The 5 coolest bars in Brussels
1) Mappa Mundo
This downtown bar on two floors was designed by Frédéric Nicolay, as was the Roi des Belges on the opposite side of the street. It is always crowded, but you might manage to grab a table on the pavement terrace, or maybe, if you are very lucky, get one of the first-floor window booths looking down on the street.
This corner coffee bar opened a few months ago on the Chaussée de Charleroi. The owners, Julien and Olivia, call it an urban retreat. The interior is decorated in a relaxed Scandinavian style with bare brick walls, pale wood tables and tree trunk stools. As well as great coffee, they serve up organic quiches, sandwiches and cheesecake.
3) Contrebande Bar
This friendly Ixelles bar is run by a local cooperative of five enthusiastic young people who promote distinctive organic beers from small Brussels breweries. They will tempt you with brews from Brasserie de la Senne, En Stoemelings, l’Ermitage and No Science. They also have people in the kitchen making tasty vegan and nonvegan food.
4) Café Velvet
This tiny cafe on the old fishmarket has a cosmopolitan, arty feel. It was created by Ilse Geyskens after she spent some years running a coffee bar in Medellin. The interior has a Nordic look with pale wood tables, benches and tulips in vases. The coffee, made from beans imported in big white sacks from Colombia, is possibly the best in town.
5) Café Flora
The designer Lionel Jadot has brought a Milan vibe to the Parvis de Saint-Gilles square with his Café Flora interior of yellow tables, abstract ceiling paintings and quirky details. Dating from 1905, the cafe originally belonged to the Aegidium cinema, a Moorish-style film palace. After decades of neglect, this beautiful forgotten cinema hidden behind the cafe is finally being restored.
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The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels reveals off-the-beaten-track places and interesting details for anyone who's keen to explore Brussel's best-kept secrets.
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