Lisbon has been busy lately doing what it does best: embellishing its brilliant history with world-class venues for contemporary culture, art, and dining, while remaining free of the signs of globalization. Interior designers have set up shop in the Santos neighborhood, which lies between Bairro Alto and the Tagus, followed by adventurous restaurateurs looking beyond Portugal’s borders for inspiration. The resulting balance of old-world charm and avant-garde creates a dynamic that’s full of surprises worth exploring. —Maria Shollenbarger
Paris-Sete: At the city’s premier resource for contemporary furniture (Vitra; B&B Italia), you can browse shelves lined with compulsory design reading or pick up vintage-style hand-carved cedar toy cars from TobeUs. 14D Largo de Santos; 351/213-933-170; paris-sete.com.
O Epicurista: This apothecary is the place to score rare fragrances from Saboaria Confiança, Miller et Bertaux, and Absolument Absinthe, as well as ceramics by Flemish artist Piet Stockmans. 49 Largo do Conde Barão; 351/213-960-990; oepicurista.pt.
Galeria Reverso: Local Paula Crespo’s temple to contemporary jewelry design is, at 13 years old, a Santos pioneer. Crespo sells her own geometric pieces (left) and curates nature-inspired designs by others, such as Dimitar Delchev’s nautilus-shell bracelets and Birgit Laken’s butterfly-shaped brooches. 59-61 Rua da Esperança; 351/213-951-407; reversodasbernardas.com.
Estado Líquido Fusion Sushi: Art students and furniture designers gather at this spot for exquisitely fresh sashimi at tables set on an under-lit glass floor. 5A Largo de Santos; 351/213-972-022; estadoliquido.com; lunch for two $84.
Maritaca: Hobnob with impeccably turned-out locals over thin-crust pizzas at Maritaca, which manages to feel intimate despite its warehouse-like dimensions. 68F Avda. 24 de Julho; 351/213-939-400; maritaca.pt; dinner for two $55.
Yasmin: Rua da Moeda, on the eastern edge of Santos, has become a chic restaurant row. Yasmin wins fans for its eye-popping interiors (Saarinen chairs; graphic wallpaper), crisp duck confit, and whisper-thin carpaccios. 1A Rua da Moeda; 351/213-930-074; yasmin-lx.com; dinner for two $83.
Sommer: A cheerful orange-and-white room is the backdrop for pan-Mediterranean fare, such as linguine with local Serpa cheese and roasted walnuts. 1K Rua da Moeda; 351/213-905-558; sommer.pt; dinner for two $70.