Having lived in Belgium for 2 years, I had the luck of becoming not only a Francophile but, because Belgium is trilingual, a Germanophile and Dutchophile. No matter the language, the food was delicious and addictive. So when I moved to DC recently, I sought out all the places I could find to fulfill my craving for all things Belgian. Here is a simply a sampling and is by no means a comprehensive list.
The name may not give it away, but Granville Moore’s is so far my personal DC Belgian favorite for their delicious moules frites with special sauces. Out of the way, and with cozy and rustic interiors, this place is all about the food and not about pretension. The list of Belgian beers is also very long.
The Belga Café,
in the Eastern Market neighborhood, has an extensive array of authentic Belgian items on its menu, including the delicious Vlaamse Stoverij (Carbonnade Flamande).
Brasserie Beck boasts a nice nouveau-Belgian menu, but equally impressive is its Belgian beer list. Chef Robert Wiermayer’s Belgian and French fare can also be found at Marcel’s in DC, at Brabo in Alexandria, VA and at the Mussel Bar in Bethesda, MD.
Small and unassuming, Locolat Café, in Adams Morgan, is my neighborhood hangout for Belgian meals, beer and dessert! Belgian Pastry Chef Niel Piferoen, his wife Ada and father make chocolates and cakes on location. My current favorite dessert is the aptly named “Three Languages Cake”. Lekker, lecker, délicieux!
A truly unique product of DC, Marvin is a tribute to hometown music legend Marvin Gaye, who spent 2 years in self-imposed exile in Ostend, Belgium. It serves a delicious mix of American soul food married to Belgian cuisine. Popular among DC’s large population of African-American young professionals for its classic ambience and funk, soul and jazz music, Marvin is among the most interesting meetings of American and Belgian culture.
Of course, food is not everything when it comes to Belgian edibles. Beer is a major part of the Belgian diet, and can be found with relative ease in Belgium-loving DC. All of the restaurants mentioned so far have a nice selection of Belgian brews. But even non-Belgian places in town will have an astounding selection of Belgian beers, many on tap. Some of the bars with large Belgian selections include Rustico in Alexandria and Arlington, VA, and RFD Washington in downtown DC. Adams Morgan’s L’Enfant Café & Bar, though French and not Belgian, has a Belgian beer happy-hour every Tuesday. Just across the street, De Vinos is a wine shop with a sizable stock of Belgian beers (and their proper glasses) for sale.
Of course, there are other things Belgian one can get around town: Truffles Belgian Chocolates in Georgetown, frietjes (ou frites) served in paper cones at Amsterdam Falafel, coffee and pastries in the Belgian bakery chain Le Pain Quotidien, and many of DC’s French restaurants serve food made by Belgian chefs.
Eet smakelijk & bon appetit!
By Marcelo Vinces