A Pastel de Nata is one of the tastiest sweets available in Portugal (pastel is singular, pastéis is plural). The origin of this cream pastry comes from the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. In the abbey of this monastery the nuns used egg white as a starch of their clothing. The egg yolks were left over, and not to have to throw them away, a cake was developed in which the egg yolks could be proce
They are everywhere
It is not hard to get a pastel de nata in Lisbon, or anywhere in Portugal for that matter. At almost every corner of the street (sometimes even several in the same street) you will find a pastelaria (bakery). Almost all of them sell pastéis de nata. At the baker’s you can assume that they are home-made. When you buy them in the supermarket, this is not so obvious.
The origin of pastéis de nata is in Portugal, but the pastries are so popular that you can get them all over the world, including in places in the UK. I have been told that they are also available in Kyoto, Japan.
If you really don’t know where to buy pastéis de nata then pay attention to a sticker in the show window that says ‘Fabrico Proprio’. This quality mark indicates that the pastry is home-made.
The big pastéis de Nata test
The authentic and secret recipe is still used at Confeitaria de Belém, better known as pastéis de Belém bakery. But many bakers in Portugal have taken over this recipe and made it into their own.
The Portuguese are fond of pastéis de nata, they have it at their breakfast, lunch and dinner. That’s fortunate, because that way it’s even easier to get these delicious treats. To find out where you can find the best pastéis de Nata in Lisbon, we have conducted a simple yet delicious test: we try to visit as many pastelarias and cafes as possible to try them all!
Our starting point was originally: can other bakeries in Lisbon compete with the sophistication and experience of the original Pastel de Belèm? And yes, Belèm’s is still the benchmark, but as you will see, there is a surprise in the rankings.
Below is our top 11 of best places to order a pastel de nata.
- Pastelaria Espigasol »
- Pastéis de Belém »
- Fábrica da Nata »
- Pastelaria Aloma »
- Manteigaria Fábrica de Pastéis de Nata »
- Pastelaria Versailles »
- Café Gelo »
- Confeitaria Nacional »
- Café Nicola »
- A Brasileira »
- NATA Lisboa »
1. Pastelaria Espigasol
The tastiest pastéis de nata as far as I’m concerned and yes, they are better than the original pastéis de Belém. In terms of taste there’s not much between the two. The reason that the pastel de nata at ‘Espigasol’ wins is because you can eat them 1 or 2 days after buying. They don’t get tough and they keep their original taste.
The taste is just right, full and creamy and certainly not too sweet. The crust breaks perfectly when you take a bite and after your first pastél de nata you will want to eat the next one. The perfect combination is with a bica (small cup of coffee) but with water, soft drink or something else also tastes great. An additional advantage is that the pastel from Espigasol is quite big, sometimes up to 25% larger than that of the competitors.
2. Pastéis de Belém
You can read how enthusiastic I can get about those pastéis here. The taste is delicious: full and creamy, the crust is crunchy but the pastéis are old if you do not eat them at the same day.
On the day of purchase they are by far the best. If you wait a day to eat them, the taste is less and the dough becomes somewhat tough.
3. Fábrica de nata
Since the beginning of March 2016, Fabrica de Nata has opened in the city centre of Lisbon. In this shop / factory you will find one of the tastiest pastéis de nata: they are crunchy, creamy but not with too much to egg. The ideal combination for the ideal bite. Also the price is very attractive, 1 euro for a pastéis de nata.
I place the pastéis from Fabrica de Belém before pastéis de Belém because they are almost as good. The advantage is that you do not have to travel to Belém, price / quality I think this bakery is a bit better. This is mainly because the pastéis are still delicious the next day.
4. Pastelaria Aloma
Winner of the “O melhor pastéis de nata” trophy, the best pastéis de nata of the world. You can eat the pastéis de nata from Pastelaria Aloma cold without losing any the taste. Some pastéis can be very soggy, but this pastel de nata keeps it’s crunchy outside, and the cream is not too sweet. The pastel de nata is soft and delicious. Certainly one of the best pastéis I have tasted in Lisbon and therefore in our top 3!
5. Manteigaria Fábrica de Pastéis de Nata
The pastéis de nata from Manteigaria is very tasty, crunchy and full of flavor. Definitely recommended to get one (or two, three …) and not go all the way to Belm. The only “but” here is that the pastel is a bit sweet. It tastes as if they’ve added some powdered sugar up front. Not very disturbing, but I prefer to eat my pastéis without powdered sugar and just use cinnamon.
6. Pastelaria Versailles
Pastelaria Versailles behoort tot een van de oudste pastelarias van Lissabon. Maar vergeleken de binnenstad van Lissabon, is deze pasteleria niet heel erg oud. Eet een pastel de nata bij Pastelaria Versailles. Het zijn lekkere pastel de nata, knapperig en precies de juiste maat om een hele grote hap te nemen.
7. Café Gelo
When you are nearby Rossio, this baker is not to be missed. Definitely not if you have (tasty) appetite. The window of Café Gelo is full of bread, biscuits, pastéis de nata and cakes.
The pastéis de nata at Café Gelo are very tasty and creamy. The dough is, in contrast to other pastéis that you can buy in the neighborhood, not very thin and that gives the pastéis more body. A big advantage is that the pastéis are also available in small shapes.
8. Confeitaria Nacional
The pastéis de nata of Confeitaria Nacional taste deliciously. They are slightly sweeter than I am used to. They also seem to be prepared with a hint of anise. The dough is thin, giving it that lovely crackling sensation when you take a bite.
9. Café Nicola
In my opinion you buy the best pastéis de nata at the bakery. You can also eat them at a café such as Café Nicola or A Brasileira, but if you go for freshness, go to a real bakery.
At Nicola, the pastéis de nata are not bad, but I prefer to walk to the other corner of Rossio (almost every corner of the street has a pasteleira) to buy a pastéis.
10. A Brasileira
The pastéis de nata sold at the bar at A Brasileira, the café in Lisbon that invented the ‘bica’, is a bit disappointing. They are solid but nothing special. They seem to have adjusted the recipe to the many tourists who visit this cafe. It’s not spectacular, but just ok. But I’d rather walk 10 minutes to Rossio to buy the pastéis de nata at Café Gelo.
11. NATA Lisboa
This Fabrica de Pasteis de Nata was not on our list to add to our great Pasteis de Nata test – until we saw that they’re also expanding their brand abroad (for instance in Amsterdam).
How well are these pies compared to the rest? The jury is divided on this one. One finds them weak and way too heavy, the other is a bit milder and praises the crunchiness. But yes, compared to what you can get in Lisbon, this is far from the best.
Maybe they are great elsewhere in Europe (we will test) but compared to the rest of the top 11 they certainly don’t stand out.