Brussels is one of those underrated cities in Europe. Often overshadowed by its more showy cousins like Paris or Rome, the capital of Belgium is actually a fascinating mix of old-world charm and present-day sophistication. We scope out some of the must-try restaurants in the city as well as the best flea markets to get your retail therapy fix.
1. COMME CHEZ SOI
Google “places to eat in Brussels” and this restaurant will invariably pop up. Founded in 1926, this Michelin-starred restaurant serves up time-honoured classics that have been favourites for four generations, as well as inventive new dishes from chef Lionel Rigolet. While they have a regular à la carte menu, on Saturday nights you can opt for a unique five- or six-course menu that allows you to discover the chef’s latest creations.
Place Rouppe 23, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
2. PLACE DU JEU DE BALLE
Walk off some of those extra calories by exploring one of the most famous flea markets in Brussels. This is heaven on earth for purveyors of antiques and vintage items.
Place du Jeu de Balle, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
3. LA BOTTEGA DELLA PIZZA
The pizzas at this tiny restaurant are considered to be among the best in the capital. Getting a seat on a whim is next to impossible, so be sure to book ahead. Some popular items on the menu include the Classica, which comes with arugula (rocket leaf), 18 months San Daniele ham, smoked mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella), Parmesan, and fresh basil. The Bresaola (air-dried, salted beef that has been aged two or three months) is topped with fior di latte (a semi-soft fresh cheese made in the style of Italian mozzarella), Parmesan, arugula, and truffle oil.
Avenue Ducpétiaux 39, 1060 Saint-Gilles, Belgium
4. AUX ARMES DE BRUXELLES
If you’re looking to sample traditional Belgian favourites, be sure to visit Aux Armes de Bruxelles, which was established in 1921. Here, you’ll get to try beloved national dishes such as the croquettes de crevettes (shrimp croquettes), moules-frites (mussels with fries), and carbonnades de boeuf à la gueuze (beef stew made with Brussels beer).
Rue des Bouchers 13, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
5. LE SABLON
Whether you’re on the hunt for luxury silverware, furniture or artwork, Le Sablon will probably have exactly what you’re looking for.
Place du Grand Sablon 20-21, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
6. CHEZ ANTOINE
Fries are a serious business in Belgium, and few places do them better than Chez Antoine. Here, the fries are cooked twice to crispy perfection, served in a paper cone and topped with a sauce – typically a thick homemade mayo. So sinful but so, so good.
1040, Place Jourdan 1, 1040 Etterbeek, Belgium