Few of us can resist the warm, sweet scent of a bakery, conjuring the possibility of so many tasty delights. Living in this multicultural city, a welcome side effect is becoming a fan of pastel de nata, the Portuguese version of an egg custard tart.
The flaky pastry and creamy filling can be paired with an espresso or brought as a gift for those hosting a weekend dinner. Here are the places to find and indulge in one of Portugal’s best-known desserts.
1. Brazil Bakery & Pastry Ltd.
Located in the west end’s Little Portugal neighbourhood, this bakery and café is as much a place for coffee and conversation as it is for Portuguese classics, such as salt cod cakes, shrimp cakes and corn bread. The custard tarts, along with a wide array of bread, are made fresh daily and served fresh out of the oven, topped with sugar or cinnamon.
Brazil Bakery & Pastry Ltd., 1554 Dundas St. W., (two other locations), 416-531-2888
2. Caldense Bakery
With six locations throughout the city, and four more in neighbouring regions, Caldense Bakery has been keeping its Portuguese and European clients happy with an extensive range of traditional bread, cakes, pies and desserts. But at the core is the Portuguese fave, the custard tart, made daily at every location, with the custard baked until it has the trademark dark brown centre.
Caldense Bakery , 2406 Eglinton Ave. W. (plus numerous other locations), 416-657-1999
3. Courense Bakery & Pastry
This hangout between Ossington and Dufferin has welcomed a steady stream of of shoppers for fresh baked bread, cake and pastries for almost 30 years. There are also several options for savoury Italian and Portuguese dishes from this west-end locale, making it easy to pick up dinner with a sweet indulgence of homemade custard tarts to top it off.
Courense Bakery & Pastry, 1014 Bloor St. W., 416-536-1552
4. Fiesta Farms
This family-run grocery store has been pushing local, organic, sustainable and global flavours for over 20 years. Located on Christie Street, this indie fave has consistently offered a wide variety of items that are now spotted in many larger stores, like the Portuguese custard tarts. The in-house bakery delivers freshly baked tarts, as well as bread, rolls and many sweet treats.
Fiesta Farms, 200 Christie St., 416-537-1235
5. Golden Wheat Bakery
Well-known for its tasty baked goods and pretty wedding cakes, this bakery has been a regular haunt of day workers and the late-night set of College Street. For those in need of a hearty sandwich, snack or sweet treat, count yourself lucky if a custard tart is still on the shelves in this busy bakery, open seven days a week. Thankfully, there’s also the Rogers Road location for those residents who aren’t south of Bloor Street.
Golden Wheat Bakery, 652 College St., (and one other location), 416-534-1107
6. Nova Era Bakery & Pastry
With locations across Toronto, this Portuguese café and bake shop relies on traditional recipes to ensure its numerous cakes, tarts, pastries and bread are lures. Their traditional egg custard tart baking process has been showcased on Food Network’s Food Factory. And if you’re craving early morning or late night, most locations are open from 6am until 10 p.m.
Nova Era Bakery & Pastry, 770 College Street, (and numerous other locations), 416-516-1622
7. Seara Bakery & Pastry
Its location behind a Value Village in a strip mall may not seem ideal, but this Portuguese bakery’s selection of baked goods, along with its hours of operation (it’s open from 5 a.m. until midnight seven days a week) have made this a popular spot. The fresh-made custard tarts emerge from the oven with a crusty dark brown top every morning at all three locations.
Seara Bakery & Pastry, 605 Rogers Rd., (and two other locations), 416-653-2424
8. Venezia Bakery
Self-declared bread-lovers Joao and Maria Caetano have made this bakery a mainstay of Ossington and Dundas since 1979. Well known for high-quality savoury and sweet baked goods, Portuguese and non-Portuguese make regular pilgrimages to restock the pantry at this family-run outfit, which offers traditional pastel de nata, kicking it up a notch by offering the tart with a dusting of coconut.
Venezia Bakery, 114 Ossington Ave., 416-537-2914