Hip coffee bars in Belgium
1) Maison Jacobs
Nothing has changed in this Dinant tea room since the interior was modernised in 1948. It has kept its dark wood panelled walls, mirrors and folding tables. The coffee is still served in silver pots and the Couques de Dinant are made according to a recipe dating from 1860.
2) t' Oud Sashuis
It might be open. It might not. This is definitely one of the strangest cafes in Belgium. It occupies an old lock-keepers’ house in a beautiful location on the River Leie. The dark interior is filled with a bizarre collection of maritime objects, including horns, maps and lamps. It could almost be a museum, apart from the dried sausages hanging from the rafters and the Edith Piaf record playing in the background. It’s a friendly place popular with cyclists out on a Sunday morning ride and locals walking along the river bank. But it’s quite primitive. The men’s toilet out in the back yard is nothing more than a simple length of old drainpipe fixed to the wall.
3) Kaffee Ine
This bohemian coffee bar in downtown Mechelen is a favourite dive for young local creatives. The cluttered interior has a shabby chic look with assorted leather armchairs, a wall plastered with photos of cycling heroes and a romantic den on the mezzanine level. Look out for concerts by indie bands.
4) Café Entrepot
This stunning cafe opened in 2012 in a renovated industrial building on Leuven’s Vaartkom waterfront. It has a rough industrial interior with recycled wooden tables, iron pipes and a suspended silver sculpture by Pieter Jansen. The terrace on the waterfront is the perfect spot for a coffee or a chilled Hoegaarden beer.
It’s worth tracking down this friendly coffee bar hidden down a quiet lane in Aalst. Owner Jo De Bruyne has created a relaxed hipster interior with assorted vintage furniture, a window counter where you can perch with a laptop and tables out in the street. He also sells books, postcards, jewellery and unusual gifts. Locals swear the coffee served here is the best in town.
6) De Dingen
De Dingen is a quirky bar in Kortrijk furnished with odd tables, potted plants and a vintage school wall map. It’s a relaxed spot with a cultural feel where they sell jewellery made by local designers and organise concerts by Kortrijk bands. They put out a few tables on the street in the summer where you can sit with a bowl of soup and a West Flanders craft beer.
7) Bar STAN
This is a cool neighbourhood coffee bar in Leuven’s sleepy Nieuw Kwartier. The place is run by architects who designed the plywood counter and furnished the interior with old school classroom chairs, Formica tables and bare light bulbs. It’s the perfect spot for a lazy Sunday brunch if you are lucky enough to secure a table.
8) Cåfé du Sabløn
This relaxed coffee bar in the elegant Sablon district of Brussels has embraced Nordic style right down to the letters in its name. Located in a raw concrete interior, it has perfected the Scandinavian look of pale wood, scattered cushions and international newspapers. The coffee is roasted on the spot in a machine in the corner.
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Hidden Belgium takes you off the beaten track and sets out to prove that Belgium is in fact one of the most interesting states in Europe.
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