A Taste of Lisbon at Natas Pastries and Portuguese Cafe’

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carole-rosnerBY CAROLE ROSNER

I’ve never traveled to Portugal—never experienced the bustling capital city of Lisbon or seen the tiny island of Madeira. I haven’t gone fishing there or danced in any nightclubs.  I have, however, gone to Natas Pastries and Portuguese Café in Sherman Oaks, and for a short time, it felt like I’d traveled afar.

“It’s so peaceful in here. I had no idea I could come here and steal away,”  said a customer who sighed as she finished her lunch at Natas.

Fatima

Natas owner Fatima Marques

Owner Fatima Marques brought  her old family recipes from Lisbon, as well as blue and white glazed tiles, and even some relatives to be part of Natas Pastries.  Fatima opened Natas four years ago, transforming an old insurance office next to Casa Vega into a quaint café and bakery serving homemade Portuguese and European pastries, house specialties for breakfast, lunch and dinner,  as well as excellent coffee.  Queijada (cheesecake-like filling in a puff pastry shell), Bola de Berlin (donuts filled with pastry cream and sprinkled with powdered sugar) eclairs, and palmiers are just a few of the homemade delicacies lining the cases at Natas.

Nata pastry

Nata pastry

When I asked Fatima to name her most popular pastry, she said, “The nata…it’s still the queen of the castle, literally.” She went on to explain the history of this Portuguese treat. In the 17th century, there were numerous churches and monasteries in Portugal. At the time, egg whites were used for a variety of needs including communion wafers, starching nuns’ habits and winemaking leaving an abundance of excess egg yolks. Two Catholic nuns (some say monks) came up with a contest to see who could make the best pastries out of the surplus yolks. The winning custard-filled creations were named Pasteis de nata. Although these pastries are still very popular in Portugal, they weren’t sold in Los Angeles bakeries until Fatima came along.

Chicken Panini

Chicken Panini with mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, pesto sauce served with a house salad or kettle chips ($9.95)

Besides the fully-stocked bakery, there is a newly-opened 400 square-foot café serving frothy cappuccinos, breakfast options ranging from  $2.50-$10.95 (including omelettes, breakfast sandwiches. Portuguese french toast, a variety of pancakes); lunch/dinner offerings include sandwiches, salads and Portuguese specialties such as Caldo Verde — traditional soup with mashed potatoes and kale ($4.95),  Chouricos Grelhados — a variety of  grilled Portuguese sausages ($11.95), Folhados — stuffed pastries with such fillings as chicken,  cheese,  sausage, ground beef  ($2.25-2.50).

Check out the complete menu online along with information about party trays and specialty cakes. Fatima is applying for a license to serve beer and wine and plans to extend her operating hours this fall.

Shrimp

Delicios do mar: Shrimp and crab salad ($10.95)

Rave reviews abound for Natas, and its customers are very loyal; some fans travel from Santa Barbara and San Diego just for Fatima’s pastries. When I want a taste of Portugal, I’m not going to pack my bags and get on an airplane. I’m just going to take a bite of a nata and close my eyes.

 

 

Special offer: mention “My Daily Find” when you purchase a pastry and you’ll get a free cup of Natas coffee.

Natas Pastries 13317 Ventura Blvd. Suite D Sherman Oaks, CA 91423-6212 (818) 788-8050www.nataspastries.com Hours: Mon-Sat. 8am- 8pm Sun. 8am- 6pm Hours to be expanded in the fall.

 

Pancake

Blueberry pancakes ($8.95)

Carole Rosner is a native Valley Girl who has lived in Studio City for the past 11 years. She is a strong supporter of her local public schools and an active volunteer in her neighborhood. Some of her favorite things to do in Studio City are to celebrate 4th of July at CBS Radford, walk along Ventura Blvd. and browse through the racks at Crossroads Trading Company.

 

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

  • Ana Teresa

    I have always seen this place but never thought to visit. After reading this article, it sounds like a find I must taste for myself soon! Afterall, who could pass up yummy pastries with FREE coffee!

    • Anabela

      I would think that anyone named Ana Teresa would stop by any place named Natas regardless of what it sold! My mistake. Glad to know you will indeed visit and enjoy.

  • http://www.marcied.com MarcieD

    The best pastries in the world! OMG – delicious!!!

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