Ah, pastel de nata… There are many good reasons to visit Lisbon, but this utterly delicious custard tart should be high on anyone’s list. A good pastel de nata is a dream of egg yolks and vanilla wrapped in crispy dough, sprinkled with cinnamon, and is best eaten warm from the oven.
Having just moved to Portugal for work, I have plenty of opportunity to try out the many different bakeries in Lisbon who all claim to produce the best pastéis de nata in town (in Portuguese the singular is pastel, and the plural is pastéis). Some of them even sell nothing other than pastéis and have decades of specialized craftmanship to speak for them. So I decided to do my due diligence and perform a thorough investigation to learn where in Lisbon one can find the most delicious pastel of all. On this page I will list the bakeries that I have tried, ranked from best to my least favourite. And my quest continues, so I will update this page regularly whenever I find new pastéis worth sharing. If you are looking for the best pastel de nata in Lisbon, check out the below list!
Just wow. Many of my friends and colleagues here agree with me that this is definitely the best pastel de nata producer in the city. I could eat these all day – their tarts are freshly made right in front of your eyes so when you set your teeth in them they are still steaming from the hot oven temperatures. They are crispy and crunchy on the outside, and the dough has a hint of cinnamon. The custard filling is silky soft and full of vanilla flavour. Perfection! I have tried their pastéis at their two different locations, one in the center of Lisbon and one in the Time Out Market near the river, and both are equally fantastic. They don’t have any seating (especially the bakery in the city is very narrow), so you can eat your pastel standing at the bar while you watch the bakers at work, or you buy them as a take-away and eat them on sunny nearby Praça Luís de Camões or at a riverside park respectively.
Manteigaria, Rua da Loreto 2 – open daily from 08:00 to midnight. € 1 for one pastel.
Manteigaria Time Out Market, Av. 24 de Julho 49 – open daily from 10:00 to midnight (to 02:00 from Thursday to Saturday). € 1 for one pastel.
2. Fabrica da Nata
This is actually a chain with bakeries in various locations in Lisbon and Porto, but don’t let that fact or their name fool you: they are not a factory producing processed snacks but an artisanal and traditional pastéis bakery which in my opinion bakes custard tarts that come very close in taste experience to those of my favourite, Manteigaria. Their pastéis have a sweet and flakey outside while the inside is rather runny with a strong vanilla taste. This bakery scores extra points in my book because they have both indoor and outdoor seating, so it’s a great place to enjoy an afternoon tea with a pastel while people watching from the seated terrace. Indoors you can see the bakers at work and you’ll have trays of hot pastéis straight from the ovens flying overhead on an ingenious system of rails attached to the ceiling.
Fabrica da Nata, Praça dos Restauradores 62-68, open daily from 08:00 to 11:00. € 1 for one pastel.
3. Pastelaria Aloma
Situated in a pleasant neighbouroood a little away from the city center, this small bakery serves delicious pastéis: crispy layers filled with a solid creme with a rather more “eggy” than vanilla taste. They are warm and fresh and best enjoyed on a bench in the nearby Teófilo Braga park (although there is also seating available inside and outside the bakery). If you are visiting Jardim da Estrela during your Lisbon city trip, make sure to make the little detour to Aloma because it is definitely worth it!
Pastelaria Aloma, Rua Francisco Metrass 67 – open daily from 08:00-19:00 – € 1 for one pastel
4. Antiga Confeitaria de Belém
My expectations were high – and the line to get in here is long, because this bakery claims to have the original (secret) recipe for pastéis and is famous in Lisbon and far beyond. They’ve been cranking out the creamy pastries since 1837 and they bake and sell over 20.000 pastéis per day! They must be doing something right… You can choose to either wait in line to be seated inside (it is large with many seats) or you can wait in line to pick up pastéis to take away, which I think is the better option – you could for example enjoy them in the nearby tranquil Botanic Garden. So… why are the pastéis from Belém only 4th on my list and not 1st, as you’d expect? Don’t get me wrong, the pastéis were delicious, but compared to my real favourites mentioned above, I thought the dough was just too oily and crispy and a little bit burnt. The dough they use is more like filo dough rather than the puff pastry that most other bakeries use, and this creates a tougher bite. The filling itself was great of taste (not too sweet) but a little bit lumpy compared to the smooth velvety substance you’ll find inside my favourite pastéis. Was it worth walking all the way down to Belém to try these tarts? Yes: it’s a must-try anyway if you are into pastéis and find yourself in Lisbon, if only for the experience. Would I do it again? Nah.
Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, Rua de Belém 84-92 – open daily from 08:00 to 23:00 – € 1.10 for one pastel.
This is the first pastel I tried in a place that is not fully dedicated to the sale of pastéis. Simpli is a small bakery in the Marquês de Pombal area that sells good coffee, croissants, bread and pastries. Its interior is very hipster-proof which makes it different from most other pastéis places which tend to have a more classical or traditional look. When I saw that pastéis were among their ware I had to try one to see if it could compete with those other places that are fully focused on baking thousands of the creamy good stuff per day. I must say, it did not disappoint. Great dough and tasty filling, although it was a little bit too runny: I know this stuff is finger-licking good, but I’d rather not have it running down my hands and on my plate. What a waste! 😉 Still a great pastel given that it is not their specialty. I would eat it again as I live close by but would not make a special effort to return if I’d lived further away – although if you like good coffee it may be worth taking the walk up here!
Simpli, Rua Braamcamp 64 – open daily from 08:00-20:00 – € 1.10 for one pastel.
There’s more to come as I’ll keep roaming Lisbon’s steep and narrow streets in my quest to find the ultimate pastel. If you have any recommendations, please leave them in the comments – can’t wait to try more of what has quickly become my favourite pastry ever.