Lisbon tapas bars. Where to eat delicious Spanish snacks Portuguese style.

One of the most fashionable of Lisbon tapas bars is the new Cantina Peruana, in Cais do Sodré. Besides full meals, this chic Peruvian restaurant serves up a delicious range of tapas treats, prepared Latin American style. Located in the same district is Mesón Andaluz, one of the most recognised tapas bars i town. Tapa Bucho in Bairro Alto meanwhile upholds cuisine hailing from northern Spain with the selection of pinchos – skewered meats, cheeses and seafood – ranking among the tastiest served in the capital. Located in Chiado is Taberna. This is where to sample authentic Portuguese petiscos (Portuguese-style tapas) in rustic-chic surroundings. Rubro Avenida, off the city’s Avenida da Liberdade, is noted for its intriguing fusion of Spanish and Portuguese cuisine. An equally popular downtown option is Tosca, which is also a lively nighttime haunt. Grapes & Bites, a convivial wine bar, also serves up delicious Portuguese petiscos. Live music is sometimes staged here. Another tempting option is Chiringuito Tapas Bar in Santos, where the décor is as appealing as the food. On the other hand, Tapas Bar 52 in Principe Real draws in the crowds for its low-light, intimate setting. And for simple, fuss-free fare served with a smile, head back to Bairro Alto and Petiscos no Bairro 


Bairro Alto/Principe Real

A delightful little tasca ticked away in the city's Bairro Alto district, Petiscos no Bairro has a menu of traditional Portuguese food, anything from crispy sardine fritters and with goat's cheese to fluffy scrambled egg dips and spicy sausage cuts, all arranged on chunky handmade terra cotta plates. More substantial dishes are available, the house special being the bean rice stew with crunchy fries. The décor is traditional Portuguese; walls are decorated with typical kitchen utensils, country-style implements and clay figurines. The rustic look is rounded off with tableware that celebrates the legend of the colourful Barcelos cockerel.

Recommended for Tapas because: A cozy venue that upholds Portugal's rich culinary heritage by way of delicious bite-sized delicacies.

Paul's expert tip: A handy take-away service is available and very useful if you're staying in one of the nearby hostels.

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Bairro Alto/Principe Real

This colourful and highly decorative restaurant has already garnered praise from local foodies who appreciate authentic Spanish cuisine. The somewhat pricy menu nevertheless reflects the proprietor's canny knack of beating Madrid at its own game and lists more than 60 different tapas plates of tasty snacks based on regional Spanish recipes and comprising anything from grilled mushroom and fried octopus to spicy black sausage and braised cod. The bite-sized morsels can be enjoyed with beer, wine or sangria, or perhaps over one of their special cocktails. At night when the weather is warm and dry, tables are set over the esplanade to create a wonderful al fresco atmosphere.

Recommended for Tapas because: Its location in boho Principe Real and the wine barrels set as tables across the pavement lend Tapas Bar 52 an appealing, adhoc quality.

Paul's expert tip: Order the tortilla. a house speciality. And bear in mind that you can also enjoy set meals rather than snack on tapas.

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A dazzling menu of imaginative bite-sized nibbles grace the blackboard set behind the bar of this beautiful and intimate Spanish-style eatery. The attention to design is quite beguiling, with chocolate coloured chairs and tables embellished with floral motifs, and claret-hued walls decorated with ceramic plates adding to the romantic allure. The chic but informal ambiance has made this place a popular dining venue with locals who prefer to savor their food well away from tourist haunts. The cuisine is a modern take on traditional Spanish tapas. The seafood choice is especially regarded â€" try the gambas (prawns) and the mussels with red pepper.

Recommended for Tapas because: The waiting staff make as much effort in presenting dishes as the kitchen does in preparing them!

Paul's expert tip: Consider taking a taxi to the restaurant, as it's pretty much off the tourist radar.

Read more about Chiringuito Tapas Bar →

Bairro Alto/Principe Real

A wine bar with a hostel sited above it, this lively Bairro Alto restaurant is also highly regarded for its choice of pesticos, Portugal's version of the Spanish tapas. Indeed, the menu lists a discerning selection of gourmet nibbles, regional tidbits prepared to the highest order and wonderfully presented. Hot and cold cuts are available, but it's the combination of cured hams, presunto and spicy sausage together with cheeses from across Portugal that are particularly appealing. The food complements an amazing variety of wines, in fact nearly 100 different labels that represent just about every wine-growing region in Portugal. As evening falls, live guitar music helps to mellow an already conducive atmosphere.

Recommended for Tapas because: Popular with groups and therefore often busy to the point of being overcrowded, Grapes & Bites is nonetheless one of the city's most attractive tapas bars.

Paul's expert tip: Order the petisco platter, a sort of regional tasting menu that's served on a split-level tray.

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Cais do Sodré/Santos

The inventive tapas selection at this popular eatery includes carefully arranged plates of octopus salad, eggs with green asparagus tips and goat's cheese with caramelized onions. A favourite choice however is the chouriço de Serra da Estela assado – succulent grilled Serra Estrela spicy sausage. More elaborate dishes that showcase Portuguese culinary tradition can also be ordered from the full lunchtime and evening menu, plates like bacalhau à Gomes de Sa, a traditional cod fish based specialty. The arm-long wine list highlights Portuguese labels from across the country. Always busy, this fashionable nightspot can get very crowded at weekends, and advance bookings are recommended.

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A fashionable venue blessed with a convenient midtown location just off the city's iconic central avenue, this restaurant is noted for its creative seasonal tapas assortment–gourmet Portuguese petiscos that celebrate the very best of Iberian cuisine with selections like refreshing melon gazpacho with Iberian ham and mint marinated carrillera, puff pastry stuffed with chicken sausage, and crunchy cuttlefish bathed in a smooth tartar sauce. The choice extends to pimentos de padrón (grilled baby green peppers) and pica-pau de Buey (fried beef tenderloin pieces). The eatery is housed in a building designed by noted architect Manuel Norte Junior, a project that won the coveted Valmor Prize for Architecture in 1915.

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Designed as a typical countryside eatery, Taberna offers lunch and dinner opportunities to anyone seeking a meal in a relaxed, chic-rustic ambiance. But it's also an ideal place to enjoy patiscos–Portuguese-style tapas delicacies that represent the very best of the nation's traditional fare, with international flourishes to further tempt the palate. The concept is simple: combine and share. The menu works up an appetite with a delicious variety of finger-food options, dishes like lettuce wrap with crispy cod, octopus with garlic and kimchi sauce, veal with potato and mustard cream, and beef croquettes with mustard and pickles. There's also soups, salads, and a wicked selection of desserts, some infused with port wines, others with Portuguese brandy. Of course, there's a separate wine list that ably complements the food on offer.

Recommended for Tapas because: Taberna is part of Bairro do Avillez, where a number of differently themed restaurants are clustered under one roof.

Paul's expert tip: Incorporated into the restaurant space is a mercearia, a gourmet grocer's store selling cheeses, sausage and cold cuts, pickles, olive oil and lots of other typical goodies.

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Bairro Alto/Principe Real
Tapa Bucho
Photo courtesy of Tapa Bucho

The tapas and pinchos served at this fashionable Spanish-style eatery are among the most flavoursome in the city, and are prepared with genuine southern European flair. Many of the recipes hail from northern Spain, where the pinchos â€" selections of tasty ingredients spiked with a skewer, often to a piece of bread â€" are a traditional snack: cured ham (presunto), soft cheeses and grilled seafood are favourite morsels. Tapa Bucho is also known for its fist-sized burgers and quiche slices, plus some outstanding prawn creations. The kitchen also serves its own wines, and the labels make quirky souvenirs in a kind of "I bought the tee-shirt" kind of way.

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The mouth-watering selection of tapas at this enchanting Spanish restaurant is on par with anything Madrid can rustle up. Tasty appetizers listed include pumpkin soup with curd cheese and wild fruits, garlic prawns bathed in virgin olive oil, and piquillo peppers stuffed with cod. The 'Classic' menu inspires with dishes like lamb shoulder over a carrot and pimento pardon (green Galician pepper) puree. These main courses, and some desserts, appear at the table served not on a plate but instead on a wedge of slate, a delightfully simple and effect presentation. Wines include a Duende from the Alentejo, made by one Andre Herrera de Almeida, who just happens to be the son of the restaurant's owner, Ildio. Meson Andaluz's interior blends a contemporary design signature with original 19th-century walls, but an outside terrace allows for al fresco dining, a great option for lunch in warmer weather.

Recommended for Tapas because: This is such a highly regarded tapas bar that even the Spanish make the journey over to Portugal to savour the menu.

Paul's expert tip: Be sure to admire the carefully refurbished arched stonework towards the back of the restaurant.

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Cais do Sodré/Santos

Recreating the ambiance of typical Lima cantina, traditionally a place where people come to have lunch, savour a snack, enjoy dinner and drinks, or just chill out with friends, Cantina Peruana is where to enjoy authentic Peruvian cuisine in a relaxed and bohemian atmosphere The menu, designed by acclaimed chef Diego Muñoz, features an exciting range of cuisine with different gastronomic influences–Andean, Spanish, African, Japanese and Chinese–served as meals or smaller plates made for sharing among small dining groups¬–a very Peruvian way of socializing! Chef Muñoz has divided Cantina Peruana's menu into crudos (seafood), brasas (BBQ streetfood-style), frituras (fried food and sauces), wok (cuisine cooked using a wok) and dulces (desserts).

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Meet Paul Bernhardt

Paul Bernhardt cut his teeth as a press photographer in England before leaving the UK to settle in Portugal, where he has lived for over a decade, and where he started to focus on more...  More About Paul