One of my favorite Buenos Aires hobbies is strolling down the grand avenues, chusmeando the incredible apartments and homes, dreaming of the day I’ll have one to call my own (sigh). Imagine my excitement, then, when I finally made it to Pagano Club Social for one of its legendary dinners after hoping to go for months.
Tucked away on a small street just beyond the expansive green parks of Recoleta, the restaurant is actually set up in Patricia and her family’s home, complete with cocker spaniel Tango running around and barking on the balcony. Pagano combines both the supper club and “a la gorra” concepts, meaning that diners are only charged for drinks/wine; the amount they choose to leave for dinner is entirely up to them.
Upon arrival, you feel as if you’ve just walked into Royal Tenenbaum’s Buenos Aires abode: it’s rife with mismatched antiques, kitschy trinkets, and has a well-worn feeling that emanates a kind of easy joy that lets you know that your night there will be nothing short of wonderful.
The service is friendly and laid back – again, you feel as if you’re at a friend’s home settling in for a private dinner party. And in essence, that’s exactly what you’re doing. You can BYOB, though Pagano does have a good (but short) wine list with great bodegas – when we went, they were featuring Lagarde. As for the menu, you’ll have a choice of appetizer – we chose between a salmon tiradito and a vegetarian salad – which is followed by the main course (beef with nice scalloped potatoes and marscapone) and dessert (warm apple crumble).
But let’s be honest here. You don’t go to Pagano for the food. Yes, it’s good, and it’s sure that you won’t be let down. However, the real draw of the place is the atmosphere that lets you escape from the city for a night; curling up in one of the big antique sofas with your glass of wine, you enjoy genuine conversation while you soak up the beautiful house and its myriad of objects. If you need a bit of air (or a post prandial smoke), you can pop out onto the balcony – Tango the dog is sure to join you.
Pagano Club Social is one of those special places that makes Buenos Aires what it is – unpretentious, quirky, inviting and ever so interesting. Sign the guestbook as you leave and promise Patricia that you’ll be back soon – this time you know you aren’t just being polite. Pagano could be the perfect setting for a small birthday celebration, an intimate goodbye party, or just a night out with friends.
Pagano Club Social
Address provided upon reservation – Recoleta
Open Wednesday, Thursday & Friday for dinner
15-6688-1919 / firstname.lastname@example.org