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What to eat in Brussels, Belgium 2024 (the best Brussels food and where to get it)

Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is a fascinating and vibrant city known for its rich culinary traditions. With more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else in the world, it is no surprise that Brussels is a city that loves food. Belgians are passionate about eating and have a discerning palate when it comes to their cuisine. Whether you are looking for the full Michelin star experience or simply indulging in the perfect crispy French fry, Brussels has it all.

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But with so many culinary delights to choose from, where should you start? From mouth-watering chocolate truffles to delicious waffles, there is something for everyone in Brussels. The locals have their favorites, and if you want to truly experience the city like a local, these are the must-tries. Whether you’re a foodie looking for new culinary experiences or a traveler seeking to immerse yourself in the local culture, let’s explore the best Brussels food and uncover the unique flavors this city has to offer. 

Brussels top tip: If you’re short on time and want to tick off as many Belgian dishes as you can, we’d strongly recommend this food tour! It will take you on a guided walk through the city to try the best local chocolate, beer, waffles and fries. Book Now.

What sort of food do Belgium people love to eat?

So, when it comes to food, Belgium may not be on everyone’s radar. Sure, we all know about the delicious snacks like Belgian chocolate, beer, and waffles, but the typical Belgian cuisine is often overlooked. 

Now, here’s the secret to finding the best places to eat in Brussels: look for the ones that may seem a bit shabby on the outside, but are jam-packed with locals. Those are the hidden gems where you’ll find the most authentic Belgian dishes. And speaking of hidden gems, be sure to steer clear of the tourist traps around Grand Place and Rue des Bouchers. They may be tempting, but trust us, you’ll find much better options elsewhere. 

The most typical Belgian dishes that we’ll dive into below include:

  • Mussels. Moules-frites is a classic Belgian dish consisting of mussels and fries, normally steamed in white wine with herbs.
  • Fries. Frites are a national pride, and usually double fried to get a soft inside and crispy exterior. They’re normally served with mayonaise. 
  • Meatballs. Belgian meatballs are either beef-pork mixtures cooked in tomato sauce, or made with beef stock and fruit syrup. Usually paired with Belgian fries. 
  • Belgian chocolate. Chocolate is an art in Belgium, and you’ll find boutique chocolate shops all over the city.
  • Flemish stew. Usually with beef, slow cooked in beer and paired with fries or mashed potatoes. 
  • Grey shrimp croquettes. North sea grey shrimps are a delicacy, traditionally harvested by horseback fisherman.
  • Waffles. You’ll find two main types, rectangular Brussels waffle with various toppings, and the sweeter Liège waffle with crystallised sugar.

There are a few more we’ve covered, so read on for the full list!

Mussels (moules-frites)

Let’s talk about mussels, or as they say in Belgium, moules-frites. These little bivalve creatures are pretty much the national dish and let us tell you, if you’re visiting Belgium, this is the one thing you must try. You’ll find them at nearly any cafe or brasserie in Brussels.

The traditional way of serving them is steamed with white wine, shallots, parsley, and butter, all presented in a black mussel pot. However, you might also come across some variations that include cream or beer in the mix.

Now, here’s a fun fact: when eating mussels in Belgium, forget about the fork. Instead, use an empty shell to prise them out. It’s all part of the experience. And speaking of experiences, sharing a pot of mussels with friends and enjoying them with a side of fries is the ultimate way to enjoy this tasty treat. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed. 

To try mussels, head to Chez Leon, a long time tourist favourite. The portions are a bit small by Belgian standards, and it has been a tourist hotspot serving cheap buckets since 1893. They do a Formula Leon meal, consisting of a mussels bucket, fries, and a beer for 17 euros. 

Read our blog on the best mussels in Brussels for all our recommendations!

Belgian Fries (frites)

Belgian fries are everywhere in Belgium and they are the ultimate favorite snack of the country. Now, there’s been a lot of debate over who actually invented them, but one thing’s for sure – the Belgians have definitely perfected them. Trust us, once you sink your teeth into these golden sticks of goodness, nowhere else in the world will compare. And here’s the secret to their amazingness – it’s all in the method. A soft potato is the key, fried not once but twice in good old animal fat. This magical process results in a frite with a fluffy interior that practically melts in your mouth, while the outside is perfectly crispy. It’s like having a taste explosion with every bite.

If you want the real deal, you’ve got to hit up a genuine friterie or frietkot. These gems are usually found in the form of a fry truck or a small building. Your fries will come in these adorable paper cones, just like in the movies. And the best part is, they have a mind-blowing selection of sauces to choose from. We’re talking about a sauce extravaganza, with most of them being mayo-based. Whatever your taste buds crave, there’s a sauce for you. Feeling a little adventurous? Try the samurai sauce if you like it spicy. Or if you’re a fan of that classic combo, go for the ever-popular andalouse – a mix of mayo and ketchup. 

Authentic fries can be found at Maison Antoine – it’s large octagonal kiosk has become a city icon. Their fries are cooked in beef fat, and served in the traditional ‘cornet de frites’ style in a paper cone. 

Read our blog on the best fries in Brussels for the full list of recommendations.

Belgian Meatballs (balletjes)

These little balls of deliciousness are a Belgian favourite. They’re usually made with a mix of beef and pork, giving them that perfect juicy texture. Now, there are a couple of different ways to enjoy them. In Flanders, you’ll find them swimming in a tasty tomato sauce that just hits the spot. But south of Brussels, they serve boulets Liégeois, which are covered in a rich sauce made from beef stock, spices, and even some fruit syrup for a sweet kick. And you know what the best part is? You can’t have a plate of these Belgian meatballs without a side of crispy fries. It’s like they were made for each other. 

Try them at Le Bistro, where they’re made from the freshest, locally sourced ingredients, so you know they’re gonna be top-notch. These meatballs are giant, and you get to choose your sauce. Whether you’re a blue cheese fanatic or a truffle lover, they’ve got you covered. They come served on a bed of stoemp, which is a heavenly mash of potatoes and veggies. 

Belgian Chocolate

So let’s talk about Belgian chocolate, shall we? It’s basically an art form there, with prices going as high as 120 euros per kilogram for the premium brands. Praline is their signature chocolate, a chocolate bonbon with a soft, heavenly filling inside a hard chocolate shell. It was developed in Brussels in 1912, so it’s definitely a must try while you’re there.

You can find all sorts of wild flavors in Belgian chocolate these days, like green pea, chili, and even wasabi. It’s a taste adventure waiting to happen. As you walk around Brussels, you’ll come across a lot of chocolate boutiques. But if you want the real deal, head straight to Neuhaus in Galeries Royales St. Hubert. They’ve been around since 1857 and are the original praline creators. Those guys know their chocolate. You can also just head to any supermarket – you’ll find a lot of the top brands are stocked at prices cheaper than the boutiques.

Why Belgian chocolate?

Belgium was one of the first European countries to get cocoa beans through their colony, the Congo. They mastered the chocolate making process over hundreds of years. 

A lot of chocolates markated as Belgian chocolate aren’t actually that, as only those with a minimum of 35% cocoa can be classified as such. Don’t buy cheap chocolate you can find in all the tourist areas as they will be bulked out with sugar, and won’t reflect the true quality of Belgian chocolates. 

Want to experience more Belgian chocolate? Head on a chocolate tour!

Flemish Stew (Carbonnade à la flamande)

Flemish Stew, aka Carbonnade à la flamande is the ultimate comfort food, especially on those chilly, damp days. Picture this – tender beef chunks that have been simmering away in beer until they practically melt in your mouth. And the sauce, oh the sauce! It’s like a thick, flavorful concoction that will have you licking your plate clean. The secret to its deliciousness lies in bread that’s been smothered in mustard, onion, and seasonings, which helps thicken things up. But here’s the kicker – the beer. It gives this stew a unique, tangy twist that cuts through the richness and adds a whole other level of deliciousness. Try it with fries or mashed potatoes on the side. It’s a combo made in food heaven.

Try it at L’Estaminet du Kelderke, a steamy vault under the Grand Place square. It’s usually packed with both locals and tourists and is a true fixture of Brussels. They serve the whole range of Belgian specialties, including a delicious Flemish Carbonnade.

Grey Shrimp Croquettes (garnaalkroket)

North Sea grey shrimps are everywhere in Belgium! If you go to a seafood restaurant, chances are they’ll bring you a bowl of these shrimps to munch on while you wait for your meal. They have a sweet and delicate flavor that will make your taste buds dance with joy. These shrimps are not only delicious but they are also a part of Belgium’s cultural heritage. Traditionally, these shrimps were harvested along the coast from France to the Netherlands by horseback fishermen. This tradition is still alive and kicking in a place called Oostduinkerke, on the Belgian coast.

Grey shrimp croquette (or garnaalkroket) are THE popular way to eat these little grey shrimps, and are a real treat. You might stumble upon some bland or frozen versions being served, but don’t let that discourage you. Once you sink your teeth into a homemade one, you’ll be in seafood heaven. Picture this: a super thin and crispy crust on the outside, and inside, a creamy mixture of succulent shrimp just waiting to burst with flavor. I mean, come on, how can you resist that? These little bites of heaven are usually served as a starter or a snack, but honestly, we could eat them all day long. 

Try them at Noordzee for a true local experience. This is a fish counter that’s a local favourite in the Summer. Place your order and your name will be called by staff when it’s ready, eat standing up or at the tables on the square opposite.

Waterzooi

Waterzooi is a warm, comforting stew packed with all sorts of deliciousness; carrots, onions, celeriac, leeks, potatoes, and an array of aromatic herbs. The hearty mix swims in a creamy broth made from egg yolk and cream. Originally, waterzooi was all about the fish, but nowadays it’s more common to find it made with chicken.

Waterzooi is the kind of dish that wraps you in a cozy blanket of flavors and warm satisfaction. It’s like a bowl of comfort, a culinary hug if you will. So, whether you’re a fan of fish or chicken, you’ve got to give waterzooi a try. We promise you won’t be able to resist going back for seconds. 

To try waterzooi, head to Le Cirio – a grand 1886 cafe complete with polished brasswork and aproned waiters. Amongst the grandeur, prices are still affordable and staff are friendly. It’s in the tourist area but is still a favourite with the locals. Try their ‘half and half’, a mixed drink with white wine and champagne.

Mashed potato (stoemp)

One of Brussels’ most popular side dishes, stoemp is mashed potatoes combined with cream and root vegetables. It was invented to use up old vegetables, so you’ll find a lot of different variations. Common ingredients are carrots, onions, cabbages and leeks and often chefs will add bacon and herbs for flavour.

Be My Stoemp adds a twist to hot togs, serving them with stoemp and salad on the side. It’s located inside a meat market called Halles St.Gery, a beautiful building that’s free to visit – we highly recommend it!

Belgian Waffles

Waffles are probable one of the first food that comes to mind when you think of Belgium, but there is some confusion around the name. There are actually two types of waffles in Belgium that you’ll commonly find. 

The Brussels waffle is rectangular and flaky, bought with a choice of toppings like whipped cream, chocolate and fruit. The Liège waffle is denser and round, with crystallised sugar baked into the top. It’s a lot sweeter and stickier, and what you’ll probably find most commonly in Brussels. Belgians don’t eat waffles for breakfast, they are more of a treat that can be picked up on the go. 

Avoid the overpriced waffles anywhere around Grand Place – they’ll be covered in way too many toppings and won’t be fresh. A lot of the best waffles will come from trucks (usually yellow) parked around the city, and they’ll be so good they won’t need toppings.

If you want a fancier experience, go to Maison Dandoy. This is Brussels’ best-known biscuiterie, and the location on Rue au Beurre has an attached tearoom.  They’ve been baking since 1829 and do both types of waffles, with a choice of toppings. If you want to eat like a local, go for a waffle with just powdered sugar on top.

Read our full list of the best waffles in Brussels in our separate article.

Want to try making your own waffles? Book a space at the Brussels waffle workshop.

Belgian Beer

In the 12th century clean water was not common, so a low alcohol beer ensured a sanitary alternative. Monks used to brew beer as a way to fundraise, and now, only 10 monasteries brew Trappist beer in the world, 6 of these are in Belgium. 

Tripel and Dubbel are two classic examples of trappist beer, and you’ll find a lot of varieties, from blond to dark. 

Belgian beer contains much higher alcohol content than American beer for example, made better by the local beer culture around the country. Every bar you go to in Brussels will have a different selection.

Delirium Cafe is probably the most famous bar in Brussels, with over 2,000 beers on offer. It’s a real tourist hotspot though, so if that doesn’t appeal to you, try Brussels beer project – one of the most innovative players in the city. They have a microbrewery and bar with a constant flow of new brews.

Speculoos

Speculoos has got some serious history behind it. It all started as a tradition of celebrating Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, on December 6th. But hey, guess what? It’s become so popular now that you can find it in stores all year round! And you know what’s even cooler? Sometimes, when you order a coffee in a cozy little cafe, they’ll throw in a speculoos biscuit on the side. It’s like a little bonus treat, we love it! Now, let’s talk about the taste. It’s got this spicy flavor that just wakes up your taste buds, and the crunchy texture? It’s pure bliss. 

If you’re looking for the best place to get your hands on some speculoos biscuits, Maison Dandoy is the place to go. Trust me, not only do they taste amazing, but the packaging is absolutely beautiful. They make for a perfect gift to bring back home. 

Steak tartare (Filet américain)

Not for everyone, Belgian steak tartare is raw beef mixed with onions, mayo, Tabasco, egg yolk, capers and salt. A lot of restaurants will prepare it directly at your table so you can see all the ingredients involved. As with most dishes in Belgium, you’ll get it served with fries. 

It’s commonly served with slices of Belgian bread, or in a sandwich.

Try Les Brigittines for one of the best steak tartares in the city. They offer grown-up eating, serving traditional French and Belgian food. Dishes are meaty and classic, and the staff have great local beer and wine recommendations to pair with your food. 

Jenever

Let me introduce you to jenever. It’s like gin’s rebellious cousin, with a whole range of flavors to choose from. This drink has been around since the 14th century when those clever Arabs brought distillation to Europe. Now, it’s mostly associated with Christmas, so you’ll find it at all the Belgian Christmas markets.

It comes in three different varieties: young, old, and corn wine. But if you’re not a fan of the strong stuff, don’t worry. There’s a milder option called ‘Vrouwen-Jenever’, where they add a little drop of syrup to sweeten things up. 

The best food tours in Brussels

1. Brussels: City Highlights Walking Tour and Food Tasting

Go on a guided walking tour through Brussels and try the best chocolates, beer, waffles and fries. 

£59.38 per person / Book Now

2. Belgian Chocolate Making Workshop with Tastings

Learn how to make chocolate treats in a workshop with a chocolatier artisan. 

£39.01 per person / Book Now

3. Belgian Beer Tasting Experience

Taste some of Belgium’s beers as you visit top bars in a guided tour of Brussels. 

£32.94 per person / Book Now

4. Waffle Making Workshop

Learn to prepare bake, and enjoy your own delicious Belgian waffles.

£27.74 per person / Book Now

What to eat in Brussels FAQs

What food is famous in Brussels?

Brussels is famous for its delicious food, and one of the most well-known dishes is mussels and fries. This combination is considered a classic in Belgian cuisine and can be found in many traditional restaurants throughout the city. The mussels are usually cooked in a flavorful broth with onions, garlic, and white wine, and are served with a side of crispy golden fries. Another popular dish in Brussels is waffles. These sweet treats are available in countless variations, from the traditional Liege waffle with its light and fluffy texture to the Brussels waffle, which is rectangular and lighter in flavor. Waffles in Brussels are often served with powdered sugar, chocolate, or whipped cream for added indulgence. Finally, chocolate is a must-try when visiting Brussels. The city is known for its high-quality artisanal chocolatiers, offering a wide range of truffles, pralines, and chocolate bars. Whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Brussels has a variety of iconic foods that are sure to please any food lover. 

What food is Brussels Belgium known for? 

Brussels, Belgium is known for its delicious culinary offerings, with several dishes that have gained international fame. One of the most renowned dishes is the Belgian waffle, a warm and crispy treat that can be enjoyed plain or topped with whipped cream, fresh fruit, or melted chocolate. Another popular food in Brussels is mussels, which are often cooked with white wine, garlic, and herbs, resulting in a flavorful and comforting dish. Brussels is also famous for its hearty and indulgent street food, such as frites (fries) served with a variety of dipping sauces like mayonnaise or ketchup. Besides, the city is known for its irresistible chocolate. Belgian chocolatiers are celebrated worldwide for their craftsmanship and quality, producing a wide range of mouthwatering chocolates. Whether it’s the waffles, mussels, fries, or chocolate, Brussels offers a vibrant food scene that will leave visitors craving for more. 

What are 3 popular foods in Belgium?

Belgium is known for its diverse and delicious cuisine, and there are several popular foods that locals and tourists alike enjoy. One of the most well-known dishes is moules-frites, which consists of mussels cooked in a broth of white wine, garlic, and herbs, served with crispy golden fries. Another popular food in Belgium is waffles. These sweet treats are made with a yeast batter, which gives them a light and fluffy texture, and are typically served with powdered sugar, whipped cream, and various fruit toppings. Lastly, Belgian chocolate is a beloved delicacy that is enjoyed worldwide. Renowned for its high quality and rich flavors, Belgian chocolate comes in a variety of forms and flavors, from pralines and truffles to bars and spreads. It is often used in desserts or enjoyed on its own as a sweet indulgence. These three popular foods showcase the diverse and delectable culinary offerings of Belgium.

Where to eat in Brussels by locals?

When it comes to finding the best places to eat in Brussels, locals have a few hidden gems up their sleeves. One such spot is “Chez Leon”, a traditional Belgian restaurant known for its delicious mussels and fries. Another favorite among locals is “Ricetta Originale”, an Italian restaurant that serves authentic and mouthwatering pasta dishes. For those looking for a quick bite, “Friterie Tabora” is the go-to place for some of the best Belgian fries in town. “Tonton Garby” is also highly recommended by locals for their hearty and flavorful sandwiches. If you’re in the mood for some street food, head to “Place Jourdan” where you can find various food trucks offering everything from savory crepes to gourmet burgers. Lastly, end your culinary journey at “WY” for a fine dining experience with a stunning view of Brussels. These local recommendations promise to satisfy your taste buds and give you a true flavor of Brussels.

What is the national food of Brussels?

The national food of Brussels is considered to be moules-frites, which translates to mussels and fries. Mussels are a popular seafood dish in Belgium, and Brussels, being the capital city, has made this dish its own. The mussels are typically cooked in a white wine and shallot sauce, and are often served with a side of crispy, golden fries. The dish is so beloved in Brussels that there is even a museum dedicated to it, called the Maison des Moules, where visitors can learn about the history and culture surrounding this national food. It is not uncommon to find moules-frites on the menu of most traditional Belgian restaurants, and it is often enjoyed with a cold glass of Belgian beer. The combination of tender, flavorful mussels and crispy, salty fries makes moules-frites a delicious and quintessential Belgian dish.

What is the best food to eat in Brussels?

When it comes to the best food to eat in Brussels, there is one dish that stands out above the rest: moules-frites, or mussels and fries. This traditional Belgian dish is a must-try when visiting the city. The mussels are fresh and cooked in a flavorful broth, often infused with white wine, garlic, and herbs. They are then served with a generous portion of crispy and golden fries. The combination of the tender mussels and the crispy fries is simply divine. Another popular food in Brussels is waffles. These are not your average waffles, though. Brussels waffles are light and crispy on the outside, with a soft and airy interior. They are often topped with powdered sugar, strawberries, whipped cream, or Nutella. Whether you prefer savory or sweet, Brussels has something to satisfy every palate. From the flavorful mussels and fries to the irresistible waffles, the food in Brussels is sure to leave you wanting more.

Is Brussels expensive to eat out?

Brussels can be quite expensive when it comes to eating out. The city offers a wide variety of dining options, from Michelin-starred restaurants to quaint cafés and street food vendors. However, these options can often come with a hefty price tag. Fine dining establishments in Brussels tend to be on the more expensive side, with prices averaging around €50 or more per person for a three-course meal. Even mid-range restaurants can be fairly pricey, with an average meal costing around €20 to €30 per person. It’s worth noting that prices can vary depending on the neighborhood and type of cuisine you choose. Additionally, drinks, especially alcoholic beverages, can significantly increase your bill. However, there are also more budget-friendly options available, such as food trucks and local markets where you can find delicious and affordable meals. Overall, while it is possible to find affordable dining options in Brussels, it is important to plan your meals and budget accordingly.

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