Crepe with fruit and ice cream / Courtesy of Laura Tombolato
If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then Leuven takes it to heart in a wonderful way. This little and delightful city, just half an hour away from Belgium’s capital, boasts numerous spectacular locations full of history and art, but its real essence lies within the countless cafes around the city and what they offer when it comes to starting the day on the right foot. Here are ten of the best.
Thomas Stapleton’s Irish Pub
Pub, Irish, Pub Grub
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On Sunday mornings, Leuven can be scarily quiet compared to the weekdays. Why not head to a cozy and warm place such as Stapleton’s? The smell of bacon and fried eggs are an irresistible call to anyone who truly loves Ireland. This lovely pub, hidden in a small street in the center, offers a unique atmosphere and a wide Sunday brunch menu including fish cakes, cheese tarts and, of course, a tasty full Irish breakfast. Opening hours: Mon-Fri from 4pm, Sat from 2pm, Sun from 12pm
One of the coziest spots in the busy Parijsstraat is Swartehond. Not only because the smell of coffee grains will make you feel right at home, but also because the lovely owner will ensure you’re well taken care of, advising you on what option to pick out. The appetizing menu, presented on a blackboard over the bar, can easily tempt even the most tricky customer. A special mention goes to the exquisite smoothies – they’re probably the best in town. Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8.30am-6pm, Sat 9.30am-6pm
When on the hunt for a cheap and unusual place to eat, De Werf is the place you should be looking out for. Located on a quiet square close to the center, this restaurant defines itself as a ‘Babbel en knabbel cafè,’ namely a place for chatting and munching; given the incredibly appetizing choices on the menu, the time dedicated to munching will surely overcome the chats. Perfect for an energetic yet relaxed beginning of the day, De Werf offers a range of four different types of breakfast, from the ‘Petite’ to the ‘Royale’; but for those who just need something to survive the early hours, this magic place serves also a thermos with a half liter of filtered coffee and delicious petit beurre taart, too. Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9am -12am
For those in Leuven who want to enjoy the rare sunny days but who don’t want to deal with the noise of overcrowded central bars, Kaminsky is a perfect compromise. Located just outside the ring of the city center, this small bar has a consistent and appetizing menu, both for food and beverages, and every bite of moussaka or crème brûlée can be enjoyed in their beautiful terrace. Opening hours: Mon-Thu 10am – 2am, Fri 10am – 3am, Sat 11am- 3am, Sun 5pm – 2am
Medina is a comfortable and warm haven, especially on rainy days. This Moroccan cafe intoxicates customers with the fragrances of Africa and, above all, mint; here the authentic Moroccan mint tea is prepared and served with such precision and attention it becomes a magic ritual. If the tea is not enough, why not indulge in a plate of tajine or cous cous for brunch? Opening hours: Mon – Fri 10 am – 10 pm, Sat. 2.30 p – 10 pm
Chaï tea latte and latte macchiato with vanilla | Courtesy of Anna
A great cafe right in front of the Museum M of Leuven, Anna first appeals to its customers with the amazing drawings on its front window but, once inside, it does not cease to amaze. The selection of coffees, and the choice of machines in which coffee can be prepared, is second only to the delicious home-made cakes, brownies and cookies displayed over the bar. Make sure you stop here at least once; the intimate environment will make everything taste even better. Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7.30 am – 6 pm, Sat-Sun 9.30 am – 6 pm
Elegant, dynamic and unique; these are the characteristics of Le Graal, a new Italian bar located under the shadow of St. Peter’s Cathedral. No need to take a plane to get to Italy, come and experience the country’s cuisine right here. Enjoy a real Italian breakfast with foamy cappuccinos and warm croissants. If that’s not enough, what better than to start the day with a crêpe filled with Nutella, strawberries and whipped cream – the only cure for the Monday blues.