Table of Contents
- Eating Pasteis de Nata in Lisbon
- What Is a Pastel de Nata?
- How to Eat a Pastel de Nata
- Lisbon Pastel de Nata Guide
- Pastel de Nata Class
- Vegan Pastel de Nata
- Plan Your Lisbon Stay
- Hungry for More Sweets?
- Pin It for Later
- About the Authors
- Learn European Portuguese
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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 Nata 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.
Order Pasteis de Nata when you want more than one Pastel de Nata. Or, just call them natas. We use both plural versions in this guide.
Eating Pasteis de Nata 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 while visiting Lisbon. Not only did we retrieve the precious cargo, but we also made our flight to Barcelona with minutes to spare.
You can conveniently buy Lisbon’s best edible souvenir at the Lisbon airport. Pastelaria Versailles has a shop in Terminal 1 and Confeiteria Nacional has a shop in Terminal 2. You can also buy Pastel de Nata six packs in the airport’s duty-free shop.
What Is a Pastel de Nata?
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 Nata 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 Nata, 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.
Don’t worry if your Pastel de Nata has black spots on top. These spots indicate caramelization and are perfectly normal.
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 or on your table.
If you don’t see 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.
Make a separate trip to one of the many Lisbon specialty coffee shops if you like third wave coffee. Lisbon pastelarias typically serve commodity Delta coffee.
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 Nata in Lisbon during your visit. We do as well since each dense egg custard tart has 200 – 400 calories depending on the Pastel de Nata recipe.
After eating our collective weight in Pasteis de Nata, we’ve compiled a list of our top ten favorite Pastel de Nata Lisbon locations. You can reach all of them easily 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’.
1. Pasteis 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, Pasteis 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).
Skip the inevitable ‘take-away’ line at the front of Pastéis de Belém. Instead, head to the back of the cafe where you can sit at a table and enjoy your natas in comfort. One more note: Due to their organic nature, natas from Pastéis de Belém don’t travel well.
Pastéis de Belém is located at Rua de Belém 84-92, 1300-085 Lisboa, Portugal.
Manteigaria has no qualms about keeping its 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 multiple Lisbon shops including one at the ridiculously popular Time Out Market, one in Baixa and the original in centrally located Chiado. Locals and tourists flock to all 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 Nata at Manteigaria and featured the experience on his hit Netflix show Somebody Feed Phil.
Many culinarily-inclined people consider Manteigaria to be the best Pastel de Nata in Lisbon and we can empathize. The filling, while not the creamiest, is sweet with a slightly salty finish.
Will it be your favorite too? Squeeze yourself into a spot by the bar, sprinkle cinnamon on a hot nata and decide for yourself.
Since the current cost is just €1.10 per nata, order a couple when you visit Manteigaria. Considering that nearby Pastalaria Benard charges more than double for a lesser product, this is a terrific bargain.
The original Manteigaria is located at Rua do Loreto 2, 1200-108 Lisboa, Portugal. The pastelaria has additional locations in Lisbon and Porto.
3. Pastelaria Versailles
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 Nata) 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.
Go hungry to Pastelaria Versailles. More than a pastry shop, this Lisbon cafe has a menu filled with Portuguese classics, both savory and sweet.
4. 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 Nata 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 Nata 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 traditional Portuguese cherry liqueur too.
You can take free elevators up to the Castelo neighborhood to avoid a hilly workout. We recommend this option for readers with bad knees, limited time or heart conditions.
Pastelaria Santo António is located at R. Miracle of Santo António 10, 1100-351 Lisboa, Portugal.
5. 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 flaky 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.
Order a sandwich or salad if you want to turn your nata break into a meal.
Fábrica da Nata has multiple locations. The flagship 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.
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.
Since Aloma’s natas aren’t overly flavored, feel free to shake a healthy dose of cinnamon and sugar on your tarts.
Our favorite Aloma is located at R. Francisco Metrass 67, 1350-013 Lisboa, Portugal. The pastelaria has additional locations in Lisbon.
7. Confeitaria Nacional
As the oldest operating Lisbon bakery, Confeitaria Nacional has been making Lisbon sweeter since Balthazar Roiz Castanheiro started the confectionery 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.
Not a fan of typical Portuguese coffee? Confeitaria Nacional serves an Arabica blend with beans from Colombia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Guatemala.
Confeitaria Nacional is located at Praça da Figueira, Praça Dom Pedro IV 18B, 1100-241 Lisboa, Portugal.
8. Pastelaria Alcôa
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 Nata 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!
Although Alcôa does not offer table service, their customer service is excellent.
Pastelaria Alocôa is located at Rua Garrett 37, 1200-309 Lisbon, Portugal. The pastelaria’s original location is in Alcobaca.
9. NATA Lisboa
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.
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.
Keep your eyes open for a NATA Lisboa franchise in your corner of the globe. It could happen.
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.
10. Pastelaria Cristal
Located around the corner from the Lisbon Airbnb apartment where we stayed twice in 2018, Pastelaria Cristal has been serving Pasteis de Nata 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 typical Lisbon tarts with firm, thick bottoms that yield to a creamy center.
Cristal’s ‘upper town’ location is just a short stroll from the beautiful Basílica da Estrela and the intimate Jardim da Estrela as well as a 15-minute uphill walk to the Campo de Ourique Market.
Pastelaria Cristal is located at R. Buenos Aires 25, 1200-798 Lisboa, Portugal.
Pastel de Nata Class
Learning how to make Pasteis de Nata is one of the best things to do in Lisbon for food travelers. Not only do participants learn how to make Portuguese egg tarts at home during this culinary activity, but they can also eat their work at the end of the cooking class.
You can book a Pastel de Nata class at Pastelaria Batalha through Airbnb, 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 during our fun workshop, we learned how to bake Pasteis de Nata from scratch starting with puff pastry and ending with hot-out-of-the-oven Pasteis de Nata. 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.
Book your Pastel de Nata class in advance. Considering the popularity of Portuguese tarts, these classes fill up fast. You can sign up via Lisbon Cooking Academy’s website.
Lisbon Cooking Academy is located at Rua Ilha Terceira 51 A, 1000-172 Lisboa, Portugal.
Vegan Pastel de Nata
Not only can vegans learn how to bake dairy-free Pasteis de Nata at the Lisbon Cooking Academy (see above), but they can also eat them at João Batalha’s Pastelaria Batalha in Chiado. Ironically, the cost is slightly higher despite the missing ingredients.
Batalha creates modern Portuguese tarts without adding any milk or eggs. He also teaches a Pastel de Nata baking class as noted above.
Order one regular Pastel de Nata and one vegan Pastel de Nata so that you compare the taste and texture of the two versions.
Pastelaria Batalha is located at Rua Horta Seca 1, 1200-243 Lisbon, Portugal.
Plan Your Lisbon Stay
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.