For an enterprising tourist in Brussels, there’s no classier way to spend an evening than on the Mont des Arts, the “hill of the arts” that sits above the city center to the east. It’s packed with some of the city’s best museums, concert venues, and restaurants. In other words, it’s a great way to get extremely cultured and an easy way to spend a pretty penny. Fear not! If there’s any place in the city worth the splurge, it’s here. This is a guide to navigating a chic—and not too pricey—night out on the town.
All good evenings start with a good dinner. The restaurants in the area vary widely in their price tags, and you have two main courses of action: go to one of the venues that sit at the foot of the hill, or go to Kwint. The square at the foot of the hill is lovely, touristy, and full of various eateries that offer everything from the sit-down dinner to the on-the-go waffle. If you want a bang-for-your-buck meal that will still knock your socks off, however, it would be best to backtrack just a little bit and stop off at Café Georgette. Their distinguishing feature is their Belgian fries, ordered right at a window into their open-air kitchen and served piping hot in a paper cone. These are fries brought down, glowing, from the gods themselves—twice fried in beef fat, accompanied by a house curry-mustard, and just absolutely delicious. Ignore the rest of the menu (or don’t, if you want a balanced meal), because you’ll be served a veritable mountain of crispy goodness.
Now, if you’re looking to really treat yourself, a heap of fries can only get you so far. For an admittedly much steeper price, you can eat à la carte at Kwint—the restaurant on the side of the Mont des Arts with one of the best locations in the city. It’s perched just above the hill’s stately garden, and its massive balcony offers panoramic views of city (and, more importantly, of the sunset over the spire of the town hall). On a beautiful day most of the seating is outdoors, but the interior has a massive metal sculpture hanging from the ceiling which, coupled with the golden-hour light from the setting sun outside, creates a pretty freaking lovely ambiance. The price tag might sting, but it’s middle-of-the-road when it comes to the city’s higher-end restaurants.
After dinner, it’s time to try a cocktail at one of Brussels’ most unusual bars: La Pharmacie Anglaise, housed inside a grand old pharmacy. Ring the doorbell to enter and be greeted by a doorman—think steampunk hat and thick beard—who will lead you to your armchairs in the book, bottle, and foliage-lined main room. If you want a seat to which you can be led, you’re gonna want a reservation. There is also a relatively spacious outdoor patio and a very much not spacious second floor seating arrangement. Once settled, prepare to sort through a menu of sophisticated cocktails and equally sophisticated mocktails prepared with seasonal ingredients and prices that could buy a full meal elsewhere in the city.
Now that you’ve been wined and dined, it’s time for the night’s main event: a show at Bozar.
The Bozar Center for Fine Arts is one of the city’s hippest cultural centers, and it’s become a huge supporter of all things artsy. If you were to head there during the day, you might find an exhibition of cutting edge contemporary art, literature, cinema, architecture, theater, dance… the list goes on. Bozar gives a platform for both rising stars and established artists to present their craft in whatever medium it may be. The night that I visited, the stage was graced by one of Argentina’s best tango quintets. The music was incredible—their tango was that perfect mix between street-style relaxed and high-art sophisticated—and the audience squeezed out a couple of encores from the group. People come from all over to go to Bozar, meaning an evening there is a fine time to rub elbows with hip, cosmopolitan, friendly patrons of the arts.
Sam is a sophomore who usually needs a haircut. He gives a lot of tours on campus and is excited to actually get the chance to go on some this summer for a change. He also leads trips into the wilderness for the First-Year Outdoor Program and Outing Club and serves as manager for the alpine ski team. This love for the mountains is reflected in his destinations for this summer: Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands… wait.
While he might not be straying too far from sea level, Sam’s still looking forward to the many high points of his trip—eating chocolate in Antwerp, eating chocolate in Bruges, eating chocolate in Brussels, and making friends with the deer that live in that one deer sanctuary north of Copenhagen.