Pastéis de Belém is Lisbon’s most famous and, without comparison, the most visited pastel de nata shop. According to local sources, as much as 30.000 egg tart pastries leave the oven here every day. From the shop opens in the early morning at 10 o’clock, the queues are endless until they close again in the evening. The tiny shop front hides a much larger seating area than you’d expect inside, consisting of multiple rooms with a total of several hundred seats.
A Secret Family Recipe
What makes them some of the best in the city? A secret family recipe that has been passed down from one generation to the next since 1837. Pastéis de Belém are considered by some to be the original pastéis de nata – but they consistently call them pastéis de Belém. The exact measurements and baking processes are known by only six people, who have sworn to keep it to themselves until a new baker needs to be taught the tricks. Apparently, it does involve a lot of butter, though.
Visit the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos
While you’re in the neighborhood for some sweet treats, I strongly recommend paying a visit to the spectacular cathedral and monastery Mosteiro dos Jerónimos. Not only to admire the remarkable construction work, however, but also because this is where the history of the pastéis de Belém began. The nuns would need endless amounts of egg whites to starch their uniforms, so the monastery would use egg yolks to bake pastries. Later on, the monks opened up a shop nearby to earn some extra money. That shop is Pastéis de Belém.