The best places to try pastéis de nata in Lisbon, Portugal
Written by Irene Chuang
On 22 May 2024

Pastéis de nata are one of the most famous symbols Portuguese cuisines. It is a small custard tart with a flaky, caramelised crust. The custard filling is creamy and slightly sweet, making it a popular choice for dessert or a sweet snack.

Pastéis de nata are often enjoyed with a sprinkle of cinnamon or powdered sugar on top. However, its origins remain a bit of a mystery. Here is a look at this classic pastry and the spots you will never want to miss when visiting the Portuguese capital.

The possible origins of pastéis de nata

One popular theory states that pastéis de nata emerged in the 18th century from Lisbon’s Jerónimos Monastery. Monks there, with leftover egg yolks may have created the recipe using sugar and leftover pastry dough. This story aligns with the traditional use of egg yolks in the custard filling.

Today, Pastéis de Belém, located next to the Jerónimos Monastery, claims to hold the original recipe. The bakery, which was established in 1837, continues to produce these iconic tarts using a closely guarded secret recipe. Their popularity is undeniable and lines of people tend to snake around the block.

While Pastéis de Belém draws crowds, pastéis de nata are a staple across Lisbon. Bakeries and cafés throughout the city offer their own versions each with slight variations in crust thickness, sweetness and cinnamon use.

Enjoying pastéis de nata the local way

Traditionally, pastéis de nata are enjoyed warm, dusted with cinnamon and paired with a cafezinho, a strong espresso. Locals often sprinkle them with a little icing sugar for additional sweetness. Here are some famous pastéis de nata shops you can find in Lisbon:

  • Pastéis de Belém: this historic bakery holds the original recipe for pastéis de nata. Be prepared for a big queue but the chance to savour this iconic pastry at its birthplace is worth the wait.
  • Manteigaria: This bakery is a favourite among locals, known for their focus on quality ingredients and a slightly less sweet custard filling compared to Pastéis de Belém. With multiple locations across Lisbon, Manteigaria offers a readily available and delicious pastel de nata experience.
  • Fábrica de Nata: A modern take on the traditional pastéis de nata, Fábrica de Nata offers a slightly thicker and flakier crust with a richer custard filling. Their innovative approach and focus on fresh ingredients have made them a popular choice for those seeking a unique twist on the classic pastry.

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