There are many places to listen to Fado in Porto. But did you know that most of them should not be called “Fado Houses”?
Common sense dictates that any place where you can listen to live Fado is a Fado House. But professionals in the sector and Portuguese law don’t agree with that assumption. Want to know why and where you can find “Fado Houses”?
If so, read on to discover:
- The six real Fado Houses in Porto
- What Fado professionals think
- What Portuguese law says
- Whether listening to Fado in a Fado House is better
The six real Fado Houses in Porto
The term “Fado House” comes from the Portuguese “Casa de Fado”, which are defined in Portuguese legislation as “typical food and drink establishments where there is a fado performance”. Although there are many places where you can listen to Fado in Porto, there are only six that meet this description.
One of the best places to listen to Fado in Porto is Ideal Clube de Fado. But since it”s not a restaurant and drinking establishment, but a music club, it doesn’t call itself a “fado house”.
Ideal Clube de Fado
Ideal Clube de Fado offers intimate shows dedicated to the preservation of traditional Fado and paying homage to historical Fado personalities. Its team includes some of the most experienced and respected musicians of the city.
Address: Rua do Ateneu Comercial do Porto 32, 4000-380
Phone: +351 915 681 676
The places with restaurant service, and therefore classified as “fado house”, are the following:
Situated next to the Douro River, it is an ideal place to enjoy Fado while sampling the best dishes that Portuguese gastronomy has to offer.
Address: R. de São João Novo 16, 4050-431 Porto
Phone: +351 22 202 6937
Run by the illustrious Fado singer Sandra Correia and frequented by several esteemed Fado players, Fado Português is a no-frills establishment where attendees can listen to excellent Fado in a welcoming family atmosphere.
Address: R. Valente Perfeito 301-213, 4400-330 Vila Nova de Gaia
Phone: +351 915 543 950
Mal Cozinhado is a traditional restaurant located in a 14th-century building in Porto’s historic riverside area. It is a beautiful and historic space, with preserved wooden beams and characterful original side walls. Situated next to the Douro River, it is an ideal place to enjoy Fado and a good dinner in the evening.
Address: Rua do Outeirinho nº13, 4050-450 Porto
Phone: +351 222 081 319
Taberna Real do Fado
Taberna Real do Fado is located in Clérigos, next to the famous Clérigos Tower, in a restored old building. Here, any Fado enthusiast can enjoy Fado and good dinner.
Address: R. do Dr. Barbosa de Castro 58, 4050-090 Porto
Phone: +351 927 755 914
Casa da Mariquinhas
Casa da Mariquinhas, founded in 1968 by Heitor Gil de Vilhena, was closed between 2001 and 2011, when it was acquired by the current owner. It is located in the typical neighborhood of Sé, in front of the Arco de Santana. A cozy and intimate place to enjoy Fado.
Address: R. de São Sebastião 25, 4050-568 Porto
Phone: +351 915 613 877
Arcadas de S. Jorge
Arcadas de S. Jorge is the newest Fado House in Porto. Managed by the same experienced team that runs Casa da Mariquinhas (discussed below), it is a captivating place to listen to Fado.
Address: Rua de Miragaia 55, Porto, Portugal, 4050-386
Phone: +351 910 271 416
What Fado professionals think
According to Fado artists and those who own Fado Houses, a Fado House is a traditional restaurant that always features Fado artists during its opening hours.
According to these professionals, there are key differences between Fado Houses and restaurants which simply include live Fado shows. The main difference is that, while the latter tend to only open with a brief Fado show, the former place a far greater emphasis on the music, with Fado performers taking to the stage at multiple points throughout the evening. That is not to say, of course, that Fado Houses neglect the quality of food; it is simply that Fado music is at the heart of everything.
In addition, Fado Houses are generally decorated in a traditional manner, with their spaces organised in such as a way as to support the musical performances.
What Portuguese law says
The CAE (Business Activity Code) 56104 states that traditional Portuguese restaurants are “defined by the specificity of their cuisine (meals), decoration, furniture and by the display of folklore to reconstitute an atmosphere characteristic of a Portuguese region”.
The second point of Article 32 of Decree No 4/99 of 1 April 1999 stipulates that “typical catering and drinking establishments in which there is a Fado performance may use the name ‘Casa de Fado’ [Fado House]”.
According to these definitions, we can say that a Fado House is a traditional restaurant, with a décor and atmosphere allusive to Fado, which is able to designate itself as a “Casa de Fado” because it has performances of this type of music.
Is Listening to Fado in a Fado House better?
A similar experience can be had in all Fado Houses. Basically, it consists of listening to small musical moments distributed over three or four hours.
If you want to listen to Fado during a dinner party with friends or family, going to a Fado House is probably the best option. In Porto, they all have good artists and good conditions to listen to Fado.
But nowadays you can enjoy great Fado experiences in Porto in different contexts. The fact that a venue has the “Fado House” designation does not in itself guarantee a better experience. That designation, as we have seen, is conferred on establishments based on technical criteria to do with business activity as opposed to any assessment of quality. One should not, therefore, believe that going to a Fado House will necessarily mean attending a better level of Fado performance.
So if your goal is just to listen to Fado and without dinner, I recommend the Ideal Clube de Fado concert or another Fado concert without dinner. If you want to know more about this kind of experience read my article about Fado concerts in Porto without dinner.