In a country where the wine is world-renowned, enjoying a few glasses the right way is mandatory. Rejoice, then, that in Portugal’s hilly, sunny capital, superb wine bars are cropping up all over the city.
“Before, the options were limited to very few, but now Lisbon seems to be more open to the concept of wine bars,” says Thomas Domingues, sommelier of Cave 23. Thomas let us in on some of his secrets for this list, which leads you from neighbourhood to neighbourhood – and from perfect sip to perfect sip. As Lisboetas say: Saúde!
Located on the quiet rooftop of a boutique hotel in Campo dos Mártires da Pátria, far from the crowds and surrounded by greenery, this is a great place to admire the sunset sipping a glass of wine (and enjoying how beautiful Lisbon looks from above). “The wine list is short, but smart, with two red options, two white wines, and one sparkling and one rosé. But all of them can also be tasted by the glass,” says Domingues, who is in charge of all wine lists at the Torel Palace hotel, where Terraço 23 and Cave 23 are located. There are also some snacks and shareable dishes, among them ceviche, assorted cheeses and Tandoori chicken, which pair well with the wine. Visitors can also try a good selection of cocktails as night falls.
Focused on Peruvian culture and cuisine, this is a casual and cosy bar where a great selection of Portuguese wines (many from natural-based producers) pair well with ceviche made with high-quality fish caught on the Portuguese coast. It is a kind of embassy where you can try Peruvian pisco – which is the quintessential spirit also made from grapes – straight or mixed in cocktails such as the classic Pisco Sour and the Pisco Portonic (a “fusion” cocktail made with local Port wine).
Pioneers of Portugal’s natural wine scene, the Goliardos family run this mix of a wine store and bar in the Campolide district – which almost goes unnoticed without a closer look. With hundreds of labels imported directly from small European winegrowers (many of them visited first-hand), there are always about 15 options that change daily, allowing their loyal clientele to sample many different varieties. If you’re hungry, there is a selection of cheese and cured meats. They also host many wine events, so keep your eyes on their schedule.
Inside this charming stone building (dating from the late 17th century) is one of the most traditional and unique wine bars in town. The cellar is located within an old aqueduct that used to supply the city with water – now it supplies the glasses of tourists and local city dwellers alike with wine. One of the first venues in Lisbon to popularise wine by the glass, the bar offers over 300 labels, always including new producers and lesser-known regions of Portugal for wines, such as the Algarve. There are also delicious traditional Portuguese snacks to taste.
In the touristy and always busy Bairro Alto, this classic bar is an oasis for those who want to relax with a glass of wine in hand. The atmosphere evokes that of a tavern, with few (and always crowded) seats and tables – some made of old wine barrels. The wine list is renewed every 15 days with labels from various regions of the country, as well as Port and Madeira labels. It is also possible to buy a bottle from the store and open it to taste right there. To eat, the selection of Portuguese snacks offers from pasteis de bacalhau (cod fritters) and grilled sardines to artisanal sausages with bread.
By The Wine offers tasty snack options to accompany the wine | Michael Thomas / Alamy Stock Photo
In a very central location in the Chiado area, By the Wine is the flagship store of José Maria da Fonseca, one of the most traditional and acclaimed wineries in Portugal (owner of very popular labels such as Piriquita). With a modern and elegant decor that counts on a ceiling entirely covered by wine bottles (there are over 3,000 of them), this is a cosy place to have a glass at the end of the day. To satisfy your hunger, the menu encompasses good snack options from cheese boards to prego (a Portuguese meat sandwich).
This resembles a kind of neighbourhood Portuguese grocery store of yore, where over 500 products – including all wine bottles – are selected from small (and notably organic) producers around the country. The owner Rita Santos has travelled to all regions of Portugal and beyond to discover the best food she could sell, among them sausages, cheese, rice, honey and vegetables. A small counter in the modern room is the best place to taste everything right there, with a few good glasses of wine (such as the ones from acclaimed producers like Cantina Giardino, in Italy, and Domaine Labet, in France), before taking your products home (or to your hotel). “It has become my favourite place to drink in the city,” Domingues says. They also offer lunch and wine tastings guided by experts.
Tsukiji focuses on seafood and sake | Courtesy Tsukiji
Chef Paulo Morais’s newly opened restaurant in the Belém neighbourhood focuses on Japanese cuisine – not surprisingly, it was named after the most famous food market in Tokyo. Using the finest fish and seafood from the coast of Portugal, he serves well-prepared dishes that can also be tasted as snacks, tapas-style, in the elegant, comfy wine and sake bar at the entrance. There are 150 labels of Portuguese wines (such as Fita Preta, Quinta do Vallado and Adega Mãe) from all the wine regions in the country and French Champagne, as well as several Japanese sakes to wash down.
Here, the main focus is on the diversity of Portuguese wines: there are glasses ranging from €3 (£2.60) to €35 (£30), and reds to whites, sparkling to fortified, passing through sangrias – in short, something to please all tastes. With a Parisian bistro feel – think sidewalk tables and a charming small retro-styled room – the bar serves thin slices of ham (from legs that hang in the windows) and some good sandwiches. There is also a “weird wine” on the list that changes every month focused on a particular characteristic: a rare grape variety or a limited vintage, for example. Odete Bar also has a branch in the tourist-crowded Time Out Market, in Cais do Sodré.
Mercearia Prado specialises in organic, natural and biodynamic wines | Courtesy Mercearia Prado
After the success of Prado, a casual restaurant run by young, talented chef António Galapito, the building just next door has turned into a grocery store (with the same name) selling products the chef uses (and prepares) in his kitchen – as well as coffee, jams, cookies and, of course, wine. “The list, focused on organic, natural and biodynamic wines, is great for a snobless sipping,” explains Domingues. On the list, there are options such as Aphros, one of the pioneers in biodynamic farming in Portugal, and organic labels from Filipa Pato. The retro atmosphere is the charm of the place, which also attracts customers for the excellent selection of items and the good food – don’t miss the sandes of the day (a sandwich made with local cold meats that changes daily).