A pastel de nata is a Portuguese egg custard tart pastry and if you’re heading off to Lisbon, there are so many delicious options available to you.
But which one is the best?
Well, on a recent trip to the city, James and I decided to hit up as many as we could in one day and report back to share our findings. This also makes the great basis of a self guided walking tour of Lisbon – you’ll be able to tick off many sights as you sample the delights!
Pastéis de Belém
The first custard tarts were made by a group of Portuguese Catholic monks who, after the Liberal Revolution of 1820, started selling them to a nearby sugar refinery to make some much needed cash.
When the monastery closed in 1834, the sugar refinery bought the recipe from the monks (though some say the recipe was stolen!), leading to the opening of Pastéis de Belém in 1837.
And it’s still here today!
Thoughts: We walked straight into the takeaway section and ate stood up inside. They were fresh – still warm! We topped it with cinnamon and powdered sugar and it was absolutely delicious. Buttery, flaky, and a really nice ratio of pastry to custard. We may have peaked already.
Chelsea score: 9/10
James score: 8.5/10
Final comments: Given the hype, there was a lot of pressure on this place to deliver but deliver it did! Also, they’re very insistent that these are not pastel de nata but pastéis de Belem – i.e. they’re in a LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN – so something to bear in mind if you go in asking for a nata. They will correct you!
Nata LX Factory
Whilst tasting pastel de nata was obviously the priority, we also wanted to tick off a few other Lisbon attractions whilst doing our taste test and so a natural place to stop off on the way back to Lisbon from Belem is LX Factory which is full of shops and eateries.
Whilst there, we spotted A Nata do LX. Now, this place hadn’t come up in my research but I thought it would be good to give options for every area of your Lisbon trip. And who knows, perhaps we would uncover a hidden gem?!
Thoughts: There were a few baked and ready though perhaps they’d been sitting there a while as they were lukewarm. They had both sugar and cinnamon available which was good. Nice flake but the pastry had gone a little soggy and the filling wasn’t as rich as the previous. Still tasty though!
Chelsea score: 7/10
James score: 7/10
Final comments: LX Factory as its known today opened in 2008 and so perhaps its not surprising that there’s not a standout place to get your pastel de nata from when there’s so much competition nearby that’s steeped in history! Overall, if you’re in the area and have a hankering for one, you’re not going to be upset.
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Pastelaria Aloma has been around since 1943 and has won the ‘Melhor Pastel de Nata’ (Best Custard Tart) competition in 2012, 2013 and 2015. In the latest round, they places 2nd and if you’re wondering if Pastéis de Belém came first then nope! Remember, they don’t believe they make pastel de natas and so refuse to enter the competition on that basis.
I’ll share the number 1 place towards the end, but first, back to Aloma.
Price: €1,10 (what a bargain)
Thoughts: The staff were very friendly. Unfortunately they didn’t have any warm tarts but it didn’t really matter – they were still really good. Great ratios of filling to pastry with a really lovely creamy filling. We topped with cinnamon but there wasn’t any powdered sugar on offer.
Chelsea score: 8.2/10
James score: 8/10
Final comments: If it was fresh out the oven, I think this would have scored even higher so it’s absolutely worth checking out on your own nata tour.
With 3 venues to choose from (and 2 more in Porto!), we decided to head to the Manteigaria on Rua do Loreto, just a few doors down from Aloma.
It’s tiny inside but grab a tart and keep walking down the side to eat standing up whilst watching the pastel de nata being made in front of your eyes!
Thoughts: Warm, fresh and great pastry. Loved being able to watch the process as well. If I was being really picky, I thought the filling was missing a little something to give it as impactful a taste as the others, but James thought it was absolutely spot on.
Chelsea score: 8/10
James score: 8.5/10
Final comments: A very strong contender, especially if you can’t be bothered to travel all the way out to Belem to try a pasteis de Belem!
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It’s another place that’s been running a while – since 1957! However, not in Lisbon but in the city of Alcobaça. In fact, the branch we headed to in the Chiado area opened in 2014. This place doesn’t just do pastel de nata – it’s more of a patisserie filled with loads of different puddings and pastries so if you’re a dessert fan, this may be the place for you.
Thoughts: Topped with cinnamon (no sugar to be seen!) and unfortunately not warm, but were nearing the end of the day to be fair to them. There was a real crunch on the pastry – perhaps too much? – and for me, the filling on these was the most synthetic tasting. It was still pretty great though.
Chelsea score: 7.7/10
James score: 7.5/10
Final comments: A good price for a super central location and worth adding a tart onto your order of their other delicious offerings.
Located in Lisbon’s Castelo district, you better get ready to feel the thigh burn as there’s a few hills to climb to reach Santo António! But, as another previous winner of the best pastel de nata competition, we had high hopes that it would be worth the effort.
Thoughts: They had both cinnamon and powdered and whilst not warm, everything else was absolutely superb. A lovely crunch to the pastry, great ratios and a gorgeous custard. YUM.
Chelsea score: 8.5/10
James score: 8.5/10
Final comments: Considering it was near closing time, these were fantastic – I can only imagine how good they’d be fresh. Another worthy swap for travelling all the way out to Belem!
Our favourite pastel de nata in Lisbon
After a day of very important taste testing, we can reveal that our favourite pastel de nata’s in Lisbon are…
3rd place – Manteigaria
2nd place – Santo António
1st place – Pastéis de Belém
I think it could definitely be argued that the freshness of the Pastéis de Belém sealed the deal but credit where credit is due!
More pastel de nata places in Lisbon to try
As we ran out of time before our flight home to London, there were a few more places we would have checked out had we have had more time, including:
Fábrica da Nata
Whilst you can buy other items at Fábrica da Nata, they call the pastel de nata their ‘hero’. There’s a bit more space than other places and so if you’re after a spot to relax and enjoy, this could be it.
If you like your Wes Anderson vibes, get yourself to Confeitaira Nacional. Founded in 1829, this is a great place to sample many Portuguese treats and light refreshments.
Vegan Nata Campo de Ourique
Fancy nestling in on the pastel de nata hype but don’t eat eggs? DON’T WORRY. The vegan tarts at Vegan Nata Campo de Ourique come highly rated.
Casa do Padeiro
It’s quite the trek to Pontinha – it will take you around 45 minutes by public transport – but they are the current number one holders of the best pastel de nata in Lisbon and so for you custard tart purists, it may be worth the effort!