A steaming casserole of plump, juicy mussels with crisp golden fries to dip in their aromatic juices: as legendary pairings go, it’s up there with Antony and Cleopatra or cheese and wine.

We pick the best spots to try Belgium’s favourite bivalves.

  • Le Chou de Bruxelles

    Rue de Florence 26, 1050

    With Jacques Brel on the walls and Manneken Pis sweeties with the bill, this cosy, knick-knack filled brasserie is as Belgian as it gets.

    Mussels come 30 different ways, including in gueuze or Chimay beer, or flambéed with apple and Calvados. 

  • Chez Léon

    Rue des Bouchers 18, 1000

    It’s a tourist favourite, but for good reason: five generations of the Vanlancker family have been wrangling mussels since 1893, so you’re in the safest of hands.

    If your initial portion of frites looks a bit undersized, don’t panic – seconds, and even thirds, come as standard.

  • Aux Armes de Bruxelles

    Rue des Bouchers 13, 1000

    King Leopold III was a regular customer (opting for sole meunière and a plate of mussels), so you’re in illustrious company in this Brussels institution, all starched napkins and stained glass.

    Try escargot-style mussels (oven-roasted with garlic butter), invented here by founder Calixte Veulemans.

  • François

    Quai aux Briques 2, 1000

    The Place Sainte-Catherine is swimming in fish restaurants, but François is a cut above: a restaurant and neighbouring shop where locals pick up the freshest fish.

    It’s a family affair. The current owner’s great-grandparents started out serving mussels – washed in a bathtub – and hand-cut fries.

  • Taverne du Passage

    Galerie de la Reine 30, 1000

    Located in the beautiful 19th century Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert shopping arcade, the Taverne du Passage, virtually unchanged since it opened in 1928, is a lovely spot for a treat: white-coated waiters serve Belgian classics, including perfect moules marinières, in a beautiful Art Deco room.

  • Friture René

    Place de la Résistance 17, 1070

    Slightly out of the way but well worth the detour, Friture René isn’t, as the name suggests, a frite joint, but a lovely traditional brasserie with inspired modern touches.

    It’s the spot to try moules parquées, mussels served raw with mustard vinaigrette.