Brussels has a reputation for being a bit stuffy, a resolutely bourgeois town suffering from a dearth of grit. But the city has been working hard to change that: along a few choice blocks, it is cultivating a culture of refreshingly fashion-forward, streetwise cool. Just head to the once dodgy—and now chic—Rue Antoine Dansaert and the avenues that surround it. They’re lined with boutiques and restaurants that lend Brussels its new edge and give its ostensibly cooler neighbor to the north, Antwerp, a run for its money. —Maria Shollenbarger
Hotel Café Pacific: This 13-room hotel’s prevailing aesthetic is white oak floors, white-dressed beds, and biscuit-hued linens. But a few rooms sing louder, with cheery raspberry-red interiors or lines of poetry stenciled onto the walls. Great Value 57 Rue Antoine Dansaert; 32-2/213-0080; hotelcafepacific.com; doubles from $250.
Bonsoir Clara: This trippy-chic space serves a very haute (and gently priced) menu of Continental standards turned on their heads: foie gras with smoked-quail mousse is topped by ginger-orange chutney. 22 Rue Antoine Dansaert; 32-2/502-0990; bonsoirclara.com; dinner for two $63.
A.M. Sweet: One of the city’s loveliest afternoon teas is at this diminutive salon de thè and confiserie. It’s the neighborhood favorite for artisanal chocolates (including local cult producer Laurent Gerbaud), delicate pastries, and rare teas. 4 Rue des Chartreux; 32-2/513-5131; tea for two $8.
Mappa Mundo: Beneath the dark-wood rafters and low lighting, you’ll find a stealth Latin spirit and the city’s best caipirinha. Even the Eurocrats are loosening their Hermès ties and lining up at the bar. 2-6 Rue du Pont de la Carpe; 32-2/513-5116; mappamundo.com; drinks for two $14.
Lune de Miel: Rue Antoine Dansaert is blessed on one side by Chinatown and on the other with Rue Jules van Praet, which is chockablock with authentic Thai and Vietnamese joints. The green curry at this pan-Southeast Asian restaurant is a must. 15 Rue Jules van Praet; 32-2/513-9181; lunch for two $24.
L’Archiduc: Just ring the bell for entry into the circa-1937 speakeasy-style bar; inside, it’s an Art Deco fantasy of slender columns, curvaceous fauteuils, and a dimly lit mezzanine for intimate tête-à-têtes. 6 Rue Antoine Dansaert; 32-2/512-0652; archiduc.net; drinks for two $14.
Christa Reniers: Quiet chic is the neighborhood’s defining aesthetic, and Belgian jeweler Reniers embodies it with her elegant designs. Her signature Rainbow 8 stacking rings form gorgeous constellations on the hand. 196 Rue Antoine Dansaert; 32-2/510-0660; christareniers.com.
Glorybox: The work of emerging Belgian and French designers is on display at the retail extension of Brussels’s premier publicity firm. Explore smaller labels in styles ranging from ladylike to artfully edgy. 10 Rue Léon Lepage; 32-2/511-0488.
Idiz Bogam: In a Bauhaus-inspired space, you’ll encounter a profusion of vintage clothes and accessories, ranging from the merely quirky to the seriously collectible (Bally slouch boots in pristine condition; a salmon-pink Borsalino panama hat). 76 Rue AntoineDansaert; 32-2/512-1032.
Stijl: The progenitor of Rue Antoine Dansaert’s cachet: owner Sonja Noël has been stocking her sprawling, high-ceilinged space with clothing by the Antwerp Six, Dries van Noten, Kris van Assche, and the like for years. 74 Rue Antoine Dansaert; 32-2/512-0313; stijl.be.
Annemie Verbeke: The Brussels native’s flagship is housed in a 19th-century palace with marble floors, a curving staircase, and soaring ceilings. Verbeke's designs are feminine but bold-this season, for example, takes its cues from Georgia O’Keeffe. 64 Rue Antoine Dansaert; 32-2/511-2171; annemieverbeke.be.
Les Précieuses: This treasure box of a boutique is the place for statement pieces-bold, outsize necklaces and cuffs in brass, enamel, and grosgrain. You could shop with a blindfold on and still walk away with a perfect choice. 83 Rue Antoine Dansaert; 32-2/503-2898.
Bellerose: The first “concept store” of the Belgian sportswear brand sells not just its own Abercrombie-like men’s and women’s lines but also an impressive selection of vintage-inspired clothes, books, and accessories. 11A Rue des Chartreux; 32-2/502-8953; bellerose.be.