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Pasteis de Nata and Pasteis de Belem – A Taste of Heaven in Lisbon

When we visited Lisbon we fell head over heels in love. With its picture-perfect neighborhoods, elegant shopping streets, and glittering waterfront, I thought there was no way that Lisbon could get any better. Then I discovered a little taste of heaven – Pasteis de Nata.

Pastéis de Nata

Before even setting off for the Portuguese capital, I had experienced many of the small traditional pastries that you can in just about every guidebook in Hawaii and at Portuguese-American events in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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For some reason, Pasteis de Nata seemed to court hushed tones amongst city experts and those in the know about Portuguese food. Their elevated status was intriguing to me. They were only pastries, how special could they be?

There was only one way to find out…

What is a Pasteis de Belem?

Pasteis de Belem bakery in Lisbon

As I experienced first-hand in the charming town of Belem, Pasteis de Nata (singular is Pastel de Belem), or Portuguese ‘custard tarts’, are small, papery pastries filled with deliciously sweet and gooey egg custard. When seasoned with cinnamon and icing sugar, they are the ultimate accompaniment to a tiny but mighty cup of Portuguese coffee.

Pasteis de Nata are sold all over Lisbon but are most closely associated with Belem. In fact, the cafés near the Jerónimos Monastery are as popular as any other tourist attraction dotted around this historic Lisbon suburb.

Belem’s maze of traditionally tiled coffee shops is a mecca for cake and coffee fans, but Casa Pasteis de Belem is, by all means, the mothership. The café’s history is a compelling enough reason to visit.

Casa Pasteis de Belem has its roots in the liberal revolution of 1820 when all convents and monasteries in Portugal were shut down. By 1834, clergy and laborers had been expelled from ecclesiastical buildings, so many were facing destitution. Times were tough by all accounts, so in an attempt to supplement their income, a group of enterprising clerics in Belem offered to sell their pastries to the general store located next to the sugar cane refinery.

Around the same time, the architectural splendor of the Torre de Belém (Belem Tower) was attracting tourists who, over the years, had grown accustomed to dropping by to enjoy some of the monastery’s pastries.

In 1837, Casa Pasteis de Belem set up shop in the buildings joined to the sugar cane refinery, using the secret recipe from the monastery. To this day, the recipe is shrouded in mystery and is only passed on to trusted master confectioners who bake the pastries in the ‘secrets room’.

Getting to Belem:

Belem is located just 3.5 miles/6 km from Lisbon city center. To get to Lisbon from Belem, take tram 15 from Figueira Square or Comercio Square or if driving with Lisbon car hire, head north on Praca do Comércio in the direction of Av Infante Dom Henrique. Take a left turn at R. di Comércio. Then, take another left at R. Áurea.

You will then need to take a slight right turn at Praca do Comércio. From here, turn right at Av. Da Ribeira das Naus and continue in towards Cais do Sodré train station. From here head for Av. 24 de Julho and stay on Av. 24 de Julho. Next, take a slight left turn at Av. 24 de Julho and continue along Av. 24 de Julho.

Then travel towards Av. Da Índia/N6 and take a left turn to stay on this road. Next, turn right at Praca Afonso de Albuquerque and take a left turn to stay on this road. Keep to the left side of the road at the fork. Casa Pastéis de Belém is located on the left.

Address: Pastéis de Belém, Rua de Belem, 84


Where to find the best Pasteis de Nata (non-Belem version) in Lisbon

Pasteis de Nata are found all over the city and on every trip to Lisbon (I've been there now 3 times and spent 3 months there) I discover more!

  • Eater has dedicated a whole guide to them!
  • Manteigaria > Rua do Loreto 2
  • Fábrica da Nata > 62 -68 Praça dos Restauradores
  • Pastelaria Versailles > Av. da República 15-A
  • Confeitaria Nacional > Praça da Figueira 18B
  • Pastelaria Cristal > R. Buenos Aires 25A
  • Aloma > Rua Francisco, Metrass 67, Campo de Ourique

Pasteis de Nata Recipes:

Pastel de Nata Workshop

What if you could learn to make these little slices of heaven at home? Then yes, you would miss Lisbon and Portugal, but you would be armed with the tools to make Pasteis de Nata and I promise you, you would instantly feel better!

What better way to experience Lisbon than to take a cooking class, meet other pastry fans, and have a treat? I did this in Paris and have the fondest memories! My friend Cindy of Travel Bliss Now took the Pastel de Nata Workshop in Lisbon, I am super jealous and will do this on my NEXT trip – promise!


Pasteis de Nata

Pastel de Nata Cream!

I am a HUGE fan of Benamor, the Portuguese beauty line that makes delicious-smelling hand and body creams. Until recently my favorite scent was jacaranda whose trees you find in Lisbon, but Benamor just recently released a new scent, and you guess it…it's called Nata and smells just like warm Pastel de Nata! You can get it on their website or through Amazon! I bought some and I am LOVING it!

How about you? Have you tried Pastéis de Nata or Pastéis de Belém?

Like it? PIN it!

Pasteis de Nata and Pasteis de Belem - A Taste of Heaven in Lisbon PortugalPasteis de Nata and Pasteis de Belem - A Taste of Heaven in Lisbon PortugalPasteis de Nata and Pasteis de Belem - A Taste of Heaven in Lisbon Portugal

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  1. Miss Fiona…i guess you never visited Oporto??? in order to find good food in Portugal you should go up north…

  2. by the way…if you go to Lisbon often…you should look a nearby city called Sintra and look for another pastry “Queijada de Sintra”…
    and fortunatly there are many conventual pastry over the all country…

    1. @R, I crossed very close to Sintra on my way to Cascais, but never got to taste this treat – I must go back!

  3. Clarabela says:

    That is the most delicious-looking thing I have ever seen in my life. It makes me want to visit Portugal, if only to try one of those custard tarts.

  4. Trust me… Actually: trust US (me and Fiona). It’s the best think you’ll ever try in this world. And that’s all I have to say (despite that this is also on of “the best” countries in the world. Don’t visit Lisbon only. The north deserves a visit as well.)

    1. @Sara, I have tried something similar to this in Asia, it is food heaven – and believe me, I trust you! I have been to Portugal once and we never made it to Lisbon, I want to the do the north and then cross over into Spain to see Bilbao.

  5. Fiona Hilliard says:

    @R hahaha yeah I can’t wait to visit Oporto – have heard such great things about the food and architecture…Sintra is another place I need to see – I was in Cascais last May, so close to Sintra, but I didn’t make it – must remember those pastries for when I visit next time…

  6. I’m planning a trip to Portugal and this post is making me salivate just thinking about it! I can’t wait to taste one of these pastries! The recommendations are great 🙂

    1. @Linds, I am so glad you think so! Thanks to Fiona for being so knowledgeable and as passionate about Portugal as I am about France!

  7. The ones sold in Belém are actually called Pastéis de Belém and are slightly different from Pastéis de Nata, which you can buy at any coffee shop in the country. Eating them with powdered sugar and cinnamon is also a very “Lisbon” thing to do, since in other parts of the country they are eaten plain.

  8. Andrew Wolfe says:

    Make sure to have an expresso with one of the custard tarts, and when I say one I mean at least three

    1. Andi Fisher says:

      @Andrew, or five! They were available on a near daily basis while we cruised the Douro River, I think I ate a ton of them on my own!

  9. I lived near Lisbon for two years and was totally addicted to the humble pastel de nata! My favourites were from Manteigaria. Never got round to doing the pastel de nata workshop though – wish I had!