Orlando, FL

Fado to bring authentic Portuguese cuisine to downtown St. Pete

St. Pete Rising
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The music, food, wine, and culture of Portugal is about to make its way into St. Pete’s ever-growing food scene with the opening of an authentic Portuguese restaurant – Fado (Fah-doo) – which is opening in May at 435 5th Avenue North. The building was previously home to Sake 23, a pan-Asian and Japanese-style restaurant.

The interior of Fado will be full of traditional Portuguese Azulejo décor, which is characterized by blue and white ceramic tilework embossed by colorful terra cotta trim.

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POLVO À LAGAREIRO - Broiled Octopus covered with onions, tomatoes, peppers served with broiled red potatoes all drizzled in Portuguese olive oil

Portuguese food is similar to Spanish food with simple, yet flavorful, ingredients that emphasize fish, meat, olive oil, bread, tomato, herbs, and spices.

Fado’s entrée menu is filled with a combination of meats, such as steak and pork, and extensive seafood options like octopus and giant shrimp. Portugal’s most famous seafood dishes are all made from bacalhau, or cod, and Fado’s cod selection focuses on salted codfish. Simple sides such as red potatoes, rice, vegetables, or Portuguese fries will complement the flavors from the savory meats.

Start with an appetizer like codfish fritters, Portuguese sausage, fried squid, or chilled octopus salad while you wait on your entrees. And when asked, “Did you save room for dessert?” Your answer should be a resounding, “Yes!” as you secure your order of egg custard tarts, a famous Portuguese dessert that originated in Lisbon.

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Bolinho de Bacalhau - A mixture of potatoes, bacalhau (cod), eggs, parsley, onion and sometimes a hint of nutmeg.

It’s important to note that your dine-in experience will be just that – an experience. Every aspect of the décor, the menu, the food preparation, the wine, and even the music has been curated to provide the full Portuguese experience. You’ll be immersed in the full spectrum of Portugal’s food and culture.

The restaurant’s name, Fado, pays homage to a type of music that originated in the early nineteenth century in Lisbon, Portugal. The music is expressive and tells a story. If you are lucky, you may catch live Fado performances on the weekend. Whether it is live or recorded, the sounds of Fado will be heard throughout the restaurant from open until close.

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Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá - Salt Cod, Onions and Potatoes

Fado’s owners, Rui Borges and Sandra Andrade, were both born and raised in Portugal and are passionate about bringing the beauty and community of their culture to Florida. Chef Rui first moved to Boston in the early ‘80s in search of the American dream and brought his love and passion for food with him. But when Rui and his wife Sandra moved to Orlando, Florida, they were dismayed to learn that there no restaurants which served the food of their homeland.

In 2008, they decided to open Orlando’s first Portuguese restaurant – Lisbon. “The support we’ve received from our Orlando customers extended to Tampa Bay. When we saw so many of our diners come from this area, we knew we had to bring our restaurant here,” said Andrade.

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Chef Rui Borges at Fado’s Sister Restaurant, Lisbon, in Orlando. Credit Orlando Sentinel.

And it wasn’t just the food that their diners raved about. Andrade pauses with a smile as she reflects. “So many of our customers come in and stay for hours because we designed the environment to feel like home. We want people to come in, put their phones away, enjoy delicious food, laugh, and talk to each other because that is at the heart of Portuguese culture.”

Fado’s menu will include similar selections found at Lisbon, but patrons to the St. Pete restaurant can expect a full bar as well. The dining room will be open Tuesday through Thursday from 5 pm to 9 pm with extended weekend hours from 12 pm to 9 pm.

The grand opening of Fado will be in mid-May at 435 5th Avenue North. For more information about the family-owned restaurant and grand opening date, check out Fado’s Facebook , Instagram , and website .

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St. Pete Rising is an urban development blog covering future retail, restaurants, and real estate in Downtown St. Petersburg, FL.

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