In terms of quality of life, Etterbeek is probably one of the best districts in Brussels. It has elegant nineteenth-century houses, the Parc Cinquantenaire with its green space and a view over the whole city, not to mention plenty of restaurants to suit all types of budgets. Whether you are a thrifty student or civil servant from the nearby European Quarter, you’ll find a wide selection of restaurants near the busy Place Jourdan. Here are 10 of the best dining establishments in Etterbeek.
The debate over where to find the best frites in Brussels will probably never be resolved, but Maison Antoine in Place Jourdan is a leading contender. At busy times, long queues form for its crispy French fries, usually accompanied by a squirt of ketchup, mayonnaise or lurid Andalouse sauce, although if you turn up mid-afternoon you’ll probably be served in minutes. Even a small portion makes for a substantial snack. Most of the bars in the square allow you to enjoy your frites with a drink, while on Sunday mornings you can work up an appetite by browsing the stalls of the weekly Jourdan market.
This Franco-Belgian chain that specializes in pizza al taglio (by the slice) has now reached Place Jourdan. Mamma Roma serves squares of thick but light – almost focaccia-like – dough topped with combinations such as mozzarella, potato and truffle sauce, broccoli and spicy sausage, feta, olives and onion. There’s also tiramisu and authentic Italian coffee. Slices are sold by weight, but the set lunch menu is an especially good value. On a fine day you can take your pizza to eat in the nearby Parc Léopold. Address: Mamma Roma, 37 Place Jourdan, 1040 Etterbeek, Brussels, +32 2 6406940
Carpe Diem | Courtesy of Carpe Diem
If you want an authentic taste of Belgium, Carpe Diem is ideal – it specializes in beef stew, meatballs, stoemp (rich mashed potato with vegetables), baked endives and many of the other dishes for which Belgian cuisine is famous. You can also enjoy a bowlful of mussels, and for the less adventurous there are plenty of simpler options like omelets and pasta. The restaurant’s modern decor contrasts with its traditional fare, and its central location near Merode metro station means it’s also a good place to meet for drinks.
In Brussels dialect, schievelavabo means ‘mad,’ and the interior of this Etterbeek institution is certainly a little crazy – it’s plastered with retro advertising signs and beer advertisements. The restaurant’s signature starter is oven-baked prawns, which can be followed with a steak, burger or salad. A handy guide on the menu allows you to make up your own set lunch or dinner.
Regularly said to be the home of the best pizza in Etterbeek, if not all Brussels, Pizza Liloo offers a real taste of Italy. Its wood-fired oven matches an understated wood and brick interior, and among the pizzas you’ll find old favorites but also more unusual options for toppings like goat’s cheese, courgettes and truffle oil.
This family-run Brazilian Portuguese establishment attracts high praise for its regularly changing menus, which are based on the fresh produce available each day – and there are only five tables, so reservations are advisable. Seafood, including bacalao (dried salted cod), and friendly service are its specialties, and if you have room for a dessert don’t miss the pasteis de nata, which are tasty Portuguese custard tarts. Address: Au Cor de Chasse, Avenue des Casernes 21, 1040 Etterbeek, Brussels, +32 2 3085725
La Porte de Bengale
Indian food in Brussels doesn’t always live up to expectations, especially for lovers of extra-hot curries, but at the ever-popular and reasonably priced La Porte de Bengale, you’ll probably find your favorite dish, whether it’s a mild korma, a chili-packed vindaloo, or something in between. Prawns and kebabs cooked in the tandoor oven are also available, as well as a decent range of vegetarian dishes. Address:La Porte de Bengale, Avenue d’Auderghem 276, 1040 Etterbeek, Brussels, +32 4 86390228
Stirwen | Courtesy of Stirwen
In a quiet street off Place Jourdan, Stirwen offers an elegant fine dining experience. This is more a ‘special treat’ venue than a place for a quick lunch, as its menu offers a selection of oysters, foie gras, and the restaurant’s signature dish lièvre à la royale (a legendary French creation of hare stuffed with its own entrails, pork, and bacon). Stirwen prides itself on its use of seasonal, traceable produce and ability to combine tradition and innovation in the kitchen. Address: Chaussée St-Pierre 15-17, 1040 Etterbeek, Brussels, +32 26408541
Reservations are a must at Le Monde est Petit – its Michelin star and small dining room mean that tables are snapped up quickly – but this is a true gastronomic experience. You can choose a tasting menu or order from the à la carte, where seafood is featured heavily. Unsurprisingly, the wine list is extensive, and includes several good value options. Le Monde est Petit is an ideal location for a romantic dinner.