Directly opposite the Mannekin Pis, you'd naturally expect this to be a bar that's just aimed at selling as much Old Wife Beater as possible to the tourists. But don't let this and the fact that the decor is themed on the piddling boy fool you, in fact this is a must-visit bar for beer-lovers visiting Brussels.
There are roughly 80 regular beers on the menu as well as monthly specials, some of them unusual (for example, Het Anker's Gouden Carolus Triple on tap - what a night that was!).
Service is efficient and friendly.
Poechenellkelder means "mannekin cellar" in the local Brussels dialect and you'll find that your bill is also in that dialect, which is similar to Dutch.
5 Rue du Chêne. Tel 02 511 92 62
Opening hours: Tue-Thu: 1000-2400, Fri-Sun: 1000-0200, closed Mon.
This brasserie is built in the art nouveau style and has a great tavern atmosphere with brown paper place mats and candles in bottles. It serves staple Belgian fare like moules-mariniere. The carbonnads flamandes and the stoemp are glorious!
17-21, Rue Henri Maus;
tel: 02 511 8789
Apart from the good-value hearty portions of delicious food (the best stoemp in Brussels) and good beer, this laid back cafe bar is really worth visiting for the friendly staff who will really make you feel at home despite being rushed off their feet!
Rue des Chartreux. Near Bourse
An open air DJ bar with an underground flavour. Held every Friday and Saturday night in summertime (weather permitting) the DJs spin a plethora of discs ranging from electropunk to drum 'n' bass via goa trance, acid house and the occasionally rather commercial dance set. The party is held in what is known as the Royal Park opposite the Royal Palace and starts around 11 in the evening, steaming on until the early hours (6-7am, although the party ended earlier last summer).
It's best to have a meeting place in case you get lost as the crowds are thick and it's easy to misplace friends in the happy chaos. Drink prices are average for Brussels (ie cheaper than most expat bars).
Le Parc de Bruxelles, opposite the Royal Palace; nearest metro: Kunst-Wet/Arts-Loi;
The Union is a bohemian piratical bar in a bohemian, piratical area (St Gilles). It was originally the home of the Union of St Gilles football club (holders of the longest unbeaten record of any football club in Belgium) and now plays host to punks, hippies, and stoners of every description (although I wouldn't recommend lighting one up there, new Belgian legislation regarding cannabis notwithstanding).
The décor is composed of insane clowns, grinning pirates, a nice poster of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and various other head toys that will both amuse and fascinate the casual observer. Some nice runework in the loos is representative of the anarchistic spirit of this counter-cultural icon.
St Gilles, the 'Parvis'; nearest tram stop: Parvis de St Gilles
Bizon café is a blues bar in the St Gery area. It offers a wide range of chilled vodkas, genevers, Belgian beers and bison blood (try it you'll like it) in a smoky blues atmosphere. About the only party going on in Brussels on a Monday night is the café's jam session, which hosts such blues circuit favourites as Bai Kamara, Geezer Young, Roman, Stevie and Rob Fewster.
A genuine crowd spirit with the chance to get trollied on a Monday night whenever it's been hard getting back to work.
Karperbrug 7; near central station and the Grand Place; www.cafebizon.com
As nice as the tourist traps of the Grand Place are, you could do a lot worse than try this excellent family run bar/restaurant in the popular but sedate St Catherine area.
This a place where locals eat and drink, reflected in the menu and the prices. There are the usual steaks and moules frites, but you can try other typical Brusselois fare such as Anguilles au Vert (eels in green sauce and nicer than it sounds), Stoemp and even horse!
This is a very friendly, real place and well worth a try even if only for a drink before eating at the excellent St Catherine restaurants. Only a brief stroll from Bourse.
Rue St Catherine; The nearest metros are St Catherine or Bourse
Breathtakingly gorgeous art nouveau cafe/bar just five or so minutes from the Grand Place. Hearty nosh: moules and frites (of course), tasty Zeebrugge shrimp omelette, rugged carbonnades flamandes stew. There’s also loads of choccy puddings, plus Leffe and plenty of other beers on draught.
The English language menu on their website is worth a look for shameless, cheap-laugh lovers (like your correspondent). How about Salade Landaise “with gizzards and poultry lievers parfumed with orange room”. Or the somewhat Julian Clary-sounding “Warm Entries”.
Henri Mausstraat/Rue Henri Maus, 1000 Brussels;
Nearest Metro: Bourse; www.resto.be/falstaff
A real Belgian street-corner bar, in an area overrun with Irish theme pubs. It is open 24 hours, and when I lived there, it was the scene of many a deep and drunken conversation while watching the sun rise.
On the corner of Rue Franklin and Rue Archimede, near the EU buildings
A sprawling two-storey bar that looks like a junk shop, Goupil le Fol is a favourite place for first dates, thanks to its battered, but comfortable sofas, and its many nooks and crannies. Also known for its range of delicious flavoured wines (blackcurrant, raspberry, nut, etc). A bulwark against the increasing homogenisation of city centre nightlife.
22 Violetstraat/Rue de la Violette 22; Tel: 2 511 13 96
Simply one of the finest bars in Europe. Ring the bell to get in, stay until dawn. Listen to live jazz around the grand piano in the middle of this art-deco palace (once upon a time, it was a brothel but there's no hint of seediness now).
Amazing cocktails, friendly staff and clientele, the bar is open until dawn every day. A slice of glamour in the city centre and away from the scrum of tourists and locals in the nearby bars of Saint-Gery.
Rue Antoine Dansaert, 6; Metro Bourse; www.archiduc.net
Cool but friendly bar with a buzzy atmosphere which sells a huge range of beers (what else?). The food (anything from pasta to steak to salads) is freshly prepared and good value. Friendly enough to go in on your own but also good fun in a group. Open till 2am and if you have a late night here, it also does a good breakfast! It's easy to find, just off the trendy Rue de Boniface (the area is worth exploring too, there are lots of other eateries and bars nearby).
Rue de Boniface 14; Metro Porte-Namur
An average Belgian bar might have a couple of dozen beers available. A good Belgian bar might have a couple of hundred. The Delirium Cafe has over TWO THOUSAND beers available at any one time. Not only a terrific range of Belgian beers but also beers from over 60 other countries. The menu actually lists about 2500 beers, but they restrict their claimed selection to "over 2000" as not all are available 100% of the time, though I've never ordered anything they couldn't find. One thing to be aware of, the beer price goes up during live music gigs, which happen twice a week. It's in the maze of alleyways that make up the Ilot Sacre, so can be hard to find at first.
Impasse de la Fidélité, 4A, Brussels. About 100m from the Grand Place and not far from Brussels Central Station. Website: www.deliriumcafe.be/ Tel: 32/2.514.44.34
Beer Mania offers over 400 Belgian beers to sample on site, buy and drink at home, or order online. Open 11am to 9pm, Monday to Saturday. The owner, Nasser Eftekhairi, is usually there and is fount of knowledge on all things to do with Belgian beers.
174-176 Chaussée de Wavre, 1050 Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium. www.beermania.be Tel: 00 32 2 512 17 88 Nearest metro, Trone or Porte de Namur
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