Planning a city trip in Brussels? Like most visitors of Manneken-Pis’ hometown, you probably intend to come back with a bag full of Belgian
beer chocolate. When it comes to chocolate, Belgium’s capital city has a lot to offer and making the good choices can be a challenge (moreover: to choose is to renounce, really excruciating when it comes to Belgian chocolate, isn’t it?). To help you find the product that will meet your expectations, here is our selection (after testing proof of course) of 11 chocolate makers you should visit in the center of Brussels.
Please note that this article only reflects my personal experience. I haven’t tried the products of each and every chocolate maker in Brussels (yet). Also there is no ranking between the 11 I’ve chosen to present. I like Neuhaus as much as Frédéric Blondeel. Bon appétit !
Coming soon to Brussels? The Brussels Card can save you a lot of money if you want to visit museums (including the ones about chocolate) and visit some of these chocolate makers.
Galerie de la Reine
The Galeries Royales Saint Hubert are glazed shopping arcades from the 19th century located in the heart of Brussels. One of the main section is called the « Galerie de la Reine » (Queen’s Gallery). You don’t want to miss this place which is a delight for the eyes as well as for the palate. It’s also a must stop on a Belgian chocolate tour.
1. Neuhaus, the inventor of the « praline »
25 Galerie de la Reine, 1000 Bruxelles
Let’s start with the beginning of it all. More than 150 years ago, an apothecary called Jean Neuhaus covered his medicines in chocolate to mask their taste. Today, Neuhaus doesn’t sell medicine anymore but you’ll still find all you need to cure grumpiness there.
It’s here, in 1912, that pralines (Belgian chocolates consisting of a hard chocolate shell with a softer filling) were born, as well as the ballotin (a cute little box to bring your chocolates home), a few years later.
Today, you can still taste pralines produced following the original recipe: “Bonbon 13” and “Astrid”. The most emblematic “Caprices” and “Tentations” were created for the Universal Exposition of 1958. They consist of a chocolat shell, artisanal nougatine and a heart of fresh cream or ganache…
The Sablon neighbourhood
The Sablon is the place to be for chocolate addicts. The most famous Belgian chocolate makers all have a shop there, often less crowded than those located around the Grand Place. It’s also a charming neighbourhood in the old part of the city so we highly recommend you take a walk up there.
2. Pierre Marcolini, turning chocolate into luxury product
1 rue des Minimes, 1000 Bruxelles (boutique)
39 Place du Grand Sablon, 1000 Bruxelles (manufacture)
At Sablon, you’ll find a boutique and a manufacture that belong to one of the most famous Belgian chocolate maker: Pierre Marcolini.
What distinguishes his work is the fact he directly buys unprocessed cocoa beans from the best local producers and transform it into chocolate in his own workshop. Pierre Marcolini considers tasting great chocolate is like tasting wine and this is why the origin of the cacao beans is mentioned on the chocolate you buy at his place.
Of course, Marcolini’s chocolates are not the cheapest ones but I believe it is worth the price.
Please note that Marcolini’s products have a strong flavour (at least when it comes to dark chocolate). So if you’re not used to that, you may not like it. It’s really a luxury product for the connoisseurs.
Tip : In winter, be sure to stop by Marcolini’s manufacture to indulge in a cup of hot chocolate you’ll never forget !
3. Wittamer : even the Royal family of Belgium eat their chocolates
6-12-13 Place du Grand Sablon, 1000 Bruxelles
A 100 years ago, the Wittamer family opened what they called a modern-bakery at the Sablon. They were the first to sell chocolate there. Some decades later, in 1999, they were awarded the title of Certified Royal Warrant Holder of Belgium after having designed and made the wedding cake of Philippe & Mathilde of Belgium, now King & Queen of Belgium. You can call that a success story!
At Wittamer you can taste very nice and sophisticated chocolates (I love the pepper pralines) but also delicious cakes, tartlets and ice-creams. I just love the (pink) colours they’ve used inside the boutique and the friendly atmosphere.
Even if it has a long history and a prestigious reputation, la Maison Wittamer dares to explore new tasting universes and even sells pralines decorated with a cricket covered in gold! Yes, that’s what you’ve read: insect pralines. We’ve bought a box of these but I couldn’t find the courage to taste it. Karl did and assures me that it’s really nice and that the cricket tastes exactly like pepper which means I would probably like it.
4. Passion Chocolat : authentic flavours
2/4 rue Bodenbroek, 1000 Bruxelles
Combining pleasure and passion, that’s the motto of Passion Chocolat and I surely can relate to that! Passion Chocolat wants to propose a traditional product that will bring back old forgotten flavours to the chocolate lovers.
Even if it doesn’t have a long history like other chocolate makers (Passion Chocolat was funded in 1998 and the shop in Sablon opened in 2008), Passion Chocolat is as worthy as the famous Belgian chocolate makers.
We’ve tasted the 85% dark chocolate praline and we loved it! The taste of the chocolate explodes in your mouth, without any bitterness: the taste is round, almost sensuous. Unforgettable.
5. Belvas: organic and gluten-free chocolate
48 rue Rollebeek 1000 Bruxelles
Would you believe me if I told you you could eat delicious Belgian chocolates that would be organic, fairtrade, gluten-free or even sugar-free? Too nice to be true? Not at all! That miracle is called Belvas.
Belvas is the first organic chocolaterie in Northern Europe. And that goes far beyond their selection of ingredients: their manufacture is self-sufficient for 50% of its energy needs. The chocolate is melted by a system that collects the heat produced by the air-conditioning and transforms it into hot water.
But what about the taste? We’ve tasted 2 pralines: « Brut de Noir » (70% cocoa) and « Carré Caramel » and were seduced. An authentic chocolate taste, simple but so effective!
For those who are allergic to gluten, it’s the place to go. They also don’t use any hydrogenated fat, only butter.
Around Mont des Arts
Around the Mont des Arts, a few steps away from Central Station, the fantastic MIM (Museum of Music Instruments) and Bozar, you’ll find another great place to eat chocolate, in a slow food atmosphere.
6. Laurent Gerbaud : fruits, spices et chocolate
2 D rue Ravenstein, 1000 Bruxelles
Like Pierre Marcolini, Laurent Gerbaud compares chocolate tasting to wine tasting. But his signature, rather than the praline, is the combination of chocolate, fruits and spices. A very effective formula!
If you like « orangettes » (candied orange peels covered in chocolate) and similar candies, you’ll love the chocolates of Laurent Gerbaud. Shangaï oranges, ginger and kumquat covered in a chocolate made from pure cocoa beans carefully selected in Madagascar of Equator (the chocolate is produced by Domori, a luxury chocolate coating producer).
The tea-room is really worth a visit. The atmosphere is very relaxing and sometimes you can even see the chef working behind a glass window in the back of the shop.
Around the Grand Place
You’ll have to pay attention here! The more you get close to the touristic centre of Brussels, the more you’ll encounter chocolate shops. Sadly not all of them are worth a visit, beware of tourist traps. But if you know where to go, you’ll get some nice surprises.
7. Jean-Philippe Darcis, happiness maker
40 rue au Beurre 1000 Bruxelles
Well, if you’re a fan of Jane Austen like me, how could you possibly miss paying a visit to a chocolate maker called Darcis? 😀 Seriously, Jean-Philippe Darcis defines himself as a « créateur de bonheur » (happiness maker) and I tend to agree with him. Trained at Lenôtre and Wittamer, he has all it takes to make exceptional chocolates!
Darcis’s bestseller is rather « macaron » than chocolate but believe me it’s worth tasting the latter. Don’t miss the Belgian Owl, a milk chocolate praline flaouvered with the world-renowned Belgian whishy (… so popular that I haven’t been able to purchase a bottle yet!).
Jean-Philippe Darcis doesn’t come from Brussels (he comes from Liège’s area) but you’ll find one of his 2 shops near the Grand-Place.
8. Elisabeth, say goodbye to melocakes!
43 rue au Beurre 1000 Bruxelles
Just across Jean-Philippe Darcis’s shop in « Rue au Beurre », a wonderful shop-window will certainly draw your attention. It’s Elisabeth’s, full of meringues and giant marshmallows.
I don’t know about you but I’ve had a love affair with melocakes when I was a teenager. Every time I was sad or disgusted by life, melocakes were a source of comfort. 😀
So as you can guess, I couldn’t resist Elisabeth’s giant marshmallows. Conclusion: very nice but the chocolate is really hard so be careful not to hurt your palate when trying to
engulf savour one. After that experience, you’ll totally forget about old good melocakes.
I haven’t tested their other chocolates (but I’ve spotted some nice looking wood sticks garnished with a block of dark chocolate and a small container of Grand Marnier to prepare promising hot chocolates) but I’ll be back, that’s sure.
9. Galler and his colourful chocolate bars
44 rue au Beurre 1000 Bruxelles
Let’s pay a visit to another chocolate maker from Liège and another provider of the Royal Family of Belgium: Jean Galler.
What I like to eat at Galler, rather than pralines, are the chocolate bars. There are 22 different flavours: black, milk or white chocolate garnished with the best ingredients. My favourite are « Café Liégeois » and « Praliné Noir ». « Manon » (white chocolate filled with coffee mousse and hazelnuts) is also a bestseller among white chocolate fans (which I’m not).
If you’re looking for a nice looking gift easy to transport, they have a kind of « palette » with mini chocolate bars that looks like a box of pastel pencils.
Nice to know: you also find these at the supermarket.
10. Planète Chocolat: learn everything about handmade chocolate
24 rue du Lombard 1000 Bruxelles
Would you like to learn how to make chocolate? Take a workshop at Planète Chocolat! This team of dedicated chocolate-makers delights tourists and locals alike since 1991. You can also visit their artisan chocolate workshop during a private demonstration every Saturday at 4 pm and Sunday at 3 pm.
If you rather want to shop, you can buy a box full of delicious chocolate. We’ve tested the box of heart-shaped chocolate, a sampler of 17 morsels to share (or not :D) with your sweetheart. We’ve particularly enjoyed the heart dark with almond and hazelnut and the heart dark with violet ganache.
We love the fact that the production is authentic and homemade. The chocoolat is made with 100% pure cocoa butter, free from GMO, preservatives and artificial colourings.
Nearby place Sainte Catherine
Last stop of our chocolate tour is also located in a famous area of Brussels: the fish market.
11. Frédéric Blondeel
24 Quai aux Briques 1000 Bruxelles
At Frédéric Blondeel’s tearoom you’ll find delicious pralines, chocolate truffles or ice-cream.
Frédéric Blondeels comes from Beauvoorde in West Flanders and he’s become world famous as a praline maker. He dares to mix unusual flavours like blackcurrant – cardamom or raspberry – cloves.
I’ve not tasted these as I felt more tempted by a melting chocolate truffels with brown sugar (which was absolutely fantastic) and a crispy praline with hazelnut and almond.
Frédéric Blondeel also sells starfish- or seahorse-shaped pralines which have nothing to do with the pretended « Artisanal Belgian Chocolate » from a certain G****** that they sell you as a top quality Belgian product in the whole world (but really is not!). So if you want to bring fish-shaped chocolates home, buy these! 😉
I’ve written this article after I bought a « Chocolate Pass » at the Chocolat Show in Brussels. It costed 5 € and came with 10 vouchers for a tasting at 20 chocolate makers shops in Brussels. A really good value but unfortunately temporary. If you go to Brussels, don’t hesitate to check the website visit.brussels You’ll find plenty of interesting offers for foodies!
More about Belgian food
Belgium has a lot more to offer in terms of food than chocolate!