December 5, 2008 / 11:06 AM / 10 years ago

Travel Picks: World's 10 best secret dining clubs

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - For gourmet food lovers seeking somewhere different to eat, a number of secret dining clubs have popped up around the world, mixing guests and wines.

Members of the Supper Underground are seen in Austin, Texas in a handout photo. REUTERS/Randy Ho/Handout

Web site Travel + Leisure has compiled a list of the world's 10 best secret dining clubs (here ) This list is not endorsed by Reuters.

1. Supper Underground, Austin, Texas, United States

Despite demanding day jobs, Hannah Calvert and her business partner opened SUG in 2006 as a way to meet their desire to cook, entertain, and even matchmake. From a 1,500-person mailing list, they select 30 a month to dine in secret locations from flower-filled nurseries to stately private residences.

2. Hidden Kitchen, Paris, France

Seattle transplants Braden (a chef) and Laura (a baker) decided to throw dinner parties to make friends after moving to Paris. After 18 months, their dining atelier, which is also their apartment, has seen hundreds of diners. Dinners start with an aperitif and end with petit fours in a silver jewel box.

3. Clandestino Suppers, Chicago, United States

Supper club veteran and chef Efrain Cuevas launched a new culinary club earlier this year with bimonthly Chicago-style locavore dinners held in lofts and gardens. His favorite events, however, are collaborative meals with artists in their gallery, such as a Caribbean comfort food feast inspired by Puerto Rican painter Edra Soto.

4. Home Food Italy, Bologna, plus 20 Italian cities/regions

Home-cooked meals in Italy are a holy grail for any food-obsessed traveler, and are now in reach due to Egeria Di Nallo, a sociology professor from Bologna. Since 2004, she’s anointed and galvanized an army of 100-plus cesarine, or “empresses of the kitchen,” to educate and cook for strangers in their homes as well as at museums, castles, and decrepit farms.

5. Plate & Pitchfork, Portland, Oregon, United States

During summers since 2003, founders Erika Polmar and Emily Berreth have held a series of dinners at working farms near Portland. Chefs, many from Portland’s top restaurants, set up makeshift kitchens amid the crops. After a tour and local wine tasting, guests sit down to long banquet tables adorned with meadow flowers for family-style dishes.

6. Homeslice West, New York City, United States

One of the early dining clubs on the NYC scene, this five-year-old self-proclaimed “culinary speakeasy” is still hot due in large part to its talented hosts Becky and Hayden. The duo churn out unabashedly rich dishes from Kentucky to Louisiana for diverse crowds that are anything but calorie-phobic.

7. Aronia de Takazawa, Tokyo, Japan

In Tokyo’s Akasaka district behind an unmarked door is one of the world’s smallest fine restaurants with only two tables. From his post in his open pop-up-size stainless-steel kitchen, master chef-owner Yoshiaki Takazawa, with the help of his wife, Akiko, choreographs near-private sensorial feasts that are part Japanese tea ceremony, part edible art experiment.

8. Cook Here and Now, San Francisco, United States

This two-year-old culinary experiment in communal dining brings hungry like-minded diners together. Founder and Rome native Marco Flavio Marinucci announces upcoming meals on his blog, inviting friends and strangers to cook using local ingredients, eat, and clean up together.

9. Casa Felix, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Slideshow (3 Images)

In this steak-mad city, a fish-and veggie-focused supper club is a welcome dining option — even better that it’s in the cozy Chacarita neighborhood home of a 33-year-old vegan-leaning chef, Diego Felix, who enchants visitors with indigenous South American ingredients. He and his American girlfriend, Sanra, cook together, sometimes even inviting guests to pitch in.

10. theDiningRoom, Vienna, Austria

Opened in 2007 in a residential Vienna neighborhood near Schonbrunn Castle, this hidden private home restaurant is a dream realized for self-trained chef Angelika Apfelthaler. As with so many dining clubs, her kitchen is open, and conversation over steaming pots is encouraged. While Austrian flavors make guest appearances, Apfelthaler’s menus are mostly Mediterranean.

Editing by Belinda Goldsmith

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