Battle of the Pastéis de nata

Battle of the Pastéis de nata

Not many foods can claim to have holy origins (except for doughnuts and bagels, heh heh), but Portuguese egg custard tarts can claim to have this in spades. Originally created by nuns from the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon for some quick cash following Portugal's Liberal Revolution in the 19th century, the treats proved to be too good to keep to just the clergy.

Some of the best pastel de natas are still found at the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, the first nata bakery used by the Jerónimos nuns. But just being the original creator of the pastry, and still using the original recipe, does not necessarily mean it's the best (although this is up for incredible debate).

Instead, pastéis de nata are now ubiquitous throughout Portugal and Portuguese colonized countries — as well as countries that have had dealings with Portugal. Which means, basically, that these tarts can be found almost anywhere. So which are the best?

Read on, and we'll break down the best flaky pastries around Lisbon. 

Pastéis de Belem

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Pastéis de Belem

Jeremy's rating: ★★★★★

The OG of the nata business. Located by the Jerónimos Monastery, it can be a hike to get to these natas. But boy, if you are serious about your pastries, are they worth it. The shell is among the crunchiest you'll find, which is offset by the incredibly creamy center. And for authenticity nerds, it is hard to do better than the original pastel de nata recipe.

Jen's rating: ★★★★☆

Not usually patient enough to wait in line for food, I didn't mind waiting for these pastel de natas, especially since there's a separate, quickly-moving line for take-away orders. While I wasn't the biggest fan of how crunchy the outer shell was, I had to admit they were worth the trip to the southwestern most district of Lisbon. Not a surprise they sell over 20k freshly baked pastel de natas a day.

Fábrica da Nata

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Fábrica da Nata

Jeremy's rating: ★★★★☆

Located directly next to Lisbon's central Rossio train station, the natas here are superb and are great for a quick snack while out exploring. Baked fresh constantly, the cafe offers the chance to see how the tarts are made. Plus, the centers are super gooey.

Jen's rating: ★★★★★

I could have been swayed by the beautiful, Instagram-worthy interiors, but I didn't need to be because these pastel de natas blew my mind. With a dash of powdered sugar and cinnamon, I quickly found myself in a creamy, warm, and dreamy heaven, enveloped in a perfectly flaky crust. My favorite, hands down.

Medrosa d'Alfama

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Medrosa d'Alfama

Jeremy's rating: ★★★★☆

A small cafe in Lisbon's historic Alfama district, its natas hit all the marks. With a burnt but crispy and flaky edge, the natas here will undoubetdly satisfy even if they are not technically the best in Lisbon. Plus, the cafe has great sangria ... and you can never go wrong with great sangria.

Jen's rating: ★★★★☆

You'll find the cheapest, largest and most delicious glass of Sangria here and I had to mention that first because it's on the verge of overshadowing anything else I can say about Medrosa d'Alfama. But their pastel de natas are also a great snack while exploring the Alfama district; the creamy center reminds me of creme brulee with a pleasantly burnt shell.

A casinha do pão

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A casinha do pão

Jeremy's rating: ★★★☆☆

These natas were great for a quick easy grab and go snack. Although definitely not the best we had, it is still really hard to not want to eat a million of these again. However, without being made fresh on premise, the natas do lose some of the amazing gooeyness that make them so superb.

Jen's rating: ★★★☆☆

Located the Amoreiras Shopping Center, we passed by A casinha do pão and grabbed some pastel de natas for a quick and easy breakfast. There seemed to be a slight hint of lemon flavoring within the thicker custard, which put me off, but it still hit the spot that morning.

A Padaria Portuguesa

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A Padaria Portuguesa

Jeremy's rating: ★★★☆☆

Totally agree with Jen on this one: The natas were delicious, because, hey, natas, but they were not mind blowing. Still, they were cheap, tasty, and convenient — which does give them an edge over most of the technically better natas for a daily snack.

Jen's rating: ★★★☆☆

We decided to try out a chain bakery in the outskirts of Lisbon, per our Airbnb host's recommendation. There's around 50 A Padaria Portuguesa locations around the city and it reminded me of Panera, for you Americans. These were the sweetest of the bunch and the custard was especially creamy. I thought they were decent, but honestly, their portuguese doughnuts (Bolas de Berlim) took the cake. Now those, would get 5 stars and beyond.