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.
Intimate and inviting, this restaurant and tapas bar is beautifully decorated to resemble an old-style country kitchen, all copper pans, earthenware pots, and antique utensils. Dining here is akin to eating in an old friend's home, such is the domestic atmosphere Chiringuito exudes. Besides a set menu of traditional Portuguese cuisine, guests can opt for the tapas experience, which is absolutely the most rewarding way to sample the very best of local and regional cuisine, carefully prepared and served promptly. The Portuguese call their tapas petiscos, small tasty snacks that range from bite-size cheese and cured ham nibbles to prawn fritters and aromatic soups.
Recommended for Tapas because: Chiringuito is a homely eatery that upholds Portugal's rich culinary heritage by way of delicious bite-sized local delicacies.
Paul's expert tip: This place is a good option for group dining when tables can be arranged in advance to accommodate up to 30 persons.
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.
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 booking is recommended.
Recommended for Tapas because: Described as a gourmet tavern, this centrally located restaurant was won numerous plaudits for its quirky petiscos – Portuguese "tapas" – and lively nightlife.
Paul's expert tip: Lunch features an inexpensive executive chef's menu that combines a selection of tapas with side dishes, a great opportunity to sample traditional Portuguese fare.
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– and 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.
Recommended for Tapas because: A contemporary restaurant environment housed within a building of architectural merit, Rubro projects a casual yet sophisticated where Spain shakes hands with Portugal.
Paul's expert tip: Try the Menu Solomillo de Buey, tasty highlights of which are the lightly melted chévre cheese and the grilled beef sirloin.
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. And 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.
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, selections of tasty ingredients spiked with a skewer, often to a piece of bread, 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.
Recommended for Tapas because: Authentic Iberian eatery with a mouth-watering menu and good-humoured ambiance.
Paul's expert tip: Try their signature dish, Cogumelo Portobello â" mushroom and tomato stuffed with bacon, presunto and cream cheese.
The mouth-watering selection of tapas at this enchanting Spanish-style 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 effective 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.
Offering contemporary Peruvian cuisine either as lunch or dinner, guests can also sample some truly creative South American tapas at this splendid eatery. Born out of a friendship between chef Diego Munoz and Portugal's two-star restaurant supremo, Jose Avillez, Cantina Peruana has become a fashionable meeting point for foodies who appreciate traditional Peruvian gastronomy in contemporary surroundings. Munoz has designed a tapas menu that fuses exotic South American flavours with a solid European technique to produce dishes like octopus and crab cerviche and beef Asian stir-fry. And once dishes are served you get a detailed explanation about their ingredients and further tips of what to try together with what.
Recommended for Tapas because: Cantina Peruana works both as a restaurant and as a tapas-style bar, where diners can choose to socialize over a meal or sample bite-sized treats.
Paul's expert tip: The restaurant includes the Piso Bar, where Peru's iconic piso cocktails are expertly mixed with flair and originality. A great pre- or post-meal option!
The name says it all. Tapas 'n' Friends Sé is all about enjoying Portuguese petiscos (Spanish-style tapas) in good company. Located next to Lisbon's historic cathedral (the name Sé refers to the cathedral), this attractive and cosy tapas bar is set under a stone arch ceiling and exudes a wonderfully traditional atmosphere. The menu lists a comprehensive selection of "tapas for sharing", dozens of delicious and wholesome bite-sized combinations including a lovey goat cheese, honey and nuts puff pastry, mouth-watering shrimp in panko and bittersweet sauce, and a delightful torn egg with smoked ham and truffle oil. Dessert choice is limited but seductive, with options such as fresh lemon mousse, soft and crunchy apple crumble, and a wickedly tempting chocolate brownie and vanilla ice cream.
Recommended for Tapas because: Set in a quiet side street but within walking distance of Lisbon's cathedral, Tapas 'n' Friends Sé is a wonderful "rest between sightseeing" option.
Paul's expert tip: The Camembert delight with bacon is a dish that every cheese lover should try. Order it first as it takes a while to prepare.