Thomas and I came to Le Falstaff for a few drinks before going to bed on our first day in Brussels. I knew that it was a touristy place but as it was Thomas' first time in Brussels and as we both like Art Nouveau places I showed him this bar which has been a favourite of the locals and the tourists for more than 100 years. We sat down on wobbly furniture next to the piano player. What a guy! I love it when I can see people enjoying their jobs, he definitely did and entertained those around him really well.
The beer menu is the normal one you get at a Brasserie type of place. A selection of not too many beers by Belgian standards but more than enough to choose from by European standards. Food is rather expensive!
The locals had told us about Le Cirio so on a cold winter day when we were hungover and too tired to walk (great timing, it was on 31 December!) we sat down inside this great pub for a while having a few drinks. In my case they even were nonalcoholic drinks.
The interieur design makes you time travel into the good old times of the turn of the 19th/20th century. To me all the dark wood and rich decorations make me feel like being in the early 20th century train station or waiting hall. A fantastic place full of locals even though I bet this place is mentioned in every guidebook.
The Lop-Lop has evolved with the years. First thing you notice about it? The number of country flags . In the early nineties, it used to be my flatmates and I’s hang-out. The beer was cheap, the mood truly bohemian, you had musicians dropping by, playong on one of the two pianos if they felt like it… You could tell just by looking at the owner, a Brit with long beard and John Lennon glasses. It was cool and it was our headquarter. Then, it was decided to do a big clean-up and now, the Lop-Lop has become a hang-out for young English-speakers and is quite popular. For some reasons, the list of beers is quite big (and the bar even provides information on its menu about them) and reasonably priced. A good place for expats, young tourists and locals alike.
WARNING : After years of services, the LopLop is not anymore. It's been refurbished and is now called "The Churchill", still catering to the young tourist or foreigner living in Brussels with TV screen and everything. A piece of my heart got broken.
The crowd from the Falstaff has now moved here. Except it's actually a younger and more diverse crowd. El Metteko has good (Latin) music, a nod towards Cuba in the decor and towards Africa and Brazil in the menu. Three of us had Grimbergen on tap and really good food (seafood first course and then Moqueca, Chili con carne and Poulet Yassa) and it came to less than 50 euro total. 'Democratic prices' as the Belgians say! But the best thing about it was the people-watching. There wasn't a boring table in the whole joint.
Dress Code: Outlandish is best.
Late one evening, my friends and I stumbled upon this location, and when I say stumbled, we accidentally came in the back entrance and had no idea what type of place we had entered. Once we were inside, it felt like we had just stepped directly into Little Havana. I had the best mojito of my life (which says a lot, as I have since then lived in Miami, FL with some of the greatest Cuban cuisine), listened to some amazing music, while sitting in the upper level looking down at everyone dancing. It was one of my favorite nights in Brussels! Until today, I had no idea of the name of the place, but thanks to another tipster on this site, I finally put a name and a place to this memory!
Every Thursday - We provide a fantastic environment where you can make new contacts within the International Community. You may want to widen your circle of friends, or seek out a new business partner - we take care of both. We are housed in the historic building of the Autoworld Museum, at the Heart of the Parc du Cinquantenaire. Mérode metro is but a short walk and we have ample parking. The 629 Club meets every Thursday and there are opportunities to eat, play golf on our terrace putting green, win a glass of Cava at our fun roulette table, learn to salsa, dance to the music of our international DJs, and obtain information about life in Belgium. Doors open at 18h00 and you can dance until 01h00. We are a large group, about 250 now, this makes for great fun and wonderful opportunities. To find out more try the following web sites or give me a call.
Dress Code: Everyone is welcome, no special dress code - most people are smartly dressed.
One of hyped up and hippest spots in Brussels: Café Belga, packed with students as well as late 30ers.
Located in fashionable Ixelles, not so far from Brussels University area. Eclectic music programme. This ensures that this bar, located on the ground floor of former Belgium National Radios and Televisions is always full.
The boat-shaped building is also called "Le Paquebot" (designed & built in 50s). It is now designed for Culture, Music, Film making, Artists where they may record, reside in many studios... Concerts, shows also take place there. And last but not least, Brussels International Film Festival is helf there from Apr. 25 to May 3 2003 otherwise.. next year, same period.
I particularly like its interior design, with much light... simple, minimalist.
Besides, it is nicely located, across Etangs d'Ixelles or Ixelles ponds. It has a terrasse. I think this view on Les Etangs d'ixelles (ponds) which makes it most a popular place.
To think, the service is slow (twice I ordered at the counter, didn't mind, was not in a hurry and it was crowded that day), the food just above average, can be crowded... Still, I like going there alone, just to people-watch. On some idle & quieter days, at working hours, it's nicer, less folks and some silence to read newspapers they put on display, or your book... and some waiter(ess) to pick your order. After work, it's just another story, another crowd (more of it, I mean!).
Truly a hangout spot , it has its own DJ set & a quite cool & eclectic playlist (Bjork, Ben Harper, Gainsbourg, Bowie, Moloko... check their website). I like what some of their DJs do and, for a non-clubbing person, it's very exceptional liking to be amongst that crowd, dancing like everybody else...
Dress Code: Dress as you want...
One con: The only big problem of the recent years is that Place Flagey, onto which Café Belga looks, is under huge works... Works that are going to last for years. Still, that didn't prevent people to flock there, just to sit inside and party till wee hours (thank you, DJ!) or at the terrasse looking onto the ponds and not onto Place Flagey. For some reason, this is still one amongst spots I'm most comfortable with in Brussels.
Le Khnopff is another trendy spot in Brussels. As for how long would it be "trendy", I don't know. I just find myself RIDICULOUS telling it is a "trendy" place :). But as a matter of fact, it is so at the moment I am laying my memories of the place down.
The basement houses a purple-walled designer lounge-resto-bar precisely... I could only try the bar. The counter is a long and "hot" one, red-lit... Could have taken a cool pic of it.
I like the overall deco. Said somewhere it was country-farm electro-pop style. OK... I like the use of wood, lumbers with post-industrial metal plaques. Is that combination the one that makes up the country-farm electro-pop style? Be it... Btw, the building used to serve as a studio for Ferdinand Khnopff, the leader of the symbolism movement late 1880s-90. Hence the name...
The person I was with suggested I sat on the counter... Still think whether he really knew what he meant. I have many possible interpretations on that suggestion (hahaha). I just replied "No, because people would think I have a cold butt".. In fact, it was freezing outside. Still, I didn't want to sit on the counter.:)
For sure, don't expect a real tête-à-tête there, too noisy :)... But goofing around with friend(s) is nice. In that case, you can just sit in the lounge or near the bar. Enough place to fill with your bunch.
Now, the music... lounge & bar music but seems to not fit to the diner area. I think it was overpowering the "diner" ambience people had in the restaurant area. Well, that must be a new trend in "lunching". Something I am not used to.
Would I return here ? Yes... Still could be a nice place to hang around under the conditions that
* you go there with your bunch (would say, more than two.. see what I mean?)
* you like techno music while eating (too overpowering for me). Chillout is still techno for me... I like it in a car, on a PC desk, in a bar but not while dining.
Dress Code: When I was there, there was a doorman. Still, it was easy to enter the area. Local fauna was made of EU execs and "lesser exec" ones. Of "trendy" Belgians too. I think you can dress whatever you want but certainly not rotten jeans, neither baseball cap and sneakers.
No tie required but I saw some ties.
Also, Chaussée de Charleroi is an interesting place, packed with (sometimes exclusive) spots, trendy ones. Find here wine bars, special cuisines, lounges... No old brown pubs, as far as I could remember. You can go there to alternate with the Grand-Place area where tourists use to flock in.
My pic was taken from where we sat: along the counter.
...Non- Alcohol Oriental Mojito...
What ? Non-Alcohol Mojito ? Must be kidding... Well, I am not kidding. It is the name I give to Mappa Mundo's Thé Maison.
OK, what's in there ? Non-Alcohol Mojito uses to be some iced tea with lime juice, mint leaves and sugar. Very refreshing in summer. Well, I love mint and lime so that is not surprising. Lately, I asked for Thé Maison "like you use to do it" I said and they added to the "cocktail" some drops of Fleur d'oranger. And that's where my "Non- Alcohol Oriental Mojito" comes from. Different. Inteersting. Still, I believe my preference goes to the plain Non-Alcohol Mojito.
About meals: last time I was there, I was meeting an old friend in town and since we finished work quite early (3 pm), we decided to grab a bite to eat at Mappa Mundo. They serve lights meals and the simple sandwiches we had were oddly delicious. I say "oddly" since I am not the sandwich type. I have one once every 2 months, I'd say. Still, they serve this homemade tuna salad. There was more tuna than dressing: a very rare balance, these days :) Then the bread, you have the choice between a slice of good baguette and tartines, so dear to Belgians. I chose for the baguette à l'ancienne... Just out of this world.
Hmmm... There were beers too there but since I was not a beer fan, I hesitated between mojito and its non-alcohol versions. Next time(s), if I ever try their mojito, I'll tell you about it.
And oops! nearly forgot it, I like it there at Mappa Mundo: the wood frames and settings. Reminds me of a boat, a cottage, a wooden hut. Something warm.
There is the St-Géry Trio (3 pubs belonging to the same owners, incl. Mappa Mundo & Roi des Belges) but my fave is still Mappa Mundo. They have been trendy years ago, at their launching, and turned out to be classic spots in the city. I've never understood the hype. For me, it's just some bar looking on Les Halles de Saint-Géry, cool for people watching and its terrasse.
Dress Code: Everything goes, I'd say.
You'll see a mix of students, yuppies, artists in those pubs around Saint-Géry. Some from work, with ties and suits, others with their Puma sneakers, pastel sunglasses, Bed Head hair.
As for the music, something nice. Some Latino, Belgian pop too. Not really easy-listening, something with lyrics :) I was sitting there chatting and enjoying my drink when they played "Che Guevara" and Almodovar films' songs. Then, at a time, we stopped to listen to the music. Beautiful, just beautiful.
OK.. someone was spotted there, moving her hips, the girl couldn't help but dancing on her chair.. but well, that's another story and it may happen even with Non-Alcohol Oriental Mojito. Had those drops of Fleur d'Oranger made their effects ? Hmmm... Cannot tell...
Though I've heard about it since a long time, January 2004 was my first time there. Shame on me !
It was during Roy's second visit in Brussels. The guy had some 2-3 hours between his school visit of the EU area & departure time. We arranged to meet up to visit some of parts of Brussels he hadn't seen during the 30 Nov. VTmeeting.
Well, it was not as expected. I thought it was an Irish or other British pub. My kind of mixing up is due to the name, very probably. Then, we entered the pub. Surprised I was seeing those people focused on their game and moves. They were bunches playing chess all over the room. I think the charming features of the place are on those tables: chessboards everywhere. Young, old people flock in to play chess with a little bit of drink (beer). Not too much though since one has to keep a clear mind for the moves.
No wonder the prices are some of the most reasonable around. At its opening, it is also located in the popular area (now gradually gentrified), the area of the small people. It also used to welcome writers.
Other than the quietness (people play chess, here) and the atmospheric ambience of the high-ceiling Art Nouveau premices, smoke was one of my fondest memories of Greenwich. :) I don't say that all people there smoke... well, read below.
Dress Code: No dress code. Still, Roy and I ended up hurrying our chatting. We went out right after finishing our Coca-Cola (no beer, for us :). The guy at the table next to us smoked pipe. "Chain smoking" is rather the word. It was intoxicating (in the meaning of Toxic + poisonous).
He was reading. Roy and I were chatting. We found out that we watched same program(s) on British TV station. At a time, I was imitating the Lords (or are they the Commons?) agreeing and disagreeing in Parliamentary sessions. It is televised on that Tv station we were talking about. Seems I was a bit noisy and the pipe-smoker was trying to read his documents. Maybe that the reason why he sent his smoke toward us. At a time, we couldn't breath, we paid and left the pub. Maybe our leaving was greatly expected. :)))
I am pretty sure it could be nice at other tables. Just to say that you may choose apparels you wouldn't mind to be impregnated by smoke. Home, I had to hang my clothes outside to get rid off the smoke. And yes, pipe is not cigarette...
One knows about Irish pubs and how crowded & noisy they may be.
Irish pubs in Brussels are not far different from other cities' Irish pubs. What makes them special is this pop music and crowded ambiance. I especially appreciate sport evenings. With one or two tellies (big screen though), pubers watch Premier League matches, also rugby and even hockey matches and the whole pub lives with this excitment... Even for those who don't like soccer, it's a real excitment to attend those evenings.
Have a go for few drinks!
Clientele is young and international, made of students and young EU Commission execs...
Conways is a sport bar on Avenue de la Toison d'or with some program including tournament nights (soccer, rugby matches).
Dress Code: No tie required :-)
We accidentally found this small and intime, cosy place just around the corner of one street of the Grande Place. Immediately the ambiance took us with too. I enjoyed the skilled musicians' work and their ability to get people along and dancing despite the fact that the dance floor was small like stamp.
I was told that many EU officials and employees of different Embassies tend to come here. The people were nice and we discussed a lot.
It is a perfect place for someone who likes international athmosphere and to meet people from all parts of world. We even found so nice people (from Latin America) that they took us to a Columbian place after the Cuban place was closed.
Dress Code: No dress code, but no shorts or beach or sports gear. Jeans with a skirt are OK. There were people dressed in many different ways; many liked to put on more, some (both girl and guys) felt nice in their blue jeans.
Downstairs is the bar with TV to view the dance floor upstairs which also has a bar. The music is current dance and chart music. A great mix of people both local and tourits. Continues until 7am. We enjoyed it so much we went there 2 nights on a 3 night trip., and will go back again athe end of this month.
Dress Code: Dress sexy modern style.
VT'ers: this is your place!
Le Cercle des Voyageurs is a place where you can taste some teas and wines from all over the world and have a piece of cake in the afternoon, or eat some exotic food in the evening.
It has a nice colonial interior, but the main thing is that it's also a traveler's centre. In the room in the back, they have lots of books and brochures about lots of countries, where you can prepare your next trip at ease. All this for free ( well, not the drinks of course)
Dress Code: no dress code
On the place St Gery, one of the spots to be in the evening/night., this bar is a great escape from city life. Reggae music, exotic interior and delicious cocktails make you forget the rain outside (which is likely to be there) You can also have some sandwiches if you are hungry.
Together with the other terraces on that place (Le Roi des Belges and Zebra Bar), this makes it a good place for people watching during summer.
Dress Code: no dress code