Food & drink
Some general comments
When it comes to tips, Belgium is a bit comparable to Germany: tips are appreciated, but as a sign of appreciation for good service. You are not required to leave them, certainly not if you had just a little thing.
Belgium is quite vegetarian-friendly; restaurants that have no vegetarian options are rare. Therefore, we don’t list vegetarian places separately. We even have two vegan places: “Vegaverso” and “The Loving Hut” (see under lunch options). Vegaverso is also good for glutenfree, sugarfree and/or lactosefree sandwiches and cakes.
Belgians love coffee – there are lots of places to go as coffee bars have become the latest hip thing. Note that sometimes the Belgium definition of ‘cappuccino’ is not the Italian one, but ‘lungo with whipped cream’. If you want to be sure to get an Italian style cappuccino, ask for… ‘Italian cappuccino’.
Some place that people in our department like:
- Koffie Onan, Parijsstraat 28. This place brews their own brands of coffee. They also sell it by the bag, and have a huge collection of teas.
- Noir Coffee Bar, Naamsestraat 49. This one is very popular with students, because if you ask politely, they will let you bring your own lunch and eat there if you order a coffee.
- Punto Caffè, Leopold VanderKelenstraat 17a. This coffee place has an impressive menu, and sweets.
But remember that, of course, our conference location also offers coffee!
Note that lunch is included on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and will be provided at the conference site. Still, here are a few recommendations for the kind of places that are harder to randomly bump into:
Lukemieke, Vlamingenstraat 55: an all-vegetarian lunch place very close to your department, the Department of Sociology. http://www.lukemieke.be/welkom.html
Vegaverso, Tiensestraat 20: vegan lunchplace & café also serving glutenfree, lactosefree and sugarfree options for lunch (mostly sandwiches) and teatime. Two friendly ladies who know what’s in their stuff. https://www.facebook.com/www.vegaverso.be
The Loving Hut, Tiensestraat 65, vegetarian and vegan place. While vegaverso is more oriented towards sandwich lunch and cakes, the Loving Hut focuses more on warm lunches. https://www.facebook.com/lovinghutleuven
Chocolate, waffles and cakes
Be sure not to leave Belgium without having tried a waffle! The tourist version of it comes with lots of cream, fruits and possibly ice-cream and chocolate sauce, and tends not to go well together with white shirts. But the local version comes with powdered sugar only…
For chocolate, the possibilities are unlimited. Alongside the Leonidas store that you can find in Leuven you have independent ones as well. Your key word is ‘pralines’. Here is a google map with Leuven city centre ones: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,4.7068033,17z.
If you are a real chocolate diehard though, and have time to visit Brussels, we recommend going to the ‘Sablon’ area or the ‘Galeries Royale’ in Brussels city centre, where you find concentrations of really fancy chocolate stores!
For gluten- and sugarfree options, see above under lunch options.
Beer & bars
A good motivation to travel by train: you will be able to bring home lots of Belgian beer! The sheer variety of beers available can be admired and brought home as a souvenir at the Belgian Beer Shop, Tiensestraat 31. The owner can advise you on all the ins and outs!
If you rather drink it here, a few recommended places are:
De Oude Markt: this is not one place, but what is known as ‘The World’s Longest Bar’ http://www.leuven.be/en/beercapital/cafe/oude-markt/
Bar del Sol, Schapenstraat 105: in case you really don’t feel like walking, this one is around the corner of the Faculty Club. They also serve simple foods.
De Blauwe Kater, Hallengang 1: bar in Belgian ‘brown cafe’ style (meaning the interieur has lots of dark wood) with 99 beer varieties.
De Spuye, Tervuursevest 101: this one is also very close, at the entrance of the KU Leuven sportscampus, and likewise serves simple food. http://despuye.com/.
The Capital at the corner of Grote Markt: this café claims to have 2000 beers. That should impress anybody!
Below are several options for dinner in Leuven, as well as some in the town of Heverlee directly adjacent to Leuven.
Note that on Friday evening, there is the conference dinner in the Faculty Club (do not forget to register and pay here [Diego: please add link to registration for conference dinner section]!). For all other evenings, Leuven has plenty to offer! If you want to go as a larger group, it might be wise to reserve as Belgians like to go out for dinner and restaurants may fill up. Often this can be done online.
A very nice area to go out for dinner is the Muntstraat. This is basically a long, narrow street in the center full of restaurants. Other recommendations by staff from the Sociology Department are:
Pizza & pasta
Etna Trattoria, Tiensestraat 123: this place specializes in authentic Sicilian food. Small menu with various fish and pasta dishes.
Mamma Mia, Parkstraat 107: Pizzas!
Bar Stan, Constantin Meunierstraat 2: this new, informal place is the ‘neighbourhood bar’ and does everything: lunch, dinner, drinks, Sunday brunch, take-out, and picknick-baskets. Closed Saturdays. http://www.barstan.be/
L, Oude Markt 37: two sisters with names starting with L serve traditional Belgian dishes such as “stoemp” (potato-vegetable mash), meatballs in cherry sauce, chocolate mousse, Brussels waffles. Also a good beer selection. Café-style, democratic prices.
Den Angelus, Naamsestraat 16: Belgian bistro restaurant. Flemish carbonade, meatballs in sauce, vol-au-vent, mussels.
Kaminsky, Léon Schreursvest 1: simple bistro at the Leuven city border (just in adjacent Heverlee, in fact) with a mix of Belgian and Meditterean-inspired dishes. Also a café, open till after midnight.
Royal Indian Food, Naamsestraat 30: popular, cheap and well-regarded Indian.
Tokio Sushi Bar, Ravenstraat 19: sushi eat in & take away located right next to the Faculty of Arts. Ranked as Leuven’s number 1 restaurant on Tripadvisor.
Donki, Oude Markt 48, a Mexican eat in and take-away popular with students. 9 euros for a burrito meal. https://www.facebook.com/rockin.donki/timeline?ref=page_internal.
‘t Fonduehuisje, St Maartenstraat 12c: Fondues of all kinds (cheese; meat; fish and chocolate). If fondues are your thing, this is your opportunity in town.
Belgians, as said, love food and if want to take the opportunity to enjoy a fancy dinner, Leuven offers some good opportunities. Here are some suggestions. For more options, especially in Heverlee, see via.michelin.be :
Abdijmolen Heverlee, Abdij van Park 4, Heverlee: French style brasserie in an old watermill situated in an abbey park.
‘t Zwart Schaap, Boekhandelstraat 1: Belgian Parisian inspired French bistro, close to the Town Hall. Open for lunch and dinner.
EssenCiel, Muntstraat 23: seasonal food presented as little artworks, in Leuven’s main restaurant street. Popular place, so best reserve online (site also in English): http://www.essenciel.be/.
Trente, Muntstraat 36: again in Leuven’s main restaurant street, fine cuisine French-Belgian with a lot of attention to their paired wines. Again best reserve (website in Dutch): http://www.trente.be/content/Reservatie.htm
D’Artagnan, Naamsestraat 72: classic menu, with garden.
Zarza, Bondgenotenlaan 92: artfully presented innovative cuisine. Serves homemade beers and has a separate whiskey menu. Orangerie and garden.