There's a café on virtually every street corner, most serving all kinds of alcoholic drinks. Although the Belgian brewing industry is declining as the giant Inbev firm (the brewers of Stella Artois) muscles smaller companies out of the market, Belgians still consume copious quantities of beer, some of it with a 10% alcohol content or more. Most bars have artisanal beers along with the usual suspects. The place St-Géry, rue St-Boniface, and the Grand'Place area draw the most buzz.

The club scene is lively, and world-famous DJs as well as homegrown mavericks spin regularly. Many places stay open until dawn. The online magazine Noctis is a good resource for upcoming parties and other late-night events.

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  • 1. Bonnefooi

    Lower Town

    This small, two-floor bar manages to be both laid-back and achingly hip with good beer and cocktails, a vintage Photomatique machine, chandeliers, free live jazz and electronica, and DJs on most nights. 

    Rue des Pierres 8, Brussels, Brussels Capital, 1000, Belgium
  • 2. The Modern Alchemist

    A fantastically hip, cozy, stylish brick-walled cocktail bar where the quality is never less than high and the drinks deceptively potent. A huge selection of rums and whiskeys also adorn the menu, but you can't go wrong with the slightly sour "Last Shot"—you can even order a bottle of it to take away. 

    Av. Adolphe Demeur 55, Saint-Gilles, Brussels Capital, 1060, Belgium
  • 3. À La Mort Subite

    Lower Town

    A Brussels institution named after a card game called "Sudden Death," A la Mort Subite is practically unchanged since its 1920s heyday; and with its distinctive high ceilings, wooden tables, and mirrored walls, it remains a favorite of beer lovers from all over the world. It still brews its own traditional Brussels beers (lambik, gueuze, and faro). These sour, potent drafts may be an acquired taste, but, like singer Jacques Brel, who came here often, you'll find it hard to resist their (and the staff's) gruff charm.

    Rue Montagne aux Herbes Potagères 7, Brussels, Brussels Capital, 1000, Belgium
  • 4. Achille


    An intriguing neighborhood wine bar that does a roaring trade in crowd-pleasing sharing plates, from shiitake arancini to frites drizzled in Parmesan and truffle. It's mostly good-quality French wines, though you can just as easily bag a beer or kombucha. 

    Pl. Colignon 14, Brussels, Brussels Capital, 1030, Belgium
  • 5. Au Soleil

    Lower Town

    A slightly scruffy interior (complete with resident cat) belies what is essentially a delightful old-school café-bar with a terrace on the street outside. It's popular with locals, who fill the tables outside in the evening. Just grab a beer and a croque monsieur and watch the world go by.

    Rue du Marché-au-Charbon 86, Brussels, Brussels Capital, 1000, Belgium
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  • 6. Bier Circus

    Upper Town

    One of the best beer pubs in the city is Bier Circus, out by the Cirque Royale, which has a huge list of obscure, small-batch Belgian beers, including some excellent organic brews. Part of the bar has now also become a shop, with some 250 bottles to choose from. 

    Rue de l'Enseignement 57, Brussels, Brussels Capital, 1000, Belgium
  • 7. Brasserie & Bar de la Mule


    A brand-new local brewery and tap house set in a former stables. This used to be where they kept the mules that pulled Schaerbeek's trams until the first electric line was installed in 1894. Now tables have been strewn across the old stable yard, and its friendly, mulleted owner pours out glasses of his own brewed German-style wheat beers, along with the odd saison and lager. 

    Rue Rubens 95, Brussels, Brussels Capital, 1030, Belgium
  • 8. Brussels Beer Project

    Lower Town

    You might have thought that U.S.-style craft beer would go down like a lead balloon in the notoriously old-fashioned world of Belgian beer, but that's rather the point of this iconoclastic project. BBP's 24-tap taproom has quickly become an essential stop for any hop lovers in the city and was the first step to world domination---they're now even in Paris and Tokyo. A new taproom also recently opened in Ixelles on rue de Bailli. 

    Rue Antoine Dansaert 188, Brussels, Brussels Capital, 1000, Belgium
  • 9. Café Belga

    Set in an ocean-liner-like Art Deco building, this is a favorite among Brussels’s beautiful people. It's the kind of place you'd spot a local TV star sipping a cocktail or mint tea at the zinc bar or outside gazing at the swans on the Ixelles ponds. DJs play until late; it's also a popular brunch spot for hungover locals on Sunday. 

    Pl. Eugène Flagey 18, Ixelles, Brussels Capital, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium
  • 10. Café Commerce

    A charming bar set on the corner of Ladeuzeplein. Old wooden floors, high ceilings, and a stash of board games you can play while having a beer make it a laid-back escape. There's also always a pot of soup on the go if you're hungry. 

    Herbert Hooverplein 16, Leuven, Flanders, 3000, Belgium
  • 11. Café des Halles

    Lower Town

    Set within a late 19th-century brick-and-iron covered market, Halles St-Géry was originally built to house the old meat market. The building itself was abandoned by traders in the 1970s though, and it lay derelict until the turn of the millennium, when it was renovated into an exhibition space (upper floor) and a bustling café-bar with a fine line in leather sofas and cocktails. Down in the vaulted cellar, you'll also find Club des Halles, which dishes up oodles of classic house music on weekends. Bring 50 cents for the toilet, though. 

    Pl. Saint Géry 1, Brussels, Brussels Capital, 1000, Belgium
  • 12. Cafe Maison de Peuples

    The hipster-dense Parvis de Saint-Gilles area is stuffed with great bars, but this popular joint is among the more pristine. It does a great brunch, and late-night DJs often go on until late on weekends. It's named after a demolished Victor Horta--designed building, the loss of which is often used as one of the worst examples of Brussels's gentrification.

    Parvis de Saint-Gilles 39, Saint-Gilles, Brussels Capital, 1060, Belgium
  • 13. Cafe Roskum

    Lower Town

    This cozy café-bar has a good lineup of free jazz (mostly) concerts on Sunday night at 8 pm. At any other time though, it's typical of most Belgian bars in the city: noisy, friendly, and pretty lively, with a good selection of beers.

    Rue de Flandre 9, Brussels, Brussels Capital, 1000, Belgium
  • 14. Chez Maman

    Lower Town

    Maman herself presides over this disco with a drag show (in French) every Friday and Saturday.

    Rue des Grands Carmes 7, Brussels, Brussels Capital, 1000, Belgium
  • 15. Chez Moeder Lambic

    The first bar of the Moeder Lambic brewery opened in the 1980s. It's an icon on the Brussels beer scene, and alongside its own brews, it claims to stock 300 Belgian beers and quite a few foreign ones. Soak up the old-school vibe and pore over a fine collection of comic books while you sip. It has a second branch on place Fontainas in the center. 

    Rue de Savoie 68, Saint-Gilles, Brussels Capital, 1060, Belgium
  • 16. De Metafoor

    On Parijsstraat, this aging but very cozy bar heaves with both young and old. It's unpretentious, has a really good choice of local beers, and there's just nothing else to it—no elaborate effort to make it more than it is. That in itself makes it special. Plus you can bring your own food. 

    Parijsstraat 34, Leuven, Flanders, 3000, Belgium
  • 17. Deja Vu


    A friendly neighborhood wine bar near the eastern entrance to Cinquantenaire. There's a good choice of organic wines, decent cocktails, and a smattering of beers. 

    Av. des Celtes 42--44, Brussels, Brussels Capital, 1040, Belgium
  • 18. Delirium Cafe

    Lower Town

    Yes, it's horrifically touristy, but the beer selection at the city's most popular bar now tops 3,000 brews, and that deserves sampling, even if most are only available at the tiny bar downstairs. Over the years it's expanded to more than three floors, with a taproom and the quieter "Hoppy Loft" offering respite from the barrel tables, tourists, and clutter on the first floor. Floris Bar, which is owned by the same people and specializes in absinthe, tequila, and a Dutch-style gin known as jenever, sits across the alleyway, and offshoot Little Delirium lies a short walk away at 9 rue du Marche aux Fromages.

    Impasse de la Fidelite 4A, Brussels, Brussels Capital, 1000, Belgium
  • 19. Dynamo (Bar de Soif)

    This likable craft beer bar usually has at least 15 draft beers on tap and an ace in its pocket. The selection is huge, the staff are friendly and knowledgeable, but you can also order Japanese food from the rather fine restaurant across the street (Tokidori). A definite winner. 

    Chau. d'Alsemberg 130, Saint-Gilles, Brussels Capital, 1060, Belgium
  • 20. Ethylo


    An excellent and discreet neighborhood cocktail bar buried among the houses a street back from Parc Josephat. It's surprisingly good given its location and dishes up drinks with no little amount of flair.  

    Rue Josse Impens 2, Brussels, Brussels Capital, 1030, Belgium

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