Uncommon eating in Belgium

1) La Buvette

This little Brussels bistro is one of the most exciting spots to eat in Brussels. It occupies a former butcher’s shop with a vintage art deco interior. The ground floor still has the original polished wood, tiled walls and menacing steel meat hooks hanging from the ceiling. The young French chef Nicolas Scheidt works here to create a five-course set menu that changes according to the seasons. His adventurous cooking style has hints of Japan as well as the Alsace region where he was born. And the organic bread comes from his own bakery Hopla Geiss on the other side of the street.

art deco interior of La Buvette

Chaussée d’Alsemberg 108, Brussels

+32 (0)2 534 13 03


2) Gaarkeuken 110

There’s nothing fancy about Gaarkeuken 110. It’s an old harbour workers’ restaurant located in a desolate area of the docks next to stacks of shipping containers. It has been serving basic Flemish food and decent beer for more than a century. You sit at a simple wooden table with your bowl of soup and listen to the babble of voices all around. Open Monday to Friday from 6 am to 8 pm.

exterior of Gaarkeuken 110

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3) Fong Mei

This little restaurant in the heart of Antwerp’s Chinatown doesn’t look too promising. It has old furniture, paper tablecloths, stacks of wine boxes left lying around and a poster of Hong Kong at night. But don’t be put off. This is the real thing, full of noisy Chinese people who work in the neighbourhood. You are handed a menu with a long list of specialities, including 34 dim sum dishes made by a dedicated dim sum chef who learned his craft in Hong Kong. Some wonderful sensations are produced, like steamed shrimp balls with crab, and steamed pork and shrimp dumpling. You won’t be disappointed.

a plate of dim sum and a pair of chopsticks

4) Bed van Napoleon

This old Flemish restaurant is located in an isolated spot in the Linden woods near Leuven. It occupies an old farmhouse where Napoleon apparently sheltered from a storm in 1810. The owners have created a warm interior with antiques, candles and a blazing log fire. They offer a menu dedicated to Flemish specialities along with local ales from Lupus Brewery.

exterior of Bed van Napoleon

5) De Vleeshalle

An abandoned 19th-century meat market in a quiet back street of Mechelen has been converted into a vast smaakmarkt (food market). The 14 food stands offer eclectic cooking styles, including Spanish tapas, Vietnamese pho, Belgian croquettes and Irish comfort food. The complex also has coworking spaces on the upper levels and hosts regular events.

different food stall at the Vleeshalle in Mechelen

Huidevettersstraat 7, Mechelen


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