Infiltrating the Underground Dining Scene from Italy to Seattle
(Photo: Getty Images)
Part of the thrill and the allure of traveling is the food. You truly aren't experiencing a culture without savoring the local fare - and people vie to find their own secret hidden gems to come home and brag about. Some check popular foodie mags or websites and spend the bank on a "once in a lifetime meal." But it doesn't have to be that way. Sure, you could go to a popular restaurant and order from the menu and have a great meal — but where’s the fun in that?
Many of the world’s finest meals and most thrilling dining experiences aren’t in restaurants at all. Or if they’re in restaurants, they’re events where the entire menu is a one-off surprise.
The world’s underground dining scenes have never been as playful or delectable. Here are seven ways from Italy to Seattle to have an unforgettable meal that’s also an adventure.
Italy: Home Food
Ever dreamed you had your own Italian nonna to stuff you with secret recipes passed down for generations? Now you can thanks to Home Food’s cesarines (empresses of the kitchen), who specialize in cooking regional food — and making guests feel like family. If you’re in Bologna, you might get fried pork cutlets covered in prosciutto and cheese, followed by spaghetti with a hearty meat sauce that’s been simmering since morning. The company’s goal is to preserve the rich history and culture of Italian food and they vet their cesarine hosts accordingly. Expect old-fashioned home cooking served at a leisurely pace. (And because you’re the guest of an Italian matriarch, it’s going to be hard to say no when they urge you to have seconds or thirds.)
Italian grandmas, Italian food, Italian delicious. (Photo: Homefood.it)
Buenos Aires: Adentro Dinner Club
Buenos Aires is the king of puerta cerradas (closed-door restaurants), where guests often dine in the chef’s home, if not an offbeat location. Chef Gabriel Aguallo’s traditional Argentine asado (think grilled steak, short ribs, chorizo, blood sausage, intestines, shrimp, corn, and mushrooms) is the ultimate barbecue feast — and favorite of both locals and English-speaking tourists. Aguallo and Colorado-born co-host Kelly Brenner sit, eat, and drink, often until 2 am, with visitors at their table for 10. Free-flowing conversations about food, politics, technology, love, sex, and art are just desserts.