Food is fashion. It’s on-trend to eat healthy, vegan, flexitarian and care about what you put in your mouth in general.
But let’s face it. The Belgian cuisine is not born vegan and diet-friendly. It’s famous Five: Mussels, Fries, waffles, pralines and beers plus the creamy sauces and entrecôtes are not particularly vegan-friendly.
The few vegan friendly places I found when I moved here 3 years ago were super-eco hippie, not-cool buffets where it would be nice to go a Sunday with hangovers. But for a Friday night before a night out, it would kill the party before it had even started. Honestly, I thought the Brussels kitchen sucked: Old-fashioned, unhealthy and not attentive to an international audience.
But then something happened. The cool vegan and picky foodie friendly food scene grew. Slowly at first, but the last six months it has taken Brussels by storm. Cool cafés with minimalist interior design, hip restaurants, and brunch places pop up all over the city. Some are purely vegan, bio and raw food. Others offer fish and meat options as well, making it easier to bring non-vegan friends that often end up picking the vegan options when they see the how delicious plant-based dishes can be.
Here my favorite cool restos in and around Ixelles offering vegan- and glutenfree friendly plates. The observant reader will notice that there’s no chains amongst them and that the list include a few classical restos that have always accommodated a picky audience:
Tan – the speakeasy gourmet flexitarian resto in Chatelain you enter through a bio store.
Toukoul – Ethiopian fine-dining and cocktail in central Brussels. Delicious gluten-free sourdough tef-pancakes and great vibe. Make sure to reserve a table. They’re very busy.
Les Vignes du Liban – like many Lebanese restos, vegan options are plenty. This cute little place in Marolles is extraordinary though with its homely vibe and the excellent Lebanese wines.
ElTurco – Though I’m not a big fan of buffet, this awesome Turkish, Mediterranean one at Place Londres stands out – both for carnivores and vegans. The place is boisterous and not so cozy, but food and service is so good that I can’t help coming back and back again.
Humus Botanical Garden – re-made pâtisserie with vines in the corners, delicious 5-course dinners with matching cocktails near Flagey.
The quick foods:
FoodToGo – tiny to-go café with homemade power smoothies, fresh salads, and sandwiches – glutenfree bread on demand – coffees sweetened with stevia if you want. Next to the European Parliament.
Vegasme – the name says it all. Vegan as can be. Foodstore and café in one in outer Ixelles.
Tich – Berlin/Scandinavian inspired café with everything vegan and gluten-free alternatives. Terribly busy. Terribly delicious and near Port Namur.
Café Belga – you probably know it already. But what you probably didn’t realize is that besides the lively atmosphere and huge cocktails, Belga’s vegan coffee options are vast.
Karsmakers – Cosy, busy coffee, cake and bagel place near Place Luxembourg. Very nice vegan coffee options. They still need to work on their glutenfree bagel options though…
Lulu Interior – Very nice coffee plus interior design. Great atmosphere and cakes near Châtelain.
Café de la Presse – Cool coffee place near Bois de la Cambre for that coffee stop you are to die for after a long walk in the park.
On my to-go list:
Lucifer lives Coffee – vegan cakes and espressos to open soon in the center. Had it recommended by cool, beautiful tattooed lady.