20 minutes’ walk from the world-famous Pastéis de Belém there’s another café that attracts queues of people. But, this one isn’t famous for pastéis de nata: it’s famous for croissants. Not the French kind, but the Portuguese kind. And, those queues are queues of tourists but local Lisboetas.
Located in Restelo, a neighbourhood just north of Belém, O Careca is a popular haunt for residents of the suburban neighbourhood and all over the rest of the city. Some come to sit in and enjoy the house speciality, a sweet, sugary croissant sandwich that’s usually filled with ham and cheese, or to pick up a box of croissants to take home to their families.
There are two type of croissants on offer. One is a brioche style of croissant, a type of croissant that you’ll find in pastelarias all over the country. The other is a more sugary much sweeter. Both types are usually filled with ham or cheese or both and served with a coffee.
The pastelaria offers other sweet and savoury options besides croissants, and it’s also known for having great duchesses and doing a great bolo rei at Christmas time. For most people, though, the croissant is what they’re after.
The café can get busy, particularly at weekends. It’s located in a suburban part of the city and has a playground right next door, which makes it a popular place for young families. Be prepared to take a senha (ticket) and queue for a little bit during the more popular hours.
Also, despite the name O Careca (the bald), everyone working there seemed to have a good head of hair.