Local dishes in Lille offer a window into a unique culinary tradition, a combination of Northern France and Belgian, a Flemish blend of sweet and savoury unlike anywhere else. From delicious sweet fried dough to savoury and spicy meat stews, food in this town will always keep you coming back to try new tastes and smells. Many Flemish dishes make use of chicory and endive, and most are traditionally served up with Belgian fries. Seafood and beef are common proteins.

    The end result is a hearty and delicious tradition that will make you want to take it all home with you. Check out some of the famous dishes locals love that you can find in restaurants across Lille.

    1

    Le Welsh

    Sample a local variation of Welsh rarebit

    Le Welsh is a dish made from boiling beer and cheese, poured over toast and ham, cooked at high temperature until golden brown, topped with a fried egg. In other areas of the world, it's called 'Welsh rarebit', but the version in Flemish cooking is a bit different with ham and beer, and each restaurant adds its own special touch with ingredients like mustard.

    Le Welsh is such a popular staple of Northern French cuisine that it's served up with Belgian fries in most restaurants, and it's worth taking a Welsh tour just to sample it in many spots. Some of the best in Lille include the Ilot Bar, Cysoing and Georges V.

    2

    La Tarte au Maroilles

    Try a slice of savoury cheese pie

    La tarte au Maroilles originally hails from Thiérache and l'Avesnois, and bakes cubes of Maroilles cheese in a shortcrust pastry with créme fraiche, butter, salt, pepper and eggs. Of course, variants abound for this simple quiche-like dish, which is believed to have Flemish roots that date back hundreds of years. It's meant to be enjoyed warm and is generally paired with Belgian fries, salad and a glass of red or white wine or beer.

    Many different restaurants in Lille feature this savoury dish, with some adding different herbs and spices and others even experimenting with sweeter versions. Among the most highly regarded, however, is Estaminet La Pate Brisee, about 10 minutes to the north of the city centre.

    3

    Les Moules-Frites

    Experience a savoury mussels-and-fries combination

    Les moules-frites is a popular and historic main dish of mussels and Belgian fries that originated in Belgium hundreds of years ago and is highly popular in Lille. This national dish of Belgium is a prime example of the influence of the Flemish tradition on the culinary styling of the region. The most common variety sees the mussels cooked in white wine, shallots, butter and parsley, but tons of variants exist, some of which even feature raw mussels on the half-shell.

    Almost every seafood restaurant in Lille has les moules-frites as a menu highlight. Among the best can be found at places like A Taaable, Aux Moules de Lille, Chez Raoul, Brasserie La Chicorée and 3 Brasseurs Lille.

    4

    Les Chicons-Gratin

    Taste a bitter-sweet take on baked ham with cheese sauce

    Les Chicons-Gratin is a Flemish dish that combines chicons, or Belgian endives, with baked ham, mornay sauce and grated cheese served steaming hot with cheese sauce. This hearty and savoury dish is one of Belgium's national dishes and has slid its way into the hearts of Northern French foodies everywhere. The combination of sweetness from the baked ham with the bitterness of the endives creates a winning flavour combination.

    In many places, it's served with mashed potatoes, but in others, Belgian fries are the preferred side dish. Among the most popular versions of les chicons-gratin in Lille can be found at The Sherlock Pub, which is also where you can grab a traditional British beer to go with it.

    5

    Le Potjevleesch/Le Potch

    Try a Flemish pot of meat and vinegar gelatin

    Le Potjevleesch, or Le Potch, is a Flemish culinary speciality that simply translates to "pot of meat" and consists of cuts of various meats marinated and served with vinegar gelatin. Because the meat used can include anything from pork to beef to veal to rabbit to chicken and beyond, the flavour can change with every location. What is usually common is that the meat is marinated and cooked together in beer or white wine with candied spices, cooled, and then served in a terrine with vinegar gelatin. It's often served with slaw and Belgian fries on the side.

    Variants can be found across the city. Among the best include L'Estaminet Le Rijsel, Le Barbue d'Anvers and Les Compagnons de la Grappe.

    6

    La Carbonade Flamande

    Have a hearty Flemish beef stew

    La carbonade flamande is a type of Flemish beef stew that is without a doubt one of the signature dishes of Lille, with every restaurant having its own delicious take. For the most part, carbonade flamande is made of beef, onion, sugar, beer, mustard, salt, vinegar and various herbs and spices cooked with baked lard and served with homemade bread. The specific mix of ingredients means that the flavour can significantly differ everywhere you try it.

    Because of this, it's worth experiencing it at many restaurants across Lille, and most have some version of it on the menu. Some of the most popular restaurants for this dish include Estaminet Aux Vieux de la Vielle, A Taaable and La Houblonnière.

    7

    La Frite-Fricadelle

    Meatball, sausage or dumpling?

    La frite-fricadelle is more than just fries and a sausage. Sure, the 'frite' are fries, and where can you find better fries than in France? What is a fricadelle, though? Its origin dates to 1837 and started as a ball of minced, cooked meat. Traditionally, it contains veal and pork. It's mixed with bread and nutmeg. Fricadelles are commonly just called snacks.

    You can find this dish in many chip shops in Lille and several restaurants. To taste the full experience of this dish, make sure to add the classic Bicky sauce—a mix of ketchup, mustard and a brown sauce that should be mixed in front of you.

    8

    La Tarte au Sucre

    Try simple, delicious Flemish sugar tart pie

    La tarte au sucre, or sugar pie, is a famous and delectable dessert that can be found across Lille, made from a brioche disc covered in butter, egg and sugar. It's a simple dish enjoyed as far back as the 16th century and is even featured in famous historic paintings such as Brueghel's "The Wedding Feast". Of course, different restaurants have different takes on this classic dish with some adding additional toppings and others using spices like cinnamon to add an additional kick to the dish.

    The best places to grab sugar tarts in Lille are bakeries like Mathieu's, Alex Croquet and others. It's a classic Flemish dish with a Northern French twist that's an iconic Lille dessert.

    9

    La Cramique

    Try a fresh-baked loaf of brioche with raisins

    La cramique is a type of Belgian breakfast brioche found across Northern France and served up as a side dish with butter and paired with coffee and tea. Whatever hearty breakfast meal you choose to enjoy, you'll often find it served with delicious brioche bread on the side, and often that brioche bread is cramique. Sometimes the cramique is even served on its own for a light meal or snack.

    Traditional cramique is baked with raisins, but many restaurants and bakeries offer variants with things like nuts and spices baked into it for additional flavour. Whether you like it sweet or savoury, cramique is a popular bread served up in almost every restaurant and found in most bakeries in Lille.

    10

    Les Gaufres à la Vergeoise

    Try the filled waffles that spread across the world

    Les gaufres à la vergeoise translates to "little sugar waffles", and are a rustic French staple found in restaurants and bakeries all across Lille. Some believe these little waffles with sweet filling to be the forerunner of the waffles enjoyed across the world, as they were developed in the 18th century in Belgium. They're a speciality of Northern French cooking, and the vergeoise is a filling made of sugar, rum and butter that offers an unbelievably rich and delectable flavour that's sure to keep you coming back for more.

    This dish is wildly popular across Lille and is enjoyed at any time of the day. It can even be found at many fast food and delivery restaurants, so it's easy to track it down.

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