Brussels was a nice, relatively relaxing city to visit. There isn’t anything particular that stands out about it, yes the Grand Place is impressive and the Mannekin Pis is funny but if I am honest, the best part was certainly the food.
Unlike when we lived in Las Vegas, I have not been as much of a food and restaurant planner as I used to be. Every time we hit a new city I find myself on TripAdvisor and Yelp doing some last minute searches for spots with top reviews and decent prices. Luckily I also found an amazing blog called tasteofbrussels.com that helped us out with our food selections.
You may think of waffles first when you hear “Belgium” or “Brussels” but it turns out their national food is actually “Moule Frites” or mussles with fries. They serve both with a wide range of sauces so even if you had the same dish every day for a week it could tast different every time!
Almost every café and restaurant will have this mussle dish on their menu but I wanted to make sure I had it at a spot with guaranteed deliciousness (and not overcooked mussles). Thanks to our friend at Tastes of Brussles, I was able to gather a short list and then narrowed to down to spots within walking distance of our hotel. The first spot we checked out we got shot down – no reservations and they were comopletely booked. Luckily the next spot we went to – La Quincallerie – had room and was much more of an interesting spot as it was located inside an old hardware store.
When we walked in, I had eyes on all of the fresh seafood which got me pretty excited. They took us up a narrow stairway to a narrow walkway or our table. I could imagine hardware store workers running all around there to get customers nails and bolts, it was pretty cool. At the end of the aisle, I had a clear view of the whole restaurant! I ended up getting an appetizer of oysters first which were delicious and then the much talked about Moule Frites. I chose to go with a white wine sauce which was light and didn’t mask the tast of the muscles…and there were a TON of muscles! I have heard great things about the marinara sauce too which I will definitely have to try some time.
Waffles in Belgium are like a dessert street food. You can get them in restaurants with ice cream etc but the places you really want to get them are the streets. Street fenders sell waffles to-go for next to nothing and you can top them with all sorts of sweet additions. I never found a Gluten Free waffle spot so I can’t talk to them but if you need one in a pinch, the street to Mannekin Pis is lined with $2-$4 waffles.
I didn’t realize fries were such a big thing in Belgium but they literally have frites trucks or stands all over the city. I took us to Mason Antoine’s which has been long standing and offers close to 70 different sauces for the fries they serve fresh out of the frier. I had a french onion sauce that was like mayo, ketchup, and caramalized onions – perfect for the salty fries. Shai went with classic ketchup. The fries may not be the best you have ever had, but the point is more that they have fries EVERYWHERE so you can’t (and shouldn’t) avoid them!
This is probably the one you were REALLY waiting for. The beer here is amazing. I am gluten free and Shai isn’t really a beer drinker but every single beer we tried was amazing. Hands down. Sadly, the only one I could actually drink (as opposed to a single sip) was the Brunehaut gluten free beer at Delirium Café, but it was still the best gluten free beer I have ever had. If you have not heard of this bar, they have over 2000 beers and essentially take up an entire block with their bars on bars within the same “bar.” I loved all te fruit-forward beers they had. Shai had a cherry beer and I had an apple-strawberry beer. They were really nice and refreshing. Every place that you go to will have a local Belgian beer which is pretty cool
Cocktails are more up Shai and my lane and we scored some amazing ones on this trip. Close to our hotel was a restaurant called Le Malte http://www.lemalte.be/malte/menu/menu.html that had classic and unique cocktails of substantial size. The place has a really chill vibe too, it almost felt like a speakeasy.
We also found a cocktail bar that reminiscent of our time at the Waldorf in NYC. The Crystal Lounge at the Sofitel Hotel is high-end without feeling too stuffy. We chose to sit at the bar so we could talk to the bar tenders which was a great decision. It is always fun when you make friends with the bar tenders because they let you try the leftovers (from the mixers, not used glasses) of drinks they make. This bartender even made his own herbal concoction that ANOTHER bartender invented a cocktail with which was pretty cool.
All in all, you go to Brussels to say you’re in Brussels…but you stay for the food and drink!
Any places you have been to there that you think I should hit up? Leave them in the comments below