One of the things people associate most with Lisboa is the melancholic portuguese traditional song: Fado. Its origins are hard to date and to locate with precision, but its presence in portuguese culture has been strongly evident for the last 200 years. Along with the music, come the images of the portuguese guitar, the women and men in dark clothes, singing of love, of desilusion, fate and 'saudade'.
Fado is celebrated across the older neighbourhoods, and played and sung in numerous restaurants - the 'Casas de Fado', or Fado Houses. There, you can enjoy not only the traditional music of Lisboa but also the best of portuguese gastronomy. These come hand in hand, and make these places real hommages to the city's culture. Below are some of the best among all of the ones you can find, gathering mostly around the areas of Bairro Alto and Alfama, with a few of them in more detail.
This historic restaurant has been through both exciting and troubled times along its long decades of existence. Adega Machado started as a restaurant with live Fado performances, with Amália Rodrigues as a regular guest, and since then it has followed that tradition, and been part of the history of Fado, helping maintaining the music alive while offering a great variety of typical portuguese dishes.
The appearance of this place was an act of defiance against the replacement of traditional inns for bars, in the early nineties. The owner managed to succeed, and the welcoming Tasca do Chico is recognized today as one of the best spots to enjoy the great Fado Vadio. Established musicians and amateurs get together here to offer visitors a fantastic night of music that is just the right thing to add to the traditional gastronomy.
The relevance of Sr. Vinho goes well beyond the great portuguese cuisine and the Fado shows that go on through the night. The amount of now recognized Fado singers that started their careers here, make the enthusiasts consider this place a true 'Fado school', once under the guidance of Maria da Fé, an important figure in this music's history and development.
When you are enjoying a portuguese dish, and having a great time, rememeber the cultural importance of these restaurants and their perserverance throughout the decades!
And when the time comes to hear the music, the lights get dimmer, the agitation gives way to silence. There is a popular saying you should now, coming from this very moment, right before the portuguese guitar starts playing: 'Silêncio, que se vai cantar o Fado!'
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