It might be a bit touristy for some, but listening to fado while chowing down a meal is still something you wouldn’t do back home.
Since the 1820’s, fado has seeped through Portuguese culture via mournful songs. This music genre originated in Lisbon’s Alfama district, and the songs typically describe life of the poor, by the sea. Melancholy, fatefulness, longing are just some words transmitted through poignant tunes and lyrics that depict Portugal’s maritime and urban roots. Fado symbolizes Portuguese art history so deeply that it was added to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists in 2011.
Even if you travel like a local or tend to explore hidden gems, listening to fado is still a quintessential must-do in Lisbon. Why not kill two birds with one stone by appreciating this significant art form while indulging in a tasty meal! Here are two of the best places to do so in Lisbon, personally recommended to me by the manager at Dear Lisbon Guest House, Fabia Murta.
Just when you may think Sr. Vinhi (or Mr. Wine) is considerably touristy and far too expensive, the food makes up for it! Not to mention the fado performances by professionals. The traditional menu comes off as basic seafood and meat dishes, accompanied by good bottles of Portuguese wine, but the taste is savory and comforting. The interior decor is classical, fitting as to create the traditional ambiance of famous artists, including: Aldina Duarte, even Mariza, Camané or Ana Moura in the past.
TIP! Be sure to reserve a table after 9 p.m. even if you’re not used to eating late, since the shows start around 9:45 p.m.
Tucked inside the tiny alleys of Alfama, Mesa de Frades is a small and intimate restaurant that still holds parts of an old chapel that used to exist there. For 45 euros, you’ll receive a 4-course meal that might not totally impress you. But the singing is made to overshadow the food. Well-known singers, including: Ricardo Ribeiro, Ana Sofia Varela or Pedro Moutinho have all performed in this cozy space.
TIP! You can show up around 11 p.m. without eating and enjoy the show by the bar. But the restaurant is very small and gets crowded, so it’ll get hot quickly during summertime. It’s still a better bet to book a table for 9:30 p.m. so you don’t have to endure talkative crowds in the back.
SHOP OUR PORTUGAL PACKING LIST: