JOURNALThe Only Addresses You Need in….Alfama

Lisbon’s oldest and most traditional neighbourhood, Alfama is one of those places that takes time to discover.

JOURNAL

The Only Addresses You Need in….Alfama

Lisbon’s oldest and most traditional neighbourhood, Alfama is one of those places that takes time to discover.

Intimate and insular, its web of tiny streets harbour a multitude of secret spots that unfold the more attention you lavish on it, especially once you step off the well-beaten tourist trails. Behind its traditional façade, it’s a lot hipper than first appearances may have you believe, particularly when you venture into the neighbouring barrios of Graça and São Vincente. Short on time and seeking the best? We get the lowdown from our resident expert on all the insider addresses you’ll need to eat, drink, sleep and shop in Alfama.

Chapito

In line with the neighbourhood’s artistic roots, Chapito is one of the most intriguing addresses in town.  A ramshackle house that winds and curves through multiple levels, it encompasses a circus school where under-privileged kids train in the performing arts, while upstairs there is a restaurant and coffee shop that boasts one of the best sunset views in town.  A favourite among the city’s many musicians, expect live music on most nights of the week, from Brazilian bossa nova to chorró, live samba and fado.

Rua Costa do Castelo 7
1149-076
+351 218 875 077

 

Santa Clara Hotel

A pioneer in Alfama’s bobo-chic evolution, this private guest-house offers one of the more unique and exclusive options to stay in Lisbon.  Set overlooking the charming square of Santa Clara (with its twice weekly antiques market) and with standout views of the Pantheon, this 18th century mansion encapsulates just 6 suites designed by Portuguese hotelier Joao Rodrigues in collaboration with acclaimed architect Manuel Aires Mateus.  Guests are welcomed as if staying in the house of an old friend, which means you get all the insider tips and hook-ups from the city’s most connected crowd.

Campo de Santa Clara,
128 1100-473
+ 351 934 418 316

Damas

Innovative tapas style dishes are scrawled across white-tiled walls at this bohemian spot.  While the quality of the food and top-class cocktails makes Damas a go to option for dinner in Graça, its super slick programming of beat-bopping djs and talented live musicians draw Lisbon’s artistic, more alternative set.  Some of the most fun to be had in town

Rua da Voz do Operário, 60
+351 964 964 416

Feira da Ladra

Few places are more iconic for soaking up Lisbon’s street scene that this antiques fair and flea market, held every Tuesday and Saturday across the cobblestones that surround the Mercado do Santa Clara and the Pantheon. Interwoven amongst the more mundane household tat, you’ll find vintage furniture pieces, fur coats, rare vinyl records and an endless selection of antiques ceramics, bronze and glassware. If you are new in town and looking to furnish your place with local treasures, think of this as the up-cycling alternative to Ikea – much better for the environment and infinitely more fun.  For the best furniture pieces, go early, around 8am and come prepared to bargain.

Campo de Santa Clara
1100-472

Tasca Bela e Petiscos

Of all Alfama’s live music haunts, this tiny family-run joint is where the industry experts and off-duty musicians head when they want to catch up with friends and jam together during impromptu sessions.  With just a handful of tables dotted between two sitting rooms, book ahead so you aren’t left peering longingly through the ruby-red curtains from the street.  Nightly shows kick off from 9pm and there’s a minimum cover charge of 18 euros per person, best spent on bottles of Dao red wine and chunky plates of home-cooked casseroles and Portuguese tapas.

Rua dos Remedios 190
1100-452
+351 926 077 511

Os Gazeteiros

With a wine list of small batch producers (including bio-dynamic and organic) to make most global restaurateurs gasp with delight, this cosy gourmet kitchen is run by a trio of French and Portuguese chefs and serves a daily-changing tasting menu from Tuesday to Sunday. The real highlight here is the fresh organic produce that owner and chef David Eyguesier picks up from the market before inventing the day’s dishes.  Priced at 35 euros for 5 courses (including two delicate desserts), through in the wine (which you’ll definitely want to delve into), you can expect to pay 50 euros per person. While this puts Os Gazeteiros at the more expensive end of Lisbon’s dining scene, the food, service and overall experience is well worth it, which is why the place is packed out most nights of the week. Definitely book ahead and let them know any intolerances, there are vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian and gluten-free options too.

R. das 220, Escolas Gerais 114-116
+351 21 886 0399
Tuesday-Saturday from 7.30pm

Crisfama

Most people who arrive in Lisbon dream of stumbling across one of those truly authentic, family run tabernas from days of yore. You know, the ones where the owner serves the tables and knows everyone’s name, the food is expertly crafted from recipes handed down over the generations and prices will leave you feeling like it’s 1995.  Set down a tiny street in São Vincente, this unassuming spot serves some of the best-grilled fish in town (if in doubt, go for the grouper), alongside specials such as octopus rice and hunter’s casserole.  With just a handful of tables, reservations in the evenings and on weekends are a must.

Rua da Cruz de Santa Apolónia 56
1170
+351 21 814 8822

Tazza in Giro

This organic hole-in-the-wall cafe specialises in plant-based dishes crafted with love and offers an array of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options that are some of the best-value in Lisbon. Set overlooking the Pantheon with a handful of tables set out in the sun, it’s a great spot for a healthy informal lunch (8 euros for soup, salads, dessert and coffee) or for brunch after exploring the flea-market.  For locals, they also deliver lunch by bike or can fashion plastic-free take-aways which make for a great picnic option in the park. If you are on the hunt for a more man-friendly snack, next door you’ll find sister-spot Foccaccia in Giro, specialising in home-cooked slabs of focaccia piled high with toppings. The Italian owners behind the pair combine a consummate passion for food with an ever-present smile

Campo de Santa Clara 138-139
1100-474

Caulino Ceramics

In a city bubbling with creatives and artisans, Lisbon’s contemporary ceramics scene is amongst the best in the world. For hand-crafted one-of-a-kind collector’s pieces that won’t break the bank, head to this charming shop set above Sé Cathedral that also doubles as a ceramics studio where budding potters can learn the craft first-hand. A touch of neighbourhood gossip for you… the studio is run by Portuguese artist Diana Barbosa, the wife of Os Gazeteiros French owner and chef David Eyguesier.

Rua de S. Mamede 28
1100-535

+351 917 296 439

Cafe da Garagem

Set just below the São Jorge Castle, this off-the-beaten track coffee spot boasts some of the best views in Lisbon for sunset drinks. Set in the ‘garage’ below theatre Teatro Taborda, expect killer coffee combined with tasty bruschettas and charming vintage design. For creatives seeking inspiration, it’s a peaceful spot to retreat for an afternoon with your computer or pen and paper in hand and set up shop in one of the tables as the city-scape tumbles below and there you have it, the ultimate impromptu office. Open till midnight, it’s also a good option for a chilled evening cocktail or to romance a new flame.

Costa do Castelo 75
1100-178

+351 21 885 4190