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Jan 24, 2012 06:12 PM

Fado in Lisbon and the last meal on Earth (not really! :-)

Hi all, thank you for such a wonderful board and especially Vino for the countless recommendations. I will be in Lisbon for 4 days-Saturday-Tuesday (will be in Ericeira for work after the leisure in Lisbon) in February, and this board has guided me to just about every meal I think I will have while there. Interestingly (maybe to only me!) is that the vast majority of the highly regarded restaurants on this board are not in the half dozen Lisbon guide books I bought! So thank you!

Two questions which I don't think have been specifically answered before- I've searched, read, clicked extensively first, but forgive me if they have been answered before...

1. Where to see Fado? I know, its a tourist thing, but I am a tourist that has never been to Lisbon before, and think that music like fado (bachata, flamenco etc) can connect a tourist to the culture in a very nice and lasting way. Am I too sentimental? Am I wasting my time? Too much to ask for great music, good food and wine all in one evening? I am thinking of this for our Saturday evening. Could I do this on Sunday or Monday and save Saturday night for the answer to #2 below?

2. I've seen dozens of amazing recommendations and have so many to choose from. Guide me based on the quality of the food. If you were to have only one dinner left on the face of earth, and you were in Lisbon, where would you go? I eat everything, drink just about everything, can take or leave fancy, love tasting menus and street food equally.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. On Fado: the well known places in Barro Alto and Alfama struck me as tourist traps and, even though I thought it might be nice to see some Fado, I stayed away. But one night I was walking down the main street in Graca (Rua da Graca?) and came across a tiny place packed to the gills with locals listening to some Fado. I stood on the street and listened through the open front for awhile, and if it wasn't so packed, would have ventured in. I think this is a place called the Tasca do Jaime - maybe a local can chime in here?

    I also spent some time on a warm evening sitting on a bench in the little park across from the Museu do Fado, listening to an excellent performance going on in the courtyard. The neighboring benches appeared to be occupied by others also enjoying the music.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jmoryl

      On Fado, see this post: . Like Flamenco, it can be a show for tourist (mostly) or you might be lucky and hit one of these special parties. I suggest you talk to reception at your hotel, but take their advice with a big grain of salt. If they have tickets for sale, forget it! But the receptionist might have a cousin, etc.... Well worth the experience in any case. By the way, there is nothing to "see" in Fado; If it is good you just shut up, close your eyes and let the music take you.
      About extraordinary food, bimbog is right. I would add Fortaleza do Guincho for the food and location, but you need a car (it is outside Cascais so quite a way out of Lisbon). I don't like Eleven (food is generally OK, but the waiters have an attitude...). Or try Cantinho do Avillez in the Chiado. A very talented chef, Jose Avillez got its Michelin star to Tavares then left to start his own place.

      1. re: monchique

        Thanks for that pointer to the fado thread. I think the 2 votes for Tasca do Jaime and also Tasco do Chico look very attractive to me. I love your description of fado. That is exactly what I'm hoping for most. You can close your eyes and connect with the music and the culture and the history and the people in a very wonderful way.

      2. re: jmoryl

        Thanks jmoryl. That's exactly my fear, that I will get sucked into a tourist trap and in the end would have wasted my time. Tasca do Jaime shows up in Vihno's list of Fado recommendations so maybe I will head out that way. Currently we didn't have plans to visit the Graca neighborhood.

      3. For fish Mercado do Peixe (expensive)
        For the view Faz Figura, Panorama (expensive) and Eleven (very expensive)
        For Alentejo food Galito
        For Minho food Solar dos Presuntos
        For good food Assinatura (the best in town)
        For seafood Ramiro
        For steak Café S. Bento

        8 Replies
        1. re: bimbog

          Thanks Bimbog. This list makes me feel good because we have 9PM reservations on Saturday night at Assinatura for the full tasting (afterwards we were thinking of going to Solar do Vinho do Porto) , Monday night reservations at Solar dos Presuntos and also have Ramiro on the list for one of our lunch stops.

          1. re: alpharetta999

            Hmmm....after reading some of Vinho's commentary on the un-eveness of Assinatura we might be rethinking this as our big Saturday night meal.

            1. re: alpharetta999

              We went there 6 or 7 times the last year and always very good.

              And in the most popular portuguese ranking they are nº 5 national wide between one and two michelin stars restaurant


              1. re: bimbog

                Thanks very much for that reassurance Bimbog!

                1. re: alpharetta999

                  For Fado I would definitely recommend Alfama neighborhood, go there and find something really local. But Tasca do Jaine is also very traditional and I don’t think is so turist (I used to live at Graça). Take Tram Nº28 to Graça (is this tram that you have to take to reach Alfama and Castelo) there you will find Tasca do Jaime but also Esplanada da Igreja da Graça (Miradouro de Santa Graça) with one of the most spectacular views over the city-especially at sunset.

                  Regarding restaurants, I’ve never been to Assinatura..but from what I have read it seems very good! Hera are my choices:
                  • Alma from Henrique Sa Pessoa:
                  • Feitoria from Chef: José Cordeiro:
                  • Cantinho do Avillez from Jose Avillez:
                  • Quinta dos Frades from Chakall:

                  If you look for something traditional, You need to go to ‘Santo Antonio de Alfama’ located is the heart of Alfama neighborhood

                  1. re: anaToronto

                    Ana, thank you! Do you think Santo Antonio de Alfama is open Sunday? Also, I've read that Lisbon is a late dining city so our Saturday and Monday reservations are late- after 9. I've also heard that Sunday is a quiet, more reserved day in Lisbon. Should dinner be earlier on Sunday?

                    1. re: alpharetta999

                      According to their website, Sant Antonio is open every day 12:30 - 2am.
                      Sunday or not, Lisbo people generally start dinner around 8pm until 9:30pm. Later than this, it depends on the restaurant!

          2. re: bimbog

            Haven't tried all of bimbog's places but I will second his recommendation of Solar dos Presuntos and Galito. O Galito doesn't get mentioned much, but is worth finding - it is out of the center in a place called Carnide, but is just a short walk from a Metro stop.

          3. Ok, thanks for all your help. Here is what we have so far. All lunches but one and all breakfast we will just play by ear. Also, I have a question about tipping. In Lisbon is tip added to the bill before presenting to the customer so that I would only add an additional 5% or so? In the US I tip 20% most times but I've read that is not customary in Lisbon.

            Lunch Saturday- Cervejaria Ramiro
            Dinner Saturday- Assinatura (9PM)
            After Dinner Saturday- Cinco Lounge

            Dinner Sunday- Santo Antonio de Alfalma (9PM)
            After Dinner Sunday- O Terraco

            Dinner Monday-Solar Dos Presuntos (9PM)
            After Dinner Monday- Tasca de Chico (I've read that Monday and Wed. nights are best here)

            4 Replies
            1. re: alpharetta999

              In the end we expect your opinion about your visit.

              About tipping in Portugal
              The bill doesn't included any tip
              For a normal service without any problem i add around 5% to the bill.
              For a very good service i add more but never more than 10%
              For a bad service i add 0% to the bill (no tip at all)

              1. re: alpharetta999

                I am leaving for Lisbon for a 2 night stay in a coupleof days. Did you manage to make reservations before you arrived? If so, how did you do it? Thanks.

                1. re: alpharetta999

                  alpharetta (georgia?) how did your restaurant selections turn out? I am leaving for Lisbon in 3 days....

                2. I've just returned to this board to look around and realized my report from last year did not post. I am really sorry!

                  Here it goes again.

                  Best lunch of our trip was at Ramiro. We wound up eating there 3 times. The spider crab was my favorite, but we tried just about everything on the menu.

                  Best dinner experience hands down was Assinatura. The team there was amazing and really executed a great fine dining experience. We ordered the tasting with wine paring which turned into a 3 hour lesson on traditional Portuguese ingredients and wine varietals. We talked with the staff and chefs, took a tour of the kitchen and were given parting snacks to take home.

                  We had another very good dinner at Santo Antonio de Alfama. It was quiet for Sunday night but the food was very good and neighborhood its tucked into was a great luck for us because after dinner we got lost walking back down to the hotel and passed a very crowded fado bar (sorry, no name) full of locals, families with children, young and old people etc. I left there full, drunk and crying from the fado.

                  Our last dinner was at Solar dos Presuntos. This was my least favorite of our meals. The crowd seemed like very wealthy locals, and I don't think I ever felt comfortable as a tourist there. Compared to all our other meals the portions at Solar were huge. The food was very good, but we never did recover from the stuffiness of the service and atmosphere. I think our experience at Ramiro which also felt like a locals only place, with very friendly and talkative staff jaded us to the brusk service at Solar.

                  I'm sorry again for the lackluster report back 12 months later.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: alpharetta999

                    I also want to add that as an American my exposure to Portuguese wine was limited to port and vinho verde (and I had only drank this wine in my summer sangria recipe) before this trip. Oh how I was missing out. The meal at Assinatura was a complete education on Portuguese wine and I think our enthusiasm encouraged the sommelier to go deeper into the cellar and to spend more time talking and educating us. The meals at Ramiro also exposed us to how good vinho verde can be with shellfish..

                    After that night, wandering around close to our hotel, we found a wine shop called Napoleao. This store is fantastic, the people there were friendly and enthusiastic about letting me taste and explore. I purchased a few port matching my children's birth years and a few more cases of Portuguese wine to ship back home. The prices were good and we had no problems with customs in the US.

                    1. re: alpharetta999

                      I'm very happy to see that you followed my information and found Assinatura the best experience in Lisbon. For that price, and for me, is the better otion in Lisbon. A good meal could be a great evening at Assinatura. And i aggreed about the wine pairing
                      Thanks for your reporting.