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Belgium is home to some fantastic food and unique eating experiences. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ five favorite food experiences in Brussels:
1. Mussels. If you only have time to sample one Bruxellois dish, make it mussels. The tender mollusks are revered here like nowhere else. Volle Gras and Chez Leon are well-known spots for mussels, but if you go to the Rue del Bouchers, you’ll find it lined with restaurants that serve mussels with a variety of seasonings. Forbes Travel Guide editors like them simply prepared with white wine, onions and herbs. Your tender mussels will arrive in a big pot that’s enough to feed two, along with fries.
2. Frites. There really is something special about Belgian fries: they’re fried twice so they come out soft inside and perfectly crisp outside. You’ll find frittur all over the city, but Maison Antoine is said to make the best. A cone of frites with one of their 30 delicious sauces (Forbes Travel Guide editors are torn between the andalouse, a spicy mayo, and the curry ketchup) will set you back around €3/US$4 — the best value in Brussels. Take your meal into one of Place Jourdan’s many frites-friendly bars and enjoy with a cold beer.
3. Belgian waffles. Forget the waffles you’ve had at home — the ones in Belgium where they’re called gauffres — are amazing airy and light thanks to a yeast-based batter. Head to Dandoy near the Grand Place Square and order a waffle with a simple dusting of powdered sugar, with fruit and ice cream or loaded with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. The whipped cream is so fresh and natural; it’s like a taste of heaven. For a real treat, enjoy your waffle with some tart cherry kriek beer.
4. Beer. Belgian brew masters are considered among the best in the world and this is your chance to find out why. Experience a range of brewing styles at famous pubs like Poechenellekelder, Mort Subite or Delirium; for a more artisanal selection, head to Bier Circus. Brussels is especially known for lambic beers, which are fermented with natural yeast, but the range in Brussels includes tart gueze style, elegant wheat beers, fruit beers and trippels and dubbels with richer roasted flavors.
5. Chocolate. Leonidas is the best-known Belgian chocolatier, but there are artisanal chocolate shops throughout the city. Wittmaer isn’t as well known, but it’s the chocolatier for the Court of Belgium. The Place du Grand Sablon is filled with chocolate shops with delightful specialities. In case you don’t get to a chocolate shop in the city, you can also pick up last minute chocolates at the airport.