Brussels restaurants

By Emma Thomson, your Brussels expert

I write for Bradt Travel Guides, Travel Africa, Africa .... Read more

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L'Idiot du Village

Price guide: Expensive
#3/30
expert-rated restaurants in Brussels
Best for Romance -
Expert overall rating:4.8 (out of 5)

Delectable French food served in a romantic setting.

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Cospaia

Price guide: Expensive
#5/30
expert-rated restaurants in Brussels
Best for Trendiness -
Expert overall rating:4.8 (out of 5)

Chic Arabian-themed restaurant serving elegant modern/fusion fare.

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Belga Queen

Price guide: Expensive
#6/30
expert-rated restaurants in Brussels
Expert overall rating:4.7 (out of 5)

Infamous Brussels brasserie which attracts the crème de la crème.

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Restaurant Vincent

Price guide: Expensive
#8/30
expert-rated restaurants in Brussels
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

Lively sea-themed restaurant famed for its mussels and flambéed steaks.

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Houtsiplou

Price guide: Budget
#11/30
expert-rated restaurants in Brussels
Best for Families -
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

Fun family bistro with cartoons painted on the walls.

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Taverne du Passage

Price guide: Expensive
#16/30
expert-rated restaurants in Brussels
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

1920s taverne that oozes yesteryear charm.

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Gastronomes will be in heaven in here. Belgian food is frequently quoted as the best in Europe and Brussels has no shortage of acclaimed restaurants, including Comme Chez Soi and Sea Grill.

Traditional Belgian recipes are hearty, rich concoctions of meat, potato and vegetables and good dose of seafood too, thanks to the North Sea coast. And, happily, there are plenty of restaurants in the capital which showcase classics such as waterzooi (eel/ chicken stew), stoemp (mashed potato with vegetables), and moules (mussels). In the last five years or so, however, there’s been a significant increase in restaurants offering lighter, healthier options — see Rouge Tomate and Soul.

A few additional tips

  • The majority of restaurants, except those in the tourist hotspots, close in the afternoon — usually between 2pm and 6pm.
  • In comparison to the rest of Europe, the Belgians eat relatively early — most dinner reservations are set for around 7pm or 8pm.
  • One of the best ways to trial upmarket restaurants is to visit at lunchtime when they’re unlikely to be fully booked and most offer money-saving ‘lunch menus’.
  • It’s customary to tip at least 10 per cent in restaurants if you’re happy with the service.
  • Restaurants in touristy areas will have menus in English, but several of the ‘local’ places I’ve listed only have them in French. Don’t worry, the waiters usually speak enough English to help you with your selection.
  • Vegetarianism is a fairly new (but growing) concept, which means you might have limited options in some establishments.
Set focus

I’m a fan of promoting local cuisine, so I’ve concentrated on listing characterful restaurants that prepare high-quality traditional Belgian fare. However, I realise their butter-rich recipes can become overwhelming on occasion, so I’ve also thrown in a few Italian, Japanese and French joints, as well as places to grab a lighter lunch or an ice cream.

I’ve only listed eateries that I’ve either visited with friends or for review purposes, or which have been recommended to me personally by locals. I’ve attempted to provide a good geographic spread as well — although it has to be said, the new exciting options always seem to be cropping up in the Ixelles district south of the city centre.