Give your senses a treat, and visit a fado restaurant in Lisbon.
It doesn’t matter if you go alone. You can also call some friends and head out in a group. Regardless, the chatting stops once the lights dim. The fado takes over in intervals of 15-20 minutes. When the singing and guitars break, garlic, wine, and a mingling aroma from the land and sea pull you back to your meal.
This is what it’s like to visit a fado restaurant in Lisbon. These restaurants are also known as casas de fado (fado houses).
Don’t worry if you don’t know Portuguese. The singer is an artist who pulls listeners into his or her world through emotion. In fado, words catch our attention as they hang in the air with saudade (an emotion that mixes nostalgia and melancholy). Sometimes, fado is even happy.
The best fado restaurants in Lisbon are scattered across the city. Still, you’ll find many of them in Alfama and Bairro Alto, two of Lisbon’s oldest and more traditional neighborhoods. These casas de fado stand out in a sea of tascas, taverns, and traditional restaurants.
Some fado houses are budget-friendly, costing between €10-€15 for an entire experience. Others charge a minimum consumption fee between €30-€50. Here are five casas de fado that range in price but all offer mouthwatering dishes, soothing ambiances, and (of course) their fantastic fado performances.
1. A Severa
This list contains a few older and well-known fado restaurants in Lisbon. One that we recommend A Severa in Bairro Alto. The restaurant’s name pays homage to Maria Severa, a young and famous fado singer who lived in Lisbon during the 1800s. The restaurant A Severa has been owned by the same family since opening in 1955. Arrive by 9 p.m. for the first performance (except Wednesdays when the restaurant is closed). The menu offers everything from vegetable dishes to dry-cured meats and cheese platters, as well as a medley of fish and meat entrees. There is also a special tourist menu designed so visitors taste the best of Portugal.
2. Fama d’ Alfama
Step inside Fama d’ Alfama between Thursdays and Saturdays after 8:30 p.m. for a cozy night of fado and iconic Portuguese dishes (at typical local prices). On the menu, you’ll see a few different recipes for bacalhau (salt codfish), traditional bitoque (thin grilled steak served with french fries, rice, salad, and a fried egg), and unique specialties like bochecha de porco (pork cheeks) and alheira (breaded sausage). Fama d’ Alfama even has selections for vegetarians. This is a great restaurant for budget travelers. And the local customers are proof of the excellent fado and dishes.
3. O Faia
O Faia is another established name on Lisbon’s fado scene. First opened in 1947, it is older than A Severa. O Faia was founded by the late Lucilia do Carmo, one of the country’s famous fado singers. It is open Monday to Saturday from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. and offers a robust menu full of regional specialties. This is a great place for travelers looking to splurge a bit on dinner. During the night, the house’s four fado singers each take center stage accompanied by two guitarists. O Faia’s reputation is so well known, it has welcomed celebrity fado singers like Carlos do Carmo, Camané, and founder Lucilia do Carmo.
4. Tasca do Chico
We love Tasca do Chico for a few reasons. It’s not quite a restaurant or a bar. And it is perfect when we prefer snacking on petiscos. There are also two tascas. One is in eclectic Bairro Alto. The other is in traditional Alfama and attracts both locals and the tourists who know it’s there. Visiting Tasca do Chico is one of our favorite things to do at night in Lisbon. We recommend ordering chouriço assado, flame-grilled pork sausage served on a clay dish, with rustic bread. Even the late Anthony Bourdain made Tasca do Chico a stop on his Lisbon travel itinerary.
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5. Parreirinha de Alfama
Finally, we have Parreirinha de Alfama. This fado house has welcomed great singers like Lucilia do Carmo and the late Amália Rodrigues (Rodrigues is known as “A Rainha do Fado” or “The Queen of Fado”). Find Parreirinha de Alfama a few streets from the Fado Museum. The fado singers (who range in age and style) sing amid the tables, and this cozy spot has been a local favorite since the 1960s.
Local tip: We recommend calling for a reservation when planning a night at Parreirinha de Alfama, O Faia, and A Severa.Want our insider’s guide to eating in Lisbon? Just add your email address in the form below! ADD_THIS_TEXT
Nina is an American-Portuguese travel writer who bounces between Madrid, Lisbon, and central Portugal. When she isn’t writing or adventuring, she likes to visit local restaurants and snack on as many Portuguese and Spanish treats as she can.