LISBON // Mesa de Frades


Our favorite Fado bar in Alfama has always been Mesa de Frades.  Located in the Palace of the King's mistress on Rua dos Remédios 139,  this was not a Fado bar for tourists.  No sign outside. No cheesy prix-fixe menu.  No annoying host standing on the street, beckoning you to come in.  Just a basement-style room with ancient hand-painted tiles on the wall and non-descript furniture with people sitting on it, annoyed when you opened the door while someone was singing.  Yes, the Mesa de Frades was a hard-core, old-school Fado bar where people came simply to listen to Fado. 

So when we eagerly arrived at their doorstep again this year, we were super sad to learn that Mesa had relocated.  Foolish, we were.  As they renovate this historic King's mistress' palace, the owners of Mesa have moved their no-tourist-Fado-bar to a new, equally breathtaking space further up the Alfama hill.  Tucked into a killer climb combo of stairs & cobble stones that will make your buns burn, the new Mesa locale is in a hollowed out former civil parish of Lisbon's Saint Antonio.  With vaulted ceilings, stone floors, and just one teeny tiny window way up high in the corner, this is a Fado bar's wet dream:  when the music starts, the Fado music fills the space with such fullness and simplicity that it makes your skin tingle as you sip your vinho branco.

Mesa de Fadres
São Mamede 8A
1100-532 Lisboa
(no website... that's how desperately they don't want tourists) 

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