A Tour Through Brussels' Foodie Scene

Pistolet | © Mervyn Mercado
Pistolet | © Mervyn Mercado
Photo of Trent Greentree
22 April 2016

Much like the diversity of Brussels’ population, the food in this city spans a vast palate of tastes and smells. In order to ingratiate yourself to variety of the Brussels food scene, you need to hunt around to find the best edible and olfactory gems. Whether you are a born and bred Bruxellois, a new resident, or a visiting intrepid traveler, the following list is a great starting point to find something unique in this city.

Shrimp croquettes and seared tuna fillet

Located on the stunning Place Saint Catherine, Mer du Nord is a Brussels institution selling perfectly cooked, freshly caught seafood. Walking onto the square exposes individuals to the sweet aroma of the freshest fruits of the sea. Everything on the menu is exceptional but the two standouts are the seared tuna steak and the shrimp croquettes. The seared tuna is crispy, juicy, well seasoned, and topped with a delightful marinade. The shrimp croquettes are some of the best in Brussels and within the crispy outer shell you find sweet flavorsome north-sea shrimp swimming in a creamy, cheesy sauce.

Mer du Nord Croquettes | Courtesy of Trent Greentree

Cone of frites

The smell of freshly fried hand cut potato (frites), floats like a cloud throughout the city every day. It is intoxicating, addictive, inviting, and impossible to ignore. Follow your nose to any of the many friteries in the city and treat yourself to this national treasure. Everyone has their opinion on the best frites in town. Pitta De La Chapelle, located in the square next to the Chapel Notre Dame near the Sablon antique area, is a fine example that won’t disappoint. They serve tasty and fresh frites in an ingenious, yet simple cardboard cone that has a separate sauce reservoir.

Pitta De La Chapelle – Place De La Chapelle 15, Kapellemarkt 15, Brussels

Pitta de la Chapelle Frites |Courtesy of Trent Greentree

Pitta de la Chapelle Frites |Courtesy of Trent Greentree

Tako gali and agedashi tofu

Restaurant, Japanese
This small bento-style restaurant in a quiet street in Brussels serves some of the most delicious and delicate food outside of Japan. Tako gali is a cold octopus salad with a tangy pickled citrus dressing. A flavor explosion from the pickle, perfectly compliments the tender pieces of squid. The agedashi tofu is more reserved than the tako gali and is comprised of two perfectly fried cubes of tofu in a balanced fragrant broth. Bonito flakes adorn the top of the tofu and perform dance-like motions as steam rises from the broth.

Carbonade a la flamande

This classic Belgian beef and beer stew is one of the most comforting, warming and hearty dishes you will find. Tender chunks of beef dripping in flavor packed sauce are the order of the day. Traditionally, it is served with a side of frites that are perfect for mopping up the sauce. Like frites, everyone has an opinion on the best version in town. The honest truth is that the best is often cooked from long standing recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. If you don’t have a Belgian grandmother, try Le Bugatti for one of the most authentic and delicious in Brussels.

Le Bugatti – Jakob Jordaen 4, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, +32 02 646 14 17

Carbonade Flamande | Courtesy of Trent Greentree

Carbonade Flamande | Courtesy of Trent Greentree

Lapin a la Kriek

Kriek, a Belgian sour beer flavored with cherries is used in this dish to stew a whole rabbit to perfection. The bold and sour flavors of the Kriek mellow over the long cooking time to provide a rich and complex sauce. The rabbit meat is fall-apart fork tender and melts in the mouth. This is another Belgian classic you can find in many restaurants, but Fin de Siecle does a fantastic example of this traditional dish.

Fin de Siecle – Rue des Chartreux 9, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

Lapin a la Kriek | Courtesy of Trent Greentree

Lapin a la Kriek | Courtesy of Trent Greentree

Pita pockets

Le Perroquet sells pita pockets… but not only are there over a hundred variations on the menu, it is all served up in one of the most beautiful Art Nouveau interiors in Brussels. Somehow this place takes the humble pita pocket and elevates it to new levels (without being pretentious). It does help that each pita is served with a selection of four incredibly yummy sauces. It is a hidden gem of Brussels that is even open on Sundays.

Le Perroquet – Rue Watteeu 31, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, +32 02 512 99 22

Pita pocket | Courtesy of Merv Mercado Photography

Pita pocket | Courtesy of Merv Mercado Photography

En Stoemelings Curieuse Neus

There is nothing better with which to wash down these amazing Brussels flavors than a Belgian beer. En Stoemelings, is a small Brussels based microbrewery making some of the most exciting new beer in Belgium. Their flagship beer named Curieuse Neus, (literally meaning curious nose), has a fragrance that is unmistakably Belgian and gives a hint of the spicy yet restrained flavors that follow. The immediate taste is slightly nutty, fresh and well rounded. It is carefully hopped with a pleasant mix of bitterness and floral tones. The malty aftertaste is clean and begs you to be ‘curious’ and go back for more.

En Stoemelings – Rue du Miroir 1, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, +32 0489 49 59 24

En Stoemelings | Courtesy of Trent Greentree

En Stoemelings | Courtesy of Trent Greentree

By Trent Greentree

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