Traditional Fado music is mournful and stirring. This unique expression of Lisbon’s soul can still be heard in the city’s oldest neighbourhoods, a nostalgic song for what once was or could have been that speaks of saudades ‒ melancholy and longing for a time lost. The popular, street form is known as fado vadio, and is spontaneous, informal and slightly more upbeat. Usually sung in bars and taverns, it involves some improvisation and is bound by less social norms. At the same time, it is rarely found in the most touristic venues and differs from the more elite fado music that seeks the romanticism of the meaningful silence that reigns when the first chord is played on the viola or Portuguese guitar.
In this post, we will introduce you to the best Lisbon Fado music in a selection of three venues. To make the evening a truly traditional experience, head to these “Fado houses” for dinner and order a quintessentially Portuguese dish such as “Caldo Verde”, cod, or “Cabidela rice”.
Mesa de Frades
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 20:30 – 02:00.
Address: Rua dos Remédios, 139, 1100-081
Tasca do Jaime (Alfama)
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 19:00 – 23:00.
Address: Rua de São Pedro, 40, 1100 603
Tasca do Jaime (Graça)
Opening hours: Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays from 16:00 – 20:00.
Address: Rua da Graça, 91, 1170-050
Parreirinha de Alfama
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 20:00 – 01:00. Closed on Mondays.
Address: Beco do Espírito Santo 1, 1100-222
In case you still need any convincing, here is some more inspiration in a video of renowned Fado artist Cuca Roseta singing in Tasca do Chico, which is also well worth a visit.