I recently spent a week in Belgium, and while I stayed in Brussels, I made several day trips to surrounding cities. My favorite Belgian city turned out to be Antwerp, known worldwide for the diamond trade. During my day trip to Antwerp, I joined Cornelis from Belgium Food Tours for a walking tour of several Antwerp restaurants. Cornelis is a total foodie and gets really excited to show you around all the best restaurants in Antwerp. He even clued me in on some food festivals back in my home state that I didn’t know about! What I love about this Belgium food tour is that it’s very informal. Cornelis pretty much sizes up the crowd upon arrival and decides on the spot where to go that day. Belgium Food Tours keeps the group size small, so it’s easy to pop in to any Antwerp restaurant that seems like a good fit for the group.
Antwerp Central Station
If you arrive in Antwerp by train, you’ll get to see the exquisite train station. It’s hard to imagine the effort and expense that went into these buildings back in the day. While New York’s Grand Central Station is often touted as the most beautiful train station in the world, I believe Antwerp’s Central Station is not far behind! Throughout Antwerp, you’ll see gorgeous gilded buildings and the amazing Antwerp restaurants are just the icing on the cake of this gorgeous city! I found Antwerp to be an easily walkable city as well.
Nothing quite like starting your morning with a cupcake, eh? Momade Cupcakes started as a sandwich shop but the cupcakes soon became the star attraction. Today, you’ll find a huge variety of fresh cupcakes just waiting to be devoured. I wanted to try the cupcake topped by a cuberdon (goo-filled gummy candy from Ghent) but ultimately, I couldn’t resist the fresh strawberry on a pillow of frosting. Momade also has a good selection of fancy pastries and cookies, but don’t leave without a cupcake!
This wasn’t an official stop on the tour, but Cereal Heaven clearly impressed Cornelis that he wanted to stop and show off the place. The cereal bar is so fun, with a great 80’s theme going on and loads of cereal options to choose from. You can even choose from a ton of different toppings (from healthy fruit to not so healthy candy bars) and Cereal Heaven also serves freak shakes! The whimsical decor even includes a bunk bed where kids can climb around.
Our first savory Antwerp restaurant, Tota Empanada, has a nice selection of empanadas, including savory, sweet (Nutella!) and vegetarian options. We sampled a chicken and a beef empanada. They are baked super fresh and steaming hot. The real treat here are the sauces that accompany the empanadas. We had a chimichurri sauce, a pico de gallo, a tartar based sauce and a hot sauce. It was fun to visit as a group and share the different flavors. This is a great place to pop in for lunch as you are touring around Antwerp.
Our stop at Croquettenbar Smaeck featured croquettes, small appetizer-sized fried balls of goodness. We sampled three croquette flavors, (mushroom, truffle and curry) plus a small side salad, which was the perfect combination. Another great little lunch spot as you are walking around Antwerp!
While most of our stops were not focused on traditional Belgian food, we did make one stop for fries. I’d already tried Belgian frites twice, and wasn’t impressed. (I’m a skinny fry fan, and yes, I think McDonald’s fries are pretty damn good!) Needless to say, I was feeling a little lackluster about stopping at Chips for fries. However, Cornelis showed me the error of my ways. I wasn’t eating them right! You have to dip the fry in mayonnaise (or tartar) and then dip it in gravy. This made all the difference in the world! I’m a fan now!
Our last Antwerp restaurant for the day is Hoeked Doughnuts. We started sweet and ended sweet, my kind of food tour! Hoeked was hopping with customers so we got our doughnuts to go – I saved mine for the train ride back to Brussels. Interestingly, the doughnuts here are square (which now explains the bike with the square tires out front, ha!) and there are plenty of flavors to choose from. I planned to take a small bite on the train and save the rest for later, but of course that didn’t work out and I inhaled this deliciousness in about three bites!
Belgium Food Tours
Interested in sampling some of the best restaurants in Antwerp? Belgium Food Tours run on Saturdays at 11 and 2:30. For 45 Euros, you’ll get a walking tour of Antwerp, plus at least 5-6 stops at various Antwerp restaurants. The great thing is, I suspect no two tours are the same, so you can take the tour more than once to experience new spots! With the small group sizes, you’ll definitely want to book ahead, especially in high tourist season.
With all of this amazing food, plus gorgeous architecture, I am dying to go back to Antwerp for a proper visit of more than just a few hours!
So, what do you think? Did we cover the best restaurants in Antwerp, or do I need to plan a return visit for more indulgence?
I was a guest of Belgium Food Tours for this tour. These are solely my personal opinions and I was not financially compensated for this post.