Inspired by my favorite guide to Philadelphia restaurants, and my favorite Philadelphia restaurant critic, I present you with my guide to restaurants and cafes in Tilburg (with a few in neighboring towns and cities).  Since moving here, I've found some great options here and in the surrounding areas.  And for various reasons, the existing restaurant review sites here don't seem that comprehensive or credible.  I suppose this guide is intended more for the university/international community: I mention restaurants that are particularly good for seminar visitors and other university guests as well as those places that are good with small children.  I hope it's useful.  Enjoy.

you can email comments or suggestions, george.knox@gmail.com

Last modified August 1 2017

S = appropriate for seminar guests
L = loud
K = kid-friendly


Current favorites

Coffee: Locals (Heuvelstraat 128)

Lunch: Locals (Heuvelstraat 128) & Kras2 (Willem II straat 27) & Pig & Rye (Nieuwlandstraat 28)

Casual Dinner: Berlijn Cafe (Korvelseweg 169) & Spaarbank (Noordstraat 125)

For seminar guests (fancier): De Houtloods (Burgermeester Brokxlaan 1041) & Kok Verhoeven (NS Plein 32)

Deli: Kaaszaak (Noordstraat 79a)

Beer cafe: Kandinsky (Telegraafstraat 58)

Worth the trek: Kop van't Land (Dordrecht)

On my list to try


Recently tried

Pig & Rye (Nieuwlandstraat 28): Another great lunch spot in this neighborhood!  They also do breakfast and are a bakery.  I had pastrami on rye with Russian dressing with a Fevertree ginger beer.  The sandwich was deliciously gooey in the way that only melted cheese and meat can bring out. Perhaps it could've used some more healthy crunch and greens to vary the taste. Their other sandwiches look very appealing (see here). It's an open space with high ceilings and large tables that are meant to be shared. On a Saturday afternoon, there were several diners reading the paper, leisurely enjoying the food and atmosphere. 

Visserij (Havendijk 36): From the proprietors of Burgerij, same philosophy, serving both low and high cuisine (I saw caviar), but, of course, focused on fish. Lovely location on the quieter side of Piushaven, across the water from Bij Vermeer, Porto Ijs and Coffee, and Don Curado.  You can sit outside and enjoy the setting sun.  Reasonably priced. Good selection of beers and wine. Mixed grill of tuna, octopus, and sardine was simple and delicious. However bouillabaisse (fish soup) was ruined by an overpowering anise flavor, enough for them to take it off our bill in the end. Still would go again and stick to the grill.  


Raw (Burgemeester Brokxlaan 79-8): Sort of a misnomer.  No, it's not a sushi restaurant or a place that serves all raw food. They even have a "Raw Beef" (fully cooked) steak. Probably the raw describes the industrial-looking interior, with its high ceilings and metal.  It's behind the station, presumably in a former train depot.  It's a mid-range place, offering many beers (Duvel) on tap, and a good range of fish, meat, vegetarian, and snack items.  Sort of a fun atmosphere inside, but a bit loud.  My steak was moderately good. The dinner salads were also good but nothing special.  The snacks and beer at the beginning were good and the large selection is nice. I would go here for borrel but maybe not dinner. Also, they don't take reservations if you're less than 6 people, and this place is crowded. However, there are often spots at the bar which is nice.

Spaarbank (Noordstraat 125): Updated: still good! I recently had a new menu item, ramen noodle soup with shrimp and duck. Really good, highly recommended.  Here's what I wrote last time: good value, middle-of-the-road option: nice ambiance, housed in a former bank (hence the name). Good beer and whiskey selection. Terraces in front and back, next to a playground. S K L


Ilio's (Dommelstraat 26, Eindhoven): Greek place on restaurant row in Eindhoven. But the Greek kitchen is perhaps more accommodating Dutch tastes, i.e., heavy sauces, less spicy, more meat and potatoes. Portion size is big. Our stuff was average quality: saganaki (fried feta) ok, same for grilled octopus; the fried pita was good, but the stuffed grape leaves (dolmades) had a overly bitter aftertaste. Mousaka was mostly ground beef and potatoes, with too little eggplant, like a Greek stamppot. They offer a two course tapas at 25 EUR pp, which looks like an enormous amount of food.  We saw a big party order this. 


Fine dining (slow, > 2 hours)

De Houtloods (Burgermeester Brokxlaan 1041): open-kitchen concept, small plates (10-15 euro each) divided into several categories (earth, rich, spicy, sweet). Located in a somewhat empty zone behind the train station, but inside ambiance is warm and spacious. When you walk inside, there's a hall with a scale model of Tilburg, several meters long.  Worth checking out. Quality is uneven. Some courses were innovative and delicious (e.g., Tartaco); others were under-seasoned (e.g., pork loin) or, worse yet, too sweet-sour for my taste.  House special Gin & Tonic with orange and other spices is very good.

Auberge du Bonheur (Bredaseweg 441): I find this place overpriced and pretentious.  I used to go here all the time with seminar guests because of its convenience. Have had some good meals, but also wildly overpriced mediocre food.  After the last time I went here, my colleague expressed dismay at the disparity between price and quality. They do have a good beer and wine selection.  S

Monarh (Bredaseweg 204): innovative cuisine, they experiment with textures as well as tastes.  Amuse-bouche always interesting, extensive cheese selection. Located in a renovated convent in between UvT and the center. S

Taste (Heuvelpoort 300): under the Mercure hotel, modern, more flexible in terms of courses and ordering. Pretty good, but nothing really stands out. Ambiance is a little cold.  S

Kok Verhoeven (NS Plein 32): reasonably good, safe seminar speaker choice, not pretentious or too slow, specializes in fish (though they have meat and vegetarian options). Delicious seafood starters, good wine and beer list. I've been here too many times, so much of the novelty has worn off.  Order the sashimi (off-menu) as a starter. S 


Casual (fast, < 2)

By Tammy (Kempenaarplaats 2 Tilburg): Indonesian-Moluccan cuisine. The Maluku islands (part of which were once called the Spice Islands) are a part of Indonesia that were colonized by the Portuguese and then Dutch. Lots of food for very little.  Worth a try!

Nawaf (Korvelseweg 58-02): Middle Eastern restaurant recently opened on Korvelseweg. The owner is Iraqi, and there are some Lebanese cooks whose influence shows up on the menu (e.g., Fattoush). The Iraqi tea, served on a heated stand and tasted in small glasses, is a nice touch. The Adas lentil soup with lemon was brightly acidic and delicious.  However, both of our main courses, Machboos beef (Kabsa) and chicken Biryani were disappointingly bland, large chunks of meats served on huge piles of rice. Maybe the grill menu is more promising.  I want to give this place another try sometime.  (K, childseat in the corner) 

Harboury (Havendijk 75): New place occupying what used to be Biku, a terrible mishmash of bad food and overpriced buddha statues (what is it with the Dutch and Buddha?). The modest but open space with large windows and location on Piushaven are nice, so it's a welcome change to have someone else take over.  We went before their official open; unfortunately they had run out of duck, which was what brought us there. Our main courses were reasonably good, but nothing special.  The best thing we ate is the bar snack: plukbrood with the dipping sauces which is delicious and addictive. It's like a fluffy cross between a pretzel and focaccia.  In short: definitely worth trying.  S K 

Berlijn Cafe (Korvelseweg 169): Fun place to eat in the summer, outside on the benches, with a Weizenbier. Very inexpensive, small rotating menu. fish, meat and vegetarian options. Very good value in Tilburg.  Good beer selection.

Tredici (St. Josephstraat 136): Italian, standard fare, nothing fancy. Formerly Eataly, Tredici means 13 in Italian, playing off the name of nearby 013 concert venue and/or the local area code.  Pizza, pasta, fish, steak. moderately priced. L K

Sarban (Besterdring 2): Afghan, set price 3 course menu. According to iens, highest rated in Tilburg. Good to go once or twice, but they often steer everyone into ordering a little of everything, and menu doesn't change. S

De Burgerij (Noordstraat 87): hearty Dutch food, a little uneven but often just the thing that cures cold, rainy days. What the Dutch would call Bourgondisch: stews, stamppot, excellent selection of wines. I heard a rumor that they served a really bad risotto to an Italian; but, in the spirit of progress he went back to the kitchen and showed them how to cook it the right way.  


Bij Vermeer (Kempenaarsplaats 156): I liked it better when it was the Havenmeester. Now it's pricier and not as good. Service was also bad last time I was here.

Heaven's Kitchen (Piushaven 21): Funky warehouse atmosphere, excellent Australian steaks. A fun option. Good beer list.  Can get loud and service is highly variable.   S K L

Sami Swoi (Tuinstraat 59): Polish bar and cafe in the heart of Tilburg. We stopped by for lunch, soup and pierogi's. Delicious.    K 

Happy Italy (Heuvelstraat 126): Is reviewing Happy Italy like reviewing McDonald's?  Maybe. However, the last time I went to McD was more than 5 years ago, whereas I was at HI a few weeks ago.  I mention them here because I really think they do a pretty good job with pizza (pasta is another story); the price is right; they are quick; and they're very good with kids (plus they have a playroom). The pizza at HI is much better than the delivery options here.  K  

Specialty Stores

Kaaszaak (Noordstraat 79a): A store that focuses on high-quality hard-to-find ingredients, as well as, of course, cheese. They have specialty jams, wines, beers, salami, olive oil... even popsicles (blood orange flavored, yum!).  Last time I was there I bought Spanish olive oil, a Portuguese white wine, fennel salami, granola, and ... It doesn't actually serve meals, and so it's only tangentially related to restaurants, but nevertheless I wanted to bring your attention to it. 

Cafes, Coffee and Lunch

Locals Tilburg (Heuvelstraat 128): my favorite cafe, great environment, excellent coffee, beans roasted on premises, delicious soups, sandwiches (e.g., cured tuna with horseradish) and salads, can get crowded on the weekends.  K

Lunchcafe Nieuwland (Nieuwlandstraat 66): also excellent cafe, more Dutch fare, soups sandwiches and salads. Also crowded on weekends, slightly more space than Locals. Sometimes, they insist on bottled instead of (free) tap water. K

Buutvrij (Stationsstraat 49): More industrial/artsy cafe. Excellent drip coffee and pastries.  Very friendly service. K

Kras2 (Willem II straat 27): Italian sandwicherie and delicatessen, delicious. Often go for the salami, fontina, olive and pickle sandwich. Very small indoors, a few tables outside as well. They sell some Italian hard-to-find ingredients.


Beer Cafes

Kandinsky (Telegraafstraat 58): probably the most famous beer cafe in Tilburg.  Over 200 varietes, 8-10 on tap every week. Dimly lit interior ("brown cafe"). Sometimes fun stop before/after dinner for seminar guests. Very helpful staff. Can get quite crowded on weekends. Nice outdoor seating on a small street tucked away in the center.  

Burgermeester Jansen (Piushaven 22): another Tilburg institution. It seems their selection is more Dutch and smaller breweries than Kandinsky.  Nice outdoor seating in front of the canal.


Den Bosch

Sense (Verwersstraat 58): Michelin star. Modern innovative cuisine (e.g., bitterball of anchovies), 4+ tasting courses, surprisingly unfussy and very very good. S

Shiro (Uilenburg 4): Authentic Japanese (i.e., not all-you-can-eat), expensive.  Gets good ratings, friends really like it, but nothing stood out for me.  Dining room feels like an attic space; very quiet atmosphere.  S 

Nescio (Hinthamerstraat 80 's-Hertogenbosch): Cute cafe, delicatessen and restaurant on the less populated side of the big cathedral, St. Jan's, in Den Bosch, with surprisingly excellent food at a reasonable price.  They serve small dishes, about 10 euros each. The best thing I had was a vegan beetroot "burger" with horseradish. Not much in the way of beer, but a handful of reasonably priced wines by the glass. 


Breda

Barlucca (Van Coothplein 24): Average Italian; fun spacious atmosphere, friendly attentive service, a good place for groups. Somewhat overpriced. S K


Sint Willebrord

Restaurant O&O (Dorpstraat 138, Sint Willebrord): Outside Breda, about 35 minutes away (cute town with a nice church to walk around beforehand). Asian fusion with a European twist, high end. Interior is warm and cozy; there is a fire pit outside. Dumpling appetizers, one of radish, all non-standard were very good. Actually the amuse bouche lobster bisque was so delicious and rich; I wish I could have just had that. The main courses-- Peking duck and skate wing-- were too sweet, lacked the subtlety of the opening.  Interesting choice of aperitifs, yuzu champagne, and a flavored Japanese gin & tonic. They have a dim sum on Sunday afternoons that I would like to try. Otherwise, a little expensive for what they deliver. (update: a colleague of mine says this town is infamous for trailer trash. Couldn't have looked more different from my perspective.)



Vegetarian

Kop van't Land (Dordrecht, Zeedijk 32): Truly an amazing experience. Wonderful location; the drive itself from Dordrecht can be beautiful. On Mondays they do a 10-course tasting menu, every course of which is really great. This used to be my favorite spot. Can't say enough good things. Give it a try (you can also stay over in the B&B). 
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