Looking for the ultimate date night in the Portuguese capital? These gorgeous spots really have the wow factor.
Bathed in sunshine, packed with tile-clad buildings, and with the river Tagus sparkling beneath its seven hills, Lisbon is one of Europe’s most dazzling cities. And with a drinking and dining scene that takes in everything from leafy rooftop bar-restaurants to snug speakeasies and a clutch of Michelin-starred restaurants, it’s a major draw for foodies and pleasure seekers.
In fact, enticing new bars and restaurants in Lisbon crop up at such a hectic pace that your biggest challenge in the city might be deciding where to enjoy that perfectly-crafted cocktail or dinner with a view. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we’ve rounded up seven of the most spectacular spots for eating and drinking in this most scenic of cities.
A discreet doorway just off elegant Avenida da Liberdade leads diners into a foliage-filled complex of dining spaces, complete with a Japanese-inspired garden. The interior dining room at this East-meets-West fusion restaurant is all eye-catching dragon designs and tasteful mood lighting – all the better for admiring the show stopping sashimi platter, which is presented with a theatrical plume of smoke. Before you take your seat, you can set the mood for foodie adventures with a wasabi-infused margarita or a sake cocktail in the welcoming bar area.
BAHR & Terrace
Lisbon’s rooftop bars and terraces are an integral part of the city’s drinking and dining scene, but not all its lofty locations are created equal. The terrace at BAHR (Bairro Alto Hotel Restaurant) is one of the best of the bunch, with glorious views over Lisbon’s red roofs and glimmering river making the perfect backdrop to some of the best cocktails in the city. Time your visit to coincide with one of Lisbon’s famous sunsets, then step indoors to enjoy modern renderings of traditional Portuguese dishes, prepared with panache at the open kitchen.
To get the best views of Lisbon, you need to cross the river. More precisely, you need to cross the river and head to Ponto Final, a rustic-chic fish restaurant with tables and chairs set out on a waterfront patio lapped by gentle waves. To get here, take the 10-minute ferry ride from Caís do Sodré to the traditional port town of Cacilhas, and follow a rough track along the river. It might feel a little off-the-beaten track, but the scenic location has made Ponto Final a favourite with photographers and videographers, and the restaurant has cropped up in TV shows including Money Heist and Somebody Feed Phil.
Red Frog Speakeasy
Regularly cited among the 50 Best Bars in the world, Red Frog blazed a trail for the speakeasy concept in Lisbon. You’ll need to book in advance (several weeks in advance if you want to visit on a Friday or Saturday evening), then slip through the crowds at sister bar Monkey Mash to discover a hidden door. Ring the red frog for entry, and you’ll be transported to an intimate space where cocktails (the list changes constantly, making use of seasonal ingredients) look like works of art and where the expert bar staff will create the perfect drink to suit your tastes. To accompany, there’s an inviting array of petiscos (Portuguese small plates) that includes Galician Sturgeon Caviar and tart cheeses from the Azores.
The downtown district of Caís do Sodré is better known for its lively nightlife than its formal dining, which makes stepping through the door of Brilhante feel like a delightful surprise. Just steps from the myriad pavement cafe bars, this is a glimmering jewel of a restaurant that calls to mind a French brasserie – filled with ornate light fittings, sparkling glasswear, a grand central bar, and oodles of old-world glamour. The menu is rich with elegant versions of rich dishes like salmon gravlax, while the house specialty is the ‘Steak Brilhante’ – a crowd-pleasing version of a steak dish that arrived in Lisbon at the tail end of the 18th Century.
Proudly bearing two Michelin stars, Belcanto is the restaurant that put Portuguese fine dining on the world stage. Opened in 2012 by superstar chef José Avillez, the restaurant serves impeccably presented tasting menus (vegetarian options available) and a-la-carte options, accompanied by an impressive wine list that is 80 percent Portuguese. For the ultimate foodie experience, book the Chef’s Table, and be sure to order the legendary ‘Garden of the goose that laid the golden egg’.
Occupying the top floor of the elegant five-star Tivoli Avenida da Liberdade hotel, this terrace bar-restaurants offers unforgettable 360 degree views over the city and across the river to the nearby hills. With art deco flair and glass walls to ensure amazing views in any weather, this is one of the most Instagrammable spots in the city. And that’s before you even get to the colourful cocktails and elegant small plates. As the name suggests, this is a place to ‘see and be seen’, attractimg a dressy crowd of hotel guests, Lisbon cool kids, and the occasional celebrity.
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