The idea of ‘closed doors’ restaurants is nothing new… In fact the first restaurant recorded was actually a private house with an ambitious home cook (Mrs Ma Yung’s chicken house in China). And perhaps it is to no surprise in a country like Argentina, where everyone is eager as a beaver to avoid wading through the impassable trench of bureaucracy and paperwork, that the underground restaurant scene is an increasingly emerging one.
Here are some of our top picks of ‘behind closed doors’ foodie experiences:
The original ‘puertas cerradas’ experience: Los Chocos
Los Chocos is the longest serving closed doors restaurant here in Mendoza and has a fab reputation for their nightly dinner parties of ‘terroir cuisine’. Martin and Martin welcome you into their city centre house and you sit around an attractive table with the other guests of the night (between 2 and 8 people). A five course dinner with matching wines showcase some indigenous Argentine ingredients and dishes (check out their deep and rich dessert of a regional speciality olive oil cake) all stunningly presented with edible flowers. The night inevitably ends up with new friends, sated bellies and rosy cheeks. www.loschocosweb.blogspot.com
The boho option: Ituzaingo
Gonzalo opened his gorgeous converted loft in the bohemian 4ta seccion as a ‘closed doors’ restaurant two years ago and his relaxed vibe, gorgeous music selection and varied menu make this a funky little watering and feeding hole. With a handful of smaller tables indoors and out in the garden, you can reserve for a private table of 2 or up to 30 people and his chef will prepare Argentine-Peruvian fusion food and you sit back and enjoy Gonzalo’s hospitality as a fun host with a wicked sense of humor. Bring your own wine or pick a bottle from his cellar, and flop out on the sofa at the end trying to focus you wine induced double vision on some great local art. This place is all about its ‘onda’ (vibe) and Gonzalo welcomes you into his own home as a friend. www.ituzaingoresto.com.ar
The BBQ party: Lurican
Long time expat in Mendoza, Langdon Doty is a serious foodie and a great chef. This Summer he has been opening his cabin in the mountains for a monthly BBQ day with different themes where a certain meat dish battles it out with variations from different countries. Take for example their ‘rib battle’ between Argentine Chimichurri Ribs, American BBQ Sauce Ribs, Korean Galbi Beef Ribs and Portuguese style Pork Ribs, all accompanied by side dishes, a welcome cocktail, wine and a glass of fizz at sunset by the swimming pool. Contact Langdon to find out about the next one: firstname.lastname@example.org
The private bar: Wine Lounge
Another long time expat here in Mendoza, German born Kai converted his stunning apartment into a cooking school and wine lounge. In the heart of the restaurant street Sarmiento, knocking at this unmarked door will open up a surprising little bar where you can relax on the sofas and drink some unusual wines from Argentina while chatting away to Kai or listening to music. A very low key and relaxed spot for a pre- or post-dinner copa de vino! Contact Kai first for availability: www.mendozawineconnection.com
Amanda Barnes is a British journalist living in Mendoza and still enjoying peeking behind all sorts of closed doors here...