For those seeking culinary experiences and dining destinations a little off the beaten path, it doesn’t get much more unique or quirky than eating or drinking within the walls of a former 16th-century church in Ghent. The Holy Food Market is housed in the Baudelo Chapel and, inspired by the food halls of Barcelona and the Markthal of Rotterdam, now serves dishes from across the world.
Editor’s note: Unfortunately, as of late 2019, the Holy Food Market in Ghent has closed down.
Address | Beverhoutplein 15, 9000 Gent, Belgium
A brief history of the Holy Food Market
The church itself can be found on the fringes of the historic old town, on the Ottogracht, and not far from the Industriemuseum and Sint-Jacobskerk Catholic Church. Easily one of the best hidden gems of Ghent, this food hall has previously served as a place of worship, cloisters, Art School, and library. In March of 2017, the former ecclesiastical building was transformed once more when the Holy Food Market was opened to the public for the first time.
Now, on Thursday, Saturday and Monday evenings, the food hall is transformed into a dance club, with the central bar providing the perfect backdrop to a lively night out. At other times of the week, wander in during opening hours and you can expect to find a wide array of eateries, as well as the ‘low calorie’ cocktails of ‘Skinny B*’ and the central bar serving some pretty delicious drinks.
Head up to the top floor for a beautiful (and incredibly photogenic) view of the church laid out below. With its black and white tile flooring and newly implemented stained glass windows, you’ll surely want to stop for a snap or two. Open from 11h until 23h on a daily basis, entrance to the establishment is free and the main bar is always open during hours of operation. Well behaved pets are welcome.
Of particular note amongst the newest offerings from the Holy Food Market is the Holy Water Cuberdon gin. This tipple is inspired by the cuberdon sweets that have been made so infamous by the ‘little nose war’ between two of the city’s most prominent candy vendors. Other highlights of the bar include local Belgian beers on tap, as well as plenty of cocktails!
But what is perhaps most ‘innovative’ when it comes to the Holy Food Market of Ghent is the use of puns to describes the dishes, sell the snacks, and name the stores, with a personal favourite being ‘Divine Pasta.’
Food stalls and experiences available at the Holy Food Market
Truth be told, you come to the food market for the experience of dining in a former 16th-century church, as well as the ambience of it all. The dishes are pretty pricey and the selection is perhaps not as wide as I might have hoped (from reading the website). When we visited the market in mid-April of 2019, some stalls were still undergoing renovations.
However, if you do choose to visit this dining spot in the self-proclaimed vegetarian capital of Europe, you can expect to find Portuguese dishes, Italian pizzas, a Japanese restaurant, and a couple of bars. And for the sweet tooth in you, you’ll be delighted to know that there’s even a Magnum pleasure store, where you can create your own culinary dessert.