Neighborhood guides: Live like a local in Bairro Alto, Lisbon
9 Feb 2022
Bairro Alto stretches from the top of the hill in Chiado to the depths of the heart of Lisbon’s nightlife in Cais do Sodre. It’s a vibrant neighborhood that is home to the best restaurants and bars the city has to offer. It wasn’t always this way, though.
Few neighborhoods in Lisbon change as much as Bairro Alto. Some even go as far to say, the streets here lead a double life: relaxed and tranquil during the day and bursting with a thirsty crowd in the evenings. Although the area has a party-girl reputation, it’s traditionally been the city’s bohemien haunt of artists and writers ― hence why you’ll be joined by many others looking for a good cup of uma bica. Good thing is, you don’t have to go far to find one.
Here are our favorite spots.
Freelance graphic designer-turned-entrepreneur, Ricardo Galésio, opened Hello, Kristof back in 2016. It takes its design cues from New York and Scandinavia, which makes this spot a design-lovers destination: it has a carefully curated in an industrial-but-cozy aesthetic. Expect perfectly poured brews, creatives typing away, and to be surrounded by an interesting selection of independent publications and magazines.
Retrosaria Rosa Pomar
Retrosaria Rosa Pomar is more than just a shop to buy wool and other fabrics, it’s a calm and cosy destination that also acts as a place to learn about and try traditional crafts in Lisbon. Here you’ll find embroidery, weaving and knitting workshops held every month, as well as woven gifts for the home and your wardrobe.
“No mason jars or refurbished, whimsical objects atop the tables,” says owner Julien Garrec. “We wanted a clean, bright design, with white walls and Portuguese marble tables.” Even though Dear Breakfast is founded by architects Carlos Aragao and João Pombeiro Machado, the food is just as instagrammable as the location’s design. They called upon chef Raquel Patronilho, who previously worked at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz in Lisbon to serve an all-day breakfast menu. Make sure you try the signature dish of rothko eggs.
Two sisters, Ana and Sonia, dreamt of running their own modern and beautiful cafe where travelers and locals can order delicious homemade meals, cakes and refreshing drinks. They turned it into a reality with Tease Bakery, which is now known internationally for their specialty sweet cupcakes.
Mercearia Poço dos Negros
Only selling high-quality Portuguese products, this little grocery store fuses corner-shop familiarity with the atmosphere of a gourmet grocery store. Just without the inflated price tags. Expect to be rubbing elbows with tourists and locals, shopping for bread and artisanal butter and the sardine and tuna patés.
Serbian-born chef Ljubomir Stanisic’s 100 Maneiras cultivated his reputation for dishes that marry the fiery flavours of his homeland with Atlantic treasures and traditions. The tasting menu tells the story of his journey from refugee to infamous chef, and it really isn’t to be missed at this one-Michelin Star restaurant.
Zé dos Bois (ZDB)
Set up in the 1990s by a group of local artists, ZDB is a non-profit organisation that champions Portugal’s art and music scene. Situated in an 18th-century palace, which the artists transformed into one of Lisbon’s liveliest venues: ZDB doubles as a bar, cultural centre and art gallery, promoting local artists, as well as some from further afield too. Expect an event’s list that's packed full of concerts, exhibitions and dance performances. And come summer, the rooftop transforms into a bar and an alternative open-air cinema.
Design aficionados will find themselves flocking to this quaint little corner shop. Apaixonarte sells Portuguese-made home decor pieces and fashion accessories only, and once a month the space also welcomes art exhibits by local artists.