No need to walk far from the Sablon square to find an inexpensive place to eat: for a start there’s the Parrot just off the square – ideal for lunch or as a prelude to a night out. Here the speciality is pitta, 72 different types of pitta on my last count. These come in baskets cradled in the nook of the server’s arm, and are deceptively filling – if you disagree you can just order another. There’s scope to have vegetarian, salads and pittas with dried fruit and nuts - all proving that pittas don’t have to be unhealthy or predictable. You get four different sauces to dribble on your pitta, and insufficient
napkins, but never mind. Some of the contents are liable to escape, scattering themselves
mischievously, making mess! Enjoy in a graceful bar of art nouveau swirls, turquoisey walls and
unpolished marble table tops. For 10 euro for a pitta and freshly squeezed juice you can’t really go wrong. Well-known but still a nice mix of exchange students, local couples and groups. Everyone gets a lollipop with the bill: we wouldn’t want to disturb this genteel Sablon neighbourhood afterwards, would we? And just a short hop from the rum bar I mentioned earlier.
31, rue Watteau, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
+32(0)2 512 99 22
Google map: bit.ly/NkyhTF
* Bec is our Been there local for Brussels. You can view her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/brussels-local-rebecca.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/Becinbrussels
This is a beautiful guesthouse which is really close to Brussels but in a beautiful countryside area, ideal for cycling and hiking.
The landlady, Caroline, was a very caring hostess and made our weekend perfect.
The prices are a real bargain.
Vlezembeek, 10km from Brussels at Bekersveldstraat 3.
mobile: 0032 476949118
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
Everyone says that the best "frites" to be found in Brussels are at Maison Antoine on the Place Jourdan. I don't agree... they're overrated and you always have to queue for ages. Instead try the much less clichéd and much more tasty Frites Flagey at Place Flagey, just near to the hip Café Belga and the venue Flagey "factory of sound and images", a cinema and concert hall. Not only are the chips better, there is almost never a queue, there is service with a genuine smile (a rarity at Maison Antoine) and they are cheaper too!
Frites Flagey, Place Flagey
Tram 81, 82, stop Flagey
The most famous place for chips in Brussels in Place Jourdan. A basic portion costs €1.70/1.90. You can add an assortment of sources and meats.
1 Place Jourdan, Quartier Europeen; Tel: +32 02 230 540 56; Nearest metro: Schuman
Walking tours (lasting about three hours) around certain districts in Brussels. The tours give a fascinating insight into the city's distinctive wealth of art nouveau architecture, led by knowledgable and friendly guides. Lovely!
Visit www.arau.org/ct_home.php or get info from the tourist centre in the Grand Place
This place has a really authentic Italian feel about it. There's no trendyness or pretentiousness like you find in other city centre Italian places, whose food generally turns out to be a big disappointment.
Here you can find the best pizzas north of Rome, served by a guy who would be more at home in a gladiator outfit, and the red-checked tablecloths and paintings of Italy on the walls tell you that he's probably a little bit homesick.
It's also relatively cheap, so it's a great spur-of-the-moment restaurant (you don't need to book). In 8 months of living in Brussels, this was my favourite restaurant by far.
Rue Jourdan 5, (just off the top of Avenue Louise)
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org