Alfama is where fado is said to be born, but the Bairro Alto neighbourhood, known for its maze of bars, is also a fado stronghold where you can find some of the best fado houses in Lisbon.
This is one of Lisbon’s oldest fado houses. It’s located in the cellar of a former 18th century palace that survived the great earthquake of 1755. The vaulted ceilings, in stone and brick, provide the perfect acoustic conditions.
Fado performances start at 8pm. Curtains are closed and the light is dimmed, creating an involving atmosphere for both fadistas and audience. The show runs until 2am at intervals of 20 minutes. The restaurant serves classic Portuguese dishes with a gourmet twist.
- Travessa da Queimada 10, open daily 7.30pm-2am, menu: €44 per person, minimum spend: €25, www.cafeluso.pt
Founded in 1955, this a third-generation family-run fado restaurant. The walls are decorated with hand-painted tiles that together with the antique street lamps and arches create the perfect fado atmosphere. The performance begins at 9pm. They serve traditional Portuguese dishes.
- Rua das Gáveas 51-61, 8pm-2am (closed on Wednesday), menu: €49 per person, minimum spend: €25, www.asevera.com
Founded in 1937, this three-storey restaurant was renovated in 2012. Here, you can you listen both to fado de Lisboa, but also to the more classic fado de Coimbra. Adega Machado serves Portuguese dishes with a gourmet twist. The place is part of the Fado Group, which also owns Café Luso.
- Rua do Norte 91, open daily 7.30pm-2am, menu: €44 per person, minimum spend: €25, www.adegamachado.pt
Founded by fado singers in 1947, this restaurant has had several owners linked to the fado world. The interior is traditionally decorated with panels of tiles. Fado is sung in-between courses. The menu includes classic Portuguese dishes, such as bacalhau (salt cured codfish) fish and octopus.
- Rua da Barroca 54-56, open 8pm-2am (closed on Sunday), average price: €45-50 per person, minimum spend: €25, www.ofaia.com
Tasca do Chico
Unlike the other fado places in this list, Tasca do Chico is not a restaurant. It’s ideal for those who don’t want to commit to the often expensive dinner-and-show experience. Here, you may get fado by celebrities such as Mariza, who has honoured this place, but most often you get the authentic fado vadio (literally translated as vagabond, but which means “amateur” in fado’s language). As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t talk while the artists are performing, or you will be shushed.
To pair with the fado show, they have small bites or tapas, including chouriço assado (a sort of barbecued sausage) and cod fritters. The place is small, and is usually packed, so it’s wise to book ahead. Fado starts at 9pm. They have another Tasca do Chico in Alfama.
- Rua do Diário de Notícias 39 (Bairro Alto), 7pm-2am, no minimum spend or fee, reservations: +351 961 339 696
- Rua dos Remédios 83 (Alfama), Thursday to Sunday 7pm-2am, no minimum spend or fee, reservations: +351 961 339 697
O Canto de Camões
This is a traditional fado restaurant, with daily live fado shows starting at 8.30pm. Lights are dimmed while the fadista accompanied by one or two Portuguese guitarists perform. During the night, you get about 15 minute fado at 15 minute intervals. There’s the chef’s cod and other Portuguese traditional dishes on the menu.
- Travessa da Espera 38, 8pm-2am (closed on Sunday), cantodocamoes.pt