Bruges: Rick's Tastebud Tour
Local french fries (frites) are a treat. Proud and traditional frituurs serve tubs of fries and various local-style shish kebabs. Belgians dip their frites in mayonnaise, but ketchup is there for the Yankees (along with spicier sauces). For a quick, cheap, and scenic meal in Bruges, hit a frituur and sit on the steps or benches overlooking Market Square, about 50 yards past the post office.
Belgium boasts over 350 types of beer. Stop into one of Bruges' atmospheric bars for a light meal or a drink with great ambience. Straffe Hendrik (Strong Henry), a potent and refreshing local brew, is — even to a Bud Lite kind of guy — obviously great beer. Among the more unusual to try: Dentergems (with coriander and orange peel) and Trappist (a malty, usually dark, monk-made beer). Non-beer drinkers enjoy Kriek (a cherry-flavored beer) and Frambozen Bier (raspberry-flavored beer).
Any pub or restaurant in Bruges carries the basic beers, but for a selection of more than 300 types, including brews to suit any season, drink at 't Brugs Beertje. For a light meal, consider their traditional cheese plate.
Another good place to gain an appreciation of the Belgian beer culture is De Garre. Rather than a noisy pub scene, it has a huge selection with a more dressy sit-down-and-focus-on-your-friend-and-the-fine-beer ambience.
Bruggians are connoisseurs of fine chocolate. You'll be tempted by chocolate-filled display windows all over town. While Godiva is the best big-factory/high-price/high-quality local brand, there are plenty of smaller, family-run places in Bruges that offer exquisite handmade chocolates.
Perhaps Bruges' smoothest and creamiest chocolates are at Dumon. Madam Dumon and her children (Stefaan and Christophe) make their top-notch chocolate daily and sell it fresh just off Market Square. Their ganache, a dark creamy combo, wows chocoholics. They don't have English labels because they believe it's best to describe their chocolates in person.