One of the most interesting trends in the Buenos Aires restaurant scene is closed-door restaurants, also known as restaurantes a puertas cerradas or simply puertas cerradas. These restaurants aren’t really restaurants at all but rather dinners served in the homes of private chefs, or in exclusive private clubs.
Alejandro Langer, chef at La Cocina Discreta in Villa Crespo, describes them as “an environment that is intimate, exclusive and familiar at the same time. The people feel like they are having dinner in the home of a friend. But at the same time enjoy gourmet cuisine and a high-level of service.”
“I don’t feel like it’s a restaurant, I feel like people come to eat to my house”, says Diego Felix, chef at Casa Felix, a popular, informal puerta cerrada in Palermo.
Closed-door restaurants are typically open only certain nights of the week with limited seating. Prices tend to be high by Buenos Aires standards. For example, Casa Saltshaker charges 150 pesos (US$43) per person for a five-course meal with matched wine, or 110 pesos (US$32) without wine.
Menus are usually fixed by the chef. Some chefs feel this format allows them to be more creative and adventurous with their cooking.
Reservations are essential. You can’t just show up at the door and expect to be seated. Expect to pay in cash. Few closed-door restaurants accept credit cards.
Here’s a list of a dozen or so closed-door restaurants in Buenos Aires for you to explore.
Casa Felix (Palermo)
- Chef Diego Felix cooks up “pescaterian” cuisine with exotic flavors and spices. Only 12 seats.
- Chef Ezequiel Gallardo changes the menu weekly.
- Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Max. capacity is 18.
Casa Coupage (Palermo)
- Buenos Aires first private wine club and restaurant.
Casa Saltshaker (Barrio Norte)
- One of the better-known closed-door restaurants. Proprietor: Dan Perlman.
- Specializes in organic and vegetarian dishes.
Paladar Doña Fela (Almagro)
- Cuban food and drink.
Ocho7ocho (Palermo Soho)
- Bar/restaurant named for its location at Thames 878.
- No website – Tel: 4773-1098
Caracoles para Da Vinci (Villa Crespo)
- Opens just two days per month. Seats 35.
Casa Roca (Micro Centro)
- Private restaurant located downtown.
Tipo Casa (Almagro)
- Eat, drink and enjoy in Almagro.
El Poney Pisador (Villa Urquiza)
- Also offer delivery or catering to your home.
MAAT Club Privado (Belgrano)
- Large, sophisticated private gourment club.