Brussels is for Foodies: Surveying the Belgian Capital’s Culinary Landscape

Elena Sprick is an ISA Site Specialist for Europe & Latin America. Elena works with students studying abroad in Belgium, Colombia, Czech Republic, and Northern Ireland.

Flavored waffle. Photo by ISA student Kylie Gerst.

With bistros, cafés, pubs and quaint restaurants on nearly every corner, you’ll quickly fall in love with this charming city in “the Heart of Europe.” You likely know that Brussels plays host to many key organizations across Europe such as European Parliament, United Nations, UNESCO and NATO among others.  But did you know that Brussels is also a foodie hot spot? As Ben McFarland states in an article for Jamie Oliver Magazine, “There are 35,000 cafes and bars in Belgium… and the best way to get to know the capital is by eating and elbow-bending in its taverns, brasseries, restaurants and alehouses, or estaminets.”

Cafe in Brussels, Belgium.
Cafe in Brussels. Photo by ISA student Margo Sivin

The Cafés: Big, small, eclectic or elegant, there is a café for you in Brussels. There may be nothing better than sitting in the Grand Place on a sunny morning, sipping an espresso at an outdoor café and people watching as the day passes you by.  And even better, many cafés stay open late and have live artists or DJs perform in the evenings.

The Tea Shops: If tea is more your thing, don’t worry, you won’t be at a loss in Brussels.  Tea shops around the city line their shelves with hundreds of tins full of loose leaf tea in nearly any flavor you can imagine.  Pick your favorite to sit and have a cup, or bring some back to brew at home.

study abroad belgium isa

The Restaurants: Spend enough time in Brussels and you are bound to find your favorite restaurant and favorite waiter in your favorite neighborhood.  Nearly every restaurant in the city looks like it was taken from a movie scene i.e., a couple small tables casually situated outside, a bright colored awning shades the windows and the décor inside takes you straight back to 1920.   You may find choosing a dinner spot a difficult task, as each restaurant you pass looks even more intriguing than the last.

The Sweets Shops: Among the many wonderful things Belgium is known for, you will find chocolate and waffles at the top of the list.  Home to two of the biggest chocolate companies in the world (Godiva and Leonidas) as well as over 500 other chocolate-makers, you can find a nearby spot anywhere in Brussels to grab a sweet treat.  And waffles aren’t just for breakfast here: pile yours high with powdered sugar, whipped cream, fruit or chocolate syrup.  One word: yum!