When we think of Pastelaria Alcôa, we don’t think of a traditional pastelaria with clattering coffee dishes and locals who order a bica en bolo for breakfast at the bar.
No, Pastelaria Alcôa is better described as a patisserie. The master confectioner is a multi award winning chef at several gastronomic festivals. When you take a look in the shop windows you’ll understand why.
Craftsy monastery candies
Pastelaria Alcôa was founded in 1957 in the city of Alcobaça (more than 100 km -60 miles -north of Lisbon). This city houses the monastery Santa Maria de Alcobaça, a Cistercian monastery from the 12th century. The master confectioners of Pastelaria Alcôa bake their goods according to the five centuries old recipes of these Cistercian monks – that is why the sweetness of Pastelaria Alcôa is also called doces conventuais (convent sweets).
These sweets look beautiful – you can see that most of them are handmade. Each piece of candy has its own characteristic, but the basis of almost every treat is the same: sugar and egg yolk. The Cornucopia, a sweet cone filled with creamy fresh eggs – is the logo of Pastelaria Alcôa. They are not to be missed when you look in the shop window.
The convent sweets refer to their origin with clever names, such as Segredos D. Pedro (the secret of St. Peter), Coroa de Abadessa (the crown of the abbess), Barriga de Freira (nuns’ bellies) and Amor Prohibido (forbidden love).
This pastelaria became well known in Lisbon in 2014, when they won the prize for best pastéis de nata.
From tobacco to sweetness
In 2014 Pastelaria Alcôa opened a branch in Chiado. As long as I can remember there was a beautiful tobacco shop in that building until mid-2014. The azulejos and the facade have been preserved and are reminiscent of the time before this pastelaria.
Pastelaria Alcôa has no seating area. There are high countertops on the displays where you can enjoy a convent candy and a cup of coffee or tea.
Pasteis de Nata
Of course we had to taste the pastéis that won the award for best pastel de nata in 2014 and include it in our big pastéis de nata test.
We didn’t think it was bad, but it’s also not the best we ate in Lisbon. The pastel was full of flavor, which made the egg dominate the flavour. The dough was perhaps one of the crunchiest I ever had. But given the price-quality ratio, these pasteéis de nata are just outside the top 3.
Read here what we think is the best pastéis de nata ” The great pastéis de nata test.
One thing we have to hand to Pastelaria Alcôa – the Pastéis de Nata always come fresh from the oven. It doesn’t matter at what time you walk in to buy one.
Cloister sweets to take home
We fully understand that when you enter Pastelaria Alcôa you become so enthusiastic that you want to take these beautiful sweets with you as souvenirs for at home.
We bought a box with all kinds of convent sweets and took them to our friends who live in Lisbon. There were a few hours between buying the sweets and eating them, but still they didn’t look as beautiful as when we bought them (and we carried them in the stroller all the time). I can imagine that if you take the sweets with you in your suitcase, it will resemble a battlefield.
So eat them yourself and tell the home front how delicious they were and if they ever go to Lisbon, that they should definitely visit Pastelaria Alcôa!
Where to find Pastelaria Alcôa
In addition to the chiado shop, Pastelaria Alcôa has had a seasonal kiosk in the El Corte Inglés department store for 14 years.
Address: Rua Garrett 37, Chiado
Opening Hours: every day: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.