Het Zuid (which simply translates to ‘The South’) is the fashionable area of Antwerp. It has become a cultural hotspot after a series of renovations in the 1980s, its Art Nouveau architecture packed with museums, art galleries, cafés and restaurants. You’ll find plenty of bunch options in this hip neighborhood, and we’ve highlighted some top picks for a range of atmospheres and budgets.
Bar, Restaurant, Belgian, Pub Grub, $$$
This Bagel bar charms its customers with New York style and a lot of Belgian heart. They serve bagels and sandwiches at affordable prices, as well as several soups (perfect for dunking), delicious cakes, and a nice tea selection. They also offer a weekly bagel special and menu options for vegetarian customers. The atmosphere here is retro and cozy, outfitted with cushy armchairs and sofas for curling up to sip your tea, and cute little tables for catching up over lunch. Both forms of seating at this popular café are often packed with regulars, so you may have to wait for a spot during rush hours. If you’re coming here to work, the wait is worth it for the free Wi-Fi and the gorgeous view from the patio.
Barnini, Oudevaartplaats 10, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 485 82 69
Horta Grand Café
If you’re seeking a stylish option for Belgian cuisine, head to Horta Gran Café, where you can enjoy local specialties like shrimp kroketten and steak tartare in an elegant atmosphere of wide glass walls and ample natural light. The excellent, strikingly plated food is served promptly by their kind and professional wait staff, who can also help you choose a Belgian beer to pair with your meal. But without a doubt, the highlight here is the dessert menu. Be sure to save room for speculaas tiramisu with fruit Rumtopf and pistachio crunch, or for an exceptional slice of Belgian chocolate cake made with chestnut crémeux and butterscotch. Those visiting on weekends should definitely book ahead.
Horta Grand Café, Hopland 2, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 203 56 60
It’s simple logic, if you love hummus, you will love Chickpea. This sweet, homey restaurant uses top-quality ingredients to prepare a wide range of dishes, but the star and staple of this menu is hummus. They offer several delicious homemade varieties, like tahini, fried mushroom, and even a version with extra chickpeas. You’ll also find other typical Middle Eastern menu options here, such as pita, falafel and homemade spicy sauces. If you’re thirsty after one of their spicier dishes, order off their juice menu and watch them freshly prepare it in front of your eyes in a slow juicer. This juicing style is extra healthy, since it ensures that the organic fruits and vegetables used in your drink will lose the least amount of vitamins in the process. Complete your experience here with Chickpea’s signature dessert, the Pittartatin.
Chickpea, Oudaan 4, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 4 756 04 949
Tartine offers a variety of lunch and breakfast options, specializing in tasty artisan breads and homemade iced teas. The atmosphere is casual and friendly (great for families and groups), and the rates are reasonable. They keep their menu fresh with different selections for weekdays versus weekends, but they’re always careful to include vegetarian and vegan dishes. On weekends it’s wise to book your table in advance, especially if you want to enjoy their terrace seating.
Tartine, Minderbroedersrui 60, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 483 49 04 10
The smell of delicious cooking is the first thing to welcome you when you walk into Kloonies, shortly followed by the friendly staff. Usually packed during Sunday brunch, this popular spot has earned a loyal fan base by serving big, bountiful breakfasts for little prices. If you come later in the day, their menu also includes light lunch options like tapas and quiches. Indecisive customers will find inspiration for choosing their order on the staff’s handy suggestion board, and gluten-free diners will find always find something to munch on here.
Kloonies, Kloosterstr. 183, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 689 21 71
Coffeelabs is a great alternative to Kloonies for fresh coffee, breakfast and lunch, especially if you’re hoping to get some work done after you catch up with friends. Coffee Labs is the café extension of Idea Labs, a local tech initiative for start-ups who are working with IT. That’s why you’ll see so many patrons bent over their laptops while sipping their lattes here. The interior helps to facilitate a productive office atmosphere for those who need it, with ample outlets, free Wi-fi, and long tables for setting up camp. However, Coffeelabs also has you covered if you’re just looking for a place to relax. The true highlight of this venue is its vast roof terrace, where you can enjoy scenic outdoor seating in good weather.
Coffeelabs, Lange Klarenstraat 19, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 476 33 45 87