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Afternoon Tea & Snacks / Places in Manchester

Portuguese tarts: Just Natas vs Lidl comparison

Just Natas vs Lidl Portuguese tart comparison. Who doesn’t love a Portuguese tart? Known in Portuguese as ‘pastéis de nata’, many outlets try to create their own version of the famous ones from Belem, Portugal (which I’ve had the pleasure of trying). Amongst them, Lidl’s Portuguese tarts are well known, partially because they are priced at just 49p each. Just Natas, set up by the same people who run Federal Cafe Bar, are priced at £2 with different pricing options the more you purchase.

So, I did what should be done. I bought some of each and compared them!

A brief history of Portuguese tarts

Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém, shop exterior. A 3 storey building with checkered tiles in blue and yellow. A blue canopy covers the shop front on the ground floor with crowds of people queuing.
Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém

Portuguese tarts were created by Catholic monks in Lisbon. It has been said that they sold these tarts to raise funds for the monastery in times of need, particularly during the liberal revolution. The monks and nuns back in those times used egg whites to starch their clothes, so the egg yolks were used to create the tarts.

The most famous of these tarts are found in Belém, where the original monastery was. It is said the monks sold their recipe when they closed the monastery in 1834 to the people who would open the world-famous Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém in 1837.

Just Natas

The counter of Just Natas at the Arndale Market. A tray of Portuguese tarts can be seen from the window on the counter.

You can find Just Natas at their stalls located within the Arndale market (the right side as you are facing the doors to the exit), and at Altrincham market. You can also find them on Deliveroo if you live close enough to their Arndale stall catchment area.

Price comparison

The prices for the tarts are £2 for one tart, working its way up to 16 for £25 which is just slightly over £1.56 a tart. Compared to Lidl’s prices at 49p per tart, you are essentially asking yourself if Just Natas are 3 or 4 times better than this to compensate for the price difference.

Espresso: £1
1 Nata: £2
3 Natas: £5
6 Natas: £10
16 Natas: £25

First appearances

The tart on the left is the Lidl one, the right being Just Natas’. Just Natas’ does have cinnamon added on top, but after feeding back to them that I know some people don’t like cinnamon, they now give customers the option to omit this.

You can see that the Lidl one has more pastry and more of a lip on the outside, whereas Just Natas’ is more of a cup shape. The egg filling has a bit of charring on Just Natas, which I see as being more authentic to the ones you get in Portugal. From the bottom, you can see that Just Natas has a tighter swirl and a more golden bake. I think there’s more lamination too. The pastry is softer on Just Natas’ tart, as you can see from the animation below.

An animation showing a hand squishing the Just Natas tart, then the Lidl tart. The first one noticeably has more give than the Lidl one.
A side view of both the Lidl tart on the left and the Just Natas tart on the right.

From the side, you can see more clearly that the sides of the Lidl tart slope down towards the middle more than the Just Natas one. The dip in the egg custard filling is also deeper in the Lidl tart, so you are in fact getting less per tart compared to the Just Natas one.

How does it taste?

A side view of both tarts, half eaten. The Lidl tart is shown on the left whilst the Just Natas one is shown on the right. The latter has noticeably more filling.

The Lidl tart is definitely sweeter than the Just Natas one. As the pastry is stiffer, you get more structure making it easier to eat too. However, as there’s more filling in the Just Natas one, it makes it more satisfying to eat.

Verdict

Just Natas vs Lidl Portuguese tart comparison. So are the Just Natas tarts 3-4 times better than the Lidl ones? No, not really. Undoubtedly, the Just Natas tarts are made better, and it is priced to reflect this. The workforce is smaller and thus more care and attention can be given to the production. They are also closer to the ones I tried in Portugal. Having said that, the Lidl ones aren’t bad either. Really, what it boils down to is what you want to spend your money on and your own preferences.

Personally, I like the Just Natas tarts; I prefer the deeper fill and the sweetness is right for me. Given the fact I rarely crave a Portuguese tart, I would probably fork out for Just Natas when that occasion does arise. If I’m going to have one, might as well make it a good one, right?

Information

You can find Just Natas at their stall in the Arndale market or Altrincham market. You can also find them on Deliveroo if you live within their city centre catchment area. Lidl stores are found nationwide.

Just Natas: https://justnatas.com/
Lidl: https://www.lidl.co.uk/en