One of Sydney's most popular restaurants, Porteño, is moving to the MoVida site

Porteno’s fire pit in action. Source: Facebook

Just 24 hours after Melbourne chef Frank Camorra announced the closure of his Sydney restaurant, MoVida, fellow tapas exponents Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz have announced plans to relocate Porteño, their popular Argentinian asador diner, to the Holt Street site.

The pair, and co-owner Joe Valore, plan to turn Porteño’s existing Cleveland Street building, which was sold last month to a Chinese investor for $6.7 million, into an events centre. Their existing lease runs until 2020, with a five-year option.

The move comes six years after they opened their two-hat restaurant, famed for its open fire pit, where whole lambs and pigs are slow-cooked. The upstairs bar, Gardels, was named Sydney’s best bar.

Porteño is Spanish slang for a native of Buenos Aires native and pays tribute to Abrahanowicz’s family heritage. Queues form outside the no bookings restaurant every evening before it opens.

This year also marks 10 years since they opened the Surry Hills tapas bar, Bodega. Last year the team also launched Stanbuli in Enmore, and Continental Deli in Newtown, as well as LP’s Quality Meats in Chippendale with chef Luke Powell.

Abrahanowicz’s wife, Sarah Doyle, told Business Insider the relocation gave them the chance to develop a new part of the business.

“We’ve always had a lot of interest for events and things like weddings, but we’ve had to say no because people want Fridays and Saturdays,” she said.

Doyle said the Holt Street site was a beautiful building with the capacity to cope with the open fires used for Porteño’s cooking. The venue will be completely changed from its current design, with work on the rebuild starting next month for an October opening.

Porteño Events Cleveland Street will also launch at the same time.

A second Bodega is due to open at the Glebe tramsheds, part of the 1250-apartment Harold Park redevelopment, in August this year.

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