Portugal’s iconic pastel de nata is the jewel in the crown of the nation’s culinary reputation. First cooked up by monks in the early 19th century, these sweet and creamy custard tarts are a beloved national favourite, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bad one anywhere in Lisbon. Bakeries and cafes selling them are everywhere in the city – but seek out the special stamp for quality in-house delicacies. From cosy neighbourhood cafes to chandelier-adorned hotspots and gluten-free bakeries, here are some of the best pastel de nata stops in Lisbon.
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Casa Dos Pasteis De Nata
If you get a craving for a sweet treat while wandering the laid-back streets of Lisbon’s Areeiro neighbourhood, head to this no-frills bakery on Avenida João XXI. Hidden away from the hordes of tourists that often crowd the better-known bakeries, its take on the emblematic tarts features a rich and creamy filling encased in a crisp, light pastry. Order with a freshly squeezed orange juice or a coffee, and add a sandwich to transform an afternoon snack into a satisfying lunch.
Fábrica da Nata
Cafe, Bakery, Pastries
This popular bakery has two locations in Lisbon – one in Restauradores square and another in Augusta street – as well as two in the northern city of Porto. With much more than just the famous pastries, there’s the option for a tart alongside a glass of port, with a ham and cheese croissant and coffee for breakfast or with a ham and cheese toastie for lunch. The kitchen is also open to the dining area, allowing guests an inside look at how these delicious pastries are created.
Natas de Lisboa
Bakery, Cafe, Portuguese, $
With more than 25 locations in Portugal as well as spots in Spain, Germany, the UK, Poland, Austria, Abu Dhabi, Angola and Istanbul, this company is spreading the national pastry worldwide. The Lisbon outlet is located in the central Saldanha neighbourhood and offers the brand’s exclusive, award-winning pastéis de nata recipe. The menu also features ice cream, salads, sandwiches, traditional snacks and a selection of pies with classic Portuguese fillings such as game sausage, salted cod and suckling pig.
Pastelaria Santo António
Bakery, Cafe, Portuguese
Need something sweet to fuel your walk up to the historic Castelo de São Jorge? The pretty blue-and-white tile-clad facade of this building in the Alfama neighbourhood conceals an elegant and contemporary padaria (bakery) serving up freshly baked award-winning pastéis de nata, alongside waffles, ice cream, sandwiches and espresso. The sleek white-marble counters, timber-lined ceiling and sculptural brass pendant lights bring a touch of sophistication to the traditional treat.
O Mercado do Peixe
Bakery, Portuguese, $$
Don’t be fooled by the name (meaning the Fish Market), as this low-key Portuguese restaurant is home to a prize-winning pastry. O Mercado do Peixe, in the Ajuda neighbourhood of Lisbon, was the 2018 winner of Lisbon’s Best Pastel de Nata – a yearly award for culinary excellence that weighs up the cakes according to dough consistency, filling flavour and other essential markers. With its guaranteed foodie stamp and local charm, you’d be remiss not to make a pastel pit stop here.
Bakery, Dessert, Portuguese
If you’re a nata fanatic looking to take your pastel game to the next level, then Pato Real’s natões (supersize tarts) can help you scratch that sugary itch. These giant creamy custardy showstoppers are deliciously large versions of your favourite pastry and are found in various places across the city. This tasca (typical Portuguese eatery) in Campo Pequeno is a choice place to pull up and fuel up. Pato Real is also a stone’s throw away from the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, which has the perfect garden for a stroll afterwards.
Bakery, Dessert, Portuguese
Many of Lisbon’s best pastéis de nata can be found in small neighbourhood cafes, but Pastelaria Aloma adds artisanal flair to a star bakery that tips its hat to old Hollywood; it takes its name from a 1941 adventure movie, Aloma of the South Seas. Step inside the stylish Aloma, in Campo de Ourique, for your own culinary adventure, and taste a national treasure. Aloma’s pastéis have scored top in blind tastings on more than one occasion, so you know you’re in for a sugary thrill.
Pastéis de Belém
Cafe, Pastries, $
No list would be complete without a visit to where it all started, Pastéis de Belém, which makes and sells about 20,000 pastries every day. Beginning life in an early 19th-century monastery in Belém, this spot began baking from its secret recipe after the liberal revolution of 1820 saw all convents and monasteries in Portugal shut down by 1834. As the story goes, the monks began selling sweet pastries in order to survive, and the recipe hasn’t changed since 1837.
Bakery, Portuguese, Dessert, $
Zarzuela’s plant-based pastéis de nata are the perfect vegan treat, while this popular, buzzy cafe in riverside district Cais do Sodré also stocks a range of gluten-free and sugar-free sweet and savoury delights. Zarzuela has been cooking up allergy-friendly cakes since 1968 and is officially certified by the Portuguese Celiac Association (APC), so you can rest assured that you’re in trusty, dusty hands.
Bakery, Cafe, Restaurant, Tea Room, Pastelaria, Pastry Shop, Dessert, Portuguese, $
For a special experience with dollops of old-fashioned charm, head to the stunning Pastelaria Versailles and prepare to be dazzled by marble, mirrors and sugar. Dating back to the early 1920s, this chandelier-adorned cafe is an art nouveau wonderland with natas that promise a crunchier bite. Versailles also does a pretty mean hot chocolate, but you may want to sample that another time.
Manteigaria, Rua do Loreto
Ask a local where to go for pastéis de nata, and half of the time (perhaps more) they will suggest Manteigaria. This nata factory and bakery hybrid in Bica lets customers watch the confectionery wizards work their magic from behind the counter, while also having the chance to indulge in the finished product alongside an espresso. Locals like to swing by in the morning and in the evenings after dinner (the shop closes around midnight). Plan for a quick bite or take some on the road with you, because this spot isn’t for hanging out and fills up quickly. There is also a second counter at Time Out Market in the historic Mercado da Ribeira.
Pastelaria Cristal, in the palace and embassy-strewn residential neighbourhood of Lapa-Estrela, is a small, cosy cafe with a big reputation. This unassuming spot is home to a pastel de nata that’s the custard cream of the crop, with melt-in-your-mouth pastry and heavenly custard that will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Cristal is a massive hit with the locals, while also enjoying national recognition. Have yours with uma bica – a simple shot of espresso.
Hungry for more? Lisbon is one of the culinary capitals of Europe, so spend a good portion of your time here exploring the best restaurants and markets or flitting between the top bars in town. Work off the post-feast dip by wandering around the many renowned art galleries and museums, or simply sleep it off with a stay in one of the finest boutique hotels in the city.
Mandi Keighran contributed additional reporting to this article.
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