While it’s unlikely you’d go all the way to Lisbon, Portugal, for just one dish, there’s certainly one bite you must have while you’re there: the egg tart. Pastel de nata (cream pastry) is a national obsession that has become a bucket-list bite for nearly every traveler to the country’s seaside capital. Fortunately for tourists, the city’s most iconic landmark, Belém Tower, is located just across the street and down the shoreline from the city’s undisputed powerhouse of pastel, Pastéis de Bélem. Unfortunately for visitors, the line leading to Pastéis de Bélem’s bakery counter may be the longest line found anywhere in the city, as salivating hordes wait their turn to taste the original, secret recipe invented by the monks of the nearby Jerónimos Monastery in Santa Maria de Bélem, itself an architecture masterpiece that places it at the top of any Lisbon must-list.
There’s good news for those who want to taste the cream pastry but don’t want to wait in long sidewalk lines (often in formidable heat), though. Pastéis de Bélem is more than a bakery with a window counter; in fact, there are more than 400 seats scattered throughout a labyrinth of charming rooms behind the front counter and, even in the height of tourist season, there’s rarely ever more than a minute’s wait for one of these seats. Simply skip the sidewalk line, enter the building and head toward the back until you encounter signs pointing toward seating, and you’ll eventually stumble across a host who will guide you to your own table. Here, you can order your pastries at the same cost with no wait, enjoy them sitting down (and out of the sun) and be on your way as quickly (or leisurely) as you wish.
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