The street is actually named rue des Bouchers (Butcher Street) and Beenhouwersstraat. Every street in Brussels has both a French and Flemish name (and the signs are pretty good from our experience). We were headed toward a restaurant we’d read about called Aux Armes de Bruxelles. We found the restaurant on a street mobbed by competing restaurants, all with almost identical menus on placards out front, and very friendly maître d’s who were ready to describe their paella, show you an English menu, and promise your first drink free. There must have been 20 restaurants in a row, all eerily empty inside with fires blazing sadly. The Armes was the only restaurant that did not have a caller, and the only one with a cheerful buzz of customers.

We chose the Armes and the food was quite good. After dinner, as we walked back through the gauntlet, one maître d’ called out to us, and then said, “Oh, I remember you.” I could tell he was thinking, “Yes, I remember. Tonight I will see your face as my children cry with hunger in their beds!”

Our host said she does not recommend these secondary restaurants because she fears the seafood is not fresh. She also said these front men have become less aggressive; they used to grab people! I don’t understand how so many seemingly identical restaurants can thrive on a single block. I would open a restaurant and tell everyone, “Mussels, who wants mussels? Have an enchilada!” Because a Tex-Mex restaurant in Brussels would be awesome. Although I admit, the mussels I had were gorgeous.

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