Boteko is a small snack bar which has regular “fado Vadio” (stray/street fado) events every Saturday from 16:30-20:30. Fado is a traditional Portuguese style of music that appeared in the 1920´s and 30´s, but no one really knows the origins. The rumour is that it was a style of music brought by the Portuguese sailors during that time period. The part that makes it stray is the fact that you don’t have to pay entrance, the singers are also not paid and anyone can stand up and sing if the guitarists feel like they can accompany the lyrics.
The atmosphere in Boteko is unique and the regulars that frequent these days religiously are the heart of the show, always intervening where they see fit, and truly making you feel welcome in their regular Saturday pastime. The guitarists are the only artists that get paid, as well as the host, so they command the singing. Every couple of hours there is a smoking break for the guitarist in order to get their fix and then they continue on playing.
There are certain rules you need to follow within these “fado vadio” nights. For example the fact that you can never interrupt the singers, or pass in front of them when they are singing. Also you can never wear a hat when fado is being sung if you are part of the audience. Also try to consume things from restaurant/bar as this is the way the place makes money to continue organising the fado nights; Obviously if you sit there for 4 hours at a table and you only order a coffee the owners will not be impressed.
At Boteko the house speciality is the blood soup, in Portuguese “papas de sarrabulho” it is considered one of the best in Porto. They also serve traditional Portuguese snacks like “moelas” : chicken gizzards, “rissóis” : Portuguese empanadas and “iscas de bacalhau” : cod filets that are battered and deep fried. Normally at Boteko the waiter will tell you what is available on the menu, since things are made fresh, you have to ask what is available that day.
You have several options in terms of beverages. The house red and white are good, and you also have the standard beer. There is also a common drink called “receita” which is interesting to try, as some locals drink it. It consists of beer with white wine and 7up. It does not sound appealing, but never mock something until you try it.
Boteko is a good way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon, hang out with some locals, listen to fado, eat, drink and generally have a good time. It is also very close to one of the most beautiful gardens in Porto: “palacio de cristal” so you can visit the gardens, before or after you experience Boteko´s atmosphere. It is a good idea to buy some cheese, port wine and bread before you go to the gardens, because the view there is amazing. Also there are many animals living freely in the gardens, like ducks and peacocks, so if you take bread you can feed them and enjoy the nature that exists there. All in all, a great start to your Saturdays in Porto.
Adress: Rua D.Manuel II, 172, Porto, Portugal
“Fado Vadio” Schedule: Saturday from 16:30- 20:30