A small Fado place in the heart of Alfama. I am not sure but I think they are only open on weekends (or at least the Fado shows are on weekends). So if you are there over a weekend this is where the real Fado is.
First of all, what is Fado? Fado is to Portugal what Flamenco is to Spain. But while flamenco is a dance (with some singing sometimes involved), Fado is primarily a song. The overall idea of what a Fado song is about: it is the expression of a suffering Portuguese soul. The reason for suffering can vary (I love you but you don't love me; I love you but you are too far away; I love you but you love someone else, etc.) and the tune can be in a major or a minor - but it is always about some sort of misery. Got it?
Now, there are two kinds of Fado places. One is a restaurant with a "recruited" Fado show: a professional singer and/or guitarist(s) perform and leave. It is usually polished and commercialized. The other one is when the restaurant team (usually these places are family-run, so it's a family) just stop service and start singing. This place belongs to the latter type, and this is what real Fado is.
I could tell you what I think of the performance - but it cannot replace being there, seeing it, hearing it, probably even humming along (I did hum along - and it cost me a song or two: one of the guitarists overheard, looked at me and said, well, go ahead, sing some! And sing some I did - after not having done that for a good thirty years!).
The food was very good but it was definitely not the food people come there for. The proprietor and his wife are quite elderly, so we did not expect culinary miracles - and did not get any - but the food was tasty, in sufficient amounts, and generally well prepared. You can view this as a compromise: the food is there to lure you in; the music - to keep you busy while eating. The younger generation also lend a hand: both the son and the daughter of the owners are there - as waiters and as Fado singers. Two elderly, fantastic guitarists (a regular 6-string guitar + a 12-string Portuguese guitar) complete the picture. The entire crew speak English at a level way above average in Portugal.
Bottom line: highly recommended if you want to get a first-hand authentic Fado experience.
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