The mitraillette – the sandwich jam-packed with meat and fries and named after a submachine gun is surely one of Belgium’s oddest foodie creations. This baguette of greasy goodness is ubiquitous in Brussels, which is why The Culture Trip has found you five great places that each serve the specialty in their own original way.
This friterie has a name that could just as well be applied to the whole of the country: Fritland (or ‘land of fries’). The venue in the shadow of the Bourse is full of Belgian pride too, with tricolor flags decorating the windows and a logo on which Manneken Pis is holding the traditional paper cone, again in black, yellow, and red. Fritland has earned a reputation for serving one of the best mitraillettes in town ever since 1987 – they add baked onions and sometimes even tiny chili peppers for a little extra oomph. The popular friterie stays open late, until 1 a.m., during weekdays.
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Restaurant, Cafe, Food Kiosk, European, Belgian
Mamma Roma | Courtesy of Katie Low
Maison Antoine, a family-owned friterie, was founded by Antoine Desmet and his wife in 1948. Two generations later, the Brussels venue near the European Parliament is still going strong and bursting with authentic character. You’ll recognize it easily, as the ‘maison’ is actually a large hexagonal kiosk in the middle of Jourdan Square, and its name burns bright red at dusk. While you’re waiting for your order – the popularity of this place makes sure there’s almost always a line – you’re welcome to stare at their quirky sculpture of a cone that has legs peeking out of it instead of fries. Once you’ve gotten a hold of your mitraillette, you can take it inside one of the square’s surrounding bars. The cafés that have signs with a blinking cartoon cone on them will allow you to pair your typical Belgian snack with a typical Belgian beer.
Of all the Belgian specialties that could possibly be turned into haute cuisine, you would think that the mitraillette with its friterie meat, friterie frites and friterie sauces would be dangling at the end of that list. Think again, says Pin Pon, a restaurant located inside the old fire brigade’s digs on the famed Place du Jeu de Balle. Its gourmet twist on the mitraillette contains roast beef and celery, topped off with a mustard sauce. To experience the taste of Brussels, head down to the Marolles flea market for a vintage treasure hunt and follow it up by indulging in this creative sandwich.
A true blue fritkot without any frills, Fritkot Bompa is somewhat of a local secret tucked away in the Ixelles neighborhood. The ‘bompa’ – a loving Dutch title given to one’s grandfather – in its name already gives it away: this is an old-school place, dedicated to making frites and mitraillettes the authentic way. Though the venue is small and cozy, you’ll usually be able to find a spot among the many locals who have made Fritkot Bompa their go-to friterie.
This one isn’t in Brussels but rather a 25-minute tram ride away, yet its reputation is so stellar that you might want to consider taking the trip. Frequently named as one of Belgium’s best friteries, the chef in the Braine-le-Comte railway station – the same guy since the place opened its doors in 1993 – treats his clientele to all sorts of special flourishes. He cuts his fries in front of his customers’ eyes, serves homemade cheese croquettes, and serves those who enjoy their meal at the friterie a complimentary cup of joe. But most importantly for this list, his mitraillettes are made with baguettes, specially baked by a renowned local baker.