Perfect 10 - August 2012
Le Fabuleux Marcel de Bruxelles
Rue du Marché aux Porcs 8, +32 (0)2 201 03 61
This Belgian fashion brand has revived the plain white T-shirt worn by French hunks in 1950s movies (known as le marcel). The shop interior is furnished with spiky Expo 58 tables that echo the brand's period identity.
Square Biarritz 1, +32 (0)2 644 18 10
Owners Yaëlle and Dijad have blended Moroccan and Jewish cooking traditions in this restaurant overlooking the Ixelles ponds. The secluded waterside terrace is enchanting on a summer evening.
Drink at Bar Du Matin, Chaussée d'Alsemberg 172, +32 (0)2 537 71 59
This light Belgian ale with a hint of hops is gaining a following in Brussels, partly due to the beautiful retro label. Brewed by the Brasserie de la Senne, the company launched in rural Flanders but recently moved to Molenbeek.
Place de la Chapelle 16, +32 (0)2 503 63 23
A pretty little sandwich bar in the Marolles. Upstairs is a romantic space with ancient brick walls and a view of the Eglise de la Chapelle.
Les Tartes De Françoise
Avenue de l'Hippodrome 75, +32 (0)2 640 88 41
A nondescript door on a busy street. You go in. A narrow corridor leads to a back room. A cook is pulling a lemon tart from a large oven. Welcome to Les Tartes de Françoise, where Belgians have been queuing for savoury quiches and sweet tarts since 1984.
Quai aux Briques 24, +32 (0)2 502 21 31
This chocolate shop and tea room is located in the heart of the fishmarket district.
They make elegant little chocolates that taste of ginger and basil, and sold like diamond rings in little brown boxes placed in neat white carrier bags.
Rue de la Reinette 12, +32 (0)2 502 74 34
This original bar hidden in a back street near the Port de Namur is decorated like a private apartment.
You can drink cocktails in the living room sitting on a sofa, or in the bathroom with your feet in the tub. Drink prices vary during the evening like stock market shares.
Le Maison Autrique
Chaussée de Haecht 266, +32 (0)2 215 66 00
One of the most inspiring buildings in Brussels, La Maison Autrique was built by Victor Horta in 1893 and restored by comic book illustrator François Schuiten in 2004. Schuiten added details that hint at the lives of those who once lived here, some of it pure fantasy, like the attic crammed with the imagined collection of eccentric inventor Axel Wappendorf.
Place de la Chapelle 6/Rue Blaes 63, +32 (0)2 540 81 41
Anyone hunting for odd antiques should take time to poke around Stefantiek's two cluttered shops. Here you can find almost anything, from stone angels that once decorated a Belgian castle to a fairground carousel.
Goupil Le Fol
Rue de la Violette 22, +32 (0)2 511 13 96
This café is a strange rambling place with mouldering sofas and stacks of old books. Some find it a bit too bohemian, but others love the warren of secret nooks and moody French music. Open until the early hours.
The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels by Derek Blyth is available in most Brussels' bookshops and online at lusterweb.com