Bia Mara – the Best Fish and Chips in Brussels.

By - November 13, 2012 (Updated: December 4, 2014)

Bia Mara, Fish and Chips in Brussels

Bia Mara, Fish and Chips in Brussels

With so many expats from the UK residing in Brussels, there has always been an outcry for delicious fried fish, which has largely gone unheard – until now. With the opening of Bia Mara, Brussels, fans of fish and chips in Brussels, can rejoice and sleep easy, knowing their choice is sustainable too.

Growing up on the Atlantic coast of Canada, Andrew and I are no strangers to excellent seafood, and fish and chips were always a tasty, if not so healthy, treat, growing up. We often observed, a natural addition to the excellent Belgian frites, would be some nicely battered fried fish.

So when I heard about a new restaurant in Brussels, specialising in high-quality, sustainable fish and chips, it immediately went on my list of places to try. Last weekend we visited Bia Mara and it exceeded our expectations.

The little restaurant is conveniently located a block from the De Brouckere metro station, just off of Anspach. A bright blue sign led us into a long, narrow, space, with a funky, industrial atmosphere. Bia Mara was bustling, which is a good indication of quality in Brussels, as it has been open less than a month.

We poured over the menu, having a difficult time deciding from all of the delicious sounding options. Bia Mara offers a €10 formula that includes a choice of fish, chicken or vegetarian main, one of their homemade sauces and one special salt and spice mixture for the chips. They all sounded mouth-watering.

[Sadly, the photos aren’t up to our usual standard as it was a spur of the moment visit and we only had Andrew’s phone to take photos. We just couldn’t wait to share Bia Mara with you. We will get back and photograph it properly, promise!]

In the end, Andrew opted to keep things traditional by ordering the haddock in panko breadcrumbs, with tartar sauce and balsamic and red onion salt.

Bia Mara, Fish and Chips in Brussels

Haddock in panko breadcrumbs, with tartar sauce and balsamic and red onion salt (with a side of chorizo baked beans)

I was seriously tempted by the salmon in curry tempura, but my love of all things spicy made me choose the piri piri buttermilk chicken, with chipotle sauce and garlic and chilli salt.

piri piri buttermilk chicken, with chipotle sauce and garlic and chilli salt

piri piri buttermilk chicken, with chipotle sauce and garlic and chilli salt

As you can probably guess, this is no ordinary greasy fish and chip shop. The chef has worked in Michelin starred establishments across Europe, and he’s dishing up innovative and quality dishes. I can’t wait to try the Cajun Pollock and the garlic truffle, curry lime and smoked chilli dipping sauces sound divine. Bia Mara’s daily specials commonly sell out before day’s end and with the creativity of their regular menu, it’s easy to see why.

We took a seat as we waited for our meal to be delivered. As we looked around, we saw lots of seriously happy-looking customers. We also saw the owner and his staff interacting with the diners making sure everything was to their liking – a great thing to see in a new business.

Our food arrived promptly in cardboard boxes and we were supplied with biodegradable, disposable cutlery. We were told by owner Barry Wallace later, he prefers to keep costs low on packaging so he can focus on buying the best fresh and sustainable ingredients he can get his hands on. That choice definitely shone through in the food.

My chicken had a delicious spicy, crispy coating but was moist and juicy inside. Andrew’s fish had a great crunchy exterior, but again was light and flaky beneath the crust. We both had a small mountain of thick cut potato wedges hiding under our meat. The spiced salts were subtle but the dipping sauces added a great kick.

So what was our overall review of Bia Mara? We loved it! It shares many of the things we love about two of our other favourite small restaurants in Brussels, HopDog and Britxos. We get really excited to see small businesses whose owners are passionate about their ingredients. That attention to detail comes through in the food. Bia Mara is proof food can be fun and delicious while still being sustainable and affordable. What more could we ask for?

Bia Mara Urban Seafood Kitchen
Rue du Marché aux Poulets 41,
1000, Brussels

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

If you like this, you might like:

Alison Cornford-Matheson
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of 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 Cornford-Matheson
- 5 hours ago


  1. Comment by Sylvain

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Sylvain November 13, 2012 at 11:38

    Waow, that sounds really exciting! Panko breadcrumbs, Chipotle suace, good fish: now I can’t wait to try! thanks for the tip!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison November 13, 2012 at 15:16

      My pleasure Sylvain! We want everyone to try and fal in love with this place so it will be around for a long, long time! It’s a super concept and the quality is excellent.

  2. Comment by Amy

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Amy November 13, 2012 at 16:56

    Yum! I spy fish tacos on that menu too… mmm!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison November 14, 2012 at 09:09

      Yes! I forgot to mention the tacos. We didn’t try them but they certainly sound tempting. Another place to add to to your list to try in January!

  3. Comment by Sebastian

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Sebastian November 15, 2012 at 12:44

    cannot find a tel number – where can i reserve and where are the opening times?

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison November 15, 2012 at 13:16

      Hi Sebastian, I’m not sure if they take reservations but there are opening times and a phone number listed on their Facebook page here:

  4. Comment by Sebastian

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Sebastian November 15, 2012 at 14:51

    Thanks a lot Alison!!!

  5. Comment by Sylvain

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Sylvain November 15, 2012 at 18:51

    Thanks Alison for the great tip: we went yesterday before going to the movies and it was perfect: quick service, friendly staff and great taste. I love that you can get really ‘hot’ stuff, with garlic and chili salt and chipotle sauce: we’ll definitely go back! 😉

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison November 16, 2012 at 08:24

      I’m so glad you liked it Sylvain! I was excited by the spicy menu items too! I love my food to have a kick and anything with smoky chipotle sauce is a winner in my book 🙂

  6. Comment by Dave Walsh

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Dave Walsh November 26, 2012 at 11:05

    Great place! FYI – Bia Mara is Irish for Seafood “Bia” = Food, “mara”=sea. Based on the Cheeseweb review, we ate their on Saturday, and it was absolutely excellent. A few quibbles tho – the decor is a bit austere, and unfinished looking; the disposable cutlery, menu etc. seems very wasteful and unnecessary; and while the choice of fish (haddock, mackerel, pollock) seems sustainable, it would do Bia Mara no harm to make a strong statement on this.


  7. Comment by Mike Walker

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Mike Walker November 26, 2012 at 22:39

    It is great to know there is a fish n’chips place in Brussels, but as Dave points out it is a shame they are not stating the providence of the fish. Especially if they are selling haddock, pollock and mackerel, three stocks which are managed well (in some places). You can even get away with charging more for sustainable produce …

  8. Comment by Alison

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Alison November 27, 2012 at 11:04

    Dave and Mike – When I spoke with the owner, his reasoning for the disposable cutlery etc was to keep costs down to be able to spend money on good ingredients. He wants to keep the menu prices as affordable for a quality product as he can. That said, I am not a fan of the disposable forks at all. While I like that they are biodegradable, it was next to impossible to eat my chicken with them. I do think his aim is to promote the sustainability of the fish, and I thought that was printed on the menu but maybe I’m wrong on that.

  9. Comment by Sasha

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Sasha December 9, 2012 at 15:12

    After reading your post I had to check them out. What great service and food! I went when it was quite quiet, so the owner was able to tell me the story of how they started and made sure I enjoyed my meal! It was fantastic, will be going back for sure.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison December 10, 2012 at 10:17

      That’s great Sasha! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  10. Comment by Sebastian

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Sebastian December 27, 2012 at 10:55

    Hi Alison,
    After my first entry I went there several times with my wife. Food is excellent and Barry/Simon great guys!
    Thanks once more for the recommendation!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison December 27, 2012 at 20:24

      Our pleasure! Glad you enjoyed it so much!

  11. Comment by Greg

    Alison Cornford-Matheson

    Greg February 7, 2013 at 22:31

    I had the same menu as Andrew (except for the beans, but hey I’m Belgian!!!) and totaly share your views on this great place! Next time I want to try the coleslaw (“red slaw” actually) and mashed peas as well 😉

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison Cornford-Matheson

      Alison February 8, 2013 at 09:13

      Yay! I’m glad to hear that Belgians are loving this place too Greg. I think they are doing great things. I went back recently and tried the Spicy Salmon Tempura and it was heavenly!

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