>> Natas Pastries | Eat the World Los Angeles

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Natas Pastries


EDITOR'S NOTE: An updated version of this article (20 December 2023) is available as part of the Historical section of our Substack page. Check that out here:
There is a particularly good Portuguese bakery and restaurant tucked into the sometimes shady corner of a two story shopping plaza called the Sherman Oaks Village. It is the anchor for a building that seems to split its style inspirations between Japan and the Alps. Grab one of the few parking spots and slip into the seats at one of its outdoor tables, just far enough from Ventura to be pleasant.

Opening the doors is even more of a transformation from the busy boulevard, the signature white and blue tiles of Portugal are combined with dark woods to create the ambiance of a peaceful cafe back home. It has been almost 15 years since Natas Pastries opened back at the beginning of summer 2005, filling a void that Los Angeles had at the time for the beloved pastry enjoyed throughout the Lusophone world.

The cafe is still going strong, and has even recently expanded to a second location in Thousand Oaks, for the simple reason that the pastel de nata ($3.25 each, below) is outstanding. But grab anything from the pastry case and it is hard to be disappointed. Possibly the most delicious way to enjoy the yolk of an egg, the pastry has made its way around the world and back. Versions of it can be found in many other cuisines from Brazil to Macau.

The exterior cup of true Portuguese pasteis de nata will be buttery and flaky yet crisp, a complete opposite texture of the creamy custard. Somewhere between a puff pastry and phyllo dough, or maybe it is both.

This recent visit was meant for satisfying a sweet tooth and getting some gifts, both of which were done successfully. But what was not known is that Natas is more than pastries. The small dining room had guests tearing into plates of chicken madeira and spooning bowls of caldo verde. A full menu of Portuguese favorites is available from breakfast through dinner, an expansion of the offerings that came in 2010. Must return.

While the pastel de nata will always remain at the top, be sure to give other tarts like this pastel de feijรฃo ($3.75, below), made with almonds and white beans. The ingredients are topped with fondant icing and then drizzled with chocolate.

Nowadays there are a few more options around town like Portugal Imports in Artesia, a community that used to have a relatively significant Portuguese community, but Natas Pastries remains a worthy destination from anywhere.

[UPDATE FEB 2020: Next time you are in the neighborhood and need a coffee and sugar pick me up, grab a delightful malassada ($2.25, below). These light dough balls do not have any filling but are wonderfully satisfying right after a meal.]


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