EATING MY WAY THROUGH BRUSSELS
You might already know that the Belgian capital is Brussels. But what you might not know is that Brussels is a weird city. For starters, their official monument is a 61cm tall peeing boy. They have two official languages (French and Dutch), they wear pajamas out in public and are listed among the world's finest cities for eating. Despite its small size and reputation the Belgian people sure love their cute capital and are proud of their country.
But before I get into the food portion, because let's be honest, I spent most of my three days there eating and drinking. I also want to tell you some other things to do in Brussels. I don’t normally start my blog posts with tours, but Brussels is such a small city that you can see everything there is to see if you choose the right tours. I did two tours during my time here, one was free and the other paid but both covered a majority of the city in a short period of time.
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Sandeman is an amazing company, I’ve done a few tours with them throughout Europe and each one was entertaining, insightful and fun. I love the concept of a free walking tour (first you take the tour and then you decide what you think the tour is worth). Maggi was my tour guide for this one. She had incredible energy and great enthusiasm. The tour balanced both history and fun facts as well as mentioned awesome culinary delights of the country. You really see a lot of the city with this tour.
Well… You just can't visit Brussels without eating chocolate and drinking beer. This is the perfect tour in Brussels and probably one of my favorite tours ever. The Beer and Chocolate tour walks you through the entire city while tasting some of the best chocolates I’ve ever tried in my life followed by delicious craft beers. They are kept to a fairly small group so they feel intimate and you’re able to chat with the other people in the group as well as get all of your questions answered.
The tour starts off slow and quiet but by the end of the tour everyone is talking and chatting like you’ve known each other for years. The history of chocolate in Brussels was explained well and we were allowed to sample many different chocolates from 4 different high-end chocolate establishments. Following the delicious delights, we went to 4 different pubs, including the oldest pub in Brussels, to drink several different kinds of beers. The tour was fun, entertaining, and it left me boozy.
It really is the perfect tour for all ages. We had couples, families with children (they had great options of juices and soft drinks instead of beer) and also singles. Highly recommended.
You will see many Neuhaus locations throughout Brussels. But before going to the locations in the city I recommend you visit the factory. Located just outside of the city (you can even get there with public transportation), this is a must for any chocolate lover. It’s a showroom and you can sample as many chocolates as you want, they have many different kinds and they are all so delicious.
It is recommended that you make a purchase (so you’re not just sampling free chocolates). I, however, recommend you make a small purchase. Inside the locations throughout the city, you can make your own variation pack of the chocolates that you really enjoyed instead of a pre-made box. So remember the ones you really enjoyed from your tasting and purchase only the ones you like. Unless you’re trying to save money then buying directly from the factory showroom will be cheaper.
Unfortunately, they don’t offer tours because the Belgian people are really secretive about their chocolate recipes. Even the families of the chocolatiers cannot go on a tour.
Tip: Bring some water and a buddy, this way you don’t get dehydrated and you can split the chocolates in half to try more of them. You also don’t have to eat the entire chocolate if you don’t like it. They have bins throughout the entire showroom where you can toss your leftovers.
The most famous statue in Belgium, this is a 61 cm tall peeing boy located in the center of the city. Literally translated to “small man peeing” no one knows the real story of why he is there. I have heard different variations of this story but they all say that it has to do with this boy saving the city. Probably the most famous of the stories, and one you might have heard before is that there was a fire in Brussels and the boy peed on the city to get the fire out. I personally think it has something to do with the Belgian people drinking a lot of beer haha.
A fun and quirky fact about Manneken Pis is that he has over 1000 different outfits. More outfits than Madonna and Lady Gaga combined. You can see the schedule of his outfits here and visit all of his outfits in the wardrobe gallery.
Where to eat:
I can’t say enough good things about this place. Pop Up Sablon serves delicious food at a reasonable price with a great wine selection. Before coming here I scoped out their menu to see if they were pescatarian friendly. They had many fish and veggie options which drew me to this restaurant right away. The décor inside is absolutely elegant, beautiful and modern, you can get lost staring at the walls with their eclectic artwork. However, it was a beautiful day out so I sat outside which allowed me to people watch while enjoying my amazing cod dish. The service was friendly and professional and the atmosphere was amazing. I saw the owner of the restaurant walk up to every table and ask about their meal. This gave a great personal touch to the dining experience, something I’ve only seen back home in Chicago. It’s a lovely elegant place to enjoy a lunch or dinner in a chic part of town.
The service was friendly and professional and the atmosphere was amazing. I saw the owner of the restaurant walk up to every table and ask about their meal. This gave a great personal touch to the dining experience, something I’ve only seen back home in Chicago. It’s a lovely elegant place to enjoy a lunch or dinner in a chic part of town.
I love this concept! This is a must for seafood lovers like myself. They have a huge selection of fresh seafood where you can go and pick out your fish/sides then they cook them for you on the spot. The fish is super tasty and comes with different sauces and bread as a side. It made me feel like I was back at a fish market in South East Asia with the freshness of fish being made in front of me.
As an American, we are used to calling them French Fries, please don’t call them this here, as the Belgian people get offended. What makes the Belgian Fries so special is that they are fried twice. Once at a lower temperature to cook them, the second time at a higher temperature to make them crispy. If you order fries at a sit-down restaurant you probably won’t notice a difference between those and fries from back home. There are several shops (usually small and found on the corners) throughout the city that sell these fries with an assortment of sauces.
FYI: These are fried in beef oil, and will leave you with a beef taste in your mouth. If you don’t eat meat like me you can ask for them to be cooked in vegetable oil.
When in Belgium you have to try Belgium Waffles. You will find many shops and food trucks serving this amazingly delicious desert; there is even a whole street dedicated to Belgian Waffles near Manneken Pis, but try to avoid this street as the quality of waffles isn't the best here.
5 Fun Facts about Brussels
- The Brussels International Airport is the number one chocolate selling point in the world.
- Capital of comic books (The Smurfs, Tintin, and more all originated in Belgium)
- Belgium has over 1000 different beers from 150 breweries. Beers to match any taste buds. I’m not a big beer drinker but they even have beers that taste like Champagne and fizzy rose. They’re delicious.
- Brussels has the 2nd highest number of immigrants in the world
- Galeries St. Hubert was the first shopping arcades in all of Europe opened in 1847
Despite the fact that many people are still afraid to travel to Brussels and there being armed military around the entire city Brussels is a neat and unique city. I highly suggest you visit this odd little city for yourself and create your own things to do in Brussels list.
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Xoxo Ania Travels 💜
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Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Pop Up Sablon Restaurant and the Beer and Chocolate Tour. I paid for my additional tours and food myself. As always, all opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links which will earn me a few cents to contribute to the running of this site if you make a qualifying purchase at no extra cost to you.