Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late: Portuguese Tasty Desserts
Portuguese Tasty Desserts takes up a small footprint on El Camino Real in Santa Clara. But it welcomes you with huge warmth.
The minute you walk through the doors, you’ll be offered a sample of Portuguese sweet bread, and asked if you’d like a cup of coffee on the house to go with it.
This is a family-owned operation that first started when the original owners had a bakery in what is now the Santa Clara Town Center. As they neared retirement, they sold it. Those subsequent owners ran it for a good stretch, before eventually closing it. When they did, Teresa Defreitas, the daughter of the original owners, decided seven months ago that the time was finally right to open up her own Portuguese bakery at this site.
If you love sweet, fluffy, squishy, buttery-tasting bread, you need to pick up a loaf immediately. You can get a round, a square, a mini or my choice, a cinnamon version ($9.50). The cinnamon here is subtle, owing to the fact that it’s a mere single ribbon of cinnamon-sugar in the loaf, not a big spiral like you expect. It’s also a little haphazard, as mine was located at the very top of the loaf. Even so, it was delightful, with a taste reminiscent of Hawaiian sweet bread, but with a subtle hint of cinnamon.
Of course, there are the requisite pastel de natas or custard tarts, priced at a bargain $1.50 each. These are smooth, eggy, and like a firm flan in texture. They are also crustless. Admittedly, I missed having the crust, which I think provides such a nice contrast.
There’s also a range of biscoitos (75 cents to $1 each), ring-shaped, dry, crunchy cookies akin to Italian biscotti. They may be plain-tasting yet there’s something so satisfyingly wholesome about them. They are perfect for dunking into coffee or a glass of sweet wine.
Time your visit to a Wednesday or Saturday, and there will be malasadas ($1.50 to $1.75) to enjoy, too. They’re doughy rounds filled with creamy custard, sweet strawberry jam or passion fruit. The latter was my favorite because the tropical jam provides such a burst of bright tang.
It’s hard to beat the prices here, as well as the kind welcome that greets everyone who drops by.
Pro Tip: Come for the baked goods, for sure. But don’t forget to take a look at the pantry items and other specialty Portuguese ingredients stocked on the shelves and in the refrigerator behind the counter. You’ll find everything from olive oil and tinned seafood to cheese, sausages, and candies.