When thinking about Brussels, one of the first things that comes to mind is beer and yes, there are numerous great ones, however, Brussels is also the centre of delicious food as well. For those who know a bit more about the Brussels food scene or have visited this cosmopolitan city, world cuisine is maybe the second thought as the city is packed with restaurants, offering a variety of food from all over the world. While it is great to explore the taste of the world, in Brussels you will also find delicious traditional Belgian food, rich in flavor, and we chose for you some of the most popular dishes, a majority of which go really well with beer 😉
Ok, the first pick is maybe more for wine but nonethless one of the most popular Belgian foods to eat – mussels. You can have them either as an appetizer or as a main dish, usually served with fries. Moules marrienières are a version of mussels marinated in wine, parsley, butter and shallots and you will often get them served in big black pots. There are many other ways of preparing the mussels, for example with cream or mustard sauce but one of my favorite versions is definitely the one with cheese – we suggest you try them at Chez Leon, one of the most popular restaurants in Brussels.
Belgians are very proud of their fries which are consedered to be a national dish – you will notice that they don’t call them ‘French fries’, not even when speaking English. While we will not investigate the origin of fries further, we can guarantee you that the fries in Belgium will be the best ones you ever tasted. The reason for this lies in two important things – the potatoe must be of the soft kind and, after freshly cut, it needs to be fried two times, once on a lower and once on a higher temperature which is the secret of their crispiness. They are usually served in a cone with a number of sauce options, from the popular andalouse to mixtures including differeny spices. One of the most popular places to get your fries is definitely Maison Antoine – you wiill immediately recognise it as there is always a queue in front and it is very well worth waiting!
3. Flemish stew or Carbonnade à la flamande
Flemish stew is one of the most delicios stews I have ever tasted – the beef is slowly prepared in Belgian beer until it is so soft that literally melts in you mouth. There are different ingredients that are used for the sauce, from onion, seasoning and even mushrooms but the main ingredient, besides the beer, is definitily love, time and patience that go into preparation. Served with mashed potatoes or fries, you will feel the taste of home with the first bite. Some of the best Carbonnade à la flamande in Brussels you can have in a cozy restaurant Fin de siècle that will, besides with food, also delight you with the atmosphere.
4. Lapin á la Kriek or Rabbit in Cherry Beer
One of the best classic Belgian dishes is definitely lapin á la Kriek. The rabbit meat rich in flavor is perfectly complemented with the sauce from the Kriek, a beer flavored with cherries that also gives a bit of the sweetnes to the dish. The long cooking in the beer together with spices is the secret of this dish which you can find in most of the small restaurants in Brussels. The one we enjoyed was in Le Roy d’Espagne.
One of the favorite Belgian dishes in all regions are definitely meatballs. Usually a mix of beef and pork, they are served with different sauces – in Flanders they mostly come in tomato sauce or are sometimes fried in butter with Belgian cherry sauce. One other delicious version is the Liège-style meatballs that are in tasty rice sauce made with beef stock and spices, and a very special ingredient – sirop de Liège which is made from apples and pears. Some of the best meatballs you can try in Ballekes, a restaurant specialized in this dish.
We couldn’t help but to add a dessert at the end of this mouthwatering list – waffles are the Belgian favourite! There are two main kinds – the Brussels waffle or gaufre de Bruxelles which is rectangular and often topped with whipped cream, ice-cream, chocolate and all sorts of fruit like strawberries and bananas. The other kind, Liège waffle, has a denser texture and round edges. It is a bit sticky and sweeter than the Bruxelles one as it is baked with crystallized sugar. Whichever you prefer, they will definitely always get your blood sugar level up when you need it. The best ones you can get are from the small yellow vans all around the city, immediately recognisable not only by colour but also by the delicious smell of hot waffles that surrounds them.