The alluring scent of mussels cooked in wine welcomed us near Place du Sablon, only 10 minutes after we began our wanderings in Brussels.
Instant craving aside, I immediately felt better about the city simply by associating that aroma with joyful summer holidays spent on the Mediterranean Riviera.
Belgian food is divine! It’s hard to find any dish or street food that’s less than spectacular.
Windows overflowing with chocolate truffles, mussels cooked in wine, fries topped with unholy sauces, decadent waffles and strawberries dressed in white chocolate scream smile at you from every street corner.
We’re currently on a diet, just to get back to our top model body days :), so it was extra hard to stay away from all the food and wonderful scents of each Belgian city we’ve visited.
Glad we managed to taste from the best food Belgium has to offer without going overboard. Ok, maybe we skipped on some Flemish dishes for a chocolate tasting in Bruges, but it was worth it.
Belgian cuisine is pure madness, and the number 1 reason people fall in love with this country.
If you don’t believe me yet, just read on to discover the dishes and street food we tasted in our Belgium trip. Yes, with pictures, so please eat something before continuing reading this article.
Or take some chocolate pills 🙂
Best Belgian Food to Try in Brussels, Ghent and Bruges
And the restaurants, shops and pubs where to taste traditional Belgian food
- Fries / Frites at Chez Papy, Brussels
Grand Place was our first stop in Brussels, and even if I wanted to visit it for the beautiful gothic architecture, food kept following us.
Two girls sitting on the cobbled square got our attention while savoring French Fries from big red cones, so we had to ask where that yumminess came from. That’s how we ended up at Chez Papy, right around the corner from Grand Place Bruxelles and across from Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert.
Oddly enough, I eat fries once a year, for about 10 years now, when I dropped all fried foods from my daily menu (no regrets). Every once in a while, I do have a taste of these forbidden goodies, but this time I ate fries every day of my city break in Belgium. Mixed feelings about this…
Guess our happy faces says all there is to say about the fries at Chez Papy.
Address: Rue Infante Isabelle, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
- Meatballs at Balls & Glory, Brussels
The name of the place says it all, but we chose it for its authenticity and boldness. The interior looks intimate, oranges and apples on each table, fresh flowers in the vases, and a welcoming Belgian girl serves at the counter.
Meatballs are a typical dish in Belgium and these were amazing, even more so than their Swedish counterparts.
We both had the pork meatballs stuffed with truffle sauce; it tasted more like a mushrooms sauce, without that specific aroma of truffles. Even so, they were bigger than usual and tastier than any other meatball tried before.
I chose a salad as a side dish and it was a lovely surprise: white lentils, arugula, tasty grilled Herve cheese, and watermelon, which added a sweet summery flavor to my plate. You must try it!
Address: Rue de Laeken 171, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
- Mussels & Wine at Poules – Moules, Bruges
- Flemish Stew (Carbonnades Flamandes/Stoverij) at Poules – Moules, Bruges
Poules-Moules is well-known for making the best mussels in Bruges, but they also cook a savory Flemish Stew.
The terrace is full on a sunny summer day, and especially on Sundays. Still, we were able to get a seat and enjoy a huge portion of mussels cooked in wine that can easily be split between two people, accompanied by fries, of course. I paired the mussels with a local rosé wine (good enough). A pot of mussels is around 25€, and the whole lunch went for 65€.
The Flemish Stew was a nice surprise, even better than the mussels, if you ask me. The tender meat is slowly cooked in beer and served in a savory sauce, making it one of the best lunch options in Bruges.
Serving was slow due to the full terrace, but decent and helpful; they even brought what Italians and Spanish call coperta – bread, butter, olives, but didn’t charge for it, which was a nice touch.
Address: Simon Stevinplein 9, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
- Chocolate Tasting at The Chocolate Line, Bruges
When in Bruges, one thing you must do is go Chocolate Tasting.
You don’t have to book a tour or something like that, you can just check out The Chocolate Line Shop, few meters away from Poules – Moules.
I must admit though that I craved not only for chocolate, but also for more information about the whole process of making chocolate, but when you have just one day to spend in Bruges, concessions have to be made. Still, you can see some steps of the chocolate-making process inside the Chocolate Line shop.
We chose a 250gr box and then we asked the nice lady at the counter to put one of each bizarre chocolate on display. We had our own chocolate tasting by the riverbed, with only 12€ spent. The shop sells other chocolate related items, like organic lip balms, spices and chocolate pills (funny marketing).
Ladies, do buy an organic lip balm from this shop. It smells like chocolate, looks red as a lipstick, and it’s a nice short-term souvenir from Bruges.
The Chocolate Line was our choice (they have their own cocoa plantations), but there are so many other places you can go chocolate tasting in Bruges. Each beautiful street in Bruges has tens of chocolate boutiques. It’s hard to escape them, especially if you’re on a diet.
Address: Simon Stevinplein 19, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
- Marzipan Rolls at Choco-Story, Bruges
If you love almonds as much as I do, then you should try the marzipan rolls at Choco-Story. My guess is these are good no matter where you choose to taste them.
The Marzipan Rolls in Bruges are bigger than usual and have so many varieties that it’s hard to try them all. I had a fruit-flavored one at Choco-Story and it did have a heavier texture than the Hungarian, Turkish or Italian versions I’ve tried before.
Address: Wijnzakstraat 2, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
- Waffles / Gaufres at Oyya, Bruges
Waffle Bar? Yes, please.
I love waffles more than chocolate! Needless to say, this food trip was the hardest so far.
Waffle Bars everywhere, filling the air with their cozy vanilla scent, making all the people around me craving for one.
It took a lot of self-discipline to taste the famous Belgian waffles only once, on our 3rd day in Belgium, at Oyya, in Bruges. Caramel and raspberries is my poison of choice, but when in Belgium, waffles go for as many as 5 toppings (fruits, chocolate chips, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup).
Address: Noordzandstraat 1, 8000 Brugge, Belgium
8. The most delicious Shrimps in the world at ‘Tparadijs, Gent
These huge shrimps bathed in hot sauce are mouth-watering!
‘T paradijs Van Wenemaer serves delicious food, right across from Gravensteen Castle, Gent. Meatballs are also very nice here, but the shrimps in hot sauce are the course you should try. It might be a tourist trap, but at least it was a lovely one, with good service and beautiful ambiance.
Even if tiny grey shrimps from the North Sea are part of the culinary heritage of Belgium, my personal favorites are still the big ones tasted at ‘Tparadijs in Ghent (sea food fan here, so pretty hard to impress).
Address: Sint – Veerleplein 3, 9000 Gent, Belgium
- Godiva Chocolate Strawberries in Brussels or Bruges
A strawberry dipped in white or dark chocolate is a mere bagatelle or a very expensive (8€) prop for a photo session. These chocolate strawberries look very good, so I couldn’t help myself and bought some from Godiva, in Brussels. You can also find them in Bruges. They’re not much, but they’re very photogenic. 🙂
There are lots of Godiva Chocolate Boutiques in Belgium (here’s a map); we went for the one in Grand Place Bruxelles.
10. Chocolate Truffles – Corné Port-Royal – Caramel Sel, Brussels
These chocolate truffles topped with salty caramel are my favorites. My sister brought a box from Brussels last year and I instantly fell in love with them. You can find them in almost any shop, but not a branded chocolate shop, and even in the airport duty-free, in Brussels. Try them, they’re fantastic!
Belgium Food – Budget
Belgian cuisine is outstanding, but you must surly wonder about the budget needed for tasting all these goodies… We spent around 45€/person/day, and found most prices fair for their quality.
A lunch for two people, 10% tip included, goes from 55 to 65 euros, similar to a lunch in Spain or Italy, other wonderful destination for foodies.
Other foods & drinks to try in Belgium
There are so many interesting dishes to try in Brussels, Gent and Bruges, so this city break was too short for tasting all that Belgian cuisine has to offer.
Since I already did my research, I’ll tell you some more dishes that will go on my list for the next trip; maybe you’ll get to try them:
Cuberdon candies – specific to Gent, Meatballs in rabbit sauce – Liège and Eel in green sauce at Belga Queen – Brussels.
Beer Tasting in Belgium
I’m more of a wine person, but I think this is a must, if you want to truly experience Belgium. We had a beer tasting last year in Berlin and it was a nice experience, especially since we went to a pub that crafted beers on sight.
Beer tasting in Belgium is the one thing we didn’t have time to do properly. Nevertheless, we got to sample some of their top varieties.
Traditional Beers tasted in Belgium
- A white beer variety called Ramée Blanche on the gorgeous terrace at MIM, Brussels;
- Augustijn blond beer, tasted at ‘Tparadijs, Gent;
- Brugse Zot – “the one and only townbeer of Brugge”, at Poules-Moules, Bruges.
Our Belgium Food Trip ends here and I hope you’ll visit these places and let me know if you enjoyed them.
Belgium Trip: Brussels, Ghent, Brugge | June 2017 | All Photography ©Ana Matei > Instagram: @MateiAna
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