Like many cities, some of the very best places to eat in Bruges are secrets only known to those who live here. Thanks to our friend on the ground and from our own explorations, we’ve pulled together a list of where to eat in Bruges, Belgium.
Bruges is not a big Belgian city, but it is deep. Within the limits of the old moat that confines the warren-like passages and canals of the old town, a world of eateries, bistros, bars and frietkoten plays hide and seek with its visitors.
It’s so easy to walk past the best place to eat in Bruges without even knowing, so here’s a list from a local on where to eat in this beautiful little city.
Even worse, as we found on our first night in Bruges, you might find yourself traipsing from one pretty little street to the next trying to pick a place to eat from all the options you’ve discovered along the way.
Where to eat in Bruges, Belgium
There are couple of things we should point out that will not only improve your dining experiences in Bruges, but also make sure you don’t miss any of the good bits!
Never – especially on Friday and Saturday nights – expect a table if you haven’t booked. This is a small city and people from all over come into town for dinner. Restaurants are usually quite small, so capacity is always an issue.
So call ahead or book online to make a reservation. And just so you know, most places are closed on Sundays and almost everywhere shuts around 10pm.
Everyone knows Belgium for its waffles, chocolates and beer (we’ll come to that) but there are some other dishes and ingredients worth looking out for when you’re in Bruges.
In particular, make sure you try ‘stoverij’ while you’re here. Special to Bruges, this rich chunky beef stew is slowly cooked for several hours in a dark beer, which makes up the basis of the stew’s delicious, sweet gravy.
Places like ‘t Bagientje, Passage and Half Moon Brewery do a particularly stoverij.
If you don’t get a chance to try stoverij, at least have some of the local beef. The cattle breed particular to the region is a kind of mutant for want of a better word. Thanks to a missing gene, the cows here don’t stop growing and can become hugely muscular.
The meat from these cows is truly delicious and well worth looking out for. The majority of restaurants in Bruges are heavy on the meat, so this beef is never too hard to find.
On your travels around Bruges, make sure you stop in at a few bars for some true Belgian beer.
There are hundreds of bars around and pretty much everywhere here sells beer, but here’s a list of our favourite beer bars where you’ll get an authentic experience and the best brews.
Tues to Sun 10:30 – 22:00
The best place in town for stoverij beef stew, ‘t Bagientje is part of a hotel and has seating outside and inside. The steak tartare is also superb.
Thurs – Mon 18:00 – midnight
Cosy, homely and evidently once a pub, this bistro has been going for over 40 years. The menu here is Greek/Mediterranean – and therefore quite lamb-focussed.
Tues – Sat 18:00 – 22:00 and lunch Tues – Fri from midday
Cosy two-storey bistro with an impressive range of beautifully cooked steaks and seafood. Definitely not a vegetarian option.
Tues – Thurs & Sun 17:30 – 22:00 Fri 17:30 – 23:00 Sat 12:00 – 23:00
Expect fast, friendly service and typical Belgian cuisine – especially for stoverij. This is part of a hotel in the quiet backstreets of the busy southwestern quarter of town.
Tues – Sun 12:00 – 22:00 Thurs 17:00 – 22:00
Unlike most eateries in Bruges, L’Estaminet doesn’t take reservations, so it’s perfect for a walk-in! Their Lasagne Diabolo (spicy lasagne with goat’s cheese, olives and sun-dried tomatoes) comes highly recommended.
Mon – Sun 11:30 – 15:00 & Thurs – Sat 18:00 – 21:00
Typical Belgian cuisine with house beers on tap as you’d expect. You can also have a tour of the brewery or explore the museum of this family brewery that’s been in business for hundreds of years.
Mon to Sun 18:00 – 22:00 Fri & Sat – 23:00
Perhaps the best-known restaurant in Bruges, many friends who were here before us recommended Ribs n Beer. We couldn’t get a table here, which shows how popular it is. As you’d expect, vegetarians will find their choices limited here.
A little more up-market and with a broader menu than the bistros, these restaurants can offer a more traditional, formal dining experience.
Mon & Tues – Fri – Sun 18:00 till 22:00
A very meat-forward grill restaurant with a charcoal grill in the centre of the restaurant, Nieuw Museum prides itself on its Belgian beef and beer, and even has an optional beer-pairing menu.
Tues to Sun 18:00 till 22:00
Great for top-quality steak but also has a good grilled fish and seafood menu too. A pretty exterior and cosy restaurant floor.
Wed – Sat 12:00 – 14:00 & 18:00 – 21:00, Tue 18:00 – 21:00, Sun 12:00 – 14:00
Perfect food with a very cosy interior and a concise menu. This little restaurant is quite off the ‘eaten path’ but worth the walk.
Tues – Sat 12:00 onwards for lunch and 18:00 onwards for dinner
A lovely canal-side restaurant set in thick sandstone walls and al fresco seating in the piazza by the water. Spinola has an amazing wine cellar and fine-dining menus.
Seven days a week, 365 days a year 11:00 – 23:00
In a very central location without feeling too touristy. Lovely veranda and views of the Belfry look on to quiet streets. The menu has plenty to choose from, including local dishes, while the relaxed dining atmosphere reminds you wholeheartedly that you’re in Europe.
Other dinner and lunch venues of note are Tom’s Diner, Bistro Raymond, Lieven, De Mangerie and Reliva.
Wed – Fri 12:00 – 14:00 & 17:30 – 22:30 Sat – Sun midday – midnight
The cosy interior of this large, historic building makes for an atmospheric meal venue. The top floor is said to be better as service downstairs could be better. Expect live music and beautifully plated food.
Where to buy Belgian chocolate
Owner of The Chocolate Line,Dominique Persoone, is a national celebrity and a bit of a food genius. He works in Heston Blumenthal’s think-tank for The Fat Duck and collaborates regularly with Albert Adria, owner of El Bulli.
Persoone makes experimental chocolate: rice-wine, fried onions, wasabi, hemp, saffron curry – you never know what you’ll find here.
This is a favourite chocolate shop for locals with superb quality and realistic prices.
Beautifully made pralines, which are a Belgian creation. Hot chocolate with speculoos – a sweet cinnamon biscuit – a firm favourite for locals here.
Belgian waffles come in two styles – sweet and savoury. In truth, waffles from Bruges and the Flemish area are traditionally savoury. The sweet style is from the French-speaking region, from Liege in particular.
Probably the best sweet waffle experience in Bruges with an amazing hot chocolate on the side. Heaven!
John’s Waffle Van on the Burg
Waffles made on the spot, not reheated like in any other venue that does waffles to take away.
The airiest Brussels waffles around, you’ll find both types of waffle here with some delicious savoury options. House of Waffles is directly behind and above the Bruges Torture Museum, which is also worth a look.
This place has good waffles and even more delicious ice cream. Their pistachio is phenomenal.
Ice cream and other sweet spots
A True Italian ice cream extravaganza that’s been bringing smiles to locals’ faces for over 20 years. A delicious range of gelato flavours made the traditional Italian way.
Very cosy place to get a tea with a slice of pie by the fireplace, this is the perfect pitstop as you walk around Bruges. The Gulliver Tree is also open for breakfast.
A delicious range of hot chocolate recipes and pastry offerings. They also have a special vegan menu on Thursdays.
You want fries with that? The best Belgian snack
Believe it or not, but French fries are a Belgian invention. Admittedly from the French-speaking part of the country, in the Dinant and Liege areas, this fast-food favourite was more a means to an end originally.
People would catch fish from the Lesse and Maes Rivers and fry the smallest in their catch like whitebait as a warming snack. In winter, the rivers would freeze over though, so some clever chap swapped out the fish for slices of spud instead.
Now ‘frietkoten’ – or fry-shacks – are much sought-after snack stops throughout Belgium.
Thurs – Mon 11:30 – 14:00 & 17:00 – 22:00
Bruges’ favourite fry shack, run by Kurt and Valerie, makes the best fries in town. Portions are huge – maybe even too big, even for 2 adults! I’d like to give it a shot though.
Bruges is an incredible city for food – and even more so when you know what you’re looking for. We hope this guide helps you on your hunt for delicious!