As you probably have heard, closed door restaurants are a big attraction in Buenos Aires. Closed door restaurants are a phenomenon in Buenos Aires where professional and amateur chefs open up their homes for a handful of guests to enjoy a unique culinary experience with a small group of people.
After many years of living in Buenos Aires, I had still never been to one of these mysterious closed door restaurants. It was hard to know where to start, where to go, what kind of food, or how to tell the difference between what might be a great culinary experience or a random individual cooking out of his or her kitchen. I came across Jueves a La Mesa while searching for a vegetarian restaurant. After many meals of the classic Argentine cuisine – red meat and carbs, I had a craving for some real good vegetables. I began looking for a restaurant where I could find good vegetarian food, and a friend recommended me Jueves a La Mesa. I thought it could be a good place to combine two things I had been interested in: a vegetarian meal and a closed door restaurant.
Jueves a La Mesa was everything I would want out of a closed door restaurant experience. It had an interesting setting, in the back of a bike rental shop in San Telmo. The hosts were welcoming and friendly and immediately offered us herb-infused water upon our arrival and sat with us until the other guests arrived. As for the guests, there was a good eclectic group of people: a mix of travelers, Argentines, and people like me who had moved to Buenos Aires from abroad. The environment was unpretentious and laid back. Before I arrived, I was worried they were going to push their vegetarian / vegan beliefs on us, but this did not happen at all.
Our host, one was from the United States and one, from Costa Rica, simply said she wanted to serve good, healthy, home-cooked meals made with love. She wanted to help people appreciate where their food came from and how it was prepared. The whole meal felt very wholesome, simple, healthy, and flavorful, and very evidently cooked with love.
As for what we ate, the menu was delicious: The theme was Indonesian food, with just enough of a spicy kick to make it interesting—a welcome change from the more basic seasonings usually seen in restaurants here. Some highlights of the menu: drinks were herb-infused water and a Malbec-Rosé blend; a nice starter of carrot coconut milk soup, “gado gado”- an Indonesian salad with a peanut sauce salad, and “nasi goreng”- a rice dish made with ginger, onions, raisins, tofu, chili sauce and other spices.
Overall, Jueves a La Mesa was a delicious and affordable way to experience the closed door restaurant scene in Buenos Aires. Being completely vegetarian, the scene was unique not only for a closed door restaurant, but for the entire culinary scene in Buenos Aires.
Good healthy vegetarian food made with love—this restaurant was a great find.