Brussels, the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital and administrative center of the European Union, is a renowned culinary destination that attracts food enthusiasts from around the world. The city boasts a rich and diverse culinary scene that reflects its multicultural heritage and innovative gastronomic spirit.
Contrary to what some people believe, Brussels’ culinary offerings are not just limited to mussels, waffles, frites, and chocolates. Thanks to its culturally diverse population, you can find a wide range of dishes here – ranging from Belgian classics like stoemp, waterzooi, and shrimp croquettes to Moroccan tagines, Syrian tannours, Vietnamese pho, and many more.
Brussels also offers a diverse selection of dining options – from street food carts to Michelin Star Restaurants – to suit a wide variety of tastes, budgets, and preferences. Simply put, if you are a foodie, you will savor every minute of your stay in Brussels.
In this guide, we will take a look at the culinary scene in Brussels, the iconic dishes you must try, and the best places to eat in the city.
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Seeking the Best Dining Experience in Brussels
Seeking out the best dining experience in Brussels – or any other city – is not just about indulging your taste buds. It is one of the best ways to learn about the city’s culinary culture and heritage and enhance your overall travel experience. There are many reasons why your dining choices matter when exploring Brussels.
- Food is an important and fundamental aspect of any culture. By trying traditional Belgian dishes, you can immerse yourself in Belgian culture, understand its culinary history and traditions, and enjoy the flavors that are unique to its cuisine.
- Being the culinary capital of Belgium, Brussels has its own culinary specialties that are intertwined with its cultural and social fabric. By seeking out the best dining experiences, you can make sure that you do not miss out on iconic dishes that are synonymous with Belgian culinary culture.
- If you are looking to celebrate a special occasion, seeking out the best dining experiences can ensure that you have an elegant setting to mark the event, which can create special memories that you can cherish for a lifetime.
- Many of the top restaurants in Brussels are located in historic buildings or have unique architecture, which can enhance your dining experience. The ambiance of these establishments can be as memorable as the food itself.
Fine Dining in Brussels
Brussels is known for its thriving fine dining scene. It is home to several Michelin star restaurants that are recognized for their exceptional cuisine, creativity, and culinary artistry. These restaurants offer elaborate tasting menus and feature a wide range of courses designed to showcase the chef’s skills and creativity. The menus often include carefully curated wine pairings to enhance your dining experience.
The best fine dining restaurants in Brussels with a great tasting menu are:
Located near the famous Center for Fine Arts, Bozar offers a unique culinary experience that complements the artistic and cultural atmosphere of the venue. It has been awarded two Michelin stars for its inventive and meticulously curated menu and is considered one of the best restaurants in Brussels. Karen Torosyan, who is the chef of Bozar, is celebrated for his mastery of en croute dishes (pastry crusts filled with meat or vegetables) and is known for his innovation and culinary expertise.
Comme Chez Soi
Comme Chez Soi is the oldest Michelin-starred restaurant in Brussels and is a culinary institution of international acclaim. Frequented by celebrities and prominent politicians who are hopefully doing good in this world, the restaurant is known for its welcoming atmosphere, elegant setting, and impeccable service. Led by Chef Lionel Rigolet, the restaurant offers classic French-Belgian cuisine with a modern twist.
La Villa Lorraine
La Villa Lorraine is a historic fine dining restaurant that offers a luxurious dining experience. The restaurant is known for its artistic décor and cozy ambiance. One of the best aspects of the restaurant is its outdoor seating area, which provides a spectacular view of the lush green gardens surrounding the establishment. It is led by Yves Mattagne, who creates stunning culinary innovations with fresh, locally sourced produce.
Located in the working-class neighborhood of Cureghem, La Paix has been the culinary pride of Brussels since 1892. Led by award-winning chef David Martin, the restaurant is known for its multicultural menu which combines Belgian cuisine with French and Japanese culinary influences.
La Villa in the Sky
La Villa in the Sky is a Michelin star restaurant located in the heart of Brussels. In case you are wondering why it is called ‘La Villa in the Sky’, it is because of its location. The restaurant is located on the 26th floor of the IT Tower on Avenue Louise and offers a breathtaking view of Brussels. It is led by Alexandre Dionisio, who is known for blending Asian influences with traditional Belgian recipes, resulting in a unique and bold combination of flavors. It is hands down one of the best places to eat in Brussels.
Street Food in Brussels
Brussels has a vibrant street food scene that reflects the city’s diverse culinary landscape and its reputation as the culinary capital of Belgium. You can find the best street food that the city has to offer in places like Rue du Bailli, Place de la Chapelle, Place Flagey, and Place du Luxembourg.
The best street foods that you must try in Brussels include moules a la crème, mitraillette, caricoles, shrimp bisque, smoutebollen, and frikandel.
The Best Casual Dining Spots in Brussels
Brussels is home to a number of casual dining spots – ranging from cozy cafes to trendy bistros – where you can enjoy delicious, sumptuous meals without the formalities associated with fine dining.
Not many people – especially first-time visitors – know about the dining spots where you can enjoy authentic Belgian dishes and beers. They tend to rely on Google to show them the best dining spots, which is why search terms like ‘Brussels where to eat’ and ‘places to eat Brussels’ return hundreds of thousands of results.
I have saved you the trouble of searching on Google and going through review after review to find out the best casual dining restaurants in Brussels. Given below is a list of restaurants where you can enjoy the best of casual dining experience without breaking the bank.
A popular brunch spot, Peck 47 offers a menu filled with creative and hearty breakfast and brunch options – from homemade sandwiches, salads, soups, and eggs to freshly baked cake, smoothies, yoghurts, and many more.
If you are a meat lover, Midtown Grill is the best restaurant in Brussels where you can eat to your heart’s content without spending too much. Designed like a traditional American steakhouse, Midtown Grill serves high-quality steaks and burgers.
Ballekes specializes in Belgian meatballs, which are cooked to perfection and served with a number of homemade sauces – including sauces based on Belgian beers.
Aux Armes de Bruxelles
Aux Armes de Bruxelles is known for its old-school brasserie décor and serves a wide range of traditional Belgian favorites including tomatoes and shrimps, mussels, stoemp, and frites as well as an unbelievably tasty Flemish stew. It is considered one of the finest restaurants in Grand Place, Brussels.
Restaurante Bruxelles – also known as Nerja de Nerja – is a great place to enjoy a sumptuous lunch or dinner with pleasant music. It serves a number of exquisite dishes including Belgian mussels, spaghetti carbonara, peppered steak, provincial chicken breast, and a wide range of paellas and pastas.
The Most Iconic Dishes You Must Try in Brussels
Frites – commonly referred to as Belgian fries – are an integral part of the country’s culinary culture. In fact, many Belgians claim that the tradition of making fries originated in Belgium – not in France, as it is widely believed to be.
Belgian fries are thick cut and are crispier on the outside and softer on the outside compared to French fries. They are double-cooked in beef tallow, which gives them a unique savory taste. You can enjoy Belgian fries with Andalouse sauce, aioli, mayonnaise, ketchup, tartare, and various other dips.
A staple of Belgian cuisine, moules frites consist of fresh mussels cooked with white wine, garlic, shallots, and herbs and served with a generous portion of crispy Belgian fries.
Stoemp is made with mashed or pureed potatoes, vegetables like carrots, leaks, and cabbage, and spices. Often served with sausages, bacon, or stew, stoemp is a comforting and filling meal.
It’s a traditional Belgian beef stew made with beer, onions, mustard, vinegar, and sugar. The sweetness of the onions is complemented by the bitterness of the beer, which gives the stew a unique savory richness and taste.
It’s a creamy seafood stew traditionally made with fish (especially cod, pike, carp, halibut, or turbot), vegetables, eggs, and cream. In many modern variations of the dish, the fish is substituted with mussels, shrimp, or claims. Chicken is the most commonly used alternative to seafood in the recipe.
Shrimp croquettes are a beloved dish in Belgium. They are typically served as appetizers in restaurants and bistros. They are made with shrimp, roux (flour and butter mixture), breadcrumbs, eggs, and béchamel sauce.
No list of must-try dishes in Brussels would be complete without mentioning waffles. This mouthwateringly delicious dish has been a mainstay of Belgian cuisine for centuries and can be found everywhere – from roadside food carts to Michelin Star Restaurants.
You can find two types of waffles here – Brussels waffles and Liege waffles. Brussels waffles are light, crispy, and rectangular in shape with well-defined edges. Liege waffles, on the other hand, are thicker, denser, and chewier in texture and are oval in shape with irregular edges. They are typically served with whipped cream, fruits, or chocolate sauce.
Chocolates and Pralines
Belgium is known for its high-quality, exceptionally tasty chocolates, pralines, and truffles, which have gained international acclaim. You can find a huge variety of chocolates – from well-known commercial brands to artisanal varieties made by expert chocolatiers.
These are spiced shortbread biscuits which are extremely popular in Belgium. These are typically flavored with cinnamon and can be enjoyed on their own or used in desserts and ice creams.
It’s a classic Belgian dessert which consists of a scoop of vanilla ice cream with warm Belgian chocolate and whipped cream on top.
Brussels – A Place Where You Can Explore the Best of Belgian Cuisine
Brussels is a culinary hotspot with a diverse gastronomic culture and is home to some of the highest-rated restaurants in Europe. From seafood delicacies to gourmet cuisine, indulgent desserts, and the world’s finest chocolates, the city has a lot to offer for food enthusiasts.