One thing I absolutely love about traveling to big cities is the vegan options available. Plant based eating is still somewhat in its infancy in the Caribbean and even though St. Maarten -my home island-has more and more restaurants popping up on both sides of the island every year, offering vegan and plant based dishes, the fact remains that Veganism is not about to win popularity contests in the Caribbean any time soon.
I am lucky to visit the small city of Antwerp in Belgium every year and even though I’ve seen a lot of what the city has to offer, it still surprises me every time how many new experiences I get to have with each visit. This year it was my tastebuds’ turn to be amazed by the city when I made it my mission to eat at as many vegan restaurants as I could. What follows are my top 3 picks of those I had the pleasure of dining at during this trip. A part 2 of this post will undoubtedly follow, since there was just not enough time to visit all of Antwerp’s Vegan eateries.
De Broers van Julienne
Translating to “the brothers of Julienne” this restaurant has two locations, both in the center of Antwerp, and both offering a wide variety of delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes.
After getting lost not once but several times and practically walking around the same square for what seemed like an eternity, I finally found the location on Ijzerwaar straat, thanks to a friendly couple that took the time to walk me to the restaurant. Either Google Maps fudged up or I am terrible with directions. I refuse to believe the latter.
I walked into what looked like a diner meets grocery store concept where the pre-made lunch options are neatly displayed behind glass. A few tables, centered in the small interior, offer limited seating surrounded by organic wines from Spain and Greece, snacks, jam, and much more. The mostly mediterranean-based dishes of creative salads, quiches and pies are made fresh daily by chefs from Morocco and Syria together with the local owners. There are also plenty of options for those with a sweet tooth amongst us and these are displayed in the store window, attracting lustful stares from pedestrians strolling pass the store. I enjoyed my cabbage salad with a slice of one of the many quiche choices available and paired it all with a nice rosé on the outdoor terrace, watching the steady stream of hungry patrons coming in and out of the restaurant.
Unlike what you might think, the name of this restaurant is not based on a person but rather on a culinary technique. As for the brothers in the name, that part remains a mystery. But regardless of this tiny fact, De Broers van Julienne is a must when in Antwerp.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Plant B, is conveniently located in the historic city center, a very short walk away from the metro stop at the Groenplaats square. The space is small with few tables and although cozy, can feel a little compact. Regardless of the size, the service was slow albeit very friendly. The lone waiter had to serve, clean tables, take orders and man the bar all by himself but this could totally have been an off day when the restaurant was understaffed. Having all the time in the world, I didn’t mind. I ordered a rosé and took a seat at the one empty table available.
I quickly noticed that this is a popular spot. Like most vegan restaurants that I visited before, the menu here consists mostly of sandwiches and paninis, with a few salad options and even a cauliflower steak. As much as I try to stay away from eating too much bread, I couldn’t resist the vegan chicken sandwich. I dug in as soon as the waiter placed it in front of me. This open sandwich was delicious and layered with all sorts of yummy goodness, like vegan chicken bits, avocado, pesto, Vegenaise, green salad, green onions and had pumpkin seeds sprinkled all over it. I washed it all down with a second glass of the crisp, dry yet distantly sweet rosé, while enjoying the view from the large window looking onto the shopping street.
You can find Plant B on the Oude Koornmarkt. Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner inside or, weather permitting, on the front terrace, and don’t forget to ask about the specials.
Humm was the first vegan restaurant I got to try during this visit to Antwerp and I regret not having the time to go back for a second, third and fourth time. Safe to say, I had one of the best vegan meals of my life here and my mouth still waters just thinking back on it.
It’s located in the quirky neighborhood of Zurenborg, smack across from a tram spot on a popular square. The interior is trendy and multifaceted, with a main bar area, a back room, side room and a terrace in the back of the restaurant.
The Lebanese inspired menu includes mostly pita bread, hummus and other Middle Eastern delights that are creatively blended into mouthwatering, succulent dishes like the pita bread with hummus topped with different types of mushrooms I had the pleasure of trying. The amazing food, the friendly staff, the impressive decor and the fact that this restaurant is sustainable, are just some of the reasons why Humm will be my first stop when I visit Antwerp again next year.
And there you have it, my top 3 picks for Vegan restaurants in Antwerp, Belgium. This city offers many excellent culinary experiences and it is impossible to try them all in one visit. I vow to continue to explore and try out other Vegan restaurants on my future visits to this great Belgian city, but in the meantime don’t hesitate to send me suggestions.