If you search for “Pastel de Nata” in your Instagram account, you will sit in awe because of all the dazzling posts. Pastéis de Nata are the alpha dog of Portugal’s pastries and there is no way not eating this Heaven on Earth when visiting Lisbon. The crispy custard tart is served warm and comes with sprinkles of cinnamon and sugar. Find out where to get the best ones that will make you want to never leave Lisbon again.
The people of Portugal are very sweet-toothed creatures. This means in short: pastries all around and the spots to sell them, so-called Pastelarias, wait for you around every corner. No, really: a Portuguese saying tells us that 50% of Portuguese population owns a Pastelaria and the other 50% are sitting in one all the time. You can find a broad range of different pastries in Portugal but the Pastel de Nata certainly is the top dog among all desserts.
Although you can find Pastéis de Nata (this is the plural form, by the way) throughout the country, the city of Lisbon is especially famous for them. It was in the Jeronimos monastery in the old district of Belém that the pastry was born. Over 150 years ago, the monks of the monastery used egg white for cooking but did not know what to do with all the egg yolk until one of the monks did the whole world a favour and invented the Pastel de Nata. Due to the monks’ financial situation, which was not so prosperously looking, they started to sell the pastry in a nearby Pastelaria.
This Pastelaria was no other than the famous Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, which appears to be our first must-go-there. Only an original pastel from that very Pastelaria can call itself a “Pastel de Belém”, with only a handful of Portuguese knowing the exact recipe. And boy do they differentiate from all the other ones. Their motto seems to be “less pastry, more custard filling”. The filling is eggy but very creamy and not too sweet which surely makes you eat more than one at once.
If you want to have the full experience, come and sit at a table in the chaotic and busy seating area and watch as pastry after pastry is getting sold. Oh, and do not try to count how many Pastéis de Nata are sold: on a good Sunday, Antiga Confeitaria de Belém sells about 50.000 of the delicious treats.
Antiga Confeitaria de Belém
Rua de Belém 84-92
Daily from 8AM – 11PM
Our second recommendation is located on a big square in the district of Chiado: Manteigaria. We do not only love their Pastéis de Nata so much because of the amazingly perfect crust and the wonderfully warm filling but also because of the spot. You will find Manteigaria right at the beginning of Bairro Alto, the Mekka for party in Lisbon. And since this spot is opened until midnight, you can surrender to this delight just before going out – what a perfect sustenance! But wait – we love even more about Manteigaria: If you walk further into the shop you will encounter a factory area with super friendly and smiling pastry chefs who bake the treat right in front of you. You will find many locals from Lisbon recommending this pastel as the best one in town. So be sure to avoid the long queues in Belém and head towards Chiado!
Rua do Loreto 2, Lisbon,
Daily from 8AM-12AM
Can you believe it? Fabrica de Nata, our third recommendation, has only been open since March 2016 and already now it is ranked number 5 out of Tripadvisor’s “Top desserts in Lisbon” – list. Not even the famous Antiga Confeitaria de Belém can beat this – and we know the reason: Fabrica de Nata combines all the lovely stuff we just mentioned about the other two spots. Centrally located at Restauradores square, the Pastelaria offers an interior that is just phenomenal. Blue sofas, bench seats and impressive mosaic pictures on the wall all melt together to a cozy café with an ambiance to stay a whole afternoon. They even have a small terrace for warmer days (as if there were very cold days in Portugal) and you can listen to Fado, which is the traditional music of Portugal.
Just like Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, this Pastelaria offers many other specialties as well. We especially recommend the Pastel de Bacalhau! And just like Manteigaria, the customers can observe the baking of Pastéis de Nata right on site in the baking area. To be honest, the chefs from Manteigaria nodded to us in a slightly friendlier way – sorry guys! Yet the most important thing was of course the taste of the Pastel de Nata at Fabrica de Nata. And what shall we say? We were mesmerized by the wobbly custard filling which has just the right portion of sweetness without overpowering. The fresh crispy pastry base really tells its own tale.
Fabrica de Nata
Praca dos Restauradores 62-68
Daily from 8AM-8PM
We strongly recommend to eat at least one Pastel de Nata per day during your Lisbon visit. Why? Because eggy custard filling that slowly melts in your mouth! You know our top 3 places for the best Pastéis de Nata now and probably you can even guess which one is our favorite. Well, in the end it is a matter of taste, right?