“You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” -Paul Prudhomme
One of the reasons why Belgium had so much appeal to me was because of the abundance of traditionally dutch food that is found there. Perhaps this may come as a surprise to you, but Belgium has some of the best food around. Traditional, delicious and some rather famous dishes come from this little country. I mean you have heard of the Belgian waffle right… need I say more?
I wanted to go through my favorites that I tried while in the Flanders region of Belgium so I could not only remember the experiences and tastes forever but also so you travelers looking to go to Belgium will be brave enough to put these on your list of things to try.
Warning… I in no way claim to be a food critic or expert, I just really like to eat.
This is basically a beef stew made from a dark ale/beer broth. Simple and delicious. It is a hearty meal that is perfect to warm you up on cold rainy Belgian days. As a Newfoundlander, I am no stranger to hearty soul food made to warm your belly, and I loved this as it reminded me of those back home comfort foods.
I tried this stew a few times while in Belgium in different restaurants and cities but my favorite was the first time I had it in the town of Ypres. The restaurant was, In ‘t Klein Stadhuis, which was right along side of the Flanders museum. The meat was so tender and the broth rich in flavor.
I give it two thumbs up, and more thumbs if I had them. It was the perfect meal to eat after a long visit to the Flanders Museum, walking and standing for hours. It filled my belly and went perfectly with a Belgian beer. Yum!
Brace yourself for a terrible description…
These are breadcrumb covered rolls that are stuffed with meat, cheese and or potato, then deep fried. How was that?
These were one of my favorite things to eat while in Belgium. I ate so many different kinds throughout our stay. My main choice was the cheese croquettes.
My favorite croquettes were eaten at De Rechters in Ghent, which is located in the heart of the city, a perfect place to sit and enjoy a meal in between exploring the city. The breading was crispy and the inside was cheesy without being super creamy like a lot of the other croquettes I had tried. Again this is the kind of food that goes great with a strong Belgian beer, no surprise there.
Mussels and Fries
The mussels in Belgium generally come in fresh from the north sea and are cooked in beer or wine, with not much more ingredients than that. We munched down on this after a very long day exploring historic Bruges. We ate at Cafe des Arts located in the Grote Markt opposite the Belfry in Bruges. I suggest eating here, the service was great, the mussels were delicious and fresh and you can not get better seats than this.
If you are looking for the full Belgium experience then perhaps you should try the mussels in Brussels? Maybe it is just because it rhymes but I hear Brussels is the place for this meal, although I did enjoy it in Bruges all the same. Oh, and did I mention it goes really well with beer?
This is kind of a Belgian junk food, I think. It’s a minced-meat hot dog type thing that is deep fried and served with mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and onions, and whatever else tickles your fancy. How’s that for a description?
I really enjoyed Frikandel as a snack, which it is meant for. It is not the most healthy of food choices but who cares, as long as it goes well with beer. Which it did. My favorite one was bought at the train station in Ypres. (I don’t remember the name of the restaurant.) If you are ever in Ypres at the train station buy one of these. Hell just buy one anywhere in Belgium or the Netherlands where they are also popular, it is a snack everyone should try while in the area. I was expecting it to taste like a hot dog but it is very different from that. Try it out for yourself.
Alright so obviously this was going to make the list. Isn’t it like everyone’s dream to eat a Belgian waffle in Belgium? Or maybe just me. Regardless, I ate the waffles as often as I could. Even though many times I would have to battle a stomach ache from the sugar after eating it. That is my own fault of course.
My favorite? A little waffle shop in Ghent, complete with strawberries and whipped cream. I tried to find the name of the place online but I think it was opened recently so I had no luck. Also, another favorite was in Antwerp, again I don’t remember the name of the place. So my only helpful advice when it comes to eating waffles in Belgium is… TRY THEM ALL! Kidding, that is impossible, but eat as much as you can, they are all really different and so tasty.
This is a snack waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. This is probably my favorite snack from Belgium, and I know it is rather common in the Netherlands as well.
Definitely, try these! I bought some at the duty-free before leaving Brussels and I savored them for as long as I could. Now that my stash is gone I am left with an empty can and a void in my life. Not really, but if anyone knows where I can get some of these amazing snacks in Canada please let me know! The most popular brand seemed to be Daelmans, and for good reason. This treat gives chocolate chip cookies a run for its money in the sweets department.
I am actually a little disappointed I didn’t eat more Belgian chocolate while in Belgium. Now don’t get me wrong I did eat some almost daily but I should have tried it more, I really should have. So my main advice with eating and buying Belgian chocolate in Belgium?
Buy and eat as much as you can! There are so many chocolate shops with so many options it can be overwhelming, so asking locals what their favorite shops are is probably your best option in narrowing down your search.
My favorite chocolate was in Bruges, there was just so much to choose from, and I was not disappointed once while sampling in this town. The Belgians sure know a thing or two about chocolate.
I am not a huge alcohol lover, but while in Belgium, one must do as the Belgians do, which is drink! Some records say that there are 1150 different types of Belgium beer so if you have a love for beer this is a probable heaven.
I settled on the Leffe Blond, as I am a fan of lighter beer. Many Belgium beers are strong so if you are not a lover of strong or dark ale then trying a Leffe Blond is a safe bet.
A suggestion would be to take a brewery tour or ask the wait staff what they recommend when in a restaurant or bar. Keep a journal or a record of the ones you tried and what you thought. That will help narrow down your beer options to something that might interest you.
If you are traveling to Belgium for the first time then I suggest trying one of these foods while you are there. After all to experience a place fully you must also experience the foods.
Show up with an empty stomach and when your stay is over just on roll back home, with a full belly and a happy heart.