When you’re trying to decide where to go out to eat in Buenos Aires, staying in – in someone else’s home, that is – is becoming a more common option. The concept of private ‘closed door’ restaurants, or puerta cerradas, is nothing new, but several enterprising BA-based chefs and hosts have put a fresh new spin on eating in, inviting a limited number of guests (with previous reservations) to unpublished addresses anywhere from one night a month to several times per week. For one set price, diners are served several courses in the company of strangers, who, by the end of the night, seated in such intimate quarters, will most likely not be so unfamiliar. Check out our roundup of BA’s best and most popular puerta cerradas:
Cocina Sunae – For a sampling of what is some of the best Southeast Asian cuisine in Buenos Aires, reserve a seat for the Friday and Saturday night servings of spicy Eastern fare in the home of New Yorker Christina Sunae Wiseman in Chacarita, whose South Korean origins and familial ties in the Philippines have inspired her fantastic menu, draft from family recipes and some innovative kitchen chemistry. Unlike many of BA’s puerta cerrada restaurants that pull in a mostly foreign crowd of curious folk, Sunae’s traditional Korean, Thai, and Philippine fare (read: steaming, spicy curries and gobs of coconut milk!) brings in the locals, including a faithful following from BA’s sizable Asian-Argentinean population.
Casa Felix – Veg- and pescetarians will delight in the innovative, meat-free menu at Casa Felix, one of Buenos Aires’ most popular private restaurants. Located in the Chacarita abode of cute Argentinean-American couple Diego Felix and Sanra Ritten, chef and hostess, respectively, the fare consists of Felix’s plant- and herb-based kitchen chemistry, served in several small portions for a more of a tasting menu-type of meal. Expect to sit outside in the patio with 10 or 12 others in the case of pleasant weather.
Casa Saltshaker – Helmed by one of Buenos Aires’ most renowned foodies, Casa Saltshaker is the weekend project of Dan Perlman and Henry Tapia, whose dining table seats 12 for themed meals that cover anything from the Jewish New Year to the Hungarian National Day. The set price of AR$130 covers 5 courses, a cocktail, and coffee, or upgrade to the AR$190 fee for wine pairings. If you don’t make it to dinner with Dan, check out his popular blog for bare-bones BA restaurant reviews.
Paladar Doña Fela – This Almagro puerta cerrada is all things Cuban, down to the Habanos and mojitos, and one of a very select few Caribbean spots in town. Channel Buena Vista Social Club with chef and host Rupert, a Cuban native who has lived in BA for over a decade without losing an ounce of his lively island spirit. Marinated mango, ginger chicken, and fried plantains are just a few of the typical dishes – a far cry from BA’s standard beef-and-wine routine – served up at Doña Fela.
Cocina Garden – The next in line for BA’s closed kitchens is tucked deep inside of a spectacular private garden at the San Telmo home of New York-native Pamela Murphy. With a grand opening set for October 14, the restaurant will feature a menu of tasty American comfort food with regional wine pairings and is slated to be more of a social event than some of the other puerta cerradas. In the case that you stuff yourself silly beyond the point of mobility, fret not; Pamela’s enormous conventillo-style home, which she shares with her daughters and a rotation of visiting friends from around the globe, also houses a charming bed and breakfast of four thoughtfully decorated rooms at very reasonable prices.