Fado clubs, Lisbon
Fado is definately an aquired taste as far as musical style, but its hard to find a house where true Fado exists. We had companions who went to an outing and liked it, but said the food was horrible and the whole evening a little overdone.
Unique Suggestions: The best piece of advice I've heard is to find a club that is owned by a Fado singer themselves and has a low (or no) cover charge. That way if the food is bad at least you're not shelling out a lot of money to enjoy the show.
So, Fado is traditional Portuguese music that is supposed to be heartwrenching, passionate, and full of despair.
Except nowadays many Fado restaurants are in it for the business, catering for tourists, hiring medicore singers that lack the passion and then charging exorbitant "minimum consumption" prices. Luckily I had connections, so I got to experience this all for free.
Honestly, do your homework. Find out who the great singers in town are, read the papers, talk to locals, and often times you might be able to catch a free concert somewhere. Those that I experienced were MUCH better than anything I had heard in any restaurant.
Unique Suggestions: get drunk off your mininum consumption
Stay away from any Fado house that also features folklore. That's a clear sign it's a place with only the tourists in mind. That folklore is traditional in other parts of the country, especially in the north, but it has nothing to do with Lisbon. It's all just put together for the foreign tourist amusement. I'd stay away from practically all Fado places in Bairro Alto. They are way too touristy and the quality not always worth the high prices.
Unique Suggestions: If you are curious to hear Fado, try Senhor Vinho in the Lapa district. See my nightlife tip for more information on this place. I heard Clube de Fado in Alfama is also a little more authentic, but I've never been there, so I wouldn't know...
Fado is one of the many portuguese traditional kinds of music, or so is said. Nowadays the clubs where you can listen to fado have one thing in mind. Lets make money! I don't know any local that goes to fado clubs because really it is not worthed. It's a real tourist trap and everyone knows it. Good fado singers are rare and don't play at those clubs. If you like fado buy one of Amália's Cds or Mariza. She is a modern fado singer with a huge future she just got a prize from BBC http://www.mariza.org/english.html .
Fun Alternatives: As I said before, if you really like Fado buy a good Fado CD. Go for example to Fnac, on Armazens do Chiado. It's on Rua do Crucifixo, right on the exit from Baixa/Chiado's metro station.
The do what they can to get your money, everything from pictures to selling cd's and dolls...the music is not horrible, but dinner was over $100 for 2 of us and we left after 2 hours...skip the tradition portuguse platter, they dont take the guts out of the sardines.
They do what they can to get you to spend money, everything from taking your photo to selling you dolls and cd's at your table...Dinner was $100+
Unique Suggestions: The music was not bad..but it was not what I expected..I thought it would be more like a blues club...there was more dancing and jumping around.
Hey, you should know this: unless you don't like your money, or don't worry to spend some of it earing what someone told's you is FADO, forget to go to a FADO restaurant. Most of them have agreements with the hotels where you stay and will charge you a lot to ear some crap. I would say that for the same price you can buy a CD or DVD colection of good FADO music. So, where to listen it, you can ask? Well...There are some private places, or during specif music festivals, but these days, never in a Bairro Alto or Alfama restaurant. This is only for niquel hunting!!!
Unique Suggestions: Learn the lesson and spread it to your friends - never go there
Fado ("fate" in Portuguese) is the most famous musical form in the country, but the place we decided to go to see a performance was a big waste of time and money. Traditionally, the fado is supposed to be sung by one singer and accompanied by a 12-string Portuguese guitar (a beautiful pear-shaped instrument) and the songs are generally melancholy and supposedly haunting. The only thing haunting and melancholy about A Severa was the price!
I expected to pay more for a meal at a fado restaurant, but for 109 Euros I also expected to eat some fish that didn't taste like rubber! I wasn't particularly moved by the music either, but I'll hold out on judging the whole artform based on this one experience.
Next time I'm in Portugal, I'll probably go see a fado show in Coimbra, which has it's own unique form of fado that is largely considered more pure than the watered down for tourists version you often see in Lisbon.