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When looking for a quick bite, Brussels has an abundance of hearty street foods not easily found abroad. From the well-known fries and waffles to cooked sea snails, we list the places to find tasty options when you’re feeling hungry.
Thickly cut and fried twice, typically sold in a paper cone with mayonnaise and a plastic fork, this is the most popular fast food dish in Belgium. Bought at food trucks, hole-in-the-wall fritures and some cafés, pommes frites are easy to find anywhere in the country. The servings can vary, as some places opt for carton or plastic boxes. The sauce is not limited to just mayonnaise either, with options ranging from familiar ketchup to unique choices like samurai sauce and andalouse. Fries are eaten with a wide assortment of fried meat or stews such as stoofvlees or vol-au-vent. And speaking of fries…
Invented in Brussels, a mitraillette is basically Belgian fries served as a sandwich. The dish consists of a baguette, pommes frites, fried meat and a sauce of choice. Typically, a mitraillette is eaten with mayonnaise, but a wide variety of sauces are available. Sometimes they are served with vegetables, such as tomato slices or grated carrots. Known as an invention of the capital, this is a must-try if you want a taste of Brussels’ fast food.
These are buns of bread with a sausage, covered with ketchup or mustard, or both. You can also order them with onions or sauerkraut. While you can find these with regular sausages all over the country, some vendors add a twist by using white or black sausages, known as boudins or pensen. The black variety is a soft blood sausage. The white sausages are basically the same but prepared without animal blood. While the sausages are not precisely Belgian in origin, they have a long-standing tradition in the Belgian kitchen. When prepared at home, Belgian families eat them with apple sauce and potatoes.
This treat is sold mainly at fairs by food trucks, served in carton boxes or paper cones with powdered sugar. They are somewhat akin to a donut, as both are deep-fried dough. Eaten both in the Netherlands and Belgium, there are some differences in name and preparation. While they are known as oliebollen and are fried in vegetable oil in the Netherlands, Belgians call them croustillons or smoutebollen and prefer them fried in animal fat.
Not to be confused with escargots, caricoles are sea snails, boiled in broth with vegetables. Vendors sell them mostly during fairs, though caricoles can be bought from food trucks anytime during the year. They are surprisingly sweet in flavor, though the chewy texture might take some getting used to.
This is a grain-based drink with a high alcohol percentage. It’s usually served cold in small glasses. If you prefer something sweet, you can easily find it in various flavors like chocolate and strawberries. The traditional one can be bought in clay bottles. You can order jenever in any Belgian café, but it’s also typically sold by small kiosks at Christmas markets — a great way to warm up during the cold months.
These sweet and tasty snacks are well known abroad. What you might not know is that there are two popular kinds of Belgian waffles. The Liège variety is thick in texture and somewhat oval in shape. The sugar is already placed in the batter, not placed on top of the finished product. Even so, the Luik waffle can often be found with various toppings, like chocolate, whipped cream and various fruits.
The Brussels waffles, on the other hand, are rectangular in shape. They are the famous waffles that are crispy on the outside, yet soft on the inside, and are served warm, traditionally with powdered sugar on top. The Brussels waffle generally doesn’t get heavy toppings. Both kinds are sold by food trucks and kiosks all over Brussels, which is great when you just need a quick bite on a walk through the city.