An Evening of Fado Music
Iconically known for its epic red roof skylines, classic old-world European charm, and affordable prices, Lisbon is one of the hottest destinations for travelers today! But as soon as the sun goes down, the restaurants and venues throughout the Lisbon neighborhoods of Alfama, Mouraria, and Bairro Alto light up with the passionate, invigorating, authentic music of Portugal, known as Fado. Today, we are here to tell you why an evening of Fado music is an absolute MUST on your trip to Lisbon, and give you a review of one of our favorite Fado & dinner spots, Sr Fado.
What Is Fado?
Fado is the local music of Lisbon and commonly known as Portugal’s musical pride. With a guitar, a voice, and a heartfelt emotion comes a dynamic and powerful form of blues that is rarely heard anywhere else in the world. Throughout Lisbon, Fado is almost always performed in small, local restaurants / eateries during or after dinner, and is carried out by a commanding, yet mournful sounding solo singer, who is accompanied by a classical Portuguese 12-string guitar or two. While it is sung in Portuguese, Fado isn’t so much about understanding the lyrics as it is about an emotional experience between the singer and the audience. Even without a spotlight, stage, or microphone, the powerful voice of the singer and the mesmerizing accompaniment of the guitar reveals the passion in the Portuguese disposition, and evokes a despairing belief in a futile destiny filled with pining and hopelessness.Throughout the course of one performance, Fado will make you dance, will make you cry, and will even make you long for something you didn’t know you needed.
Beyond the music, Fado is recognized as a symbol of the nation, as it invites you into the heart and soul of Portuguese culture & history. Because of its cultural importance and unique style, this musical form was declared part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. If you want to learn more about the history of Fado before seeing a performance, we highly recommend visiting the Museo do Fado in Alfama. The museum is open from 11:00am – 5:00pm.
Where To See Fado
Today, there are nearly 50 Fado houses throughout the cobblestone streets of Lisbon. While Alfama is where Fado is said to have been born, Bairro Alto and Mouraria are equally Fado strongholds. Throughout each of these neighborhoods, Fado can be experienced in local watering holes with impromptu performances, in small informal eateries like tascas, or in full-on restaurants (called adegas). In Mouraria specifically, you may even hear Fado being played on the streets! But for the most authentic and immersive experience, we recommend booking a full night of Fado, complete with traditional Portuguese cuisine and a full blown authentic fado performance. Some of the most famous Fado houses include Sr. Fado, Tasca do Jaime, Café Luso, Clube de Fado, and Mesa de Frades – but we have a unique love for Sr Fado…
Our Rec: Sr Fado
Sr Fado is a small, family-run Fado house and cozy restaurant, located in the heart of Alfama, Lisbon. The intimate setting has a total of 9 tables and has one seating a night, at 7:30pm sharp -meaning you will be here all evening! It starts off with a delicious prix-fixe meal, consisting of appetizers (bread, olive oil, cheese, smoked meats), your choice of a traditional seafood entrée or traditional pork entrée, local wine, desert, coffee, and any other sweet treats you desire. The meal is served by the generous owners and hosts of the night, Ana Marina and Duarte Santos. As soon as dinner hits the table, Ana and Duarte transform from servers into performers! You soon realize that the entire event – the cooking, the serving, the wine producing, the Fado, the environment, etc., is completely run by this incredibly hospitable husband and wife duo. It quickly starts to feel as if you were invited over to a friend’s house for an evening of celebrating in true Portuguese fashion. By the end of the evening you have danced, laughed, cried, eaten local delicacies, sang, spoken Portuguese, made new friends & more. It is an unforgettable night that we cannot recommend enough (and it’s over before midnight, so plenty of time to hit the bars in barrio Alto afterwards!).
Ready To Book?
Tell them Kennie’s Compass referred you for additional discounts!
Overall, an evening of Fado is an incredible, must-not-miss experience while in Lisbon. Whether you go to Sr Fado or another Fado house, we recommend making reservations as early as possible. In terms of costs, it varies depending on the location, with Sr Fado costing around 48 euros per person (not including tip). It is also important to know that the audience is expected to remain completely silent during all songs, and/or stop eating and drinking until the singer has finished. Additionally, it is generally not acceptable to take videos of the performances, unless specified otherwise. We hope you have enjoyed our review of Fado and hope you feel ready for a magical, authentic evening in Portugal.