When visiting a capital city, it is hard, as a Londoner, to resist a little game of matching up the different areas with London equivalents. The area just off Rossio for example, we decided was Leicester Square (high concentration of tourists), and our riverside beers were enjoyed on the ‘South Bank’. Our trip out of town to Belém then, to the home of the Pastel de Nata (custard tart), was rather like heading out to the ‘burbs for a day trip. We also made a classic capital city transport error, by getting the train and changing twice (as TFL would no doubt advise you to do), when just a short bus ride would have sufficed; not all parallels were immediately apparent.
Our destination, Pastéis de Belém, was apparently the first place to sell the tarts outside of the spectacular, dream-like Jerónimos monastery (where they were invented) that stands just a few hundred yards away. The tarts are supposedly the best in Lisbon and only 3 or 4 people in the family-run business are privy to the recipe. From the outside, Pastéis de Belém looked like a regular-sized coffee shop but on the inside we discovered room after cavernous room, not a single one of them empty.
Café Pastéis de Belém
Rua de Belem, 84-92,
+351 21 363 7423
Winter opening hours (1st Nov-30th April): 08.00-23.00 Mon-Sat, 08.00-22.00 Sun.
Summer opening hours (1st May-31st Oct): 08.00-24.00
N.B. The nearby monastery is closed on a Monday – we were most disappointed.