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Where to eat, drink and shop in Leuven

It’s no secret we’re a big fan of everything Katrien Vandenberghe does. She’s the hands and heart behind Thelma Coffee & Design, and can be hold responsible for the urge to book a flight to Ibiza, Lanzarote, Tulum or any other modern bohemian destination. This former dentist always had a keen eye for beauty and styling, and found a way to share this love via her small business in Leuven. As she’s such a pro in finding cool hot spots around the globe (just look at her Instagram feed!) we asked her if she could share some of her favourite spots around town. (Chances are we make it there sooner than Ibiza…)



“Noordoever offers an innovative and easy way to grab a bite in Leuven’s up and coming and former industrial neighbourhoods: the ‘Vaartkom’. Everything’s vegetarian or vegan, and they use as many organic and local ingredients as possible. As they work together with different harvest gardens, they have to work with whatever ingredients are in season. The result is often surprising, and always tasteful. It’s safe to say I love spending my lunch break here!”

Ristorante Rossi

“Whenever I need a throwback to la bella Italia, I make a reservation at Ristorante Rossi to feel and taste those Italian vibes. The interior is no different than any other Italian restaurant – think red-white checkered table cloths, dark wooden furniture and traditional decorative elements – but the food is divine! Chef Felice is an adept of slow food, and reworks his grandmother’s authentic recipes into refined culinary delights. He creates a different menu every week, and only works with the freshest ingredients. It’s been a longtime favourite of mine…”

Bar Stan

“I like places with a different yet very recognizable vibe to it. Bar Stan merges the alternative vibes of Berlin with a very cozy living room atmosphere. They serve strong coffees, healthy lunches and homemade lemonades, but they’re especially famous for their ‘Stanburger’. I always feel good in here!”

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Koffie & Staal 

“Koffie & Staal translates as ‘coffee and steel’ and that’s exactly what Lino and Nouchka offer you: a cup of joe next to homemade furniture and jewellery in a super cozy and authentic environment. Saying they only serve coffee would be quite the understatement, as they also bake their own cakes and create tasty summer salads. It’s impossible not to notice Koffie & Staal’s distinctive interior; the tables, benches and stools are all handmade by Lino, and his designs are so immensely beautiful, I even asked him to design a custom-made shelving system for our own home!”

De Hoorn

“The Vaartkom is currently blooming with cool initiatives and alternative hot spots, and that’s partly because De Hoorn showed by example. Seven locals transformed the historically protected industrial building – where they used to brew Stella Artois – into a creative meeting place with a hip brasserie. It’s places like these that give Leuven a certain grandeur!”

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“PLEK started out as a popup shop during the Christmas period, but because of its immense success they decided to make it permanent. I’m so glad they did, because they sell such beautiful interior decorations! Another major plus, is that everything’s affordable and made in honest conditions; they unite ethics and esthetics into one cool hot spot. Besides that, they also sell beverages and organize multiple DIY workshops throughout the year, which I’m dying to try once I have some more time on my hands!”

Thelma Coffee & Design

“So, I could not not include my own little business, now could I? With Thelma Coffee & Design, I tried to create a place where it’s easy to spend a few hours discovering pretty and local brands; trying on cool, Scandinavian clothes; enjoying several cups of coffee and tasting various sweet and savoury treats. Together with my lovely and hardworking #teamthelma, we try to create a home-y atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable. It’s a place to eat, drink and shop at once. Everyone’s welcome!”

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What do you think of Katrien’s collection of urban hot spots? Tell us your favourites on Instagram or Facebook!

Where to eat, drink and shop in Leuven