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We aimed to bring Belgium to you in our latest travel issue. However, if we convinced you to take yourself to this international cultural hub instead, we want to share our favorite spots for your tasting pleasure.
You might be surprised that we highlighted waffles, beer and moules frites during our tour, but that’s because this country has these foods down to an art. Whether your craving savory, sweet or even sour (we’re a sucker for gueze beers) we recommend that you track these addresses down:
Friterie Tabora, 2 Rue de Tabora
It’s almost impossible to visit Brussels without eating an excellent frite, but for a real friterie—look for a bare-bones stall like Friterie Tabora in Centre-Ville or Brussel’s city center
Dandoy, 31 Rue au Beurre
This is the place to try the city’s wonderfully reserved and typically well-spiced Netherlands-inspired sweets: pain à la grecque (sweet crisps of bread sprinkled with coarse sugar), pain d’épices (a cake similar to gingerbread), pain d’amandes (ultra-thin almond cookies) and, of course, speculoos—the spiced Belgian shortbread that’s so beloved even corner cafés deliver a packet of the rectangular brown crisps with your coffee.
Restaurant Lola, 33 Place du Grand Sablon
If you’re game to splurge, try the 10-year-old Restaurant Lola in the Sablon, an ancient district now known for fancy chocolate shops and a weekend antiques fair. In a bright, modern dining room, Lola serves finely executed versions of waterzooi (the Flemish egg-yolk-and-cream-based seafood stew), carrot-potato stoemp (Belgium’s extra-rich version of mashed potatoes roasted in a ring of pork sausage) and filet americain.
Neuhaus, 29 Galerie de la Reine
Not only is the filled chocolate and the decorated chocolate box invented right in this shop located in Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert — they’ve barely changed the decor since Neuhaus was still a working apothecary.
Noordzee, 45 Rue Sainte Catherine
Visitors and Brusselites alike gather around Noordzee no matter the season, grabbing a glass of wine or beer and a small plate of very fresh, very simple seafood. This modern fish shack serves what has to be Brussels’ best version of croquettes de crevettes—fat fritters filled with the North Sea’s tiny brown shrimp.
Le Funambule, 42 Rue de L’étuve
Le Funambule serves both Brussels-style and Liege waffles from a window where it has stood since 1867.
Restaurant Poules Moules, 9 Simon Stevinplein, Bruges
They’re delivered straight to the table in their thick black pot of steaming liquid—choose from Pernod, Bruges-brewed beer or au naturel—with a yellow tin pail of fries.
Tierenteyn-Verlent, 3 Groentenmarkt, Ghent
This 223-year-old Dijon mustard shop sells pleasantly sharp mustard by the container, filled to order from 200-year-old mustard barrels.