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Street Food in Brussels, Belgium

By alison - December 11, 2012 (Updated: December 4, 2014)

Belgian Street Food in Brussels

Boudin is a popular traditional Belgian Street Food

With food trucks and street carts being the next big thing on the food scene, Brussels stands to be at the forefront of the European Street Food movement.

When you hear the term ‘street food,’ you probably picture giant bowls of noodles in a steamy Southeast Asian market, or maybe grilled meat on sticks at a bustling Moroccan bazaar. You might even think of loaded hotdogs served from a cart in Central Park.

Either way, Belgium isn’t likely to be the first place that comes to mind. However there’s actually a strong tradition of street food in Belgium and, here in Brussels, there’s a new breed of foodie entrepreneurs who are taking that tradition to the next level.

When folks think of ‘Belgian food’ some of the first things that spring to mind are actually our street food offerings – Frites and Waffles.

Belgian Frites

Anyone who has spent any time in Belgium will tell you, the best place to get true Belgian Frites (French fries) is from a friterie or frietkot. These fry stands can be anything from a converted trailer with a series of deep-fryers to a permanent structure in a bustling square.

Whether or not the friterie mobile is irrelevant. What is important is how mobile you are, when you eat your frites. A true Belgian frite experience should be had on the street, with paper cone in hand. If you can walk those frites to a neighbouring bar for a drink, all the better.

Where to get the best frites in Brussels is hotly contested, but these are our three favourite fretkots in the city:

  • Maison Antoine – Place Jourdan, 1040 Etterbeek – There’s always a line and that’s a great sign. You can take your cone of fries to most of the local bars as well.
  • Fritkot – Place de la Chapelle, 1000 Brussels – Close to Grand Place but far enough that you won’t find many tourists. Grab a park bench and enjoy.
  • Friterie St-Josse – Place Saint-Josse, 1210 St-Josse – Although the original owner retired in 2009, the St. Josse institution re-opened and it’s almost as good as always. New bonus – friendly service!

Belgian Waffles

Belgians have been making waffles long before eating street food was trendy. And waffles are the perfect street food: they fit comfortably in one hand, you can eat them on the run and, unless you cover them in toppings (very un-Belgian), they don’t make a mess. You can get Belgian Waffles everywhere; from permanent stalls in the metro stations to mobile waffle trucks you can smell coming.

Belgian Waffles

Belgian Waffles are the perfect street food… just not with all these toppings

Check out our thoughts on who makes the Best Belgian Waffles.

Noordzee / Mer du Nord

You probably don’t think eating street food is particularly classy, but at the Brussels seafood institution, Noordzee/Mer du Nord, fine dining takes to the streets. This traditional Brussels fishmonger ranks as one of our 5 Must Eat Restaurants in Brussels.

Belgian grey shrimps street food fresh from the sea

Belgian grey shrimps street food fresh from the sea

From the gleaming stainless steel counter, customers order steaming fish soup, homemade grey shrimp croquettes and fried goodies like calamari. You can wash it all down with a glass of crisp white wine or, if you’re feeling particularly classy, champagne. Eat at the counter or under a shady tree in the square.

Street Market Food

Besides these traditional Belgian street food institutions, expats in Brussels have imported their own street food cultures. There’s no better place to sample these than one of the daily street markets. Each neighbourhood in the city has its own special flavour. Depending on the market, you can find everything from handmade Asian noodles to Italian Arancini.

Boudin - A Christmas street food treat

Boudin – A Christmas street food treat

Just about every market has someone selling sausages. Be on the lookout for traditional Belgian Boudin, especially around Christmastime. For more about this tasty treat read our post Boudin – A Taste of Belgium.

Kebab and Durum

With the prevalence of Middle Eastern immigrants in parts of Brussels, it’s easy to find great Doner Kebabs and Durums in the city. These are basically variations of spit roasted meat (normally beef or lamb) served on flat bread with a variety of toppings. These rolled up wraps are cheap and easy to eat on the run.

There are plenty of Kebab chains in the city, but for something a bit more local head to St. Josse. Look for the Kebab shop with the longest line and prepare to wait. It will be worth it.

Earlier in the post I mentioned the ‘new breed’ of street food hitting Brussels. With the demand for sustainable ingredients growing and people’s pocketbooks shrinking, there’s a movement towards high-quality street food. The following are two of the best (and are conveniently located within steps of each other).

HopDog

We first discovered HopDog last year, not long after they opened in Brussels and we’re happy to see they are thriving. You won’t find any of the filler that goes into traditional hotdogs here. These are organic, healthy and delicious. The menu is constantly expanding and there are options to suit every taste and appetite. There are even Veggie Dogs… who knew?

HopDog - Tasty and healthy street food in Brussels

HopDog – Tasty and healthy street food in Brussels

HopDog was the first sign high-end street food was infiltrating Brussels and we’re excited to see the movement grow.

Bia Mara

The newest addition to the Brussels street food scene is Bia Mara. This fish and chip shop is anything but traditional. Using sustainable, high-quality ingredients, it’s easily the best Fish and Chips in Brussels. And while you don’t have to eat your fish on the street, as Bia Mara has indoor seating, you can easily take it to go for the full street food experience.

Bia Mara Fish and Chips in Brussels

Bia Mara Fish and Chips – street optional

We’re not sure what’s next on the Brussels street food scene. We’d love to see the high-end food truck movement take off here like it has in some North American cities. With the plethora of markets and green-spaces in Brussels, it’s the perfect venue.

Street food proves you don’t have to spend a pile of money to get fresh, high-quality food quickly. We can’t wait to see what comes to Brussels next.

What’s your favourite street food? Can you find it in Brussels? Tell us about it in the comments below.

For more great restaurants in Belgium and beyond, check out our Restaurant Review page.

Read more from Cheeseweb.eu
Alison

Alison

Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of Cheeseweb.eu. She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
Alison
Cheese + Goats = My personal heaven. We discover an oasis in the cheese desert. https://t.co/Os8U86UEiX - 20 hours ago

11 comments

  1. Comment by Julien

    Julien December 27, 2012 at 21:16

    Great post, thanks for sharing! I also recommend Mr Falafel on Blvd Lemonnier, I love to go there on a sunny day.
    Can’t wait to see more food trucks around as well!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison January 3, 2013 at 22:09

      Sounds good. We’ll have to give that a try!

  2. Comment by barb

    barb December 28, 2012 at 13:45

    the picture of that waffle is just so deliciously yummy! I want one! Now!!!haha

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison January 3, 2013 at 22:09

      Thanks Barb. Waffles are always a good idea 🙂

  3. Comment by Ger

    Ger January 13, 2013 at 11:02

    Alison, great site and lots of good tips, but you missed what i consider one of the most exciting new establishments in bxl. They sell true Mexican street burritos, i should know as i worked on a burrito truck in San Fran. Their burgers are up there with the best also. Check them out, the deli bruxelles, beside the royal galleries in the city center.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison January 13, 2013 at 12:09

      Hi Ger. Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention! It is definitely right up our alley so I’ll be sure to check it out soon!

  4. Pingback: Keep On Toasting Gourmet Food Truck in Brussels, Belgium | Expat Life in Belgium, Travel and Photography | CheeseWeb

  5. Comment by Savannah

    Savannah May 22, 2013 at 17:42

    I am doing a project on Belgium’s culture/Belgium’s food. This was so helpful! I would love to do what you do someday. You’re blessed, and really inspired me. Thank you.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison May 23, 2013 at 11:34

      It’s our pleasure Savannah. Glad we could help!

  6. Comment by Kelly

    Kelly May 29, 2013 at 22:13

    What are the farmer’s markets like there? What vegetables are grown locally?

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison May 30, 2013 at 12:19

      There are loads of markets here throughout the week and, at least during the summer months, you can get a whole range of local produce: potatoes, carrots, asparagus, endive, a variety of fruits, just about anything really.

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