Brussels Food Strategies

Belgian Street Food: A Small Guide

You don't have to be a purist to enjoy a waffle - top it with other things if you so choose!
You don't have to be a purist to enjoy a waffle - top it with other things if you so choose!

Small treats will keep you on your feet!

Brussels has a city center that deserves to be walked in, so you have to replenish those calories if you truly want to see it all! Admittedly, I would not say that Belgium is known for its street food, but if you know where to look, you can apparently get some very good, cheap eats!

Seafood

If you’re starting out in the city center, you should start things off on the right foot at Noordzee.

Big blue awnings, you can't miss it!
Big blue awnings, you can’t miss it!

Don’t let the crowds deter you, this is easily one of the best spots in town for seafood street food! It is not a sit-down experience; this is a stand outside at a small table and eat your street food kind of spot. Perfect for the quick pick-me-up.

Order right from the counter!
Order right from the counter!

We had Shrimp Croquettes with some white wine (this is Europe after all). Talk about a texture adventure! It was crispy and crunchy on the outside, but this fried exterior was hiding something amazing inside. This is probably one of the thickest foods I’ve eaten. Imagine a dog licking and chewing on peanut butter. That’s probably what I looked like eating this seafood interior! It was creamy, savory, a little sweet, and it had small bits of shrimp flecked in for good measure. It stuck to my teeth, it stuck to my tongue. Thus, it was perfect with the white wine as it washes it all down!

It may not look like much, but looks are deceiving!
It may not look like much, but looks are deceiving!

Belgian Fries

If you’re looking for some more warm, fried street food goodness on a cold day, head on over to Frit Flagey. The Belgians prepare their fries in the most common-sense method possible – a quick fry once (basically a blanching in oil), then remove to cool for a little bit, then refry once more. What results is a crispy, crunchy fry on the outside, and an evenly-cooked, consistent interior.

Always a line at Frit Flagey, but it is worth the wait!
Always a line at Frit Flagey, but it is worth the wait!

Even still, the fries on their own are kind of boring – I can do this at home… But at Frit Flagey, you get about a dozen sauces to choose from! My wife tried the Bearnaise sauce, while I got my paper cone of fries with a nice heaping dollop of Andalouse sauce, which is a savory, slightly spicy sauce that kept me wanting more. I’m glad that they don’t skimp on the portions either; this was a lot of fries!

Frit Flagey Fries with Bearnaise Sauce
Frit Flagey Fries with Bearnaise Sauce
Frit Flagey Fries with Andalouse Sauce - so many fries in this cone, it is practically a meal all on its own!
Frit Flagey Fries with Andalouse Sauce – so many fries in this cone, it is practically a meal all on its own!

Waffles

Making your way outside of the city center over to Mannekin Pis, you will find a whole street, the Rue de l’Etuve, full of souvenirs, chocolates, and most importantly, waffles.

If you see this, you're in the right place for some good food!
If you see this, you’re in the right place for some good food!
To the left of Mannekin Pis, is the rest of Rue de l’Etuve.
To the left of Mannekin Pis, is the rest of Rue de l’Etuve.

Belgian Waffle shops are a great street food pick-me-up during those cold nights spent traversing those Belgian cobblestone streets, and we tried some at Le Funambule. Freshly cooked, you can pick your preference of familiar Brussels waffles, or the sweeter Liege waffle. What’s the difference? It’s all in the batter. The Brussels waffle is a little thinner and lighter, while the Liege waffle is a thicker batter with sugar thrown in for good measure. I had my Liege waffle with a nice, heaping helping of chocolate – we were in Brussels after all!

Waffles for 1 Euro? TAKE MY MONEY
Waffles for 1 Euro? TAKE MY MONEY
The rectangular waffles in the back are your standard Brussels waffles. The more organically shaped waffles are the Liege waffles!
The rectangular waffles in the back are your standard Brussels waffles. The more organically shaped waffles are the Liege waffles!
You don't have to be a purist to enjoy a waffle - top it with other things if you so choose!
You don’t have to be a purist to enjoy a waffle – top it with other things if you so choose!

Beer

At this point you’re probably fancying a nice beer to start developing that dinner appetite. You’ll want to find what’s known as an ‘estaminet’, pubs with a cozy, warm, traditional drinking atmosphere. Not far from the Grand Place, you’ll find the Au Bon Vieux Temps, a.k.a De Goede Oude Tijd, a.k.a The Good Old Days, tucked away in the back reaches of an alleyway, providing some great shelter from the bitter cold wind.

Go down this alleyway, the Impasse Saint-Nicolas
Go down this alleyway, the Impasse Saint-Nicolas
Au Bon Vieux Temps - It does not feature a well lit sign, but being at the end of the alleyway, you can't miss it!
Au Bon Vieux Temps – It does not feature a well lit sign, but being at the end of the alleyway, you can’t miss it!

This particular estaminet takes cash only, and it did not seem English-speaking friendly like some other establishments in the city. Knowing a bit of French or Flemish could take you a long way here. But, if you want more of a local’s experience, this is a great place to be. There’s no one particular beer to suggest here – you’re in Belgium for crying out loud! Interestingly enough, the radio was playing Reggaeton – that Hispanic music is popular everywhere nowadays…

Au Bon Vieux Temps features a very cozy atmosphere!
Au Bon Vieux Temps features a very cozy atmosphere!
There are tables for groups if you're traveling with friends
There are tables for groups if you’re traveling with friends
Apparently, each beer has its own special glass which complements the drink. You can get a round chalice, or..
Apparently, each beer has its own special glass which complements the drink. You can get a round chalice, or..
You can get a tumbler-like pint glass. It all depends on the beer you get!
You can get a tumbler-like pint glass. It all depends on the beer you get!

You don’t always need to have a sit down experience to have a good time. Sometimes, you are better off sampling street food as you go along – sitting down at a restaurant can be time consuming, taking you away from other activities that allow you to enjoy what a city has to offer. If you find yourself in between activities, try some of these places out!

Just don't run over this dog, it will cause a national stir
Just don’t run over this dog, it will cause a national stir

About the author

Jonny

Jonathan "Jonny" Avila is a chubby young professional with a cat, wife, and a taste for life! Believes in 'paying it forward' by sharing the tools, tips, tricks, and lessons from his own experiences so you too can jump on the Travel Bandwagon and enjoy what this wonderful world has to offer!

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