Hip and trendy Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s premier dining and clubbing quarter, is also the historical centre of the Portuguese capital and a fantastic base for all your Lisbon explorations. During the daytime, Bairro Alto is a wonderfully peaceful suburb to peruse, offering tourists a vast array of sightseeing and shopping opportunities.
The main drags of Rua do Norte and Rua da Atalaia are literally brimming with unique and enticing boutiques, and the nearby viewing point of São Pedro de Alcântara offers breathtaking city views for those in-between retail therapy moments. But the area really comes alive after the sun sets, when Bairro Alto becomes the playground of Lisbon’s eclectic, multicultural and artistic youth. Join the crowds as they bar hop, fill up insanely popular Fado houses (where only the traditional and very melancholic fado music is played) and shop till late at night.
Hidden amongst grand 16th century palaces, and sleek 21st century clubs, you’ll also find a vast array of exceptional eateries. In fact, Bairro Alto is where the most authentic restaurants in town are to be found! Only problem is…you need to be able to discern the overly-touristy from the truly-authentic. Book an apartment in Lisbon Bairro Alto and let us show you where to take your taste buds on a grand Portuguese culinary adventure.
Cantinho Lusitano, Rua dos Prazeres, 52
When searching for an authentic eatery, in any country, its size is usually a good indicator of authenticity. They way we see it: the smaller the better! Well, in Lisbon they don’t come much smaller than Cantinho Lusitano, a family run joint which can only cater for a maximum of 20 people at a time.
Apart from the utterly cosy and charming atmosphere, which almost makes it seem like you’re dining at a friend’s house, what we love most is the petisco size servings. Much like Spanish tapas, petiscos are small mouthfuls of epicurean treats and gift an unbeatable chance to try many different local specialties at one sitting.
Renowned for their use of only the best local produce, the family’s passion for their traditional cuisine is clearly evident in the presentation and quality of the food here at Lusitano. Enjoy a dozen or more treats, matched perfectly with local wines, and don’t forget to leave some room for the lovely home-made sweet delights on offer. The menu changes regularly, but you’ll always find some mouth watering bacalau (salted cod fish), pork and spicy sausages on the menu. Consider walking past during the day to book a table, unless your Portuguese is good enough to make phone reservations.
Lisboa a Noite, Rua as Gaveas 69
Seafood lovers ought to head to Lisboa a Noite, the definite ‘splurge’ choice in Bairro Alto. It’s not so much that this restaurant is overly-pretentious or a rock star-hangout, but when one salivates over a plate of risotto with whiskey-flambéed prawns and lobster, one is expected to spend a little more than usual.
Housed in a perfectly restored and splendidly furnished cellar, this elegant restaurant offers the freshest seafood in Lisbon, cooked to absolute perfection. With an extensive menu to choose from, which actually includes quite a few delicious chicken and meat dishes, Lisboa a Noite delivers an epicurean experience second to none. Should you notice the ‘dessert list’ conspicuously missing from the menu, don’t despair! There’ll be an entire dessert trolley coming past your table at the end of your meal. We can assure you that trying to resist the delectable temptations will be quite a futile exercise.
Imperio dos Sentidos Restaurante, Rua da Atalaia 35
If you’re looking for a romantic dinner, while holidaying in Lisbon Bairro Alto, then look no further than this enticing and inviting restaurant on Rua da Atalaia, one of the main shopping streets in Bairro Alto. This restaurant-cum-art gallery is a feast for the senses, and the un-hurried service makes for a thoroughly enjoyable dining experience. The menu is varied enough to satisfy everyone, and the cuisine a wonderful modern Portuguese-Mediterranean fusion. We admit to almost being ‘over’ salted codfish by the time we found this gem, but their cod and prawn risotto cooked in prosecco was just too good to pass up. And indeed it proved a winner!
We really can’t decide what it was that endeared us to this place; between the soothing tunes, attentive service, lovely decor and unbelievably delicious local fare, this is one place you may be tempted to return to time and again during your stay. All right…we forgot to mention that Imperio dos Sentidos serves the most exquisite champagne sangria in Lisbon, which may have contributed to our complete infatuation.