Addresses that will make you love Brussels.Brussels’ status as the capital of Europe and iconic landmarks such as the Grand-Place and the Manneken-Pis attract millions of visitors to the city every year. However, as the locals will tell you, there is far more to Brussels than the typical tourist haunts, and it is the smaller, hidden locations that make their city so captivating. Whether you are a local, an expat or simply a curious traveller, get ready to fall in love with Brussels! This guide will take you to the heart of the real Brussels, with a range of savvy tips from the people who actually live there. Whether you use the guide to plan your trip, to find the best spots once you arrive or to daydream about your next holiday, you are sure to be captivated by the inEnjoy a guide that lists places that make Brussels an endearing city and the less known addresses by tourists.
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Ready to step off the beaten track? You’re in luck: this guide is your passport to the legions of incredible lesser-known spots throughout Brussels that are sure to captivate everyone, from first-time tourists to locals who were born and raised there.
Brussels is a city that defies description: it’s rightly proud of its traditions, but also embraces change and innovation; its diverse population has enriched the city’s cuisine, music, fashions and culture with influences from all four corners of the globe; and it lies at the heart of a vibrant, multilingual country that punches far above its weight on the international stage. Its many neighbourhoods may each have their own identity and distinctive vibe, but you’re sure to find the same friendliness and quirky humour wherever you go!
This guide has all the best insider tips to help you find the perfect spot to impress a date, an alternative destination for a night out, a little-known haven of tranquillity within the city or a place to spend some quality time with the kids. Each of its 200 recommendations is pinpointed on a detailed map of the city and accompanied by photos to give you a real taste of these unmissable locales. Whether you’re considering Brussels as your next holiday destination, trying to get your bearings once you arrive or simply looking for somewhere fresh to check out, your new favourite spots in the city are just waiting to be discovered!
It’s no secret that Brussels boasts some incredible food. The city’s eclectic culinary scene brings together Belgian classics and international specialities inspired by its diverse, cosmopolitan heritage, and features not only a dazzling array of restaurants, but also a phenomenal range of specialist stores and delicatessens so that you can whip up mouthwatering dishes from the comfort of your own home.
Chaussée d’Alsemberg 108, 1060 Saint-Gilles
La Buvette is one of three eateries managed by chef Nicolas Scheidt on the Chaussée d’Alsemberg in the trendy Saint-Gilles neighbourhood (his other establishments, Hopla Geiss Bakery and Café des Spores, are also well worth a visit). The restaurant is housed in an Art Deco-style former butcher’s, complete with meat hooks and an old butcher’s table, which is now the most coveted spot in the building. The hearty, meticulously prepared meals on offer often put an inventive spin on traditional Belgian fare, and diners can wash them down with a Belgian or foreign beer from the restaurant’s extensive selection.
Rue d’Alost 7, 1000 Brussels
The up-and-coming canal neighbourhood is home to a host of hot new addresses, including the cosy cocktail bar Life Is Beautiful (see No. 59) and the nearby restaurant Kumiko Izakaya. With a reputation for fast, friendly service, Kumiko serves Japanese street food-style dishes (think onigiri, donburi and gyoza) and a good choice of hot and cold drinks, making it a great destination for a tasty meal or a relaxed night out with friends. Make sure you check out the spacious outdoor terrace for those balmy summer nights!
Square de l’Atomium, 1020 Laeken
The Atomium is one of Brussels’ most iconic monuments and a must-visit destination for many tourists, but the upscale restaurant situated 100 metres above the ground in the highest of its nine spheres is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Serving quality Belgian food with unbeatable views across the entire capital, the restaurant offers an unforgettable dining experience. It’s a little pricier than some of the other restaurants on our list, but the setting alone is more than worth splashing out for!
Avenue de Tervueren 292, 1150 Woluwe-Saint-Pierre
Sanzaru is Brussels’ first restaurant fully dedicated to Nikkei, a bold Japanese-Peruvian fusion cuisine that brings together the best of both cultures. Its star dishes include the Peruvian chicken served with sobrassada and miso and the yuzu curd with Peruvian chocolate foam, but the restaurant stands out as much for its décor as its food: the building’s Cubist-inspired architecture dates from the 1930s, and its charming interior features vivid wall paintings by the Belgian artists Marcin Sobolev and Arianna Musetta.
Rue Bosquet 62, 1060 Saint-Gilles
This charming little restaurant in Saint-Gilles is renowned for its friendly service and generous portions of classic Italian fare, including its speciality of fresh pasta cooked al dente and served straight from the pot. The menu features food from all over Italy, and the restaurant offers a constantly changing dish of the day at an unbeatable price, making it the perfect option for anyone looking to dine out on a budget without compromising on quality.
Rue Notre-Dame-du-Sommeil 12, 1000 Brussels
La Manufacture’s past may surprise you: the building that is now home to one of the best international restaurants in central Brussels formerly housed both a factory owned by the leather goods company Delvaux and a print shop. In this unique setting, you can enjoy dishes inspired by recipes from all over the world and made using local, seasonal produce, accompanied by a quality wine menu presented on a tablet, giving this historic venue an unmistakeably modern touch.
Avenue du Diamant 199A, 1030 Schaerbeek
Thanks to Brussels’ sizeable Italian community, the city is home to so many pizzerias that it can be difficult to choose between them. However, few can match Ciaooo Pizzeria in Schaerbeek, an authentic Neapolitan-style restaurant that stands out for its classic pizzas and pizze fritte, all cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven. As well as a host of crowd-pleasing favourites, Ciaooo also offers a regularly changing selection of seasonal pizzas featuring premium ingredients like Italian sausage and truffles.
Chaussée d’Alsemberg 812/A, 1180 Uccle
The young, dynamic team at Bouchéry have set up shop in a charming, classically furnished building in the upmarket neighbourhood of Uccle. Chef Damien Bouchéry prides himself on using local organic products sourced from small-scale farmers to create stunning, wholesome dishes with plenty of fresh, flavoursome veggies. The vegetarian buffet at lunchtimes is delicious and very reasonably priced, and for special occasions you can’t go wrong with the four-, six- or eight-course evening meal.
Knees to Chin
Rue de Livourne 125 & Rue de Flandre 28, 1000 Brussels; Chaussée d’Alsemberg 148, 1060 Saint-Gilles
With three stylishly decorated restaurants (in the centre, Saint-Gilles and the trendy Bailli neighbourhood), Knees to Chin is the place to go for spring rolls: its generously sized rolls are a real treat for the taste buds, with original flavour combinations and a great range of sauces. Don’t miss the prawn spring rolls, which come with a zingy lemongrass sauce, or the minced chicken option, served with a delicious peanut sauce. Plus, its dishes are lactose-free and low in gluten, and the menu features plenty of vegetarian choices.
Avenue Clays 107, 1030 Schaerbeek
Don Luis specialises in modern dishes from all over Portugal, prepared using only the finest ingredients and accompanied by quality Portuguese wines. The food is so good that the restaurant tends to be packed with Portuguese diners looking for a real taste of home. If you’re eager to try something new (and have a big appetite!), make sure to sample the Porto speciality francesinha (Portuguese for “Little Frenchie”), a stomach-busting sandwich made with a variety of meats, lashings of melted cheese and a tomato and beer sauce.
Avenue des Celtes 6, 1040 Etterbeek
Situated a stone’s throw from the Parc du Cinquantenaire, one of Brussels’ most beautiful parks, Hanoi Station offers delicious, authentic Vietnamese street food that’ll almost make you feel like you’re there. But be prepared for queues: the crowds that flock to the restaurant every lunchtime as staff whip up soups, rolls and grilled meats to order in the open kitchen attest to its incredible popularity.
Rue de Livourne 154, 1000 Brussels
Constantin Erinkoglou’s eatery was voted the best Greek restaurant in the world outside Greece a few years ago, and it’s not hard to see why: with simple, fresh ingredients cooked to perfection, authentic dishes with a modern twist, a menu that offers far more adventurous fare than the standard meze and moussaka, and impeccable service, visitors to this popular spot in the hip Châtelain district are sure to come away satisfied! The food is admittedly fairly pricey, but the quality is so good that you won’t regret spending a little more.
Rue Berckmans 34, 1060 Saint-Gilles; Rue Stevin 168, 1000 Brussels
With its succulent flame-grilled burgers, prepared in-house with local, organic ingredients, Cool Bun is head and shoulders above other fast food joints. Owner Pierre prides himself on using only the finest cuts of meat and best-quality accompaniments, and the names of his dishes are just as original as his recipes: where else could you tuck into a miniature burger called The Godfather or Jon Snow? The Jack Sparrow, piled high with grilled bacon and smoked cheddar and slathered with a rich, flavoursome Jack Daniels sauce, is arguably the best burger in Brussels.
Rue de Flandre 86, 1000 Brussels
Rue de Flandre in the heart of Brussels is home to a host of culinary gems, and the best of the bunch is undoubtedly Gramm, helmed by the French-Japanese chef Nakata Kenzo. With a single set menu at lunchtime and in the evenings, this fusion restaurant offers elegantly presented dishes with vibrant, original flavour combinations that will take your taste buds on a whirlwind tour of the world.
Chaussée de Charleroi 196, 1060 Saint-Gilles
Forcado in Saint-Gilles is Brussels’ premier spot for pastéis de nata, the incredibly popular bite-sized Portuguese egg yolk tarts. But this is far from a passing fad: Forcado has been building up a loyal customer base for the past 35 years with pastéis in an array of flavours and a host of other sweet treats, such as the bolo de requeijão (a kind of Portuguese cheesecake). You can either take your food to go or savour it in the tearoom tucked away behind the shop.
Rue Berckmans 30, 1060 Saint-Gilles
With its secluded outdoor seating area, mellow atmosphere, candlelit tables and rustic wooden furniture, Le Malte is the perfect restaurant for a romantic dinner for two. The menu offers an eclectic mixture of dishes inspired by recipes from across the Mediterranean, often with a French or African twist, but all its meals share the same simplicity and rich flavours. The delicious sliced beef, prepared to Le Malte’s special recipe, comes particularly highly recommended.
Rue de l’Hôtel des Monnaies 33, 1060 Saint-Gilles
This unassuming restaurant with a slightly kitsch interior is one of Brussels’ most authentic spots for Indian food, with extraordinarily flavoursome dishes at prices that won’t break the bank. Its extensive menu features recipes from all over India and Nepal, including an excellent selection of vegetarian options, and they’re all so good that it’s difficult to pick a favourite!
Chaussée de Vleurgat 123, 1000 Brussels
Izakaya, which takes its name from a kind of informal Japanese establishment similar to the English pub, attracts a crowd of mainly Japanese regulars, with a smattering of western customers and virtually no tourists. Reserving a table at the bar, which is covered with bottles of sake, will give you the opportunity to watch the chef at work. Unlike in many Japanese restaurants in Europe, you won’t find sushi on the menu, but the delicious sashimi, yakitori, rice bowls and fish and seafood dishes more than make up for it!
Rue Lebeau 75, 1000 Brussels
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