Pastel de nata: where to eat the best Portuguese custard tarts in Lisbon
Buttery. Flaky. Smooth. Velvety. Rich. Enticing. Decadent. Irresistible… we could be here all day mentioning adjectives that could best describe pastel de nata, but only once you have tried a freshly baked Portuguese custard tart you’d truly know what we’re talking about!
Portugal’s most famous pastry is a true staple for many locals and, often, it is also an object of desire for travelers dreaming of visiting Lisbon and the rest of Portugal.
The popularization and recent internationalization of pastel de nata has made it possible to try these delicious sweet bites in other places around the world. But pastel de nata abroad rarely tastes as good as in Portugal. In fact, it’s precisely in Lisbon where you find the very best ones. This is where the expertise and experience resides and, because Lisbon bakeries tend to get more rotation than those in smaller places, this also results in more rounds of freshly baked pastries during the day. And nothing truly compares to a perfectly crisp out of the oven puff pastry shell filled with still warm and slightly runny custard in the centre.
If you’re visiting Lisbon, not only do we recommend you try pastel de nata, but we would like to encourage you to visit different bakeries to compare and contrast. The pastries will be fairly similar but once you start getting used to it, you will notice subtle differences that will make some stand out over the others: the flakiness of the puff pastry, the creaminess of the custard, the more pronounced buttery flavor, the nuances of a touch of lemon…
We would like to introduce you to our top 10 places to eat pastel de nata in Lisbon, in no particular order. Afterwards it’s up to you to decide which one is your favorite and why! Once you have your personal preference, please share it with us via Facebook or Instagram and tag us: @tasteoflisboa #tasteoflisboa
Pastelaria Santo António
Let’s kick start this tempting list of the best places to eat custard tarts in Lisbon with the bakery that won the award of best pastel de nata in Lisbon in the latest edition of this contest which takes place as part of the gastronomic festival Peixe em Lisboa.
Pastelaria Santo António was highlighted for having the highest quality pastries in the city, and this is certainly no small feat, considering every café sells pastel de nata, and every other building in Lisbon houses at least one café!
According to baker João from Pastelaria Santo António, the perfect pastel de nata should “flake out in the crust when you bite it, while the custard should be smooth but not too runny”. If you’d like to test if João pastries are doing justice to his theory (but trust us when we say they certainly do), visit his bakery as you go uphill to visit Sao Jorge’s Castle, in Lisbon’s Castelo neighborhood.
📍R. do Milagre de Santo António N.10, 1100-351 Lisbon
If you ask Lisbon locals about their favorite place to eat pastel de nata, it’s very likely that the name Manteigaria comes up. If you ask visitors after they’ve explored some of the most popular bakeries in the city, it’s also very probable that this brand is mentioned as well. Places like Pastéis de Bélem (see more below) may divide patrons. Brands like Manteigaria seem to be one of those places that everyone loves and likes coming back to.
This is not a regular bakery, as they do not make anything other than pastel de nata, which they sell along with a limited selection of hot and cold drinks. But this is probably why they’ve become so good at it, specializing in one thing only, and taking it as close to perfection as it can possibly get.
While most bakeries use margarine to make their puff pastry, as it’s traditionally done in Portuguese cake making, Manteigaria uses only high quality butter that ends up being noticeable in their product, both when it comes to texture but particularly the taste. The crispy layers of buttery puff pastry paired with the smoothest and not-too-sweet custard will take you to Portuguese heaven and back!
📍Rua do Loreto 2, 1200-108 Lisbon
📍Rua Augusta 195, 1100-619 Lisbon
📍Time Out Market: Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-479 Lisbon
Aloma has been open in one of our favorite Lisbon neighborhoods, Campo de Ourique, for more than 70 years! Their entire range of Portuguese pastries is famous for the high quality and flawless flavor. But amongst the many tempting treats they sell everyday, their pastéis de nata have managed to gain quite a reputation.
Aloma has also won the award for best pastel de nata in Lisbon three times, back in 2012, 2013 and 2015. Their quality has certainly not come down, it’s just that now there are new players in the market. Visiting Aloma in one of their several locations across Lisbon is very worth it, not only to enjoy custard tarts but also to have a more extended coffee break Portuguese style, with plenty of sugar and strong bitter coffee to balance things out!
📍Campo de Ourique: Rua Francisco Metrass nº 67, 1350-139 Lisbon
📍Amoreiras: Av. Eng. Duarte Pacheco n° 2037, loja 3002/3003, 1070-103 Lisbon
📍Bijou do Calhariz: Largo do Calhariz 3, 1200-050 Lisbon
📍El Corte Inglês: Avenida António Augusto Aguiar nº31, piso SC e piso 1, 1069-413 Lisbon
📍Lisbon Airport: Alameda das Comunidades Portuguesas, 1700-111 Lisbon
📍Jardim Constantino: Rua José Estevão 127, 1150-002 Lisbon
Confeitaria Nacional is one of the most acclaimed historical bakeries of Lisbon. Open since 1829, it became famous as the bakery that introduced and popularized bolo rei, the most popular Christmas cake in Portugal. Funny enough, pastel de nata is their best-selling item these days.
With their main location in the heart of downtown Lisbon, in Rossio, you can’t miss Confeitaria Nacional. A place where you come to enjoy delicious cake and coffee, but also where you’re invited to sit down, take it slow, and enjoy the atmosphere that takes you back to days gone by. Visit Confeitaria Nacional to experience the genuine Lisbon café lifestyle!
📍Rossio: Praça da Figueira 18B, 1100-241 Lisbon
📍Belem: Av. Brasília, 1400-038 Lisbon
📍Amoreiras Shopping Center: Av. Eng. Duarte Pacheco, 1070-103 Lisbon
Pastelaria Alcôa was born in the Portuguese city of Alcobaça and opened its doors in Lisbon in 2015, even though they have been keeping busy since 1957. Alcôa specializes in conventual pastries, that is, a range of Portuguese sweets that have originated inside religious institutions, having been developed by monks and nuns.
Alongside other shiny sweets relying heavily on egg yolks as most conventual sweets do, pastel de nata is often overseen as belonging to this category of sweets, but currently it is the most popular of all conventual pastries when we come to think about it.
Entering Alcôa in Lisbon’s Chiado district is like walking into a golden temple of sugar and eggs. Everything is shiny, tantalizing and calls out your name. Come here to try the pastel de nata, but don’t stop yourself at that. We highly recommend trying other conventual sweets too, as this is something you won’t likely be able to experience outside Portugal.
📍R. Garrett 37, 1200-203 Lisbon
Fábrica da Nata
This is where you come to not only enjoy eating pastéis de nata, but also to watch the process of how professionals make them! Fábrica da Nata, that is Portuguese for custard tarts factory, does everything behind a glass wall, so that you start drooling even before you get to bite into one of these morsels of goodness.
The visuals, allied to the enticing smell that fills the air as batches and batches of freshly baked pastries come out of the oven all day long, will make it hard to resist. If you walk down Rua Augusta, one of the most popular touristic streets in downtown Lisbon, and you happen to cross by Fábrica da Nata, chances are you’ll find yourself walking in and ordering a pastel, even if that wasn’t a part of your plan!
📍Rua Augusta nº 275 A, 1100-052 Lisbon
📍Praça dos Restauradores nº 62-68, 1250-110 Lisbon
Classical glamour meets high quality pastries at Pastelaria Versailles. This pastry shop is an institution of Lisbon’s café scene, not only because of what’s featured in the menu, but also because of the art nouveau decor that makes this an inviting place to sit down, relax and enjoy a leisurely coffee break or afternoon tea.
Pastelaria Versailles is a part of Lisbon’s program Lojas com História, which highlights establishments around the city with historic and cultural relevance. Historical importance aside, their pastel de nata is crunchy, consistently good and calling out your name when you land in Lisbon. And we mean that literally, as they do have a store at Lisbon’s airport itself!
📍Versailles Saldanha: Av. da República 15A, 1050-185 Lisbon
📍Versailles Belém: Rua da Junqueira 528, 1300-598 Lisbon
📍Versailles Gelataria: Av. da República 21, 1050-083 Lisbon
📍At Lisbon Portela Airport, 1700-111 Lisbon
Pastelaria Fim de Século
We include Pastelaria Fim de Seculo here to cheer not only for this one, but for many other old school Lisbon pastelarias that have been keeping us caffeinated and sugar-high for many years! This traditional Lisbon pastry shop features a wide range of typical Portuguese pastries, both in regular size and also in miniature, perfect to sample it all.
If you ask long-time residents of Lisbon about their favorite pastelaria, for pastel de nata and other typical Portuguese cakes, chances are you’ll hear names like Pastelaria Fim do Século or Pastelaria Versailles, mentioned above.
📍Fim de Século: R. João Frederico Ludovice 28, 1500-205 Lisbon
📍Fim de Século II: Estr. de Benfica 550, 1500-087 Lisbon
Until a couple of years ago, pastel de nata was the kind of treat almost everyone could enjoy in Lisbon, regardless of dietary restrictions. Vegetarians might have not preferred to taste other typical Portuguese foods such as codfish or cured meats, but pastel de nata was a safe bet. Unfortunately, this left vegans out. But not anymore: in recent years, vegan versions of pastel de nata have been making an appearance in several bakeries across the city.
While not all the vegan versions do justice to the original pastry, there are a few that are not only scrumptious but also surprisingly similar to the real deal, particularly those you can purchase at Pastelaria Batalha and VeganNata. You will find VeganNata in the very centre of the historical district of Lisbon, Chiado, with warm pastries coming out of the oven all day long. No animal products involved, zero cruelty, yet packed with tons of flavor that are elevated with a DIY sprinkle of cinnamon powder!
📍R. 4 de Infantaria loja 29 B, 1350-268 Lisbon
Pastéis de Belém / Antiga Confeitaria de Belém
Last but certainly not least, we couldn’t end this list of recommendations without mentioning Pastéis de Belém, the birthplace of pastel de nata! This is a good time to clarify the difference between Pastéis de Belém and pastéis de nata: pastéis de nata (plural for pastel de nata) are literally custard tarts, the ones you’ll find all across Portugal and even beyond borders; Pastéis de Belém are also pastéis de nata, but specifically those baked and sold at Antiga Confeitaria de Belém.
This place trademarked bites of heaven are believed to have originated back in 1837 when monks from the Jerónimos Monastery in the Lisbon neighborhood of Belém were trying to make a living after the religious institutions were shut down due to new government orders. These monks sold their pastries to Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, which started making the sweets popular with visitors who’d come to Belém for a stroll.
Nowadays, Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, commonly known simply as Pastéis de Belém, sells around 25.000 pastries a day. We’d love to know if you can visit and eat just one. It may be possible, but it will certainly be hard!
📍Rua de Belém nº 84 a 92, 1300-085 Lisbon
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