Probably the most well-known area of Lisbon for everyone who visits, the Bairro Alto truly lives up to its reputation. By day it’s a labyrinth of calm, pastel-fronted houses, dotted with the odd cafe or coffee house. Its tall buildings and narrow streets make it the perfect place to grab a beer and hide from the sun!
But by night, this area really comes alive. What may seem like houses or closed-up shopfronts magically transform into teeny-tiny bars and clubs that you never would’ve known existed. Whether you want to find a place to settle in for the night, or sip your beer on foot as you search for the next bar is up to you! Read on for a few of my favourite spots in the area for eating and drinking.
As the name suggests, Croissant Gigante is famous mainly for its ENORMOUS filled croissant selection. And I’m not exaggerating: you have to be pretty hungry to tackle a whole one of these. With fillings ranging from local ham and cheese, salmon and goat’s cheese, or something for those with a sweet tooth, you’re absolutely spoilt for choice. The bar’s daily happy hour, which kicks off at 5pm, makes it impossible to order just one beer. With friendly staff, good music, and modern decor, this is the perfect spot to rest your feet after a day of trekking up all those hills!
Panificação Reunida de São Roque
This tiny pastry shop stands out from all others in the city, mainly because of its grandiose, imposing architecture and high, marble ceilings. If you’re looking for a Portuguese delicacy, then look no further than this bakery! Whether it’s a Pastel de Nata or simply a Tosta Mista that you’re after, the bread is baked fresh every day. Its modest pricing makes it a hit with locals, and means that you can get lunch and a coffee for no more than 3 EUR. Oh, and a large glass of homemade wine is 1,30 EUR. Just FYI.
This is arguably my favourite spot in the city. Another tiny bar, but this time with a slight twist: the live music and extensive tapas list. Also, they have sangria on tap, which is always a bonus in my books. Whether you’re looking for a chilled night indulging in your inner Spaniard, or you’re after something a little more lively, the Jam Club is perfect. Settle yourself into a cosy corner, sit back and enjoy the music. And for anyone who’s interested (I, unfortunately, don’t fall into this category), there’s a huge screen where they show football matches.
Don’t let the name fool you: this small, stylish wine bar is actually first and foremost a restaurant, with some of the best fish in the area. Served as tapas-sized dishes, it’s hard to limit yourself to just a few: but ALWAYS make sure you go for their octopus salad and their garlic prawns. The wine list is also pretty impressive, and the staff are there to help out with recommendations (or language barriers!)
1º de Maio
If traditional is what you’re after, then it’s exactly what you’re going to get at this subterranean Portuguese restaurant! Warm, cosy and packed with happy diners and the smell of freshly-cooked food, this place would make a perfect introduction to Portuguese culture. The menu is (unsurprisingly) dominated by seafood dishes, but feels much more like home cooking than many other places in the Bairro Alto. If you’re feeling daring, try the prawn Açorda: a traditional dish which is essentially a mushy, bready, prawny soup. I know, I haven’t sold it very well.
Throw traditional out the window: Cave Bar is wonderfully dingy, and almost exclusively touristy. With its international beers, cheap prices and rock music, this bar is expat heaven, and is a lot of fun if you’re wanting to meet some cool new people.