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The Ultimate Guide to Pastel de Nata in Portugal

Saadiq Samodien

Contributor

Pastel de Nata is arguably the most famous treat in Portugal. The renowned pastry custard tart is a heavenly treat for any foodie. This delight is best enjoyed on the go and is perfectly paired with coffee and good company. Because visitors typically spend 30 minutes to one hour enjoying the Pastel de Nata, no reservations are required at most of these places. The chances are that every bakery in Portugal sells them, but we've hand-selected the very best for you.

Manteigaria, Lisbon

Manteigaria, which translates to "butter," is the not-so-hidden secret ingredient behind the store's famous creamy Portuguese custard tarts. Instead of margarine, they use pure butter along with plenty of sugar. Manteigaria pastry chefs undergo months of intensive training to perfect the recipe. Part of the experience is being able to watch the chef's make the treats through glass windows. The bakery also offers variations of the pastry; Pastel de nata with cream cod or Portuguese chicken fillings. Visitors usually enjoy the custard tart with Manteigaria's famous green wine or their Butter cocktail (which is a mixture of Delta and Amarguinha coffee).

The store can be found in two locations in Lisbon: on the corner of the famous Largo de Camões square and the Mercado da Ribeira food court. Each of the bakeries has poems adorning the walls written by famous Portuguese writers, which adds to the overall experience. Manteigaria operates from 8 am to 12 am, so you're able to enjoy it at your convenience. 

Padaria Central, Lagos

Founded in 1926, Padaria Central is not only a treasured Portuguese bakery but also an architectural masterpiece. It was founded by Gilberto Amélio - the original baker whose recipes are still used today. Upon entering Padaria Central, you'll be greeted with the smell of home-baked bread, croissants and cinnamon buns. The key ingredients to all dishes are 'shell eggs' - which is what makes this a must-try for anyone that loves the famous Portuguese pastries. They also specialise in almond and cinnamon cookies, as well as customer favourite King Cake. It's located in Algarve in Lagos along May Street - so it makes a satisfying stop after visiting the beach. The store is open from 7 am to 7 pm and is closed on Sundays.

Pastéis de Belém, Lisbon

Pastéis de Belém has the coveted title of being the most reviewed bakery in the world. It can be largely attributed to the charm of the bakery which lies in its mystery: they claim that their Pastel de Nata has a 'secret recipe' which they prepare in a 'secret room.' All that is known is that it was founded in 1820 when Belém monks made these Portuguese tarts to make ends meet. To this day, the recipe remains unchanged. Chances are you might want to order many of these tarts as they are said to be the best in Portugal.

Customers generally enjoy them hot out of the oven, with a sprinkle of cinnamon dust. The only downside is that you will have to queue for at least 30 minutes, up to one hour, as it is a really popular place for both locals and tourists. However, based on its reviews, the wait is worth it. 

Pastelaria Gomba, Lagos

Pastelaria Gomba serves a Pastel de Nata that many locals and travellers say rivals the ones at Pastéis de Belem. Located in Algarve, the bakery is situated on a narrow road with a slight uphill walk. The Portuguese tarts served here are known for their distinct cinnamon taste and are served at the perfect temperature for immediate consumption. Many also rave about their chicken salads and sandwiches, as well as iced coffees and fragrant cappuccinos. The store is open from 8 am to 7 pm, so best to make lunch or breakfast plans if you do plan on visiting.

Confeitaria Nacional, Lisbon

A visit to Confeitaria Nacional gives you a two-in-one experience. First, tasting some of the best Pastel de Nata in Lisbon, and second, visiting a historic landmark in Portuguese history. The confectionary was founded in 1829 and was the official supplier for the Portuguese Royal House. The recipe, created by Balthazar Castenherio, remains unchanged for over 180 years. Visitors can expect to have a royal experience, with an elegant tea room that opened in 1872. The Portuguese tarts are said to be one of the best not only in Portugal but in all of Europe. In particular, they are known for having a dense custard filling. Confeitaria Nacional was recently voted one of the best bakeries to visit in Europe by CNN.

The bakery also offers visitors a river cruise, where you’re able to enjoy lunch and a Portuguese tart near the Belém tower. 

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