Hi Linda, I live in brussels for quite some time, a dedicated foodie and wine drinker :). Some of my favorites restaurants and beers are on my blog www.onfoodandwine.com. There is very little you can go wrong with in Brussels food and beer wise! A don't miss list:
food - most of the places named by fellow foodies. There is also the Chez Oki, a firm favorite, although a little expensive.
beer - L'Atelier is great. I love Belga as well, beer and fantastic atmosphere on the weekend. Bier Circus.
wine - I personally love La Piola. But you'll find a list of quite a few wine bars on my 'Glorious Wines' site.
Hope you'll enjoy Brussels - don't forget the parapluie :)
My top bar in Brussels is L'Atelier on rue Elise in Ixelles. I hope it is still open.
Top Beers are as follows:
1. Ciney Blond on tap, possibly the best blond of this style in the world, possibly only available in Ciney.
2. ADA (Abbaye d'Aulne) the whole range
3. Floreffe, the whole range
4. Foudroyant Geuze
5. Chimay, the whole range, for continuing to make quality.
I've been living in Brussels for two years, and have several goodies to recommend, but most are outside the city center, so either get a good tram/bus map or a taxi. Congrats, by the way, on being one of the few to consider a trip to Belgium, which in my opinion is an underrated travel gem.
In the city center, on Rue Antoine Dansaert, a wonderfully inventive tapas place called Comocomo puts Basque pintxos on a sushi-style conveyer belt. (www.comocomo.com) We started going when we first got to Brussels and it had just opened and was undiscovered. Now, you might need a reservation. (I should get commission for all the people I've sent its way!) It is, however, not very expensive, depending on how much you eat. It's also a good place if you don't want to spend 3 hours at dinner. Great Spanish wines.
In the St. Gilles commune of Brussels, there is a place devoted to the mushroom, Cafe des Spores (www.cafedesspores.com), and if you like mushrooms, this is a can't-miss. It also has a great wine list and a helpful sommelier.
In the Ixelles commune of Brussels, there are several good places to choose from, and our favorite is En Face de Parachute on the corner of Chausee de Waterloo and Rue Washington.(http://www.sensum.be/guide-english/restaurants/en-face-de-parachute.php) It is truly divine. They offer a tremendous filet of beef topped with an entire fois gras liver. Also, they only take cash! The wine of the month is often a great bottle at a good price.
Near Place Chatelain in Ixelles is Le Mangeur d'Etoiles, for good Belgian/French and Belgian/Italian food at a very reasonable price. (http://mmmm.free.fr/scripts/script_detail_resto.php?id=2041) If they are full, go around the corner to La Trattoria, a fantastic Italian place on Rue Americaine. (http://www.resto.be/ware/details.jsp?businessid=7020) You'll know it by the Vespa hanging in the window.
Also in Ixelles, but a different part of it, is Vini Divini, a great wine bar tucked away off of Chausee d'Ixelles. (http://www.vini-divini.be/) It's quite difficult to find, but once you find it, it's great. Only 24 places, so make a reservation! Might also be cash-only.
For seafood/mussels, Bij den Boer on Place St. Catherine is the best of the bunch. (http://www.bijdenboer.com/) Stay away from the rue de bouchers! The street with all of the restaurant touts and neon signs is not where you want to spend your money! Go to St. Catherine instead.
Sorry I give you mostly wine-related recommendations... I guess you know where my heart is! But it's so cheap to get great wine over here...
Remember, service is included at all restaurants. I generally round up a few euros extra, but a lot of natives don't leave anything extra at all.
Second the Comocomo suggestion - I went a few months ago and had a blast! Try to sit close to the open kitchen area and if its not too busy, the cooks will make up what you request from the menu. Keep an eye out for the fries.
I also enjoyed dinner at La Tsampa, a vegetarian restaurant (109, rue de Livourne). The menu of the day was very reasonable and the chocolate dessert was delish.
In Brugges, I had a very nice lunch at Lotus (Wapenmakersstraat 5). Another mostly vegetarian spot. Although it sounds Asian-inspired, the cuisine is not!
Will, I think you've mentioned at least three of my favorite things - food on conveyor belts, tapas, and mushrooms! I certainly will do my best to frequest the restaurants you mentioned.
A question - how can I tell if service is included? Will it be clearly marked on the bill in English, or should I consult my French (or Flemish) phrase book for "service included?"
Thanks for the excellent report - BTW we are heading there in a few weeks and really looking forward to it - any updates to this list? Are the places outside the city included in this post?
Looking 4 mostly bistro quality food, but would like to splurge one night on A Michelin one or two starred place - any ideas.....?
I sure can! We went in September, and these are the places we wouldn't miss for the world if we went back. Let me know if you want our list of top beers that are hard to get outside Belgium. Thank you.
next to the Manneken Pis, Brussels
Beer bar with huge list of on tap, weekly specials, bottles.
A la Becasse
Rue de Tabora 11, Brussels
Lambic bar with lambics and geuze, tap and bottles
27, rue de la Paix, 1050 Bruxelles (Ixelles)
Artisinal savory and sweet tarts, try Cassonade for dessert
Place Jourdan, Brussels
Great frites with many sauces
In 't Spinnekopke
1 Place Du Jardin Aux Fleurs, Brussels
Food made with beer, great beer list, this is the place!
end of alley off Briedalstraat (links Markt to Burg), Brugge
Beer bar with huge list of bottles
Philipstockstraat 23-25 Brugge
Fine belgian food - Best meal we had in Belgium
Philipstockstraat 29 Brugge
Best chocolates we had in Belgium
re: Bride of the Juggler
Thanks sooo much for your recommendations, Bride! It was very kind of you to take the time to write out that list.
Yes, I would absolutely be interested in your top beer selections. Some hoppy, and some not hoppy (wheaty, perhaps?), so that we'll both be hoppy - er - I mean happy!
Thanks again, Bride!
Here you go. Honestly, it's hard to go too wrong with Belgian beer. Try everything! Thank you.
Top Beers (all strong dark Abbey beers):
Lambics, krieks and geuze:
A La Becasse Lambic Deux
A La Becasse Lambic Blanc
Geuze Mort Subite
Kriek St Louis
Saisons (hoppy style):
And the rest...
Garre de la Tripel
Affligem Paterswat 2004
Bon Secours Myrtille [blueberry]
re: Bride of the Juggler