- Why We Love Pasteis de Natas in Lisbon
- What Are Pasteis de Natas?
- How to Eat a Pastel de Nata
- Lisbon Pastel de Nata Guide
- Research Lisbon Hotels
- Book a Tour
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- Pin It for Later
The Pastel de Nata has gained international fame, but there’s nowhere better to eat Portuguese tarts than at a Portuguese bakery in Lisbon. Check out our ten favorite Lisbon cafes for eating Pasteis de Natas plus a tip for learning the Pastel de Nata recipe.
A visit to Lisbon isn’t complete without eating at least one Pastel de Nata. However, one is rarely enough when it comes to the popular Portuguese pastry. Most food travelers in Portugal choose to eat one (or more) Pastel de Nata for breakfast every single day of their trip.
But it’s not just tourists. Lisbon locals have been eating and loving Pasteis de Natas since the 19th century. However, thanks to globalization, Portuguese natas are now available around the world.
We love them too! During our travels, we’ve eaten versions in cities like Macau, Montreal and Kyoto. But, to us, Lisbon is the undisputed king of the Pastel de Nata. Unlike iconic foods such as waffles in Belgium, cheesesteaks in Philadelphia and deep dish pizza in Chicago, there’s really no such thing as a ‘bad’ nata in Portugal’s majestic capital.
Why We Love Pasteis de Natas in Lisbon
We became Pastel de Nata fans during our honeymoon in 2007. It was love at first bite when we visited Pastéis de Belém as tourists. Like many, we couldn’t get enough of the compact Portuguese pastry available all over the city.
Now that we live in Lisbon, this love has blossomed into a passion that can’t be stopped.
How deep is our love? We once nearly missed a flight when we left our coveted Pastel de Nata stash in a Lisbon hotel room. Not only did we retrieve the precious cargo, but we also made our flight to Barcelona with minutes to spare.
What Are Pasteis de Natas?
You’re missing out if you’ve never eaten a Pastel de Nata. This omission is reason enough to get on a plane to Lisbon.
Pasteis de Natas are creamy Portuguese egg custard tarts – mini pie shaped puff pastry cups filled with bright yellow, sugary, egg yolky custard. The tarts emerge from ultra hot ovens that leave a dark, almost burnt brown flavorful patina atop a creamy center that, ideally, is never overcooked and gelatinous.
A good Pastel de Nata, which translates literally to cream cake in English, has a crispy crust and a spiral bottom. Great ones rank as the best Portuguese desserts.
To make Pasteis de Natas, bakers fold puff pastry into layers before forming the dough into little cups. They then fill the pastry cups with cream made with ingredients like egg yolk, sugar, milk and cinnamon before baking them.
The end result is surprisingly complex considering the tart’s relative simplicity.
How to Eat a Pastel de Nata
There is no right or wrong way to eat a Pastel de Nata but if you follow these suggestions you’ll quickly become a Pastel de Nata pro.
First and most important, order coffee with your Pastel de Nata. The combination makes for an ideal breakfast in Lisbon.
Locals typically order a bica or simple espresso shot. As for us, we each typically order a meia de leite which is similar to a cafe au lait. The galão served in a tall glass with extra milk is another popular morning coffee variation.
Next, sprinkle cinnamon or powdered sugar on top of your Pastel de Nata. We generally add both depending on the sweetness of the Nata. (See Alcoa below.) You’ll most likely find shakers at the pastry counter, at your table or upon request.
If you can’t find shakers and want to request them in the native language, ask for canela for cinnamon and açúcar (pronounced eh-zoo-car) for sugar. However, most Lisbonites speak excellent English and will understand you in either language.
Lisbon Pastel de Nata Guide
It’s difficult to find a bad Pastel de Nata in Lisbon. The city has hundreds, if not thousands, of Portuguese bakeries. Some neighborhoods even have two or even three pastelarias on the same block.
Any cafe selling sub-standard natas will probably go out of business – it’s that competitive.
Of course, you’ll want to eat the best Pasteis de Natas in Lisbon during your visit. We do as well since each dense egg custard tart has 200 – 400 calories depending on the recipe.
After eating our collective weight in Pasteis de Natas, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten favorite Pastel de Nata Lisbon locations, all which you can easily reach by foot, public transportation or Uber. Go to just one or all ten. You may or may not get a sugar high, but you’ll definitely reach a supreme level of ‘Natisfaction’.
Pastéis de Belém
Made famous by monks who invented natas almost 200 years ago, Antiga Confeitaria de Belém is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Lisbon. The historic cafe just goes by Pastéis de Belém now, but their natas are still some of the best in the city.
Lines queue up in the morning and don’t stop all day long. We were skeptical before our first visit in 2007 and wondered if the acclaimed Lisbon egg tarts would live up to the hype. They did.
More than a decade and many Portuguese custard tarts later, Pastéis de Belém remains our favorite place to eat the iconic Portuguese pastry and the first place we recommend to visiting friends.
Eating at Pasteis de Belém is like tasting Portugal’s history of world conquest in every bite. The tart’s shell has a unique, brittle texture that shatters like a Chinese spring roll making us contemplate the marvelous influence of Portuguese culture throughout the world.
Visitors can watch the baking process as the pastries emerge from the oven with golden, bubbling domes. Though the original recipe remains a guarded secret, rumor has it that Pastéis de Belém only uses organic ingredients, i.e. no margarine or shortening. We don’t know this for sure because… it’s a secret.
What we do know is that you need to try at least one nata at Pastéis de Belém. Even better, make a day out of it and visit nearby sites like the Jerónimos Monastery, the Tower of Belém and MAATT (the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology).
Pastéis de Belém is located at Rua de Belém 84-92, 1300-085 Lisboa, Portugal.
Manteigaria has no qualms about keeping their Pastel de Nata recipe secret. On a daily basis, the popular pastry shop prepares thousands of natas behind a glass window for all to observe without hindrance.
Then again, there’s not much secret when it comes to Manteigaria. Originally opened in 2014, the bakery has two Lisbon shops – one at the ridiculously popular Time Out Market and the other in centrally located Bica near Chiado. Locals and tourists flock to both Lisbon locations, often leaving with bags filled with natas.
Manteigaria excels at marketing. We see their distinctive bags all over Lisbon. Even Phil Rosenthal ate Pasteis de Natas at Manteigaria and featured the experience on his hit Netflix show Somebody Feed Phil.
Many people (including our friend and TV personality Chef Sam DeMarco) consider Manteigaria to be the best Pastel de Nata in Lisbon and, though we’ve tasted better, we can empathize. The filling, while not the creamiest, is sweet with a slightly salty finish. It’s a great nata, but there are loads of great Pasteis de Natas all over Lisbon.
Will it be your favorite too? Squeeze yourself into a spot by the bar, sprinkle cinnamon on a hot nata and decide for yourself.
Open in the Saldanha neighborhood since 1922, Art Nouveau Pastelaria Versailles is stuck in time.
The opulent Neo-Baroque cafe features a long wood carved antique bar where diners enjoy pastries and coffee alongside a large dining area with table service. Mirrors and marble decorate the walls. Crystal chandeliers light the room.
Most importantly, a range of pastry (including some of the city’s best Pasteis de Natas) fills the pastelaria’s cases.
After one bite during our first visit, we agreed that Pastelaria Versailles’ slightly taller natas were flakier and creamier than others we had previously eaten. We also enjoyed the hint of lemon that left a satisfying aftertaste for several minutes after our last bites.
Future visits haven’t disappointed us. We want to try more desserts at Pastelaria Versailles, but it’s difficult to pass on these natas. They’re that good.
Pastelaria Versailles is located at Avenida Da República 15-A, 1050-185 Lisboa, Portugal.
Pastelaria Santo António
You might think that a tile-covered bakery on a hilly street near the São Jorge Castle would be a tourist trap. You would be wrong.
Although Pastelaria Santo António bakes Pasteis de Natas in one of Lisbon’s more touristic neighborhoods, their tarts are worth a steep walk from the center of town. Only open since 2017, this pastelaria won first place at the eleventh edition of the prestigious National Contest of Pastel de Nata competition in 2019.
We trekked up a lot of hills and climbed even more steps to sample Pastelaria Santo António’s award-winning natas. Though we were tempted to order ice cream instead of natas on that hot Lisbon afternoon, we stuck to our plan and ordered natas. We’re glad we did.
Flaky and creamy, the Pasteis de Natas at Pastelaria Santo António have a distinct lemon flavor that differentiates these Lisbon custard tarts from the pack. Thanks to tight construction, they stay intact despite their beautifully creamy custard.
Next time we trek up to Castelo, we’re pairing our natas with Ginjinha. Yes, Pastelaria Santo António sells Portuguese cherry liqueur too.
Pastelaria Santo António is located at R. Miracle of Santo António 10, 1100-351 Lisboa, Portugal.
Fábrica da Nata
Only open since 2016, the original Fábrica da Nata feels like a Lisbon institution with its sleek design and on-site laboratory. In addition to this location on Restauradores Square, Fábrica now has two additional locations – one on Lisbon’s Augusta Street and one in Porto.
The tarts here have a butterier crust and looser filling compared to others we’ve eaten in the city. We enjoyed devouring them in a few bites, but that’s not our favorite aspect of Fábrica da Nata…
Our favorite aspect of Fábrica da Nata is its degustation menu. Sure, we’d normally be happy with a nata and coffee, but not here.
For just €2.50 (price subject to change), savvy diners can get a glass of port with their nata. If there’s a better combination of two of Portugal’s culinary favorites, we haven’t found it yet. Other degustation options include coffee, croissants and Portuguese snacks.
Fábrica da Nata has multiple locations. The main Lisbon location is at Praça dos Restauradores 62 -68, 1250-110 Lisboa, Portugal.
A three-time winner of the National Contest of Pastel de Nata competition in 2012, 2013 and 2015, Aloma occupies an important space in Lisbon’s competitive Pastel de Nata community. Though originally opened in the Campo de Ourique neighborhood back in 1943, Aloma has soared since Joao Castanheira purchased the pastelaria in 2009.
Aloma now operates multiple locations in Lisbon including a shop at the tony El Corte Inglês. More importantly (for us), Aloma has an Arroios outpost that’s just a short walk from our Lisbon apartment.
Despite its accolades and success, Aloma feels less corporate compared to other top Pastel de Nata bakeries. We love Aloma’s non-touristic vibe and tasty tarts. Plus, their natas have a slightly crispy, Crème Brûlée-like top and a creamy filling that’s not too sweet.
Aloma located at R. Francisco Metrass 67, 1350-013 Lisboa, Portugal. The pastelaria has additional locations in Lisbon.
As the oldest operating Lisbon bakery, Confeitaria Nacional has been making Lisbon sweeter since Balthazar Roiz Castanheiro started the confectionary business in 1829. Several generations later, the local institution is still family-owned
More than a simple cafe, Confeitaria Nacional is an elegant destination for pastry lovers of all ages. The bakery serves dozens of pastries from eclairs to egg chestnuts in its multi-story space in the heart of the city.
But what about their natas? We find them to be fresh and creamy with a beautifully layered, crispy crust. We recommend a visit here for the atmosphere, the friendly staff and the natas.
Confeitaria Nacional is located at Praça da Figueira, Praça Dom Pedro IV 18B, 1100-241 Lisboa, Portugal.
One of the newer entrants in Lisbon’s Pastel de Nata scene, Alcôa Pastelaria has a longer history than its 2017 opening in Chiado indicates. This unique pastelaria has been baking traditional pastries since 1957 in Alcobaça, approximately 120 kilometers north of Lisbon.
In Lisbon, Alcôa sells egg yolk filled ‘convent’ pastries baked at its Alcobaça headquarters and transported south daily; however, the cafe prepares Pasteis de Natas on-site at the Chiado shop. Their oven doesn’t stop with a constant stream of customers gobbling up bright yellow tarts all day long.
We appreciate the yolky sweetness in Pastelaria Alcôa’s Pasteis de Nata. Though we like and recommend them, they’re best eaten with cinnamon only. These natas are easily the sweetest we’ve tasted in Lisbon. If that’s your thing, go for it!
Pastelaria Alocôa is located at Rua Garrett 37, 1200-309 Lisbon, Portugal. The pastelaria’s original location is in Alcobaca.
NATA Lisboa doesn’t want to take over the Pastel de Nata market in Lisbon. With a motto of The World Needs Nata, this Pastel de Nata bakery wants to take over the planet.
Open since 2011, NATA Lisboa has locations throughout Portugal and in European cities like Bilbao, Amsterdam and Berlin. Regardless of the location, NATA Lisboa serves Lisbon-style Pasteis de Natas.
Food travelers have a happy place in Portuguese cities like Evora and Porto when they’re craving a Pastel de Nata away from Lisbon. NATA Lisboa’s natas are solid with the right combination of flakiness, creaminess and caramelization.
NATA Lisboa is located at Praça Duque de Saldanha nº 1 Atrium Saldanha, Atrium Collection, Piso 2, Loja 40, 1050-094 Lisboa, Portugal. The pastelaria has additional locations in Portugal as well as in other countries.
Located around the corner from the Lisbon Airbnb apartment where we stayed twice in 2018, Pastelaria Cristal has been serving Pasteis de Natas to locals in both Lapa and Estrella since 1941. Since the pastelaria bakes their natas a few doors down the block, it’s not unusual to see workers carrying fresh trays of hot natas into the shop throughout the day.
After three generations, the owners of Pastelaria Cristal know what they’re doing. Their natas are slightly better than the typical Lisbon tarts with firm, thick bottoms that yield to a creamy center.
Pastelaria Cristal is located at R. Buenos Aires 25, 1200-798 Lisboa, Portugal.
Bonus – Pastel de Nata Class
Learning how to make Pasteis de Natas is one of the best things to do in Lisbon for food travelers. Taking a cooking class is not only a fun culinary activity, but participants learn how to make Portuguese egg tarts at home.
Several companies offer Pastel de Nata classes. However. we recommend Lisbon Cooking Academy for the ultimate Pastel de Nata class. Chef Ana Viçoso is a great chef, speaks excellent English and possesses a comprehensive knowledge of Portuguese cuisine.
In just two hours, we learned how to bake Pasteis de Natas from scratch starting with puff pastry and ending with hot-out-of-the-oven Pasteis de Natas. Viçoso has created a recipe that translates terrifically to home kitchens.
Vegans aren’t left out of Viçoso’s Portuguese tart party. Lisbon Cooking Academy offers a separate Vegan workshop where participants follow a special Pastel de Nata recipe without milk, eggs and butter.
Lisbon Cooking Academy is located at Rua Ilha Terceira 51 A, 1000-172 Lisboa, Portugal.
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