This blog post really should be entitled “What to Eat” because we consumed more calories in Brussels in one day than what we planned on eating for our entire week in Paris! Frites, Mussels, Beer, Chocolate, Waffles, Meringues, and Ramen topped our Must-Eat list for our short day in Belgium. But why Ramen? Brussels is the epitome of an international city, nestled in the heart of a beautiful landscape rich with tradition. The major economy of Brussels after WWII, centered around European Union (EU) activities and it is currently home base for many humanitarian organizations. Brussels found the magic recipe for holding onto its unique cultural traditions while welcoming an international community: serve good food! The best way to show hospitality, bond with others, and form alliances is over a beautiful meal, and Brussels provides tourists and diplomats alike a wonderful opportunity to share stories over local and international cuisine. Our list below provides excellent examples of traditional Belgian fare along with a few international stand outs, but please make time for architectural and cultural visits to Place Royal Konigsplan (my favorite), Parc de Bruxelles, Jubelpark, Grand Place, Bourse Beurs, the Parliament Building, and the Matisse Museum!
Culinary Favorites From Brussels!
My eleven-year-old son said it best when he exclaimed, “Mom! Your waffles will never come close to these,” and I have to agree! No matter what overprices Williams Sonoma waffle maker you buy, you will never come close to a light, airy, crispy, hot waffle drizzled with melted Belgian chocolate served in a napkin on a chilly morning. Try Maison Donday for a truly incredible experience!
We agree with countless bloggers and travel writers that Frites Flagey is by far the best French Fry stand in the country, however the beauty of friend foods in any location must be in the sauce that accompanies them. We wanted a mayo-ketchup mix, but the curry sauce seems to set these fries apart!
This is the home to Godiva chocolate, so this blog could successfully end here, but if you would like to try other Belgian chocolate standouts I would suggest Leonidas, Elisabeth, and Galeries Royales Saint Neuhaus.
If you watch the Great British Baking Show obsessively like I do, you know that a beautiful Meringue is a work of art. Elisabeth is a confectionary shop that nods to traditional sugar crafting techniques while catering to modern flavor profiles. As a bonus, this is a forward-thinking woman owned business everyone can get behind!
Around the world, Ramen is having a resurgence from the dorm room slop we all ate in the 19990’s to NYC’s Momofuku Ramen by David Chan. Umimodo in Brussels rivals the best, trendy ramen you have ever had in any major city. It is fatty, spicy, unctuous, rich and salty. All you need for a for a good bowl of soup in an idyllic setting.
Picked straight from the North Sea, you must give Belgian Mussels a try even if you swore off shellfish long ago. For a fresh take on Brasserie mussels go to Friture Rene and splurge on extra bread to sop up the juices from your steaming bowl of goodness!
Trappist Beers, Abbey Beers, and Champagne Beers are all excellent examples of full bodied delicious beverages that every beer lover should try once in their life time. I fell in love with Duvall and Chimay which are widely available in the US, but when in Belgium try DeuS, ST Bernardus Prater, Witkap Dubbel, and Faro. Did you know that Belgium also has Scotch Ale? Try Scotch de Silly if you are looking for a beer that will instantly put you to sleep!