Brussels is a heaven for foodies and for those who love specialty coffee. Here I share my favourite (third wave) coffee bars and lunch & dinner hotspots in Brussels:
Specialty coffee in Brussels
Almost at the very end of the long Antoine Dansaertstreet close to the Brussels Canal, you will find MOK Coffee. A micro coffee roastery where they roast small batches of beans to be able to fully control the roasting process. In this way they make sure you and I can enjoy each cup of coffee with high quality. There is a small menu for breakfast and lunch with homemade and seasonal (mostly plant based) dishes like soup, toast, sandwich, some sweets and a salad. The wall with coffee brewing necessities and coffee beans offers all you need to brew a good cup at home too.
BUDDY BUDDY nut butter atelier and vegan coffee bar has probably got the most impressive interior of all coffee bars in Brussels. That might be one of the reasons to stop by, but the main reason should be to try their high-quality, handmade and organic nut butters. Owners Matt and Julien have found many creative ways to process the nut butters into the most delicious treats (in drinks ánd in sweet & savoury delicacies). Coffee comes from above mentioned MOK and white coffee is solely made with plant based milk.
Every time I visit Café Capitale at Rue Ernest Allard and look outside the window, I feel like I am in Paris. I really like the energy of this area and the beautiful terraces and corner houses. I keep coming back to this coffee bar over and over again, because of their great coffee, home made pastries and pleasant atmosphere. Besides this coffee shop & training centre they have two more locations; a shop and roastery at Rue Haute and the main location is found at Rue du Midi.
☞ Rue Ernerst Allard is permanently closed. Rue du Midi 45 is open.
Hinterland is surrounded by art nouveau buildings in the area of Sint-Gillis nearby the famous Horta Museum. Their slogan 'urban refuge' translates in my opinion into a nice place to escape the hustle and bustle form the busy streets and to enjoy healthy food and drinks. With organic ingredients they make (vegetarian and vegan, with lactose/gluten free options) all-day breakfast, brunch and lunch such as toast, eggs, pancakes and several kinds of bowls (granola, buddha and açaï).
The very stylish all day café & eatery Seven is a great asset to the Uccle neighbourhood. This popular place serves brunch (several types of bowls and toast) from opening time, and lunch (several types of salads, a sandwich and soup) as of 12pm. But all day long you can enjoy delicious sweets (like for example this breakfast bun) with your cup of coffee or tea.
Close to famous art nouveau gems like Maison Hannon and the Horta Museum you will find Kami. A specialty coffee shop where owners Clara and Elias serve organic breakfast, lunch and delicious homemade pastries as well. We tried (and loved) the flapjack and perfectly baked lemon cake made from semolina. They work together with well known specialty coffee roasters from mostly Belgium and Paris.
The next coffee shop is situated in the street with my favourite name, Rue de la Paix, which is 'Peace Street' in English. Fika Coffee lies just around the corner of the charming Place Saint Boniface with lots of good restaurants and cafés.
This coffee bar is named after the Swedish tradition of Fika, which is an important part of the day (preferably shared with family, friends or colleagues, but alone is also perfectly fine) where they take time to drink a cup of coffee, eat something (sweet) and chat a bit. You can't see it from the front, but at the back there is a huge garden where you can enjoy some tranquility during the summer months.
Founders Rutger and Senina's aim is to create a positive impact business with their roastery, shop and coffee bar Wide Awake. They try to make specialty coffee accessible to everyone, and built a welcoming atelier. Stop by for a great freshly brewed cup of coffee or get beans and brewing equipment to spice up your home coffee corner. Taste note cards and brewing recipes will help you choose the right coffee beans and most suitable brewing method.
Throughout the year you can enjoy coffee from above mentioned roaster Wide Awake at specialty espresso bar My Little Cup. but each month another guest roaster can shine here as well. Here you will find a combination of immense coffee knowledge (by owner Antoine and his whole team) and perfect service, which will make your visit extra pleasant. Besides all that, their homemade sweet and savoury scones are even worth a detour on their own.
BOUCHE coffee is the second specialty coffee bar by Antoine from above mentioned My Little Cup. If you like slow coffee, then this is the place for sure. They even have an extra bar where they brew the slow coffee (V60 by Hario) in front of you. A nice detail are the handmade porcelain cups which are all different and fun, because some have smileys on it :) There is a good selection of home made baked goods, but we where more in the mood for savory. The Katsu cauliflower with ginger and daikon on a bun was just fantastic!
Lunch and dinner in Brussels
Niko-Niko is the place to go to for Bento boxes and Teishoku. We ordered the latter which is a set menu with a main (3 different options, one meat, one fish and one vegetarian option), several sides, rice, pickles and a miso soup. Everything was traditionally cooked with seasonal ingredients and prepared fresh that morning. They also have a little konbini with Japanse essentials for home cooking.
Knees to Chin is a small chain of four locations in Brussels. I have only visited the one on Rue De Flandre in the Dansaert area. Go there for tasty (lactose free and very low in gluten) Asian inspired rice paper rolls with homemade sauces. Vegetarian and vegan options are available.
Within a stone throw from above mentioned Fika there is a wide range of restaurants at the Place Saint Boniface. Little Tokyo is one of the Japanese inspired restaurants here. Their menu changes by the season, but all time favourites like gyoza (pan-fried dumplings), donburi (rice bowls) and ramen (noodles) are luckily there to stay at any time of year.
At the corner of the lively Place Fernand Cocq you will find Café Tulipant. This nicely styled restaurant/bar opened its doors in march 2019 and is already popular in the area. Here you can stop by for breakfast, brunch, lunch and drinks. Later during the day it transforms more into a bar with small bites and an extensive beverage menu.
Gazzetta is my favourite 100% Italian caffè, wine bar and deli of Brussels. Here you can enjoy great food like several antipasti, two types of pasta and 1 type secondi (second dish) with 1 daily changing side dish. With this briefly menu it's not hard to choose and you can be assured your food will be market-fresh.
Traditional Korean comfort food is served at the stylish (vegan/vegetarian friendly) restaurant of Bap and Dak in the art nouveau area Ixelles (Elsene). And of course there is Bibimbap on the menu, the very famous rice dish. Literally translated "bibim" means mixed and "bap" means rice. So expect a very flavourful bowl of all sorts of (sautéed) vegetables and a raw egg yolk on top.
You can choose to order it as a vegan or vegetarian dish, but you can also order it with chicken or beef. We also loved the 'kimchi jeon' which are savoury Korean pancakes with kimchi and as sides the regular 'kimchi' (fermented cabbage), 'chikin mu' (pickled radish) and 'yeongeun joris' (soy braised lotus roots). And this all tastes even better with an ice cold Korean Cass beer!
When Tokidoki opened its doors in 2019, the following was written on the window:
'No sushi, no ramen, no fusion cuisine - But down to earth Japanese grandmother style food.' And to this day this is exactly what you can expect when come here for a delicious lunch or dinner. Everything is made fresh to order, and there is no huge menu to choose from. There is a choice of 3 weekly changing lunch menus, one veggie, one non-veggie and a more extensive one with a combination of vegetables and meat. And in the evening you can choose between three main dishes and several side dishes.
Nice to know: 'tokidoki' means sometimes in English.
If you are looking for a charming restaurant suited for intimate dining, then Ars Vinorum might be the right place. The restaurant is divided (but connected) in two parts, one half contains the bar and the other half houses the delicatessen where you can buy all types of culinary Italian specialties to take home. The great menu with several types of antipasti and all kinds of pasta/risotto (no pizza) changes monthly and continuous to surprise you every time you visit.
Enjoying the botanical tasting menu at plant-based fine dining restaurant Humus x Hortense was pure bliss! The organic vegetables are harvested at a local farm and the menu changes every week according to the rhythm of 24 micro seasons. On top if that owners Nicolas and Caroline strive to cause as little waste as possible and attach great importance to sustainability. As 'icing on the cake' for their dedicated work they were (together with their amazing team) awarded with a MICHELIN Green Star in 2021. The charming restaurant is located in a former tea salon, which makes it a very cozy and welcoming environment.
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