Belgium’s traditional cuisine is highly regarded throughout Europe for its unique combination of German size portions with the French cooking style. In fact it is the country with the highest number of Michelin stars (this is a good thing) per head in the world so you know you are in for something special when you brave it out to dinner. So, in light of all this wonderful information it would seem a terrible pity not to sample some of the specialties which have their roots in Brussels while you are staying in the city. As well as the food, however, the nation is also renowned all over the world for its vast array of local beers – around four hundred types in total - and is credited with inventing the art of cooking with beer. Among the different types, and we’re not asking you to try them all of course, are white, spiced and sour red and brown beers, wine tasting lambics and a host of local and seasonal specialties. But, if you are hoping to sample at least a couple perhaps you should line your stomach first and this is where we come in to help.
First of all, if you do indeed wish to sample some of the specialties that nationals regard as their own you’re going to be spoiled for choice. Try the salad liegeoise which cotains bacon, onions, parsley, potatoes and French beans, the world famous Belgian waffles or the truite au blue which is fresh trout cooked and served with carrots, leeks and potatoes. Of course, in a city which also credits itself with having invented the fried chip or French fries as they are probably more commonly known to some of you, it is inevitable that you are also going to end up having some too – probably on the way home from sampling the local beers if you truly wish to immerse yourself in the Belgian way of life.
The only problem that we can foresee for all of you on a shoestring budget is that eating out in Brussels is extremely expensive. The good news, however, is that if you head to the smaller cafes or bistros as opposed to the flashier restaurants you can have a satisfactory meal which won’t break the bank and should keep you going for quite a while. You just need to know where to look and that is exactly what we are about to fill you in on.
Rue Antoine Dansaert 16, Brussels, Belgium
Located just minutes from the Grand Place, Le Pain Quotidien is arguably the nicest place for breakfast in the city. Choose from combo meals made up of croissants, tea and orange juice for €3.50 or simply sip on a coffee and nibble on a croissant for less.
Open daily from 8am-6pm.
Rue de Bouchers 18, Brussels, Belgium
Dating back to 1893, Chez Leon is the best place to sample Belgium's national dish 'mussels and fries'. Located on the colourful Rue de Bouchers, try the 'Formule Leon' for €13.50 which comprises of a rather large dish of steaming mussels and chunky, home-cut fries.
Open Sun-Thurs 11.30am-11pm, Fri & Sat 11.30am-11.30pm.
Rue de Flandre 12, Brussels, Belgium
Bar Sabir is one of the coolest little eateries in the Belgian capital. Found deep in the heart of the St Catherine district, you can turn up in the afternoon for a steaming bowl of hearty soup or pop round after dark when you have two main courses to choose from, each costing around €10.
Open 12pm-3pm Mon-Wed, Thurs & Fri 12pm-3pm and 6pm-10pm.
Rue de la Régence 59, Brussels, Belgium
Easily found due to its bright green and yellow front, Funny Lunch makes for the perfect pit-stop at lunchtime after visiting Palais du Justice. Sandwiches, baguettes and paninis start from as little as €2 or you can treat yourself to some pasta for €5.
Open daily from 6am-4pm.
13 Rue Veydt, Brussels, Belgium
A quaint wine bar and restaurant built around a courtyard in the former art studio of the French sculptor, Auguste Rodin. With rustic décor and an extensive wine list, it’s a good place to go for a long meal as you can just sit back, relax and sip on whatever vintage you fancy.
163 Chaussee de Charleroi, Brussels, Belgium
An innovative establishment which serves as a bookshop during the day and a bar-restaurant in the evening. Serving tasty quiches, pasta and the like as well as specialising in different gins it’s different but good fun and can certainly be recommended for a night out.
18 Rue de Bouchers, Brussels, Belgium
Now one of a chain throughout Belgium, this century old restaurant specializes in serving the mussels for which the country has become so famous for all over the world. And, when you sample them in Chez Léon, you’ll soon see why this has happened.
15 Grand Place, Brussels, Belgium
Right in the centre of the most popular part of town, this typical Belgian restaurant epitomises the true Brussels and its cuisine. Set in an old arched cellar dating from the 1600s, it is a simple eatery serving simple food and charging simple prices. What more do you need to know?