Puerta Cerrada: The Best Food is Behind Closed Doors

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Day 428: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Puerta cerrada is very popular in Buenos Aires, essentially these closed doors involved eating at a private home at a communal table instead of a restaurant.

Often called underground restaurants in North America, there is a certain degree of food snobbery associated with it, particularly as some.

Such as Charlie’s Burgers in Toronto, ask you to apply with your foodie credentials to be considered fit enough to sit at the table.

I am not joking.

But here in Buenos Aires, the pretentious hipster ways are lost and all you need to do is make a reservation.

There are so many in the city I had no idea where to go. Saltshaker and Casa Felix are very popular but in the end I chose three lesser known locations.

dinner party

Jueves a la Mesa (Thursdays at the table)

A vegetarian dinner run by Meghan, a Colorado expat, who is not vegetarian but realizes the need for balance in a meat loving city.

I was there with other expats in the city and for $18 I had a generous salad, French onion soup, bean burger and homemade chocolate with exotic fruits all accompanied by wine. It is a steal.

shrimp salad

Cocina Sunae

Chance highly recommended Cocina Sunae as it is one of the few that are regularly frequented by locals week after week. Christina, also known as Sunae, specializes in South East Asian fare.

There’s no chimichurri here and I’m ok with that.

We were in for a treat with a Filipino steamed pork bun, Thai shrimp salad, whole baked fish stuffed with lemongrass in a spicy-lime sauce and a Filipino rice cake in a coconut reduction for dessert.

It was such a great contrast to all the heavy pizza/pasta/steak I have been eating.

The only thing that I didn’t love was that instead of a communal table, it is more like a restaurant with separate tables.

Fortunately this time I was with Stephanie and Rease but I wouldn’t want to go alone.

The five course South Asian Feast is only $27 with the wine list starting at $9.

chef at table

Max’s Supper Club

I attended the first dinner at Juanele an amazing art organization in Recoleta. The space is covered in street art and sets the mood for a fun night.

I was blown away by Chef Max’s meal of oyster with miso wakame dressing, octopus chorizo salad  with balsamic reduction (lead photo), melon and cucumber gazpacho with scallop ceviche, star anise braised veal with fennel puree.

And the only brownie I have had in Buenos Aires that isn’t as dry as the Tierra Atacama desert.

Dinner runs for $32 or with five wine pairings for $47, the wine choices were great and well worth it.

The puerta cerradas have been some of the best meals in Buenos Aires and I recommend visiting at least one if you come to the city.

Join the Conversation

  1. the filipino rice cake in a coconut reduction you’re referring to might be what is locally called ‘biko’. just thought you might want to know. 😉

    By the way, Max’s Supper Club sounds like a great place to stop by for a meal based on your post here. Love the idea of melon and cucumber gazpacho with scallop ceviche dish! Sounds yum!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Cherzy it was delicious, I may try to find that recipe.

      Max is a really talented chef. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was delicious.

  2. I love the Puerta Cerrada restaurants in BA! We had an amazing vegetarian meal at Casa Saltshaker and loved getting to know people in the intimate dinner party setting.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Buenos Aires has been great for vegetarian food, especially to balance all the steak I have been eating.

  3. Catherine says:

    ah! All of it looks so delicious! and I love restaraunts like this. There´s one in valparaíso that overlooks the ocean, the room has it´s own patio, and it is so gorgeous!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh please share the name, I’d love to go when I’m there in the Fall.

  4. Sebastian says:

    Oh my god especially the third restaurant sounds delicious. I never heard of such “underground” restaurants. Might have to check if we have something like this here in the netherlands or somewhere else in Europe.

    It sounds great! And made me once again realize that I definitely have to visit BA soon! 🙂

  5. Nice photographs. The food looks tempting.

  6. Didn’t get a chance to do this on my last visit. Going to have to finally do it this year. Although having my grandma cook me food everyday was pretty awesome. Ah, can’t wait to go back.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I have gained an inch of ‘chub’ from all the good food.

  7. Wow. I cannot WAIT to go to Argentina! Just a few months left. It all looks SO delicious, and I’m so excited there’s even a vegetarian option too.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Surprisingly there are a lot of vegetarian restaurants in Buenos Aires. You’ll pay more for it but they have lots of options.

  8. I went to a similar place in Hong Kong once – it was up a random staircase in a random building and was invitation only. It was packed! And the food was amazing – it was a vegetarian banquet with 12 courses and I had no idea what I was eating but it tasted pretty good.

  9. What a fun experience and I love communal dining tables, as long as your not going for a romantic evening. We also have similar restaurants in Germany, but they’re not pretentious either, just the opposite.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      When I heard you had to apply to be considered in Toronto I was no longer interested in the restaurant.

  10. Katherina says:

    This seems to be something like an “underground restaurant” – there are a few of them in London and Sydney as well! They usually run once a month or so… I can’t wait to try them out!

    By the way, I think I would be the one paying the 47 $ at Max’s Supper Club – 5 paired wines inclusive, woho! You really are convincing me to take my holidays and fly to Buenos Aires this year…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s a wonderful place, don’t hesitate to email me if you have any questions.

  11. Gillian @OneGiantStep says:

    Now this is something I have to do! It sounds awesome!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You can spend a lot of money trying to get to all of these!

  12. Those look delicious 😮

  13. The Travel Chica says:

    I think I will definitely have to check out more of these after our delicious meal at Cocina Sunae.

  14. That vegetarian dinner sounds so yummy! I think it’s a great idea to offer something to balance out the standard fare. Maybe I should move there and start an Indian supper club? 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I would kill for an Indian supper club, I haven’t had curry in 14 months!

  15. I am getting very excited knowing that you will be making a lot of these dishes for me when you finally land in Nova Scotia in July.

    1. I’m not…haha

  16. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    I have never experienced one of these in all of my travels to BsAs, such a shame! I hear about them ALL the time though. Thanks for taking us behind the door. 🙂

    1. Christian Hollingsworth says:

      I didn’t even know these “underground restaurants” existed in the USA either.

      I need to get out more it seems.

      It’s amazing to me, her incredible photos at each restaurant. They make me hungry – always. Whatever I”m eating just looks plain awful compared to these fantastic dishes.

  17. What Filipino cuisine in Argentina? Our dishes rarely get on a non-Filipino resto menu I must go!

  18. I am so inspired by your willingness to just pick up and go for it! I stumbled across your site and I love what you said about the fear of NOT going outweighed any fears you had about going. I try to live life this way – never passing up a chance to experience something new. 2 years ago I took my two toddler boys with me to France and London – it was the best time! Perhaps Argentina is next???

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s frightening to go but it pays off.

      Argentina is wonderful and very family friendly.

  19. Chef Max says:

    Thanks for the great review, glad you enjoyed it! Our next supper club evening will be on the 1st of July, with the theme of street art and a world street food inspired menu. Hope to see you there!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I will be back in Canada but oh so disappointed that I am missing this.

  20. Dani | Globetrottergirls says:

    We went to a couple of supper clubs when we were still living in London and loved them! The whole ‘dinner party with strangers’ concept is just awesome. Another thing to look forward to in Buenos Aires!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s such a great way to meet new people, food always brings people together.

  21. What a fabulous way to eat out. Really happy to read there are vegetarian options. Sounds yummy!

  22. Paul Strobl says:

    Great post. FYI, for great brownies, you only have to find Sugar & Spice’s brownies around town. Haven’t hit Max’s yet–will have to put in on the list!

    Saludos,

    Paul

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I keep hearing that Sugar and Spice is the place to go, I’ll check it out.

  23. Rick Powell says:

    Thanks for the mention and the link, Ayngelina.

    It was great to meet you that night and I hope to see you soon.

    Have a great summer and I assume you’ll still be using Twitter. 🙂

  24. I’ve been hearing SO much about this city lately, and your restaurant reviews make me want to visit more than ever. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      There is no shortage of great restaurants here.

  25. Food looks great–I have always wanted to eat at this kind of spot. And how are you not 700 pounds by now?!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh Claire I am definitely a bit heavier, as you can see in the photos but I just don’t want to miss out.

  26. Sharyn Evron says:

    Thanks. .will definitely check them out. But another one worth noting is Casa Mun. . .they are new with an asian flair. Went for the first time 2 weeks ago. . .FANTASTIC. I liked it soo much I posted the following on my FB page. . . http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150200556942426

    Bon Appetit!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes I have heard great things about Casa Mun.

  27. wow wine list start at $9 and soup, salad and burger only 418. You’re having it all there. Those are great deal especially they’re good food too.

  28. manish2010 says:

    I am a vegetarian,with the help of your blog i have upgraded with one more exotic place for my meal,that is “Jueves a la Mesa”….next time when i visit to COLORADO i have an option to take my dinner at a good place with affordable prices.
    Thank You

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Jueves a la Mesa is a great choice

  29. Wow AB, you’ve come a long way from munching on street food huh? 🙂

    Give me street meat any day over hipster restaurants!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I like a little bit of both, hipsters are okay some of the time…

  30. joshywashington says:

    OH GOD! I miss the grub in Argentina (especially the steak…and pizza!) keep us satiated with your food porn, please!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m packing on the pounds just to keep you happy!

  31. I love your Argentina food posts! They are making me hungry though…

    I’m sending your site to my sister-in-law since she’s about to head to Argentina for 10 days and wants some advice!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      If she has any questions tell her to feel free to email me.

  32. Ciara Hurt says:

    Those foods looks delicious. I want to try it. And you mentioned a Filipino rice food, well, I like Filipino foods specially their natural foods. Sounds yummy!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I lived in the Philippines ten years ago and believe me Sunae’s food is much better than anything I remember.

      1. There is a lot of bad Philippine cooking. The best Filipino cooks come from Pampanga. My grandmother is from there and I miss herand her cooking terribly. She was a fantastic cook.

      2. It is hard to find good Philippine cooking. The best cooks come from Pampanga. My mother’s family is from Pampanga. These essays show the best of what the Philippine offers.

        1. Ayngelina Author says:

          Thanks for sharing.

  33. hamptin inn says:

    It’s kinda weird hearing the behind closed door food preparation..but it’s really intriguing I might try it!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s a great way to find innovative food in Buenos Aires as it is primarily foreigners running them. You should definitely give it a try.

  34. Volcano ash permitting, my husband and I will be heading to B.A. tomorrow from Santiago. I found out about these puertas cerradas through googling good restaurants in B.A. and we are hitting up Paladar tomorrow night. I am SO excited. I really wanted to go to Casa Felix, but they are in the US for the summer. I think these puertas cerradas are such a great idea! I am just say most are only open on the weekends cuz we’ll be in the city Sat-Wed, so we only have the 1 night to try one out! Great post!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Let me know where you go.

  35. You always manage to find the best places to eat. Yum! Will be keeping these places in mind. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well I would definitely put this as a “should do” restaurant in Buenos Aires.

  36. Wow, I’d never heard of puertas cerradas before! It sounds delicious, I’ll definitely keep them in mind when I go to Argentina.

  37. Justin Hamlin says:

    Love it! I just recently heard about how some of these places were run, etc, and it just seems so cool (besides the exclusivity) but basically a gourmet dinner with a big-family table feel.

  38. sandeep @ Free Animation tutorials says:

    What a fun experience and I love communal dining tables.I love what you said about the fear of NOT going outweighed any fears you had about going. I try to live life this way..
    thanks for sharing..

  39. This is great, I’ve been to Max’s Supper Club which was brilliant but I’m going to check out the other two pronto. Thanks for the post!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It was my favourite space of the three, using an art gallery is a perfect setting.

  40. Sarah G - From the World says:

    Casa Felix is really high class! My favorite closed door spot in BsAs.

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