Bruges was our first stop and therefore our introduction to everything Belgian. Food was in the forefront of our minds as soon as we landed.
And beer. Beer is food too, right?
It never fails that it’s an odd time to eat once we get settled into accommodations. Hence our first meal was a delightful array of meats, cheeses, beers and bread from the local grocer. However, for the rest of the trip I had done my homework and reached out to several locals in order to find that perfect cup of coffee and a cozy Christmas dinner. The social media and online communities came through once again (see my tips here) and helped me navigate everything from traditional Flemish restaurants to trendy new joints.
Here are my best Bruges picks for all things EATS.
Breakfast & Brunch
We spent six days in Bruges and had three meals at Sanseveria bagel salon, including Christmas Eve supper. This snug spot is always packed and for very good reason. They specialize in open-faced breakfast bagels and bagel sandwiches, but don’t let that bore you. A standard meal comes with your choice of bagel (so many savory or sweet options) fruit with yogurt and granola, tea, coffee or espresso drinks. Aside from the unique sandwich options, the homemade iced tea and apple crumble desserts were to die for. These brunchy meals are all that are served here, but it truly fit for anytime of day. A lovely bonus was the attentive and kind staff. You can tell they love what they do and make it look easy, even if it’s a madhouse inside!
My other breakfast recommendation is Books & Brunch. I like to have a big breakfast for a day of exploring. You just never know how busy you can get during the day and then -BAM- all of a sudden it’s lunch time! This is also a fun, warm space to spend a relaxing morning with your choice of several styles of breakfast, most served with a little array of spreads for your bread or pastry. Having a wide variety of books in many languages to look at while waiting for our food was a cute experience. Obviously, my daughter wasn’t impressed.
Lunch & Dinner
Not many foods go better with beer than burgers and fries. Jilles is just your place for such pairings. This restaurant felt like I had stumbled into a trendy, minimalist space in Downtown Los Angeles. Clean and somewhat rustic, Jilles showcases subtle art celebrating its love affair with all things meat. Whether you go with beef, bison, or chicken, all of the offerings were just what we needed after a long day on our feet. Again, a homemade iced tea was the star of the show; this one was fruity and a bit spicy. I learned that if homemade iced tea is on the menu in Bruges- order it!
In my opinion, the quaint little square that is home to Mozarthuys is the gem of Bruges. Next to the fish market and along the canal, this square famously hosted a foot chase featuring Colin Farrell in the film In Bruges. It is host to a bunch of restaurants, which must be the place to be in the warmer months, and has some of the most beautiful architecture in town. But in the winter, Mozarthuys was a welcomed nook to dip into for a hearty, traditional dinner with options of prime rib, fish or pasta. Our server was so snarky and fun and even sat down with us at one point, encouraging our little one to finish her dinner. Now that’s service!
I already raved about De Vlaamsche Pot as an essential part of our Christmas experience in Bruges in my overview of the city here, but it absolutely needs to be included here as well. Holiday or not, I think this would be the perfect place to walk to for a traditional Flemish meal while cozied up in one of their upstairs dining rooms peering out over the streets below. We wanted to move slowly through each course so that we could savor the ambiance and warmth. However, from pictures I have seen in the summer, the outdoor patio seems to have its own magical charm. We dined on rabbit stew, saucy meatballs, and fries resting in the meat juices.
Nibbles & Beers
I can’t even tell you how much time we spent at 2 be in Brugge. First off, this place has the coolest entrance, with a wall showcasing every Belgian beer out there and a beautifully lit walkway along the beer wall that looks oh-so-inviting in the evening. A small patio off the walkway is a lovely place to sit, but head out to the large patio along the canal for something really special. Pull up a stool after ordering a flight of beers from the daily specials and they will treat you to some cheese & hot mustard to nibble on as you watch the boats go by. This bar is perched on one of the most famous sites in all of Bruges.
Tours aren’t for everyone, but if you had the opportunity to tour the only brewery in Bruges, why wouldn’t you? The De Halve Maan Brewery tour is only about 40 minutes. You get a history lesson in brewing beer with a charming guide and picturesque views after making your way to the rooftop. A complimentary glass of their blond beer awaits you at the end in the brewery restaurant where you can also grab lunch or stay for another glass. I loved learning about this historic brewery and enjoyed a serving of their signature blond beer the next time I was at my favorite local watering hole.
We filled in the gaps between meals with sweets from shops that lined the streets and waffle & fry vendors at every turn. During the holiday season, you also have endless options at the Christmas Market located just under the bell tower including hot scalloped potatoes with cheese and ham and several types of sausages in toasty rolls. Topped off with a hot mulled wine, Bruges kept our bellies full and out spirits happy.