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Best of Toronto

The Best Portuguese Custard Tarts in Toronto

Posted by Todd H / September 10, 2010

custard tarts torontoThe best Portuguese custard tarts in Toronto are an exercise in indulgence. Also known as pastel de nata, these addictive creations were invented by nuns back in the 14th century. As the story goes, they were using egg whites to keep the clothes they were ironing nice and firm and ended up having a lot of egg yolks left over that they didn't know what to do with. One thing led to another and they ended up baking these delicious tarts that can now be found at Portuguese bakeries around Toronto.

Here are the best custard tarts in Toronto.

Nova Era Bakery

Nova Era Bakery

The custard tarts at this mini Toronto chain are excellent, sweet and a little burnt. Pair one with brewed coffee and free WiFi and you've got the makings of a perfect afternoon snack. More »

Caldense Bakery

Caldense Bakery

In business since 1968 and with 9 locations, this group of bakeries serves up several thousand of custard tarts a day. Each location has a decidedly local following, but according to the store owners their custard tart cuts across all socio-political, ethnic and religious lines. In other words, everyone eats and loves them. More »

Venezia Bakery

Venezia Bakery

This old school bakery is a fantastic reminder of what Ossington once was before the entertainment district moved in. The custard tart might be on the small side but you'll know it's made with love and authenticity. More »

Alcoa Bakery

Alcoa Bakery

This bakery on Davenport makes so many custard tarts that the question of how many they actually make gets answered with a “Woooooooooooo, a lot!” If it’s too many to count, something good’s a happenin’! More »

Brazil Bakery and Pastry

Brazil Bakery and Pastry

With a bright, modern interior, this Dundas West cafe is typical of all Portuguese bakeries in that there is an espresso counter that seems to be especially made to accompany the tarts. Unique to Brazil however is the extra dusting of sugar on your tart (that’s optional) just in case you thought caffeine, cream, eggs, and sugar weren’t enough. More »

Courense Bakery

Courense Bakery

With the slightest attention paid to design, Courense definitely wins for nicest storefront out of these bakeries. Around for 25 years and with men playing chess inside, the locals are clearly comfortable and eating lots of tarts. Making over 4,000 a week by hand (by hand!!!), Courense supplies many bakeries and cafes around town (possibly some on this list) – you’ll have to figure out which. More »

Golden Wheat

Golden Wheat

In the same location for the last 17 years, Golden Wheat produces a tart that is not as sweet as others but has a depth of flavour that others lack as well. The puff pastry is flaky and chewy - a nice combo and making over 1500/day ensures a consistent product that will never disappoint. More »

Jack's Bakery and Pastry

Jack's Bakery and Pastry

The super cheerful exterior of Jack’s is a welcome sight along this rather dull stretch of Oakwood and the 24 hour sign must also be a beacon to many returning after a late night of frolicking or work. Good thing it’s all backed up by an excellent tart. Light, rich, flaky, chewy, sweet - it hits all the right notes. More »

Riviera Bakery

Riviera Bakery

35 years and still going strong this College Ave. stalwart only makes their tarts on weekends and by special request. Using a puff-like pastry they suggest that you sprinkle a little cinnamon on the warm tart and, of course, sip an espresso for that total Portuguese experience. More »

Seara Bakery

Seara Bakery

Hard to find as it’s not actually on Rogers Rd. but in a strip mall about 300m behind a massive Value Village, it isn’t the most picturesque of locales, but many times that’s beside the point. A relative youngin having only been around for 4 years, they’ve already expanded to a second location on Keele. The tart has a slightly, shall I say, burnt flavour – which I quite liked. It’s definitely worth a try. More »

Commisso Bros & Racco Italian Bakery

Commisso Bros & Racco Italian Bakery

Wickedly out of the way unless you’re outfitting your new condo and looking for tiles, draperies, lighting and furniture, this massive complex in the Castlefield Design District is industrial strength. The tarts are hard to find in the front grocery/deli/hot food counter store at the front of the bakery but ask and hopefully some will be found. Took me 3 tries. More »

Churrasco of St. Lawrence

Churrasco of St. Lawrence

21 years and still going strong, owner Eugene knows everything there is to know about Portuguese custard tarts and if you can keep up with his unbelievably fast rate of speech – there’s a lot to be learned. Luckily for us his exuberance also translates directly into his tarts (and his new and delectable rice pudding!) which I’d personally put at the very top of this list. Perfection! More »

Discussion

41 Comments

KL / September 10, 2010 at 11:01 am
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They're also known as nata. Don't ask for a "Portuguese Custard Tart" at any of the Portuguese places or you'll never get served.
mark / September 10, 2010 at 11:05 am
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Wow. The first paragraoh is just terribly written.
MTL replying to a comment from mark / September 10, 2010 at 11:12 am
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How does one write a proper "paragraoh"?
Susan replying to a comment from mark / September 10, 2010 at 11:13 am
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Paragraoh? Nice. You, mark, are a moron.
mark replying to a comment from Susan / September 10, 2010 at 11:33 am
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If you want to talk about misspellings and grammar that's fine. My name is a proper noun and should be capitalized.
You, Susan, are also a moron.
Carl / September 10, 2010 at 11:41 am
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I heart Golden Wheat!
Cobretti / September 10, 2010 at 11:46 am
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Natas. C'mon people, get it right, they call them "Natas". Venezia's are the best. Not that I or anyone else cares about my opinion.

I am also moron.
Susan replying to a comment from mark / September 10, 2010 at 11:47 am
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You take note of that the next time you enter it into a comment form. I merely replicated your own capitalization choice. And, look, this is the second time you've made yourself out to be a fool. Stop embarrassing yourself.
Cobretti / September 10, 2010 at 11:48 am
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Natas. C'mon people, get it right, they call them "Natas". Venezia's are the best. Not that I or anyone else cares about my opinion.

I am also moron.
VivyRuest / September 10, 2010 at 11:59 am
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Great Post Todd, thank you!
rob replying to a comment from mark / September 10, 2010 at 12:11 pm
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no amount of adjectives or analogies can describe the goodness of these baked goodies!
gr1 / September 10, 2010 at 12:51 pm
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skipping lunch and reading this was a bad idea.
Jorge / September 10, 2010 at 01:23 pm
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Ok, the real name is "Pastel de nata"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pastel_de_nata

I have been eating these my whole life and Caldense's are the ones for me.
Acacia / September 10, 2010 at 01:35 pm
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You've forgotten about the recently opened "R Bakery" on Marlee Avenue just between Eglinton W & Glencairn subway stations. SO DELICIOUS.
macaurules / September 10, 2010 at 01:51 pm
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"the particular recipe of these adorable little indulgences are also currently taking the world by storm in lands as far away as Macau and Hong Kong."

Macau was a Portugese colony for 400 years, Hong Kong is an hour away from there. There's nothing about these tarts that are "currently taking the world by storm" over there.
Matt / September 10, 2010 at 02:18 pm
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I don't know where to get the best custard tarts, but five comments in and two people are already slinging "moron" barbs. Nice.
mick / September 10, 2010 at 02:30 pm
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Thanks for the tip; I've eaten these tarts for ages and never knew their proper name. For us mangiacakes, how do you properly pronounce 'nata'...I assume just how it's spelled?

To return the favour, know that Nova Era makes a hearty, chewy, amazingly tasty rye bread loaf that is encrusted with seeds and is way different than any rye bread you've enjoyed. Dee-lish!
Jorge / September 10, 2010 at 02:44 pm
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FYI in Portuguese the word "nata" means the fatty crust of the milk (what happens when you boil milk and let it simmer down again, that thick white crust is it).
Pronunciation.. naa'ta (soft A's.. not Ney'ta)
Theo / September 10, 2010 at 03:36 pm
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I'd also suggest trying Natas du Ceu if you enjoy Pastel de Nata. Similar concept but there's no pastry, and WAY more custard!
geg / September 10, 2010 at 04:02 pm
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You can get decent tarts at My Market Bakery in Kensington market
geg replying to a comment from geg / September 10, 2010 at 04:05 pm
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forgot -- you can also get good tarts at Messina Bakery, at Scarlett + St-Clair
KL replying to a comment from mick / September 10, 2010 at 04:44 pm
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That particular loaf is the best bread I've ever had.
RObert / September 10, 2010 at 05:13 pm
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Am I the only one to think that so many of these seem like the exact same tart. My guess is many of these come the same bakery somewhere near downsview. Just my guess.
David G. Tran / September 10, 2010 at 06:11 pm
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My favorite Pastel de Nata are usually from Caldense or Venezia!
Daniel replying to a comment from RObert / September 10, 2010 at 06:50 pm
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Some do....the ones at the grocery stores or non-Portuguese areas (think Leaside or Beaches).

Most are made in-house by the respective bakery. Some places like Nova Era are big and have many locations; as such they have a central place where they make most pastries.

Nevertheless, enjoy them!!!! Even when they are bad, they are good.

adam / September 11, 2010 at 12:55 am
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where do i meet hairy portuguese girls?
Shelley / September 12, 2010 at 12:09 am
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Even better than the taste are the ingredients: an egg a day helps keep macular degeneration away.
Moron replying to a comment from adam / September 15, 2010 at 09:18 am
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Start in Portugal. Branch out from there.
Keith / September 23, 2010 at 07:31 am
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Alcoa Bakery is MUCH better than any of the Caldense Bakery places. In fact, I think Caldense Bakery is the worst Portuguese bakery in town.
Raindanseuse / October 21, 2010 at 01:24 pm
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I would add La Novita bakery in Mississauga. Not only well known for their "natas" but also for their deli, their rum cakes, their sweet bread and other excellent goodies. They also get my thumbs-up for innovating while retaining their cultural roots. I only wish they'd expand and provide cafe-style seating.
andrew / November 10, 2010 at 12:06 am
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Natas, they're called NATAS. how could you not know that
Joao / December 2, 2010 at 02:29 am
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For me, the best natas in the city are found at R Bakery on Marlee and Glencairn. They're classic natas...no nonsense.
Maria / June 3, 2011 at 10:04 pm
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I agree Joao, R Bakery is the best bakery and not only are the natas amazing but all of their products are too!! Have you tried their caramel crunch, it is amazing!!!! I gaurentee everyone would be satisfied with their product line and service.

Thanks R Bakery
Caitlin / July 29, 2011 at 04:11 am
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OK, maybe it's just in the Acores and the mainlanders are different, but they're usually referred to as just "pastel", not "natas" (and definitely not custard tarts!). The correct name for them, as someone said, is "pastel de nata" (pronounced pass-taige de nah-tah).

While I appreciate this list, it's a bit pointless, as it's impossible to go wrong. :)
the lemur replying to a comment from Caitlin / July 29, 2011 at 10:37 am
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You mean that 'pasteis de nata' is pronounced that way, not 'pastel de nata', right?
alexandre / January 14, 2012 at 02:46 pm
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The original is called pastel de belém (from the name-sake area of Lisboa where it was sold to the public):
http://pasteisdebelem.pt/
E replying to a comment from Raindanseuse / March 15, 2012 at 12:12 am
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I am surprised come across the mention of La Novita. I have tried the tart from more than a couple of the places mentioned in the article but maintain that La Novita makes a remarkably good one and my favourite (especially in comparison to those of the other Portuguese/Brazilian/European bakeries in Mississauga).

On that note, Lazar in Mississauga offers two sizes of them and their version is quite good too.
COSPLAY / September 26, 2012 at 11:36 pm
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How does one write a proper "paragraoh"?
antonio / April 27, 2013 at 04:03 pm
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I have to say that was extremely entertaining -- reading all those comments -- the moronic bits especially. And here is my two cents: try the National Bakery on College Street near Ossington.
Sonia / December 13, 2013 at 06:10 pm
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Nova Era has the best pasteis de nata? Are you kidding me? Have you ever even had a pastel de nata from there? I guess your first paragraph explains your lack of appreciation for a good pastel de nata.
Joe Foodie / December 16, 2013 at 08:59 am
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Brazil Bakery has the best nata, I've tried them all on that list and Brazil Bakery has the best flakey and the custard is actually thick and full of flavour, its not watered down and runny like some of the others.

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