There’s one notable nightlife venue in Lisbon that still manages to keep a low profile despite its soaring popularity.
Primeiro Andar, which means “First Floor” in English, is hidden away within the Ateneu Comercial de Lisboa, a late nineteenth-century building near the city's Restauradores district that has long seen its heyday as a commercial athenaeum. But the Portuguese have a knack for turning rundown premises into cultural hotspots, and this historic old hall is enjoying a well-deserved new lease of life.
Actually, the “First Floor” works on several levels. It’s a restaurant, bar and a nightclub, of sorts. Live music and bonhomie at Primeiro Andar — Photo courtesy of Paul Bernhardt
Eating here is enjoyable, and the food is excellent, considering the modest size of the kitchen. The menu of delicious Portuguese and Mediterranean fare changes daily and features dishes like chicken lasagne with courgette, asparagus and mushroom. "Cheap and cheerful" says it all.
There’s a wonderfully ad-hoc and informal buzz about the place, and the mismatched furniture adds a funky, haphazard quality that’s domestic and eccentric in a “Why not?” kind of way.
The bar draws a youngish, alternative crowd, and a chatty nightlife atmosphere hangs in the air. Writers, artists musicians and other creative types tend to congregate here, where kindred spirits and good beer prevail.
Meander through the bar and you end up in a larger salon laid with creaky wooden floorboards, several threadbare armchairs and a couple of secondhand sofas. On concert nights, it’s standing room only (or cross-legged on the floor). The club offers an eclectic program of DJ sets and live music, performed by local bands who really know their stuff. At other times, the room is used for hosting whacky and original art and craft fairs.
Indeed, the concept behind Primeiro Andar is to promote culture, gastronomy and the arts. It’s also about having fun on the First Floor.