Belgium Dining Guide: The Best Restaurants to Explore in 2024

Belgium Dining Guide: The Best Restaurants to Explore in 2024

Top Belgium Restaurants: Must-Visit Dining Spots in 2024

WRITTEN BYLorraine Giron
PUBLISHED ONFebruary 12, 2024

Belgium might be small, but its dining scene is impressively diverse and rich. In fact, the country is home to many Michelin-starred restaurants and those acclaimed by Gault Millau.

Looking for artistic presentation, distinctive flavors, or impeccable service? Such accolades are reserved for dining establishments that deliver extraordinary experiences.

Let our guide steer you through the culinary landscape of Belgium.

Culinary Landscape

Discovering top dining experiences is a key aspect of touring the best places to visit in Belgium. After all, savoring Belgian cuisine is among the best things to do in Belgium.

Selection Criteria

Belgium’s culinary scene is rich with both traditional and modern flavors. It has evolved significantly over time, blending classic dishes with contemporary twists.

Restaurants are often chosen for their ability to showcase this diversity. They also use local ingredients that reflect the region’s agricultural offerings. This practice supports local farmers and ensures freshness and quality on your plate.

Another key factor is the presence of chefs who are redefining Belgian food. These culinary artists bring excitement to every meal with new techniques and combinations.

Geographic Diversity

Brussels Highlights

In Brussels, each area brings its flavor to the table.

Local specialties are key in Brussels’ dining scene. For example, some places focus on moules-frites (mussels with fries). Others may offer a perfect steak tartare. Each dish tells a story about the region’s history and culture.

Restaurants also provide stunning views. You can also dine while looking out over rolling hills or busy city streets.

Antwerp Elegance

Antwerp combines medieval charm with modern tastes beautifully. The cobbled streets lead to cozy restaurants offering Flemish classics such as stoofvlees (beef stew).

Nearby, seafood lovers will find heaven next to the canals of Bruges. This is where fresh catches are daily menu highlights:

  • Enjoy shrimp croquettes by waterfront views
  • Savor oysters paired with crisp Belgian beers

Try traditional lace cookies at local bakeries before leaving Antwerp. They’re as delicate as they sound!

Ghent Innovations

An innovative dining scene lies in Antwerp’s fashion district. Chefs in Antwerp make food look as shiny and special as diamonds, making dishes that stand out!

Ghent also has historic cafes where you can sip Belgian beers and spirits. Each drink tells a tale of craftsmanship passed down through generations.

Traditional Belgian Cuisine

Flemish Classics

Flemish classics are at the heart of Belgium’s cuisine. If you want to start with traditional cuisine, check out these restaurants:

1. Restaurant De Graslei With a focus on traditional Belgian cuisine, it’s a great
place to experience authentic local flavors. The restaurant also offers a selection of
tapas, bubbles/champagne, red wines, aperitifs, and mocktails.

2. ‘t Brugs Beertje in Bruges – This iconic tavern in the heart of Bruges is famous for its
cozy atmosphere and extensive selection of Belgian beers. It also serves hearty
Flemish dishes, making it a perfect spot to enjoy the local cuisine and culture.

3. Chez Léon in Brussels – is a famous restaurant in the center of Brussels. It is known for
its moules-frites (mussels with fries), a popular Belgian food. It has been serving both
locals and tourists since 1893.

4. Den Dyver in Bruges – Den Dyver integrates Belgian cuisine with a unique twist,
offering dishes paired with Belgian beers. The restaurant is known for its innovative
approach to traditional Flemish recipes.

Walloon Specialties

Moving south to Wallonia, the food changes slightly but remains deeply rooted in tradition. Here, stews and fries reign supreme alongside mussels—a true staple of Flemish gastronomy.

You’ll find carbonnade flamande, a rich beef stew, everywhere. Family-run taverns serve it best, though. They cook it slowly and often pair it with beer from local breweries.

Beer isn’t just for drinking here—it enhances many dishes, too!

Seafood Staples

Wallonia also has its specialties that shouldn’t be missed! In the Ardennes region, smoked ham and game meats stand out on menus.

Monasteries also contribute to the culinary landscape—with cheese-centric dishes drawing crowds.

Local orchards inspire desserts throughout Wallonia, too—think apple tarts or pear sorbets!

International Flavors in Belgium

European Fusion

Belgium’s culinary scene reflects its location at the heart of Europe. It blends French, German, and Dutch flavors with native tastes. Cross-cultural eateries present an exciting mix of these European cuisines.

Innovative chefs are redefining what classic dishes mean in Belgium today. They use traditional recipes as starting points and then add new twists. Check out these restaurants celebrated for its European fusion:

1. L’épicerie Nomad This restaurant combines worldwide foods with fresh stuff.
They mix cooking styles and have vegetarian options too.

2. Humus x Hortense in Brussels – This restaurant is special because it serves plant-
based food with a mix of European styles. It uses fresh and organic ingredients. The
food tastes great and looks beautiful. It’s perfect for people who like to eat in a way
that’s good for the planet.

3. SAN Gent in Ghent – Part of the SAN family of restaurants, SAN Gent is known for its
bowl-based dining concept. It mixes tastes from all over the world but uses local
Belgian stuff to make its food. What’s cool is that you eat everything with a spoon,
which makes it a fun place to eat.

4. Veranda in Antwerp – After relocating to a new location, Veranda keeps wowing
people with its cool, changing menu. It mixes Belgian food with flavors from around
the world in a chill place that looks like a factory. There, you can try new and creative

Asian Influence

Urban centers in Belgium have seen a rise in authentic Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese restaurants.

They create fusion dishes that bring Asian spices into Belgian kitchens. Sushi bars pair the freshness of sushi with rich Belgian beers. This combination has become popular among locals and foreign travelers.

1. Thaiburi in Ghent – Thaiburi is known for its authentic Thai cuisine. It offers a cozy
atmosphere where diners can enjoy a wide range of traditional Thai dishes. This place
is known for making delicious, smell-good food with fresh stuff, making you feel like
you’re in Thailand.

2. Thaiburi in Ghent – Thaiburi is known for its authentic Thai cuisine. It offers a cozy
atmosphere where diners can enjoy a wide range of traditional Thai dishes. This place
is known for making delicious, smell-good food with fresh stuff, making you feel like
you’re in Thailand.

3. Samourai in Brussels – is a restaurant in Brussels that serves special Japanese food. It’s
known for its good quality and has been a favorite place for people who love real
Japanese dishes.

4. Dim Dining in Antwerp – is a cool place that makes Asian food with a new twist,
mostly Japanese tastes. They mix Asian cooking ways with stuff from Belgium to make
their dishes. People like it because the food looks nice and tastes different in a good

5. Little Asia in Brussels – is a popular place where people enjoy Vietnamese food like
pho and spring rolls. It’s known for being true to traditional tastes. It uses fresh, top-
notch ingredients in a modern place.

6. Fong Mei in Antwerp – serves real Chinese food with lots of dishes from all over
China. It’s famous for its dim sum and gives a true taste of Chinese eating traditions.

Trendy Bistros and Cafes

Artisan Coffee

Local beans take center stage at specialty coffee shops across Belgium. They create art in a cup alongside delicious Belgian pastries like waffles and chocolates.

These places often double as vibrant social hubs where people gather, chat, and unwind over good food and drinks. This is a true testament to Belgium’s warm hospitality.

Moreover, such cafes pride themselves on using organic ingredients sourced locally.

1. Café Du Sablon in Brussels – is a beautiful place known for great coffee and a fancy
vibe. It’s a nice spot to relax after seeing the Notre Dame du Sablon church and
checking out antique shops nearby. People love it for its good coffee, tea, and comfy

2. OR Coffee Roasters in Ghent – is a top coffee shop in Belgium with a few cafés, and
the one in Ghent is admired by people. They focus on making great coffee that’s good
for the planet, roasting all their coffee themselves. They also teach baristas how to
make coffee perfectly at their café.

3. Normo Coffee in Antwerp – Situated in the heart of Antwerp, Normo Coffee is a
favorite local hangout for its relaxed vibe and exceptional coffee. The shop roasts its
beans, and the knowledgeable staff is always ready to share their passion for coffee
with customers. The interior’s modern and vintage elements make it a great spot to
enjoy a book or catch up with friends.

4. MOK Specialty Coffee Roastery & Bar in Leuven – This place is all about making
great coffee. They care a lot about where their coffee comes from. They make sure it’s
grown in a good way. You can hang out in their cool, simple space in Leuven, try their
amazing coffee, and eat some tasty vegan or vegetarian food. They are experts when it
comes to coffee.

5. Aksum Coffee House in Brussels – Located in the heart of Brussels, near the Grand
Place. It’s named after a city in Ethiopia and serves Ethiopian coffee. The café is cozy,
and people can have espresso drinks and join in Ethiopian coffee ceremonies on
weekends. They also have homemade cakes and pastries.

Vegan Options

More people are choosing to eat at places that offer food that is good for them and the planet. Restaurants now emphasize farm-to-table dining experiences featuring fresh produce straight from the countryside.

In these restaurants, the food you can order depends on the season. So, in the fall, you might find dishes with pumpkins, and in the summer, you might see strawberries on the menu. This is because they use foods that are fresh and can be found locally during that time.

These restaurants prove that food from plants is healthy and tasty. This is great news for everyone, whether you eat only plants or not:

1. Lucifer Lives in Ghent – This vegan hotspot is known for its creative and delicious
plant-based dishes. The menu has lots of new choices like big bowls, burgers, and
yummy desserts, all made with fresh, top-notch stuff.

2. Le Botaniste in Ghent and Brussels – is a place where they serve plant-based organic
food and wine. They believe food can help us stay healthy. Their motto, “Let food be
the medicine,” is reflected in their menu. It features a variety of bowls, soups, and
botanical cocktails, all served in a stylish, apothecary-inspired setting.

3. Komkommertijd in Ghent – At “Cucumber Time,” a popular spot for both locals and
tourists, you can eat as much as you want from their buffet. They offer lots of salads,
warm meals, and sweets. The name shows they like to use fresh, in-season veggies. It’s
a comfy place to enjoy a meal without any rush.

4. Loving Hut in Leuven and other locations – is a vegan restaurant that serves many
kinds of plant-based foods from around the world. It includes Asian meals and
Western favorites like burgers. They want to help the planet and show kindness
through their tasty food.

5. TAN in Brussels – Focuses on health and sustainability. TAN offers a sophisticated
menu of organic, plant-based dishes that are nutritious and delicious. The menu
changes seasonally, ensuring the ingredients are always fresh and of the highest
quality. The elegant, minimalist decor and attentive service provide an indulgent and
good dining experience for the planet.

Gourmet Experiences

Tasting Menus

Belgium is famous for its rich culinary traditions. Now, there is a creative twist to this heritage. Many restaurants offer tasting menus with vegan versions of Belgian classics. Imagine savoring a plant-based stew that rivals the flavors of traditional meat dishes.

These eateries are transforming dining into a cruelty-free experience. They show that ethical choices don’t need sacrificing taste. Vegan desserts are also rising, with chocolate and waffles being popular.

One can indulge in these delights without guilt or harm to animals. It’s an innovative way to enjoy what Belgium has always been famous for—its food.

Wine Pairings

The art of wine pairing takes center stage at Belgium’s top restaurants. Chefs craft multi-course tasting menus that highlight their creativity and skill. They blend local ingredients with global cooking techniques.

Each dish on these set menus is carefully paired with wines that enhance its flavors. These pairings might include both Belgian varieties and international selections.

Booking in advance is often necessary because these special food experiences are very popular and lots of people want them.

Chef’s Tables

At chef’s tables, you see cooking skills up close and sommeliers pick wines that go well with the food. Local vineyards help choose the best wines for these meals.

Some fancy restaurants hold events for tasting wine. These events show how well food and wine go together.

Check out these restaurants for an unforgettable gourmet experience:

1. Le Rabassier in Brussels – specializes in truffle dishes. Le Rabassier offers an intimate
and luxurious dining experience. The tasting menu is a highlight, allowing diners to
explore a variety of flavors and textures. The attention to detail and the quality of
ingredients make this restaurant a must-visit for food enthusiasts.

2. Hof Van Cleve in Kruishoutem – With three Michelin stars, Hof Van Cleve is one of
Belgium’s most celebrated restaurants. Chef Peter Goossens is known for his refined
Belgian cuisine with a modern twist. The tasting menu is an exquisite journey through
the chef’s signature dishes. The elegant setting and exceptional service complement
the culinary experience.

3. The Jane in Antwerp – Set in a renovated chapel, The Jane offers a unique dining
atmosphere with its stunning interior design. The restaurant, awarded two Michelin
stars, serves a tasting menu that is a testament to innovation and culinary art. Chefs
Nick Bril and Sergio Herman create dishes that are as beautiful to look at as they are to
taste. They make every course a memorable part of the dining experience.

4. Bon-Bon in Brussels – is owned by Chef Christophe Hardiquest. This restaurant has
earned two Michelin stars and serves a special menu that shows his love for Belgian
food traditions. The menu changes every season to use the freshest ingredients.

5. L’Air du Temps in Liernu – is located in the Walloon region. It is a two-Michelin-
starred restaurant that offers a farm-to-table experience. Chef Sang-Hoon Degeimbre’s
menu reflects his Korean heritage and love for local Belgian produce. The restaurant’s
farm provides many ingredients. The modern, airy space and the surrounding
countryside add to the restaurant’s charm.

Romantic Dining Spots

Intimate Ambiance

Belgium offers a variety of intimate dining spots. These places are ideal for those seeking a private meal with loved ones. Many restaurants feature midday prix fixe menus, allowing diners to enjoy gourmet food at affordable prices. This setup is perfect for couples indulging in fine dining without the evening crowds.

Business professionals can take advantage of business lunch specials. Such deals provide high-quality meals swiftly, catering well to busy schedules. It’s an excellent way to impress clients or celebrate team successes over delicious cuisine.

For those short on time, quick-service bistros are a lifesaver. They combine quality and efficiency. They serve delectable dishes quickly so you can return to your day without missing out on great food.

1. La Villa Emily in Brussels – This restaurant offers a sophisticated and elegant dining
experience. The beautiful interior and exquisite French and international cuisine set the
stage for a memorable night. La Villa Emily is a great place for couples to eat because
it’s welcoming and pays attention to the small things that make dining special.

2. Le Château de la Poste in Maillen – For those looking for a romantic getaway, dining
at Le Château de la Poste offers both a meal and an experience. The castle is in a pretty
place with nice views and old-timey feels, making the evening feel special and

3. Hof Van Cleve in Kruishoutem – is a famous restaurant in Belgium where you can
have a special meal. The place is cozy, the service is great, and the chef, Peter
Goossens, makes amazing food. It’s perfect for a fancy and romantic dinner.

4. De Jonkman in Bruges – is a fancy restaurant near the old city of Bruges. It has a
beautiful garden view and elegant decorations, making it perfect for a romantic
dinner. The restaurant has two Michelin stars and serves modern Belgian food using
fresh, local ingredients.

5. L’Air du Temps in Liernu – Located in the countryside, L’Air du Temps offers a
romantic dining experience in a modern farmhouse setting. The restaurant is known
for its farm-to-table approach, with much of the produce coming from its gardens. The
peaceful place, creative food, and comfy feel make it great for couples wanting a
special and romantic night out.

Scenic Views

Belgium is special not only because of its yummy food but also because of where you eat it. The places where you can eat are cozy and perfect for a romantic date or hanging out with friends and family. The way these places look and feel makes eating there something you won’t forget.

A lot of the places where you can eat are in old buildings. This makes your meal feel special because it’s like you’re eating in the past! Picture having a fancy Belgian meal in a place that’s been around for hundreds of years.

Soft lighting and comfortable seating contribute greatly to enjoying your meal, too. They create a warm environment where conversations flow easily, and every bite seems more enjoyable.

Exclusive Reservations

For something truly unforgettable, pick places where you can book seats on rooftop terraces or next to water. These spots offer great views of either the city or the countryside, making them perfect for celebrating big moments.

Waterfront dining along rivers or canals provides serene views that complement any dish served. And mountain-view restaurants showcase Belgium’s natural beauty alongside exquisite culinary creations. These places usually need to be reserved ahead of time, but they offer a dining experience that’s worth it.

Seasonal and Festive Dining

Christmas Markets

Belgium’s Christmas markets are a must-visit for festive dining. These venues can handle big events, like company parties or family reunions. They have communal tables that help everyone feel together. This is great after enjoying a meal at a family-friendly place.

Restaurants here often create special menus for groups. Imagine having dishes made especially for your party! That makes the experience unique and memorable.

Summer Terraces

When summer comes, terraces in Belgium offer amazing treats. You’ll find cookies called speculoos and warm mulled wine at holiday markets. These places are full of joy during Christmas.

Food stalls serve winter foods that taste like the holidays. Also, you might see gingerbread houses on display. They’re not just fun to look at—they’re also yummy!

Harvest Menus

As autumn arrives, outdoor dining becomes perfect in Belgium. Restaurants with al fresco options let you enjoy the nice weather more. Some have terraces covered in plants, which feel like an escape from the city.

You can try seasonal cocktails on patios next to popular eateries, too. It’s a relaxing way to spend time with friends or unwind alone.

Key Driving Regulations in Belgium

Consider driving in Belgium when checking out these dining options. Here are some essential driving regulations to keep in mind:

Driving in Belgium can enhance your experience. This will allow you to accomplish the best things to do in Belgium.

Here are some key driving rules to remember:

Drive on the Right: In Belgium, vehicles must be driven on the right-hand side of the road.

Speed Limits: Adhere to the speed limits, typically 50 km/h in urban areas, 90 km/h on open roads, and 120 km/h on highways, unless signs indicate otherwise.

Seat Belts: Seat belt usage is mandatory for all passengers in front and back seats.

Alcohol Limit: The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.5 grams per liter. Driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly prohibited and can lead to severe penalties.

Use of Mobile Phones: Using a handheld mobile phone while driving is illegal. Hands-free systems are allowed.

Child Safety: Children under 1.35 meters tall must use an appropriate child restraint system.

Headlights: Headlights are mandatory in tunnels. It is highly recommended during any conditions of reduced visibility.

Priority to the Right: Unless otherwise signed, drivers must give way to vehicles coming from the right at intersections.

Getting an International Driving Permit

An International Driving Permit serves as a translation of your national driver’s license. It is an internationally recognized document.

An IDP is recommended, especially if your license is not in English. Having an IDP can facilitate communication with car rental agencies and local authorities. It’s also a useful document to have in case of traffic stops or accidents.

You may apply for an International Driving Permit for your Belgium trip through:

  • National Mobile Associations
  • Third-party organizations, such as the International Drivers Association

Savor Belgian Culinary Delights

Belgium’s dining scene truly showcases its rich food heritage. There’s something for every taste and budget, from high-end Michelin-starred to family-friendly spots. The restaurants we spotlight promise an unforgettable culinary journey.

Eager to dive into both classic and new Belgian flavors? Think about renting a car and getting an International Driving Permit! It’s the perfect way to explore these culinary delights easily and at your own pace.

Get your International Driving Permit in 8 minutes

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