Looking for bars that are a little different? No problem. The following cool and quirky ‘hybrid’ bars all bring something extra to the table… And we’re not just talking about food and drinks!
Bars + bikes
You love a good coffee and you really like bikes? Why not combine the two… Have a cappuccino (with bicycle motif in the foam, obviously) in a vintage decor with mouthwatering exclusive bikes and accessories around you at Bar Bidon in Ghent. Or enjoy your lunch and drinks at Fietsbar in Hasselt, while your bike is being fixed.
Having a drink while browsing through book shelves: it’s a proven match made in heaven! Sit back and relax because there’s a whole bunch of book bars in Belgium. We can’t mention them all but here’s a nice selection. Books & Brunch in Bruges is a brunch slash coffee bar slash dessert eatery combined with a second hand bookstore, displaying fiction and non-fiction books, very similar to the cosy literary café Parade in Saint-Gilles. Piola Libri in Brussels focusses on Italian art and literature, so do have a glass of wine with your reading material. And a free plate of antipasti! Check the site for events like author talks and musical performances.
V-Bar in Antwerp is another perfect spot for anyone who wants to combine coffee, tapas and books. The V stands for Vascobelo, a Belgian premium coffee brand. Buchbar in Antwerp has a small collection of books on display as well, but with a smaller selection, handpicked by owner Kim, an Antwerp actrice. Poetry included! Entre-Temps in Liège and Barbóék in Leuven are two more bookshops slash bars, a nice hangout place for book lovers with weekly book presentations and literary debates. At Cook & Book in Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe (Brussels), all book themes have their own interior design and their own fitted dining area and different food menu, from spaghetti to soups, salads, (veggie)burgers and steak. It’s playful, original and you’ll find a small section with English books as well. Finally, there’s Le Bal Infernal in Gent, a bar with a whole variety of second hand books, all stashed in the book shelves up against the walls.
Bars + art
Have a drink at art bar Steven Kovrigin in Antwerp while surrounded by all kinds of art, ranging from photography and paintings to decorative objects and accessories from the present day and from times that have long since flown by. All items are for sale. You can also have brunch here and different types of drinks. FourTEAfour in Leuven also serves fun design decorations with your coffee and in BeauSite in Ostend you enter a world of nostalgia: browse through art and design while having a drink or a bite to eat. Great view here as well!
l’Amuzette in Knokke offers more art and drinks at the Belgian coast (they have a bar in Ghent as well), selling design and literature. Galerie Ganache in Ghent also exhibits art, but it’s probably hard not to let the yummy chocolates steal the spotlight… Back in Antwerp there is De Dikke Kat that combines art with food and drinks. And as the name suggest (Dikke Kat is Dutch for Fat Cat), you may meet the house cat Ratatouille during your visit!
Bars + cats
Not happy with just one cat? Le Chat Touille in Saint-Gilles near Brussels combines a healthy food bar (soups, salads and yummy sweet stuff) with lots of cats, DreamCATchers does the same in Ghent. All cats are ready for adoption! DreamCATchers serves local coffee, pastries and homemade drinks and also has a shop with cat food and accessoiries. What you should know before you go: the amount of people are that allowed in is limited to 14 at a time and you also pay an entrance fee of 2 euro a person, the money is spent on the cats. Le Chat Touille doesn’t take reservations, DreamCATchers does.
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Bars + computer games
If you’re a fan of gaming but want to spend some time socializing as well, go to the Hyperion bar in Brussels. You can taste all kinds of Belgian beers and cocktails while enjoying playing your favorite video games, whether that’s Pokemon, Star Wars or Guitar Hero. In Namur, Wallonia there is the Press Start café that invites you to play both modern and retro games, both on and off screen. Comic Sans in Ghent is like a superhero café where you can sit down and relax with a drink surrounded by superhero merchandise, or take on their role and fight for world peace in the game room.
Bar + knitwear
The Belgian label Maurice Knitwear sells unique and handmade pieces from the finest wool. At their bar in Antwerp, Maurice Coffee & Knits, you can enjoy food and drinks while knitting! Or you can watch others do their magic and buy some finished knitwear products instead… The authentic food and drinks at the bar are served in a funny way, wrapped in wool. Maurice has 2 locations: in the city center of Antwerp and in Berchem.
Bars + vinyl
A cup of coffee while your favorite music is playing… Not bad! At Coffee and Vinyl in Antwerp you will find a wide selection of LPs, singles and CDs, along with high quality coffee, pastries, homemade iced coffee, hot chocolate and alcoholic beverages. Coffee & Vinyl is also an art gallery, hosting new exhibitions every month. You can also hop in at Consouling Sounds in Ghent for some more coffee and vinyl.
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Bars + haircuts
In desperate need for a haircut, but not in the mood to go by yourself? Kapbar in Leuven is a bar and hair salon in one. Bring your friends and while you get your hair done (no need for a reservation), they can enjoy a drink at the bar. The concept isn’t new – plenty of old-fashioned hairsalons combining drinks with shaves and haircuts as well. But Kapbar sure knows how to elevate the idea to a hipper level. Especially in smaller Belgian cities and villages you will bump into more of these hybrid bars, like Et Alors in Izegem (in the West of Flanders), The Cleen’s in Rupelmonde (between Ghent and Antwerp) and Coiffee in Eeklo (near Ghent).
Bars + fashion
Care about mother nature? At Marmod in Ghent you can buy recycled clothes, fair drinks and local art! Head or tails (HoT in short), in Ghent as well, focuses on urban fashion and sells biological wines, home-made lemonades, special sodas and a variety of beers in a modern decor. Stay does the same in Antwerp: browse through the stylish clothes and accessories, have a tasteful brunch or lunch and everything to spoil yourself with, from gorgeous home decoration to jewelry and more.
And then there’s Thelma Coffee & design in Leuven, a bar with a food corner (healthy snacks), a design corner and a fashion corner. Everything is for sale, from the food that is offered to the chair you are sitting on. And the clothes in the multi-brand boutique, of course. You’ll find a fine selection of Scandinavian brands here, along with a number of local fashion brands. The focus is on fair trade and sustainability. L’Atelier en Ville in Brussels is a combination of many of the above categories: food and drinks, decorations, art, design and clothes, all presented in a fun industrial looking interior. Oh, and if you’re just looking for shoes, head out to Au Nom du Pied (‘in the name of the foot’) in Ghent, where it’s all about shoes and accessories, food and drinks.
Doing your laundry and enjoying breakfast, brunch, bagels or soup in a hip retro decor while you wait? Wasbar (literally ‘laundry bar’) first started in Ghent and now has 4 establishments, 2 in Antwerp and 2 in Ghent.
Okay, this one isn’t really a bar, but it’s too fun not to mention. Pauzzzz in Brussels is a place where you can take naps and get automated massages. Whether you want to take a 15 minute or 45 minute nap, you can come here, put your personal belongings in a locker and close your eyes. There are 6 individual relaxation spaces to take your siesta. Desperately want to wake up instead of falling asleep? In the morning, Pauzzzz turns into the ‘Wake up bar’ and sells 8 to 15 minute energy boosts! These are combinations of massages and light therapy that are especially designed to stimulate the mind and wake up the body. Want some tea, coffee or coco with that? No problem!