Provincetown, or P-town, is perched on the tip of northern Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Sure, the Mayflower arrived here in 1620, but this seaside haven is full of less-expected, more colorful surprises. Today, it’s a vibrant getaway for gay men and artists.
In between P-town’s iconic eras as a pilgrim dock and an LGBTQ+ party destination, a steady stream of Portuguese seafarers arrived. In the late 1800s, they introduced the Cape to linguiça sausage, pastel de natas, kale soup, and other culinary delights from the western boundary of the Iberian Peninsula.
In 1936, one of these Portuguese families took over an existing bakery at 299 Commercial Street. Their expansive repertoire of breads, flaky pastries, buns, and malassadas have beckoned passersby inside ever since.
What’s a malassada, you ask? The phrase mal assada means “undercooked” in Portuguese, which refers to the fried sweet’s golden-brown exterior that gives way to a soft, doughy inside. At Provincetown Portuguese Bakery, they arrive still hot, with a generous coating of cinnamon sugar. Immigrants from Portugal have debuted this treat around the world to hyper-enthusiastic results (case in point: in Hawaii, the holiday that most anglophone Catholics call “Fat Tuesday” is known as “Malasada Day”.)
As the institution has changed Portuguese hands over nearly nine decades in service, family recipes have continued to join the canon of carbs on offer. According to the current owners, a few of the baked goods are the product of recipes from the original bakery’s founders, circa 1901.
While the linguiça-stuffed croissant and lemon-scented pastel de nata are worth penning home about, Provincetown’s finest and only Portuguese bakery knows that the way to hook customers, no matter where they’re from, is to proudly fry dough in the front window of the bakery. You can’t (and won’t want to) miss it.
Know Before You Go
Should you happen to be in town around the Easter holidays, keep an eye out for their pillowy hot cross buns.