When you can’t choose one thing to eat, tapas come in handy, and Lisbon’s bohemian neighborhood Bairro Alto boasts some excellent venues with many appetizer-like dishes. Brimming with bars and clubs, it’s a convenient spot for tapas bars, just don’t get confused while ordering – Portuguese-style tapas called “petiscos” are usually what you’ll find, although some spots do provide Spanish-style tapas, too. Here is a list of great tapa and petisco bars to check out while exploring Lisbon’s eclectic Bairro Alto.
Speaking of Portuguese-style petiscos, Petiscos no Bairro is a great place to begin tasting some of Portugal’s more traditional flavors. Many of the items on the menu (which is mounted on the building, just outside the door) center around fish and seafood, including octopus, sardines, and cod, but vegetables, bean stews, meats including pork sausages, as well as a variety of cheeses, round out the selection nicely. Cozy and relaxed, the restaurant is also very traditional and perfect for everyone from couples to groups.
For a lunch or dinner selection that includes more Spanish-style tapas like huevos rotos and calamares, head over to Tapa Bucho, a “hole in the wall” venue that is typical in Bairro Alto. Located just a couple of blocks from the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara and the Igreja de São Roque, it is perfectly situated for satisfying between-meal cravings while sightseeing, too. Those who want an Iberian mix may like ordering a few different plates including some twists on Portuguese classics like Tapa Bucho’s “alheira balls.”
Tapas Bar 52 on the Bairro Alto/Principe Real line offers a mix of Spanish tapas with a Portuguese flair like Gaspacho Andaluz, Queijo Manchego, and Batatas Alioli/Bravas (note the Portuguese spelling). Although this tapas bar is a bit pricier than its neighbors, the bright and colorful ambiance in addition to delicious recipes keep the visitors flowing, and it’s a fun place to stop for a bite while hopping from one venue to the next.
One of Bairro Alto’s top spots for petiscos and wine is Grapes & Bites, a wine and tapas bar where you can also listen to live music in the evenings. Part of a hostel, this is a popular venue for travelers, but it’s also sought out by locals, which is always a good sign.
Who else loves cheese and meat platters alongside a delicious glass of wine? If your answer is “Me!”, then another excellent bar is the BA Wine Bar do Bairro Alto, a favorite among locals and tourists since it opened in 2012. Here you’ll find 200 different bottles of Portuguese wine, most served by the glass, and the staff are trained to answer questions about the different varietals, as well as help customers pair wines with snacks.
Cocktail Bar, Portuguese, European, Mediterranean, $$$
If you want to try Alto do Bairro, it’s best to get there early, since space fills up fast. Reasonably priced, it’s another venue that attracts a crowd and the menu offers a mix of traditional bites, like sardines and roasted chouriço, as well as international flavors like chicken skewers and vegan wraps with peanut sauce.
Despite its name, there are much more than 11 recipes on offer at Restaurante 11 Tapas in Bairro Alto, located on the slope between the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara and the Igreja de São Roque. Diving into the menu with friends and ordering a little of a lot is an excellent way to walk away later with a well-rounded appreciation of Portuguese petiscos (if you didn’t already have it). As typical in Bairro Alto, call in advance and/or arrive early, because space fills up quickly, especially on the weekends.