Steak
In a small loft space in Palermo Soho sits Steaks by Luis, a decadent five course asado with wine pairings (it wouldn’t be an Argentine meal without a proper bottle of wine) that aims to be part fine dining part family affair. Luis grew up on his grandfather Rodolfo’s asados (traditional Argentinean barbecues) and had been his family’s official grill master for some 20 years before opening his own closed door. Those two decades of experience really show. Not only can he cook a perfect medium rare, but he will convert you into a fan of unique cuts like sweet bread, or the unfortunately named blood sausage. The meal is aimed at traveler’s that want the real experience of a family barbecue, a weekly event for many locals, that don’t have the opportunity to sit in on the real deal. Our favorite part: Luis explains every cut of meat before the grilling begins and lets guest help build the fire.
A Night Out with Friends
Maybe calling this place a puerta cerrada is a bit of a stretch. Niji more so follows the Japanese tradition of great restaurants in random places, anyone seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi? It is open for lunch and dinner every day of the week, and feels more like a neighborhood restaurant with the exception that it is located in an old home and is by reservation only. It also happens to offer one of our favorite Japanese menus in the city not only for the obvious freshness of ingredients and variety of options but it gets two things very right that many BA sushi houses fail miserably at: excellently cooked rice and rolls that are not oversaturated with cream cheese. Best enjoyed with a good group of amigos (picky friends abstain) to order a bunch of different dishes off of the menu and a bottle (or a few) of sake. We love the kitsch of the picture menu and the authenticity factor of a largely Japanese clientele.
A Wine Lover’s Fantasy
Casa Coupage is not just about the food, it is very much about the wine. But that’s not to say the food isn’t spectacular, whether you choose their 8 course tasting menu or prefer to order a la carte. Expect new ideas for classic Argentine dishes, like slow roasted pork elbow in a mandarin reduction, or fantastic traditional fare like homemade linguini, all served with a wonderful eye for detail and top notch service. This closed door is set up more like a restaurant, with private tables perfect for a romantic date, and the two sommeliers that play hosts will make sure that each glass of vino perfectly matches your dish. Go ahead and let your fancy self go.
Kevin Vaughn is food writer for MyBeautifulAir in addition to being the founder and head chef at MASA, a weekly closed door event that features Mexican and Southern inspired dishes.
This blog article is part of a special series that we’ll be presenting to our readers together with our friends at MyBeautifulAir. Thanks for visiting our Central & South America Travel Blog! Feel free to contact one of our Travel Specialists via email, phone or chat to plan your perfect Argentina itinerary.