The capital of Europe, Brussels boasts a booming café culture. The bruxellois can enjoy fabulous breakfasts, from a quick croissant at a neighbourhood boulangerie to a rooftop champagne brunch. Here are ten of Brussels’ best brunch spots, restaurants and cafés for that most important of all weekend meals.
Especially for the early risers, flea market lovers, and those needing to recharge energy levels after a night on the dance floor, La Clef d’Or is practically a Brussels institution serving hearty breakfasts from 5 a.m. Located in the Marolles district, on the Jeu de Balle market square, this place is buzzing, mainly with hungry market traders, who make the atmosphere authentic and one-of-a-kind. Croque monsieurs and madames, eggs on toast, steak tartare on toast with pickles and homemade meatloaf on bread, all washed down with a good Belgian beer, ensure a truly bruxellois experience well worth getting up for. The Jeu de Balle market is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., but you can still have your brunch afterwards – breakfasts at La Clef d’Or are served until 5 p.m.
Peck 47 appears to have everything a healthy hipster could want for breakfast, fresh food and drinks, a great place to chill out with retro décor and a modern twist, cosy and comfortable surroundings with indoor and outdoor seating, and a location that’s just off the tourist track, yet right in the centre of the city. Peck 47 is the hip place to be in Brussels with its impeccable and friendly service, and an up-to-date menu offering a delicious all-day brunch of poached eggs on sourdough toast with smoked salmon, rocket, and homemade relish, as well as tasty sandwiches, freshly baked cakes, good coffee, fruit smoothies and milkshakes.
Or Coffee is a heaven for coffee lovers to hang out, a place where the owners take their coffee incredibly seriously, and make regular trips to plantations to refresh the menu with new tastes. Located on the edge of the city’s most fashionable street, rue Antoine Dansaert, this espresso bar and micro coffee roasting centre is lively with locals all day. There is a wide variety of coffee beans to choose from, all carefully selected and freshly roasted for optimum flavour. Pastries and bagels are also on offer at breakfast and brunch time, to be enjoyed in a simple, rustic setting inside, or an outdoor space perfect for watching the world go by. Book in advance for barista training workshops and coffee-cupping sessions.
Charli is a stylish bakery and café where you can choose your breakfast from a vast selection of tasty breads with homemade jams, pastries, cakes, organic coffees and teas. Natural and wholesome, the baker uses the finest ingredients, attracting customers by filling the morning air with the wonderful aroma of fresh bread and pastries, baked on the premises, in the large oven that is on display for customers to see. The tasteful and modern interior design, complete with a huge map of Brussels taking up a whole wall, makes this altogether a pleasurable breakfast experience on the edge of the ever-popular Sainte-Catherine Square. Queues can be a problem, but breakfast at Charli’s is worth the wait.
The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) offers Sunday brunch on the terrace of this stunning art nouveau building, a memorable experience with magnificent panoramic views over the city, and an all-you-can-eat buffet topped off with a glass of champagne. Served between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., there is absolutely no rush, which is also the coping strategy needed to adapt to MIM’s notoriously bad customer service. Take your time and enjoy the sweet and savoury, hot and cold choices available, including eggs, smoked salmon, great salads, pancakes, pastries and various types of breads – without forgetting about the wonderful view. Advance booking is recommended, especially during the summer months.
Waffles are a wonderful Belgian treat available any time of day around the centre of Brussels. While not traditionally eaten at breakfast by the locals, the Maison Dandoy Tea Room opens at 11 a.m. for late starters to tuck into what are believed to be the best waffles in town. ‘Built upon a family heritage of sweetness’, this biscuit baker has been using 100% natural ingredients since 1829 and continues to make their customers’ senses ‘twinkle and dance’. Situated a stone’s throw from the Manneken Pis, this is the perfect sightseeing pit stop to escape the crowds and indulge in an elegant tearoom experience.
Brussels is the birthplace of café-bakery concept Le Pain Quotidien, Le Pain serves well-loved breakfasts, in the now-world-renowned homely atmosphere, where customers can share communal tables in a laid-back yet chic ambiance. Driven by a basic need for bread baked just the way his aunt did during his childhood, chef Alain Coumont created a menu of high-quality organic ingredients, best enjoyed in the cafés’ environmentally friendly settings; expect great breads, patisseries, eggs, yoghurts, coffees, juices, and teas. Although Le Pain Quotidien has gone global, with franchises from Russia to Japan, the USA to the UAE, the branch on Rue Antoine Dansaert is the 1990 original.
EXKi is another international Belgian success story that promotes environmental friendliness using quality fair-trade and organic products, so where better to enjoy an EXKi bite at breakfast time than here, in the heart of the capital? Offering a view of the Brussels Stock Exchange built in the late 19th century in neo-renaissance and Second Empire architectural styles, the large terrace is an ideal way to start the day with some healthy breakfast choices of fruit salads, yoghurts, muesli, freshly baked breads, with many teas and coffees to choose from, as well as scrumptious cakes, pastries, and delicious hot chocolate. There is also a great selection of quiches and sandwiches all made on the premises, and international newspapers and magazines to browse.
Ponti Corner is a café-come-restaurant which opened in the heart of Brussels in time for summer 2014, alongside the landmark Stock Exchange. It’s the latest project from Antoine Pinto, a local specialist in interior architectural design, and the man behind other prestigious gastronomic establishments in the capital such as Belga Queen and the Midi Station. Chandeliers, leather chairs, sofas and international newspapers set the scene to enjoy a Silver, Golden, or Diamond breakfast combination. Quality ham and eggs, smoked salmon, cheese plates, and fresh fruit salads are available, as well as an absolutely stunning selection of patisseries created by the in-house patissier. Coffee beans are locally roasted, and for those in a celebratory mood, there is also a wine and bubbles list.
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A fabulous all-you-can-eat brunch buffet of well-chosen seasonal, organic and homemade foods is carefully laid out at Les Filles every Saturday and Sunday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This beautifully decorated homely setting is found in a back street, a short walk from the Stock Exchange. Three close friends create the venue’s warm and cosy guesthouse atmosphere, serving good eggs, hams and cheeses, croissants with jams, fresh fruit salads, and a variety of teas and coffees, in a setting where customers share large wooden communal tables. A delicious three-course lunch changes on a daily basis throughout the week, according to the morning market’s haul.