Situated in the upper part of Brussels, Sablon is a historic town with a story that begs to be told. Sablon also has a new wave of restaurants taking center stage. Here are 10 of the best.
Pei & Mei offers some of the best French cuisine in the Sablon area. This is an astounding feat considering how heavily French-inspired most Belgian restaurants are. What makes Pei & Mei a cut above the rest is an immaculate attention to detail. Everything from using the freshest local produce to customizing each plate’s presentation is paid attention to. Each dish at Pei & Mei tells a different story. This is especially true with the crowd favorite ‘Surprise Menu’ in which the executive chef meets with the table and personalizes a five-course culinary narrative for everyone to enjoy.
Rue de Rollebeek,15, Brussels 1000, Belgium +32 2 880 53 39
Jade gives fine dining restaurants a run for their money with their delectable gourmet burgers and tapas bar. It’s a popular evening hangout spot in Sablon, where locals go to unwind with friends and enjoy tapas fresh from the grill, locally brewed craft beers, and unexpectedly authentic Chinese food. The ambiance is intimate and earthy, with dark wooden bar tops and the glow of candles on each table. Adding to the friendly vibe is Jade’s enthusiastic staff, who’s wide smiles and welcoming natures are very popular with locals and tourists alike.
Rue Joseph Stevens 12, Brussels 1000, Belgium +32 2 514 50 59
To dine at Les Caves du Sablon is to have the quintessential aesthetic affair. The name certainly hints at the interior decor, but it doesn’t prepare you for the gorgeously abstracted ‘cave-scapes’ just beyond the corridors. The gray-brown brick walls are arched over dark cherry tables, and the dim lighting and sparse decorations give you a sense of what it’d be like to dine in a mystical cave. Don’t miss Les Caves du Sablon’s wine menu – the restaurant is often dubbed a wine lover’s paradise because of its extensive, impressive choice of merlots and pinots.
Rue des Pigeons, 9, Brussels 1000, Belgium +32 2 513 12 20
Soul is a small, hole-in-the-wall French–Spanish-Belgian fusion restaurant hidden away in the shady side streets of the Sablon district. You have to really search for it, but it’s a worthy adventure. Take for example the Shrimp Party: it highlights shrimp, a Belgian seafood classic, in three ceviches (a South American technique). It uses French flavors like melon, coriander, and rocket leaves. You wont be able to stop hungry Vegetarians from hoovering up the Big Champi, a portobello mushroom stuffed with goat cheese and quinoa.
20 Rue de la Samaritaine, Brussels 1000, Belgium +32 2 51 35 213
Toscana 21, a Tuscan gem tucked away in the Sablon municipality, is easily passed by if you’re not looking for it. A family-run restaurant that’s huge on flavor, personality and authenticity, Toscana 21 opened in 2006 with an immigrant Italian family at the helm. The menu changes seasonally. It is based on what the family can get fresh in stock at local farms or what they can import directly from Florence. Once you read the family’s story behind the founding of their restaurant, you start to see why their antipasti isn’t simply fruit jams and cold cuts on a platter.
Rue de Rollebeek 21, Brussels 1000, Belgium +32 2 5023621
The restaurant’s website puts it best: ‘At Jef, we cook nature.’ Ask local foodies to describe what you’ll get at Jef and you’ll hear the same words again and again: honest, unpretentious, welcoming. The menu is inconsistent because it depends on which produce and fish are readily available. However, you can call ahead to ask what the week’s specials are. If you do call, there’s a good chance you’ll be on the phone with Jef himself. The food is simple and fresh, letting the high-quality ingredients speak for themselves.
Rue Haute 20, Brussels 1000, Belgium +32 2 43 73 573
Cap Sablon is a small restaurant that contains everything from delicate, flaky salmon fillets to strong-bodied ales and spirits. There’s no single category that Cap Sablon neatly falls into. What the locals enjoy most about Cap Sablon is its frenetic energy and lively atmosphere. It has the feeling of being full of chatter and laughter without seeming cramped or overcrowded. If you’re searching for the next place to have dinner with friends, head to Cap Sablon for a filling meal and a glass of champagne.
L’Entree des Artistes is a brasserie that gives tourists and locals a taste of fine French cuisine at a reasonable price. We recommend the three-course set menu, which includes a seasonal starter and main course, and of course, unlimited French-pressed coffee. The restaurant is so true to its French roots that the menu isn’t even available in other languages. But if you haven’t taken French since high school, don’t worry. The friendly staff are trained to help you navigate the menu. Plus, everything tastes so good it doesn’t really matter what you choose.
42 Place du Grand Sablon, Brussels 1000, Belgium +32 2 502 31 61
You can’t write an article about Belgian restaurants without mentioning chocolates. And you can’t mention great chocolate without mentioning Wittamer. This boutique sweet-shop in the heart of Sablon specializes in creating one-of-a-kind flavor profiles for their assortment of chocolates, tartlets, cakes, macaroons and hot beverages. The patisserie is overwhelmingly aromatic, filled with the seductive scents of marzipan, exotic fruit crème and cocoa that will leave your mouth watering. Though pricey, the aesthetically pleasing Carré Floor chocolate box makes for a truly indulgent gift.
Place du Grand Sablon 12-13, Brussels 1000, Belgium +32 2 51 23 742
‘This is Good, This is Belgian’ – The name tells you everything you need to know. C’est Bon C’est Belge proudly serves only authentic Belgian food and drinks, which means you won’t find any Coke, Sprite, or anything French on the menu. Dish highlights include the wine-marinated Chicken Waterzooi and fresh vanilla ice cream drizzled with silky Belgian chocolate sauce. There are also dark Belgian ales that will leave you stuffed and smiling.
3/5 Rue de Rollebeek, Brussels 1000, Belgium +32 2 512 29 99