Steve Halaszi attended culinary school in Las Vegas and managed multiple restaurants before opening Benelux Café in Raleigh’s charming City Market, 309 Blake St. He began appreciating coffee and desired to open his own café with a European spin. Steve and his wife opened Benelux Café in August 2010, providing Greater Raleigh with a cozy spot to relax or work with free Wi-Fi. Not only does Benelux Café pour their energy into amazing coffee drinks, but they serve delicious Belgian waffles and beer. Walking down the cobblestone streets and into the rustic café will surely make you feel like you’ve entered a different country.
Benelux Café is a co-sponsor for a semi-competitive cycling team in Raleigh, which meets at the café on Sunday mornings. Every Tues. at 6:30pm, Benelux Café also hosts a weekly cycling club. The club meets at the café and rides for about an hour. After the ride, everyone goes back to the café to socialize and enjoy $2 New Belgium Brewing products. Steve cycles to work, which is a short ride away from his home in the Mordecai neighborhood in downtown Raleigh. Cycling is a common, sustainable means of transportation in European countries. You’ll also notice the theme of sustainability at Benelux Café. The café not only encourages cycling, but purchases locally roasted coffee from Joe Van Gough. They recently started roasting their own coffee, which is sold for retail at the café.
After cycling to Benelux Café, I’m sure you’ll be in need of a signature Brussels Waffel. The Madam Wafel is topped with sweet strawberries and whipped cream. For something to satisfy your sweet tooth, the Monsieur Wafel is a café favorite, topped with caramel and ice cream. The Eddy’s Wafel is named after the best cyclist in Belgium and includes speculoos spread and ice cream. You also have the option of creating your own Brussels Waffel, which comes with one Goedie for $3.65. Goedies include butter, maple syrup, strawberries, bananas, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, Nutella spread, speculoos spread and whipped cream. You’ll pay a little extra if you want vanilla ice cream, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re in the mood for an excellent dessert option.
I tried the Brussels Wafel with speculoos spread and whipped cream. The Brussels Wafel, served in a paper boat was golden brown with crispy edges. The sweet treat melted in my mouth and I enjoyed the rich caramel and ginger flavors. My cup of locally roasted drip coffee paired nicely with the Brussels Wafel to balance out the sweet.
Another great pairing with the drip coffee is a traditional stroopwafle, which the Dutch put on top of their coffee cup and use the hot beverage’s steam to soften the hard waffle. If you’re looking for a specialty coffee drink, some of the most popular coffee drinks this season have been the pumpkin spice and gingerbread lattes. I tried the pumpkin spice latte, which had the perfect amount of whipped cream and cinnamon. For the tea lovers, Benelux Café offers organic and fair-trade Rishi teas. You’ll find a lot of patrons ordering a chai tea latte or London Fog made with earl grey tea.
Benelux Café is a friendly, neighborhood café that is certainly gaining popularity. They recently expanded to the foyer of the Alexander Family YMCA, where they serve coffee, soups, sandwiches and baked goods. I encourage you to pay a visit to Benelux Café to try a Brussels Wafel and relax over a warm cup of coffee.