One of my best friends, Paul, is a Belgian and avidly claims to know the best spots in Brussels for just about anything. Every time I visit the Belgian capital we spend our first evening doing the same five things in this order and I’ve never failed to enjoy every one of them. Have a look and see what you think!
1. Grab Some Traditional Belgian Fries
When Paul picks Andy and I up from the coach station we don’t bother dropping our bags off, nor do we stop at his house to shower up. Instead, we always go straight to Frit Flagey. I won’t try to pretend it’s the best kept secret in town, but Frit Flagey has a reputation for some of the best Belgian fries in Brussels for a reason.
It costs only €2.30 for a large cone of double fried fries smothered in a sauce of your choice. Traditional Belgian mayonnaise or the Brazil sauce are my personal favourites. The latter has a base of mayonnaise; however, flavours of pineapple and curry give it a distinctive tang which I can never pass up. Delicious fries with a crispy snap on the outside and fluffy center, as well as perfect complementary sauces, are a divine combination.
Having grabbed a cone each, Paul always insists on hopping across to Le Flagey Bar on the corner of the square, grabbing three pints, and catching each other up on the months since we last met up. It’s the perfect social setting for a quick chat and some great comfort food.
2. Beers at Delirium Café
For three young rugby players, one pint generally isn’t enough. We always drop the bags and car off at Paul’s house and head on back into town. When thirsty, the Delirium Café is exactly the place to grab yourself a Belgian Beer. It has over 2000 to chose from, a world record for the number of beers you can order. Unfortunately, for you guys, I’m a non-drinker and can’t really speak to the quality of the available beers, nor recommend any particular. Delirium Café itself, however, I can’t recommend highly enough.
Delirium Café’s iconic pink elephant logo is tastefully plastered all over the establishment. Moreover, the walls and ceiling are covered with memorabilia, like trays and glasses, from a range of beers you’ve never heard of. Wood floors, wood stools, a wooden bar, and giant wooden barrels, functioning as tables, give the whole place a traditional and vaguely homely feel. It’s kind of similar to the vibe of an old rural English pub.
In addition, the Café is seemingly permanently bustling, with Belgians and internationals drinking together in merriment around every corner, chatting fervently in almost every language. This gives the place a joyful and infectious ambiance which most bars simply cannot reproduce.
Thus, Delirium Café’ is one of my favourite bars to visit and I’d say is a must for anyone visiting Brussels, regardless of whether you have a taste for beer or not.
3. Visit the Grand Place
Given the short distance from Delirium Café to the Grand Place, the three of us always take a stroll over to look around.
It’s a magnificent location to look at wonderfully extravagant, if not slightly overly-decadent, architecture. Having taken a module at university on the influence of ancient architecture on works of the renaissance, I have gained a finer appreciation for the buildings around the Grand Place. The town hall with its gothic tower and intricate details stands out as the most beautiful building on the square in my humble opinion.
If the buildings don’t take your fancy though, pop around the corner and check out the Manneken Pis Statue for something a little more playful. The little guy, cast in bronze, is only a copy of the original from the Brussels City Museum, but perched at the intersection of two cobbled streets in the center of Brussels, he has become symbolic of the city and is thus worth a glance.
4. Dine on Mussels in Brussels
Walking around the Grand Place always works up an appetite and provided you aren’t too drunk after beers at Delirium, a pot of Belgian mussels coated in a white wine sauce and a side of Belgian fries might be a good shout.
We usually go to Restaurant Vincent. Admittedly, there are probably a few other restaurants which produce a better tasting dish than the Chefs at Restaurant Vincent; however, the mussels here are frankly delicious anyway. Whilst I’m primarily advocating just grabbing some mussels at any of the well-regarded restaurants in the area, there is something a little special about Restaurant Vincent.
The hanging lights illuminate several great tiled murals on the walls. I suppose they are mosaics; however, the tiles are all of the same shape and don’t contribute to the form of the image. Thus, as an individual not well-versed on this form of art, I will defer to somebody else to enlighten me as to what they actually are. Regardless, the murals depict scenes of the ocean with oarsmen trying to tame a tempest and seabirds and coastal flowers growing amongst stones on an unknown beach. Irrespective of the details, they set a picturesque and highly apt scene for a diner wanting to enjoy some mussels.
Wherever you stop by though, don’t miss out on grabbing some mussels in Brussels!
5. Grab Some waffles
So, you’ve had Belgian fries, Belgian beer, Belgian mussels, and now it’s time for Belgian waffles. Maybe if you make the right choice you can even satiate the desire for some Belgian chocolate by choosing an option that covers your waffles in it.
Lots of Belgian waffle stands are open until late; however, Le Funambule, if you get there before 10pm, is the best I’ve been to near the Grand Platz. Waffles of every variety with cream, ice cream, fruit, and pretty much anything else you want, is a worthy end to the eating for the evening.
That wouldn’t be our final stop because we usually head back to Café Delirium for a few more beers, but if that is it for you then that’s how I’d spend an evening in Brussels. Let me know in the comments what you like to do so I can try something new next time I go!