Located in the Flemish region of Belgium, Ghent is a city that has played an important role in shaping Belgian cuisine over the years. Thanks to its rich history and culture, Ghent has contributed to developing unique culinary traditions that still influence Belgian cuisine. For those looking for places to eat in Ghent, the city offers an array of delicious dishes made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, including traditional dishes like“stoverij”, “waterzooi”, and “Gentse mastellen”.
One key factor influencing Ghent’s cuisine is its history as a trading hub during the Middle Ages. The city’s merchants had access to various spices, ingredients, and cooking techniques from around the world. This exposure to new flavors and culinary practices helped shape Ghent’s cuisine and developed new dishes and flavor profiles.
In addition to its role as a trading center, Ghent was also an important culinary innovation center. The city’s cooks and chefs were known for their creativity and experimentation, which led to the development of new dishes and cooking techniques. For example, the traditional Belgian dish waterzooi, a creamy stew made with fish or chicken and vegetables, is believed to have originated in Ghent in the late 19th century.
Ghent’s rich cultural heritage has also influenced Belgian cuisine. The city has been shaped by Flemish, French, and German influences, which can be seen in its cuisine. For example, the use of beer in cooking is a common feature of Belgian and German cuisine, and Ghent is known for its local beer culture. The city is home to a number of breweries, and beer is a popular ingredient in many local dishes.
The food scene in Ghent, Belgium
The food scene in Ghent is one of the most vibrant and diverse in Belgium. The city is renowned for its delicious cuisine, made using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and prepared using traditional techniques. Whether you are looking for a hearty Flemish stew, fresh seafood, or international cuisine, you will find it in Ghent.
Ghent is home to various restaurants, cafes, and food markets that offer something for every taste and budget. Many of the city’s restaurants focus on traditional Belgian cuisine, serving classic dishes such as waterzooi, stoverij, and moules-frites. These dishes are often made using locally-sourced ingredients, including fresh seafood from the nearby North Sea and meat from local farms.
In addition to traditional Belgian cuisine, Ghent has a thriving international food scene. The city is home to a large student population, which has helped to fuel the growth of diverse and innovative restaurants and cafes that offer everything from Thai street food to vegan cuisine. There are also a number of food markets in Ghent, including the Vrijdagmarkt and the Sint-Michielsplein market, where you can sample a wide range of local and international foods.
Beer is also an important part of the food scene in Ghent. The city is home to a number of breweries, and the local beer culture is celebrated in many of the city’s restaurants and bars. Many restaurants offer beer pairings with their dishes, allowing diners to experience Belgian beer’s unique flavors and aromas.
Ghent is also known for its innovative chefs and food entrepreneurs. The city has a thriving food startup scene, with many young chefs and entrepreneurs launching their own restaurants, food trucks, and pop-up events. This entrepreneurial spirit has helped to keep the food scene in Ghent fresh and dynamic, with new and exciting dining options popping up all the time.
So if you are planning to visit the city and are looking for some recommendations on places to eat in Ghent, you’re in luck! Ghent boasts one of the most vibrant and diverse food scenes in Belgium, with a wide range of options to suit every taste and budget.
7 Places to eat in Ghent, Belgium
This guide will introduce you to 7 of the best places to eat in Ghent, each with its unique take on the city’s culinary traditions. Whether you are looking for traditional Belgian cuisine, international flavors, or innovative culinary experiences, these 7 places are sure to satisfy your appetite and give you a taste of what makes Ghent a special city.
Pakhuis is a unique Italian-French brasserie located in a restored storage facility from the late 1800s. The building’s spacious 600 square meters make it an ideal location for hosting culinary events and experiences, and the brasserie prides itself on offering the very best in Italian-French cuisine.
The menu at Pakhuis is characterized by its use of fresh and honest ingredients, with a particular emphasis on seafood and shellfish. Fans of oysters and seafood will find plenty to enjoy here, as the brasserie is committed to providing a diverse selection of dishes that highlight the flavors and textures of these ingredients.
In addition to its focus on seafood, Pakhuis offers a range of other dishes that draw inspiration from French and Italian cuisine. From hearty soups and stews to classic pasta and risottos, the menu at Pakhuis is designed to offer something for everyone.
The brasserie’s unique setting, located in a restored storage facility, adds an extra layer of interest and intrigue to the dining experience. The warm and welcoming interior, with its mix of industrial and traditional elements, creates a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere that is perfect for enjoying a meal with family and friends.
Publiek is one of the must-visit places to eat in Ghent, as it is a one-of-a-kind Michelin-starred restaurant that stands out for its exceptional cuisine and focus on creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. At Publiek, the emphasis is on friendliness, making it a perfect spot to share a meal with friends and family.
Despite the lack of luxury ingredients, Chef Olly Ceulenaere delivers an extraordinary culinary experience through his imaginative use of everyday and often-overlooked ingredients. He takes a unique approach to combine flavors, creating unexpected and mouth-watering combinations that are truly exceptional. It is a testament to Chef Ceulenaere’s expertise that he can turn simple, everyday ingredients into culinary masterpieces.
This is Chef Ceulenaere’s first solo establishment, having previously worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants and played a key role in the success of the acclaimed Volta. His girlfriend, Kelly Dehollander, manages the dining room and contributes to the relaxed and friendly atmosphere that makes Publiek one of the must-visit places to eat in Ghent.
In addition to the warm and inviting ambiance, the restaurant also boasts a large bar with a beer tap tailored to the dishes’ ingredients. The restaurant’s loft-like bistro design enhances this relaxed vibe, making it an ideal spot for a casual yet sophisticated meal.
Brasserie Keizershof, a well-known restaurant and one of the many great places to eat in Ghent, has been serving its loyal customers for over four decades. The establishment opened its doors in 1979 and has thrived ever since. One of the reasons for its success is the simple yet delicious cuisine.
Today, even in 2023, the restaurant continues to serve the best Ghent stew with fresh fries, accompanied by an excellent selection of natural wines. The restaurant has become a regular spot for locals and visitors, with some of the former being more famous than others, including the renowned Belgian author Herman Brusselmans.
Over the years, the restaurant has undergone a transformation. While the traditional and authentic atmosphere of the establishment remains, the owners have given the place a modern twist, focusing on preserving the location’s rich history.
The restaurant is housed in a monumental mansion dating back to the 17th century. The interior has been tastefully renovated with a mix of classic and modern wooden tables, chairs, and benches, creating a comfortable and inviting atmosphere. The unique setting also includes various authentic elements that add to the character and charm of the place.
During the warmer months, guests can relax in a large, peaceful courtyard surrounded by lush greenery, providing a tranquil oasis in the heart of the bustling city. The restaurant’s top floor can also cater to larger groups of up to 30 people, offering a picturesque view of the Vrijdagmarkt.
OAK is one of the popular places to eat in Ghent and is renowned for its pure and authentic dishes. It was co-founded by Marcelo Ballardin and his partner Dominik D’Hooge. The restaurant has a clear Italian influence, reflecting Marcelo’s unique blend of Brazilian and Italian blood. He has also incorporated flavors from the fresh and spicy Asian cuisine that he personally enjoys.
OAK’s menu is carefully curated to ensure that only dishes with a pure flavor palette are served, making it one of the must-try places to eat in Ghent. The restaurant’s commitment to sustainability is reflected in its use of natural, local produce whenever possible. Marcelo and Dominik vary the menu offerings according to the seasons to ensure that the highest quality ingredients are used in their dishes. The restaurant’s warm, dark, and cozy atmosphere complements the pure flavors on the menu, creating a relaxed and immersive dining experience.
Marcelo Ballardin’s culinary journey began at the London Cordon Bleu School, where he completed a four-year course that included internships at some of the world’s most prestigious restaurants. He worked at Geranium in Copenhagen, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Oud Sluis in Sluis, which boasts three Michelin stars, and Dinner by Heston in London. These experiences allowed Marcelo to hone his skills and learn from some of the best chefs in the world.
After completing his course, Marcelo gained further experience as a chef de partie at 1 Lombard Street, a Michelin-starred restaurant in London, and Hertog Jan, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Bruges. He then joined Pure C in Cadzand as a junior sous-chef and development chef, where he continued to refine his culinary skills and knowledge.
Marcelo’s passion for cooking and his commitment to using sustainable, natural ingredients led him to co-found OAK with his partner Dominik D’Hooge. Dominik’s hospitality management background and a keen eye for detail have helped create the immersive dining experience that OAK is known for. Together, Marcelo and Dominik have created a unique restaurant that celebrates natural ingredients, pure flavors and the warmth of a cozy atmosphere.
Volta is a remarkable restaurant and one of the many great places to eat in Ghent, owned by two talented individuals, Davy De Pourcq and Peter Vyncke. Davy’s exceptional culinary skills are undoubtedly one of the main reasons behind the restaurant’s success. Not only was he the sous chef of Flemish Foodie Olly Ceulenaere for a year and a half, but he also gained valuable experience working at renowned establishments such as Oud Sluis, Hof Van Cleve, and Auberge Du Pêcheur. With such an impressive background, it’s no surprise that Volta has gained a reputation for serving some of the most delectable dishes in the region.
When it comes to the restaurant’s design, Volta is located in a fascinating setting that is bound to capture anyone’s attention. The restaurant is situated in an old electrical substation adjacent to the Groene Vallei park. The restaurant was named after the famous Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, who was credited with inventing the electric battery. The restaurant’s interior is warm and inviting, with carefully chosen furnishings that create a comfortable and welcoming ambiance.
In addition to its unique design, Volta also boasts a diverse menu sure to please even the most discerning palates. If you’re looking for a mid-day meal, you’ll be delighted to find that they offer an exciting lunch menu, where two people are served four dishes to be shared between them. In the evening, the atmosphere becomes more intimate, and guests can indulge in a five-course meal with various locally sourced ingredients. Davy’s preference for using fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced ingredients is one of the reasons why Volta has gained a reputation for serving some of the most delicious and innovative dishes in the region.
Uncle Babe’s Burger Bar
Ghent has its own little slice of heaven for burger enthusiasts; Located at Sluizeken, Uncle Babe’s Burger Bar is definitely worth a visit. This American-style eatery is renowned for its juicy, mouth-watering burgers made entirely from scratch. Everything is prepared with the freshest ingredients and utmost care, from the burger patties to the ketchup, crispy onion rings, and fries.
But it’s not just the food that makes Uncle Babe’s Burger Bar stand out; the restaurant’s interior design is also a treat for the eyes. The decor creates a cozy, inviting ambiance with its wooden ceiling, golden walls, and modern elements such as hanging light fixtures with a copper hue. Moreover, the dishes are presented on vintage-style enamelware, adding extra nostalgia to the dining experience.
If you’re not in the mood for a hearty meal, don’t worry, Uncle Babe’s Burger Bar has got you covered. Their expert bartenders can whip up a range of delicious cocktails, or you can grab a classic American beer from the bar to enjoy as you take in the lively atmosphere.
De Gekroonde Hoofden
De Gekroonde Hoofden is a must-visit destination for those seeking the ultimate ribs experience in Ghent and one of the many great places to eat in Ghent. Situated in the city’s heart, this well-known rib restaurant is housed in a historic building dating back to 1560, formerly known as “De Draecke.”
Upon entering the restaurant, you will be greeted by a breathtaking facade that is reminiscent of a historical picture book. This facade features the heads of the counts of Flanders from the 12th to 16th centuries, with Baldwin of Constantinople being the first and Spanish King Philip II being the last. The most iconic head on the facade is none other than that of Emperor Charles, which is located just above the entrance door. Interestingly, this monarch was born a stone’s throw away from the restaurant in the Prinsenhof.
Once inside the restaurant, you will be welcomed by a warm and inviting atmosphere. The meat-centric eatery is particularly popular among the locals and students, who frequent the restaurant for its incredible ribs, which are served in generous portions. In fact, the restaurant’s menu allows you to have as many ribs as you can handle, so you’re in for a treat!