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The hidden story of the pastéis de nata

Ivana Jiménez

Portugal is well known for its food and especially for its desserts. You haven’t been to Lisbon if you haven’t tried one of the most well preserved national treasures: the pastel de nata. Made with simple, yet delicious, ingredients this Portuguese custard tart has won all of our hearts. 

It all began in Bélem. Following the events of the Liberal Revolution of 1820, convents and monasteries suffered a lot, especially in financial matters. At the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, the monks decided to start selling the pastéis as a way to earn some money and help the monastery. Sadly, it wasn’t enough and it closed in 1834, selling the recipe to a nearby sugar refinery that later became the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém in 1837. That’s why sometimes people call them “pastéis de Belém” instead of “pastéis de nata”. 

Today you can find them in every bakery or pastry shop in Lisbon, and since we know how hard it can be to chose among all the delicious options, here you are going to find our top 5 places to enjoy the pastéis de nata at their best!

Pastéis de Belém

What better way to discover this dessert than in the place that it was born. At this pastry shop, you’ll find a lovely decoration of the typical azulejos and a lot, a lot of people. But don’t worry, when you arrive you’ll notice that there’s a huge waiting line outside, skip the line and go inside for a table to taste your pastel while sipping a cup of coffee. The best thing about this shop? They serve the pastéis freshly baked, just add cinnamon and powdered sugar and you are ready to go!

The “OG” pastel will cost you 1,10€.

A Manteigaria 

Bairro Alto is well known for its bars and parties, but it also carries a tasteful hidden secret: A Manteigaria. This place receives a lot of people because in terms of quality-price this is the best one by far as the tart costs only 1€ and it’s simply amazing. You’ll have to wait a little bit in line but don’t worry, the sound of the bell will let you know when a fresh batch of pastéis has just gotten out of the oven so you can enjoy them fresh and warm!

Pastelaria Versailles

Founded in 1922, Versailles is a must place to visit in Lisbon. Named after the French palace, its interior looks like one of its rooms. Walls decorated with mirrors and ceilings with a touch of art nouveau, this is the best example of a classic pastry shop. In here you’ll find Lisbon’s widest variety of pastries and of course the pastel de nata at 1,40€. What goes well with sugar? More sugar. Here, to enjoy your tart you can order their hot chocolate, you’ll see how these two will become best friends and sweeten up your day.

Mercado do Peixe 

Yes, this place is actually a fish market but you must know that it won the title of best pastel de nata in Lisbon at the Peixe Festival in 2018. The pastel here it’s a little pricey compared to the others but totally worth it, it costs 1,90€. You can try their tart while enjoying one of the local beers or as a dessert after you ate they well renowned fried fish or another of their signature Portuguese dishes. 

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#nata #sunday #not #sohealthy 😉

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A Fábrica de Nata

This place’s name is literally the fabric of custard and the great thing is you can watch the pastéis being baked right in front of you. For as little as 1€ your mouth will be enjoying one of the best pastéis in Lisbon. They also serve local wine from Porto that goes amazingly well with the little pastries. Once you are there, take a look at the ceiling as you’ll see some of the pastéis travelling around the shop making their way back to the oven.

And don’t forget, a pastel de nata a day keeps the sadness away!

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