This is just a quick little blog post to say —
- VISIT Pastéis de Belém
- GO INSIDE sit down and have a meal
I had read a number of blogs, websites, and even one travel book about Lisbon but I don’t remember seeing this advice. Mostly, I remember seeing advice that “the line is long for buying Pastéis de Belém but don’t get discouraged.”
What didn’t I know or learn from my pre-trip research —
- I had no idea how AMAZING Pastéis de Belém are
- I didn’t know that the location in Belém is the only location IN THE WHOLE WORLD that sells these
- I didn’t know HOW MUCH BETTER Pastéis de Belém are than Pastéis de Nata (which the custard pastries sold everywhere else)
- I didn’t know how much easier it was to go INSIDE and enjoy the Pastéis as part of a lovely meal
We almost skipped going to Belém because it is a ways out of downtown (though nothing is really that far in Lisbon). We ended up going because the early Saturday morning Discovery Walks tour was of Belém. I had wanted to schedule something for Saturday morning to get us up and out of bed.
It would have been sad to miss Pastéis de Belém and I don’t want anyone else to miss it. I also don’t want anyone to miss going inside and having a meal. In addition to the Pastéis de Belém, the food served is cheap and plentiful. We had some basic but very good sandwiches for about 3 euros each.
We were lucky since when we arrived around 1pm there was only a very short line to get a table. To get a table inside, go around the long queue of people outside waiting for take out. Don’t be intimidated by the long line outside. There are 400 seats inside. We just kept heading toward the back where we found a hostess seating people.
We were also lucky enough to be in the patio seating area. The other rooms are nice as well, as the walls are covered with azulejos tiles. We went at lunch time and had sandwiches. Along with the Pastéis de Belém we had coffees (espresso coffees are called bica) and hot chocolate. The server was very nice (surprising given how busy the place is and how rude and impatient some of the other guests were).
We had such an easy experience being seated that we were surprised to see long lines inside by the time we left. There were even people standing around (hovering actually) over the tables waiting for people to leave. If you end up going at a time when you have to wait… sorry. It won’t be quite as amazing an experience as we had.
Pastéis de Nata are the other Pastéis sold throughout Lisbon. While good, they don’t compare. A nice bakery on the main drag (Rua Augusta), is the Sao Nicolau Cafeteria. They have a nice seating area outside if you are down in the Baixa area.
Don’t forget to buy some Pastéis de Belém to take back to your hotel/airbnb. However, they only last a day or so (even in the fridge) so you won’t be able to take them back home (where ever that is). Enjoy!