So, where does a girl who has a serious penchant for Portuguese custard tarts (pasteis de nata)? Why, to Antiga Confeitaria de Belem of course!
This pastelaria located in Belem dates back to 1837 and makes their tarts with a top secret centuries-old recipe. Apparently it sells over 10,000 tarts a day (with the record day being 55,000 sold!).
The tarts aren't the only attraction here. The cafe itself is a fabulous warren of rooms, covered with beautiful wall tiles.
If you are in a hurry, you can have a coffee at the counter, or alternatively find a table in one of the rooms and relax for a while.
Favorite Dish: We chose to relax for a while, and managed to secure a small table. The waiter laughed at my attempts to speak Portuguese and told me that English was fine.....guess they are used to tourists here!
We ordered the usual small black coffee and of course a custard tart each...it would have been wrong not to. Although very tasty, it wasn't the best tart of the trip, but definitely worth trying.
This coffeehouse is in the heart of Belém, one of the most beautiful parts of town. It's surrounded by monuments like Torre de Belém, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos and Padrão dos Descobrimentos. Here you can taste the most delicious pastry Lisbon and probably Portugal has to offer. You can try them there while having a coffee in the morning, it's a great breakfast or you can have them at the beautiful parks in Belém which is very romantic.
The price is 0,85 euros per unit.
This is the only place to get the original "Pasteis de Belem" which are a small pastry, similar to the more well-known "Pasteis de Nata". There is not much use in trying to describe them as they are not like anything else I know. Just try them yourself.
It opened in 1837 and is still going strong today, with over 14000 "pasteis" produced every day, following a very closely-guarded recipe known only to three people in the whole world (or so they say).
The restaurant/café itself is huge, most people never explore it properly as there is a section in the back that is much larger than the one in the entrance (it can be closed in the low-season). You will obviously notice the famous "azulejo" tiles that cover the walls.
Service is not always very friendly, but if you get on the waiters good side you will find it is a very interesting experience. It might be difficult to find a table at times, specially in the weekends, but it is worth the wait. If you are in a hurry you can always buy them in a small box and eat them outside (the garden right in front has some nice benches in the shade.
Although it has become a tourist attraction, many locals still go there on a regular basis.
Favorite Dish: Pastel de Belém
The Café Pasteis de Belem is very famous for its delicious pastries. We were urged to go there by our Lisbon VT friends and it was actually only by chance, that we managed to go there:
my feet had been hurting so much from doing all this sightseeing around Torre de Belem and the Mosteiro de Jeronimo, that I only wanted to get back to the pension and rest my feet. I had almost reached the tram to take me home, when I happened to see the building of the Pasteis de Belem on the other side of the street and I remembered Catarina's words: "you just HAVE to go there, okay???" - Well, we let go the tram and instead we went inside the café.
The best tip, that we had gotten, was to proceed further into the building and not stay in the front part. The café is HUGE and consists of at least 7 different rooms - all packed with guests!!!
The café is decorated with tiles, but is not really very cosy, so we decided to just buy some pasteis and enjoy them some place else.
And sure enough, those pastries are very delicious!!!
Mmmm, little creatures of heaven, this is what the pasteis are! Catarina (VT-member mcb) took me to this place to taste them with a glass of port. I was immediately hooked! How to describe them? Well, they are a kind of custard pastries, traditionally eaten with sugar and cinnamon. And truly delicious!
Catarina told me that the only real recipe is guarded here. Lots of pastelerias sell “pasteis de nata” in Lisbon, which isn’t bad either, but nothing compared to the pasteis de Belem.
I bought 3 packs with me back home. A week later, they were all eaten :-)
This cafe is not to be missed. In our all too brief week long stay, we ended up making three visits to this pastry heaven and after our arrival back in the US seriously debated making an additional weekend trek to Lisbon just to experience one more time the delight that comes from sampling one of this pastry shops many selections.
Favorite Dish: Pastéis de Belém is what they're famous for but everything else was exceptional too!
The problem with some things is that people can hype them up so much that you can't but help thinking you're going to disappointed. That's why the Tarts of Belem were such a pleasant surprise, because they fully lived up to the hype and even surpassed it. You normally know you're onto a winner when the shop/restaurant is full of locals, and you have to fight your way through them to get hold of these tarts. But don't be put off, they are well worth it. Go for the full experience with Cinnamon and Sugar, and you may aswell take a box or two home with you. Trust me they are as nice cold as they are hot.
Favorite Dish: The tarts, they are the nicest you will taste anywhere.
This Cafe is the culinary place not to miss in Lisbon and Belem!!!!
There you will find the most wonderful portuguese pastry : the pastéis de Belém! A real delight that leaves you a wonderful sensatio.. even after you have eaten it!
Here is a little bit of history taken from the website of the Confeitaria
At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, in Belém, next to the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (the Heironymite Monastery) there was a sugar cane refinery linked to a small general store.
As a result of the liberal revolution of 1820, all convents and monasteries in Portugal were shut down in 1834, the clergy and labourers expelled.
In an attempt at survival, someone from the monastery offered sweet pastries for sale in the shop; pastries that rapidly became known as 'Pasteis de Belém'.
At that period the area of Belém was still far from the city of Lisbon and could be reached by steam-boats. At the same time, the grandeur of the monastery and the Torre de Belém (the Belém Tower) attracted visitors who soon grew used to savouring the delicious pastries originated in the monastery.
In 1837, the baking of the 'Pasteis de Belém' was begun in buildings joined to the refinery, following the ancient 'secret recipe' from the monastery. Passed on and known exclusively to the master confectioners who hand-crafted the pastries in the 'secrets room', this recipe remained unchanged to the present day.
In fact, the only true 'Pasteis de Belém' contrive, by means of a scrupulous selection of ingredients, to offer even today the flavour of the ancient portuguese confectionary industry.
Favorite Dish: Pastéis de Belém of course!
If you're in a bit of a hurry, it might be advisable to buy your pastries and sit in the garden across Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (or to sit by the river next to Padrao dos Descobrimentos). Not only it's nicer to sit there, but you'll probably manage to sink your teeth into the pastries a lot quicker, because the service at the Cafe is sometimes very slow (to say the least).
Favorite Dish: The 'pasteis' (custard pastries) are probably one of the favorite desserts of the Portuguese. And no wonder: if you manage to eat two or three of them (I dare you to eat just one) while still warm and sprinkled with cinammon, you'll understand what I'm talking about! ;)
I think everyone who has made tips on Belém does not fail to mention the incredible pastries at Café Pastéis de Belém. So yes, you've read about how great they are about 100 times by now! Just take everyone's word on it - eat the pasteis de belém - small, creamy pastries with cinnamon on top.
If you want a hearty meal, head next door - there is this cheap Middle Eastern restaurant that tends to attract more locals than tourists.
This pasteleria is over 160 years old. Don't be put off if all tables look occupied when you enter: there is loads more space in the back - just follow the signs!
Favorite Dish: The famous past?is de Bel?m of course! Available in all pastelerias, but they taste the best at Past?is de Bel?m!!
The pastýis are delicious custard cakes and cost EUR0.75 per pastel.
Always full of people this old bakery makes delicious pastries called "Pasteis de Belém" - iam! - but the rooms really worth a visit too! The history of the place runs in its walls! The waiters aren't always very nice (some are old and have difficulties in understanding foreign languages...) and you may need to wait for a wile, but if you have the time don't miss it.
Favorite Dish: The "stars" here are the small pastries called "Pasteis de Belém". They are made with cream and its recipe is a well kept secret! Better of when are still hot! Go well with tea, coffee, juices and almost every thing.
Tip: One is never enough!
This crowded place is so for a reason, and your time waiting in line is worthwhile, despite the mass of things to see outside in Belém. The huge demand makes for the Pastéis de Belém (or Pastel de nata - "Cream pastry") to be crisp/soft fresh right out of the oven. Ask for "Pastel de nata - um pacote de seis por favor". Can't even begin to describe this, but eating them in the Belém park afterwards may be one of the best things you'll ever do in public. Don't moan too loud!
Favorite Dish: In case you're still in doubt... PASTEL DE NATA
If you go to Belém (and of course, you will), you have to go to this amazing cafe. The interior is sumptuous with rich decorations that hint at the richness of the desserts that are made here.
Favorite Dish: Try the famous pasteis de Belém, a rich, egg yolk laden, cinnamon-topped creation that will leave you asking for a glass of water to cleanse your sinfully sweet and satisfied taste buds.
This is a great place! They have been doing those "pasteisinhos" since 1837 with a secret family recipe... They are delicius! They are little vanilla flavored pies, with a creamy filling...hummm...