Michelin-starred chef José Avillez is one of Portugal's most celebrated restaurateurs. Already known for several city restaurants, Bairro is different for being a dining space and a mercearia, or grocery store, where you can purchase Portuguese delicacies such as hams and cheeses and other authentic gifts that make unusual souvenirs. The taberna offers a menu of regional dishes based on cherished recipes but interpreted in a fresh and contemporary way. Seafood choice is especially outstanding, and there are vegetarian options alongside classic meat presentations. A little pricy perhaps, but you're also paying for the concept and location. The wine list is modest considering the reputation of the chef but the whole idea here is to eat and relax in an informal, almost market-like ambiance. Bairro is also made up of other dining spaces at the rear of Taberna, Páteo and Beco, and a Peruvian restaurant space on the first floor.
Recommended for Baixa/Chiado's Best Restaurants because: Bairro da Avillez is a novel Lisbon dining experience where you can eat and shop under the same roof. Epicureans will be suitably impressed.
Paul's expert tip: Consider lunch over dinner as the experience is less crowded and the vibe more relaxing.
Admirers of Fernando Pessoa's work should pop into this historic cafe not only to sample the simple and authentic cuisine but also to see where the great Portuguese poet used to sit and order his afternoon coffee and aguardiente. Martinho da Arcada was founded in 1782, making it one of Lisbon's oldest cafes. Pessoa (1888--1935) had a favourite table inside the main salon and this has been lovingly preserved for posterity. Photographs of the man also adorn the walls. Customers can order a drink or something more substantial and very often choose to sit at one of the tables on the terrace that overlooks Praca do Comercio.
Recommended for Baixa/Chiado's Best Restaurants because: Steeped in history and revered by the Portuguese for its association with one of their greatest literary figures
Paul's expert tip: Check out Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa's favourite table.
As locations go, classy Michelin-recommended Tagide is hard to beat. Set within an elegant 18th-century townhouse in Lisbon's gilt-edged Chiado quarter, the restaurant, which also houses a tapas and wine bar, commands glorious views across the city's downtown area â" an especially alluring site after dark, particularly if you're seated on the terrace. The menu errs towards traditional Portuguese cuisine but chef Gonçalo Costa has incorporated inventive southern European flourishes that add Mediterranean vitality to the ingredients. Daily set lunch and dinner a la carte options are supplemented by an inspired menu degustation that really does showcase Costa's talent in the kitchen. It's a seasonal selection so dining here over several different months is perhaps the only way to truly savour the gastronomy (if you're that fortunate). As befitting such quality, the wine list perfectly complements the food.
Recommended for Baixa/Chiado's Best Restaurants because: Haute cuisine with one of the finest â" and romantic â" views in Lisbon makes Tagide a "must try" with foodies.
Paul's expert tip: For the finest views ask for a window seat on the terrace.
Popular with locals drawn to the simple but wholesome Portuguese fare that highlights the menu at this historic downtown eatery. Oddly, this place is two restaurants in one. A Licorista was previously a bar known for its choice of liquors, and still offers a bewildering array of concoctions. Look out for the delightful tiled mural on the wall depicting a suited gentleman imbibing heartedly. O Bacalhoeiro is next door. Both places feature the same menu, with the signature dish being bacalhau à minhota – codfish with thinly sliced fried potatoes. Another favourite dish is the picanha grelhada, spicy grilled meat. Wines are refreshingly inexpensive (the house options arrive in a litre jar) and the whole ambiance is laid-back and friendly.
Recommended for Baixa/Chiado's Best Restaurants because: Lisbon's Baixa is in places a restaurant tourist trap. A Licorista-O Bacalhoeiro, however, retains a semblance of originality and old-time charm.
Paul's expert tip: To avoid the inevitable tourist throngs, opt to eat later, around 9 pm. This way you'll enjoy the company of locals and a more authentic dining experience.
No other fish and seafood restaurant in Lisbon has a display counter quite like the one found here. Functioning rather like a balcony at a typical fish market the "catch", – a veritable ocean harvest featuring dozens of different fish and shellfish caught locally along the Portuguese coast – is set over a sea of ice in an artistic arrangement that really is quite striking. And therein lies the point! Sea Me works like a fish market where diners can browse the produce as if scanning a menu. They can choose their dish, which is then cooked to order and presented with side plates or other sundries if so desired. It's a simple concept that's caught the imagination of locals and visitors alike. And in an exotic touch, the floor space also extends as a sushi bar. An arm-long wine list features some memorable labels from most regions of Portugal.
Recommended for Baixa/Chiado's Best Restaurants because: One of Lisbon's most popular and original seafood restaurants, Sea Me combines a traditional market ambiance with super cool and contemporary interior design.
Paul's expert tip: Note that prices quoted are per kilo, so make sure you establish the cost of your meal beforehand.
A fusion of Asian food from China, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia prepared from authentic recipes but created and presented in a refreshingly contemporary way defines this funky Far East-themed dining spot. This is as close to Southeast Asian flavours as you'll likely to get without actually traveling to the region. The restaurant is imaginatively conceived. The elongated interior runs under an arched brick stone ceiling bristling with hanging light bulbs – modernist-minimalist architecture that highlights Boa-Bao's understated concept. Tables are also set over an esplanade and rear patio for al fresco moments. The menu is carefully designed to reflect the unique and iconic characteristics of oriental cooking, and the results are deliciously authentic. And if you're pressed for time, the kitchen offers a takeaway service.
Recommended for Baixa/Chiado's Best Restaurants because: A recent addition to Lisbon's gastronomic scene, dining at Boa-Bao is to travel through the flavours of Southeast Asia.
Paul's expert tip: Unfortunately, reservations are not accepted but if you end up waiting to be seated order one of their cocktails, presented in an original and quirky manner.
Light meals as deliciously simple as fluffy scrambled egg with asparagus to more ambitious plates such as grilled Iberian pork with mushroom risotto define the menu at this rather snazzy, upscale eatery. The restaurant is housed in premises that once housed an interior design salon, and the current proprietors admirably uphold the aesthetics, using printed wallpaper and contemporary furnishings to decorate an interior whose look is best described as understated chic. Several interconnecting dining rooms provide ample space, with one of the corridors crammed floor to ceiling with wines from across Portugal. Table service is super efficient, with the busy waiting staff always finding time to explain the food (including decent vegetarian options) and drink on offer, including some great cocktails.
Recommended for Baixa/Chiado's Best Restaurants because: Bordering the Chiado district, Carmo's fine dining menu and terrace seating overlooking the square make this restaurant a year-round draw.
Paul's expert tip: Several tables are set along the terrace outside – premium places during warm, dry weather. Arrive early to bag yours.
"Fusion without the confusion!" Executive chef Giorgio Damasio poetically describes the cuisine served at Populi succinctly and with equal reverence for the gastronomy of his native Italy and that of his adopted Portugal. And this marriage of Atlantic and Mediterranean influences has produced a menu of rare distinction. Signature dishes include an extraordinary seafood cataplana that positively bubbles with marine flavours – savour this over candlelight on the terrace and you'll understand why Populi is also famed for its romantic location. If you're not sure about a wine choice, just ask allow restaurant manager João Afonso Pereira to make a suggestion – he's also a rather good sommelier.
Recommended for Baixa/Chiado's Best Restaurants because: Populi is located under the arcades in Lisbon's landmark riverfront square adding a romantic flavour to an already delicious menu selection.
Paul's expert tip: The restaurant menu features a host of Portuguese and Italian petiscos (snacks) – ideal for the outside terrace on a warm day.
This wonderful walk-in sanctuaryâ" an interior flooded by natural light and decorated with light wood furnishings and attractive hanging plant arrangementsâ" is housed in a former factory premises. Exuding an appealing organic-chic vibe, Prado has secured a place as one of Lisbon's most fashionably understated eateries, admired as much for its minimalist dÃ©cor as the healthy and appetizing menu. Designed by chef AntÃ³nio Galapito, the menu mimics the seasons, with much of produce sourced locally from markets and farms around the Lisbon area (Prado means "meadow" in English). Dishes include Iberian pork tenderloin with quince and chocolate pepper, and line caught squid cooked in its ink and garnished with leek. Interestingly, the cellar stocks a range of natural, organic, and biodynamic national and international wines.
Recommended for Baixa/Chiado's Best Restaurants because: Healthy cuisine served in a contemporary environment, with the emphasis very much on sustainable produce, has placed Prado on the city's super cool restaurant list.
Paul's expert tip: Order a cocktail and take a look out back at the restaurant's striking wall mural.
The traditional Portuguese cuisine served in this attractive family-run eatery includes a wonderfully flavoursome bacalhau à lagareiro - oven-baked cod with potatoes and garlic drizzled with olive oil. The signature dish, however, is bochechas de Porco preta – pork cheeks slow cooked for eight hours in red wine. This is gastronomy straight out of the countryside and yet Taberna da Baixa is sited in one of the busiest areas of downtown Lisbon. Indeed, the proprietors have managed to achieve an authentic rustic-style ambiance. The menu also lists a selection of petiscos, bite-sized snacks similar to Spanish tapas and a great way to savour a wide variety of tastes and textures. Wine choice numbers around fifty different labels, all Portuguese. Amongst those listed is Cartuxa from the Alentejo.
Recommended for Baixa/Chiado's Best Restaurants because: Small and intimate, Taberna da Baixa has all the hallmarks of a rural eatery yet chic enough to lend it a cool, bistro vibe.
Paul's expert tip: Guests are treated to a glass of Quinta do Noval, extra dry white port, as a welcome drink.