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the best bola de berlim in portugal

I consulted the Portuguese pastelaria encyclopedia www.fabricoproprio.net to see where the experts say the best Bolas de Berlim can be found…and my place already has been discovered, and it rates with the Portuguese too. Naturally. (Natário in Viana was where my berlim initiation/problem began. Yes, I agree they are very very good. But I now know better.)

Leitaria da Quinta do Paço

You only have to look at me to know how much I love bolas de berlim. I have been testing the berliners of Portugal since my arrival, so that’s now thousands of them I have put away, so I surely know a good one, especially as I have also tried berliners of Berlin, as some kind of starting point, and can say with some authority that they are crap.

bolas de berlim

The Leitaria da Quinta do Paço can be found at Praça de Guilherme Gomes, (bit of a mouthful… it’s in ‘Vitória’ up towards the Igreja do Carmo)  in Porto. It has recently had a groovy makeover that reflects its own history (as a milk factory) and its commitment to quality. I love this about modern Portugal: more and more it recognises itself in context of history and the wider world. This place says; we were a little milk factory for a hundred years which treated its workers well (check out the photo of the 1959 staff excursion) and took pride in the quality of our milk (there’s a shot of their display at an Expo). Now we are a café with charming old photos on our walls. We have a humble history, we believe in quality, we are proud.

And they have the best bolas de berlim in Portugal.

bola de berlim

Google maps link Praça de Guilherme Gomes Fernandes, Oporto 4050, Portugal



  1. Fred August 7, 2009 10:21 pm Reply

    – So if they really are the best, what do they taste like?

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: August 8th, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Oh heaven! The buns are so soft and airy, but substantial, and the cream is thick and rich but not too sweet. They are perfect for breakfast with a galão, and you do need something to wash down the powdery icing sugar… enough torturing me, they are too far away…

    [Reply to comment]

  2. Isabel August 8, 2009 9:06 am Reply

    I see you prefer them com creme. I like mine sem creme (unfortunately it is getting more and more difficult to find them, in this nouveau riche age). And of those, the best were the ones that Sra. Maria carried in her red tin box up and down the beaches of the Linha (do Estoril).

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: August 17th, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    I’m very jealous of you Porties who say “we ate them on the beach as a child”, that just sounds too good to be true. I’m off to Nazaré for some “research”. Anywhere else you think they still sell them on the beach????

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  3. Elvira August 16, 2009 9:20 am Reply

    These “bolas de Berlim” from Porto are very classy! 🙂
    Bolas de Berlim reminds me sunny afternoons on the beach of Nazaré when I was a child…

    [Reply to comment]

  4. Isabel August 18, 2009 3:44 am Reply

    Unless ASAE has struck with its unconstitutional powers, I would expect them to me sold all over Linha do Estoril, Algarve, etc.

    One thing that still exists on the beach (last I checked, at least), but missing the most exciting feature, the “roulette” sort of thing, is barquilhos. Have you ever tasted them? They are called “bolacha americana” in some parts, and they were/are quite nice. But the roulette, oh the roulette…!!! Barquilhos came in big cylinder red boxes (still do), that used to have a spinning wheel on top: you would make it spin, and for the same price you could get 1, 2, 3, up to 5 (FIVE!) barquilhos!!! The fact that I was always told by adults that the roulette was rigged and never gave more than 2 or 3 never damped my hopes.

    Speaking of which, I bet you have never seen “furos” in a cafe, either: a little triangular box where you would punch a hole with a wooden stick, to make a little couloured ball fall into a glass pit. Depending on the coulour, you would get a tiny, middle-sized or HUGE chocolate (the golden ball, of course). Once I got the silver ball!

    Ah, gambling and sweets, life don’t get no better!

    [Reply to comment]

  5. Isabel August 20, 2009 12:49 am Reply

    Another one 😉


    I was entitled to nutritious bolos only, bolas de berlim, queques, the like (with the possible and rare exception of a caracol). But Sra. Maria carried palmiers (which I neve liked), cornucópias, etc., and the mythical nozes (de Cascais), covered with caramel that would stick to the tin tray. She was so kind that she would save for me what she called the “pèzinhos”, those little droplets of caramel that had a faint taste of the forbidden cake (probably double the price of a bola de berlim for a quarter of the size) that I think I have tasted only when I came of age…

    [Reply to comment]

  6. Isabel August 20, 2009 1:06 am Reply

    Here’s the famous box! In Carcavelos it was red, though:


    [Reply to comment]

  7. Isabel August 20, 2009 1:11 am Reply

    Another picture, that gives an idea of the hard, hard work of these people under the blistering sun:


    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: August 20th, 2009 at 6:37 am

    Wow! Now it’s not just a thing to eat with coffee, it’s a whole popular culture history lesson…

    [Reply to comment]

  8. Isabel August 20, 2009 7:22 am Reply

    Oh, if you have any doubt, just google “sra. maria” “bolas” “praia” “caixa de bolos”, etc and you get blogs and blogs with dozens of comments, like this one:


    Come to think of it, if you asked me what is “home” for a Portuguese abroad, I would probably answer “um pastel de nata e uma bica” (or cimbalino, of course). But, obviously, a bola de berlim has its very special meaning, too, it seems to say “chilhdood summers”. Not to mention the very special emotional relationship that the Portuguese have with The Beach (everybody has ONE).

    [Reply to comment]

  9. Isabel August 20, 2009 7:40 am Reply

    Don’t mean to squat your blog, but as palavras são como as cerejas… Here is exactly what my beach was about:


    Only the photographer is missing, like this one:


    [Reply to comment]

  10. Andria October 31, 2009 10:26 pm Reply

    Bola de berlim are wonderful. Don’t know if I’ll ever get round to taste testing the ones in Porto, as it’s a way off from Lisbon. I’m also quite partial to Bola de arroz with a galão. Though I know the Portuguese don’t eat them for breakfast. But then I’m not Portuguese 🙂

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: November 3rd, 2009 at 2:20 am

    I have just discovered that my local makes a superior bolo de arroz (i thought they all came from the same national factory – because they all look identical everywhere you go, but no no no). They might be simple little cup-cakey things but when they are good, they are very… and washed down with a galão, a very nice hunger breaker indeed.

    [Reply to comment]


  11. Anna March 4, 2010 5:23 pm Reply

    I totally loved these.I trekked all over Portugal to try a good one.I can’t seem to find them here in Australia.We get good a Pastel de Nata in Petersham Sydney,but not a bola so disappointed.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: March 5th, 2010 at 4:24 am

    hi anna. I want to do a post about petersham… tinyartdirector goes there a lot and when she sends me the photos of ‘sweet belem’ and the butchers and the delis… I get confused because it really could be PORTUGAL… chocolate salamis and terracotta pigs for chorico assado…there are pics from petersham on the facebook page… anyway I’m already looking forward to a trip to porto to that cafe, in MAY ;|

    [Reply to comment]


  12. Emma April 30, 2010 12:18 am Reply

    I have to visit this place, even if it’s just as a refuge from the in-laws when they are over! Thanks Em.

    [Reply to comment]


  13. Francisco December 27, 2011 10:15 am Reply

    I can say that one of the best pastel de nata I ever tasted was in Petersham, right after those made in Belem. But it could also have been a litle homesickness…
    Love your country, glad that you like mine!
    Great blog.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: December 27th, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Thanks francisco! I should have been out to petersham when I was there but I didn’t have the time 🙁

    [Reply to comment]

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