Before we arrived in Buenos Aires, we kept reading about puertas cerradas – or, closed door restaurants. We were intrigued by the thought of eating in someone’s house, someone who was so passionate about food and sharing it with others that they opened up their doors to strangers.
Having done quite a bit of research and collected quite a long list of puertas cerradas that we want to visit while we live here, we’ve discovered that the idea of the puerta cerrada has evolved somewhat. Some places are still in someone’s own dining room, whereas others have been around for so long and become so popular that they’ve had to move to other premises off site, but they’ve worked to retain a homely atmosphere. Either way, these are restaurants that you need a reservation for, and the reservation will get you the address of the restaurant.
It’s taken us four months to get out to one, and we were thrilled with our first puerta cerrada – Cocina Sunae, owned by an Asian-American woman with a passion for sharing Asian culture through food. The menu here changes regularly and the four courses include food from Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines, among others. And it’s LEGIT South East Asian food, with spice and heat – things that you just don’t find easily in other Buenos Aires restaurants.
We arrived at 9pm (early for dinner by Argentine standards!) and were ushered through a discreet black door into a small courtyard decorated with colourful lanterns. We chose a table for two in the patio, which was thankfully heated given the chilly night air. Some puerta cerradas have individual tables (which was perfect for us this night, as it was our wedding anniversary) whereas others seat guests at a communal table.
The waiters brought us the menu, four courses of which the main and dessert had three and two options to choose from, respectively. Service was fast and friendly (and of course done in either Spanish or English). Having not eaten Asian food in a long time, we savoured every bite and with that final spoonful of dessert, I was disappointed that it was over.
I’m going to apologise right now about the quality of the photos – I considered not publishing this post based on how awful they are, but then I decided that I wanted to share the deliciousness anyway… so I am sorry! I’m not one of those people that regularly takes photos of my food, and I just can’t bring myself to take a camera to a restaurant, so the good old iPhone will just have to do. I’ll keep working on getting better!
Have you ever eaten at a puerta cerrada in Buenos Aires or elsewhere in the world? Which one is your favourite?
As mentioned, you have to have a reservation which can easily be made online. The reservation confirmation will also provide the address of the restaurant. The price can change (unfortunately inflation in Argentina means prices fluctuate quite regularly) but at the time of writing was ARS$350 per person or ARS$380 if paying by credit card (check their website for updated information). Beverages are extra but sold at reasonable prices. All up, a well-priced meal in my opinion.