I'll be in Brussels (from the US) for a week in February.
I know it's going to be cold! I've been to Europe a lot, sometimes as a tourist and a lot on business, but I haven't been to Brussels since I was a kid. I remember the Grande Place, the Mannequin Pis, and excellent chocolate (yum!). Given that I'll be working during the day (no museums or other attractions that close at 5 PM), anyone have recommendations on good eats or sights?
Any etiquette or tips for visitors that you'd like to share?
Brussels is a lovely place. I lived there for nearly a year. It will be cold in February. Take stout shoes against snow / rain / cobbled streets. Most Belgian women going to a posh event will take their good shoes in a bag and change when they get where they're going.
In terms of restaurants, there are plenty. If you eat meat you'll have a lot easier time than if you don't in terms of finding places.
The Grand Place is very pretty. I think it's de rigeur to have at least one meal on it. The best of the restaurants on the square is called t'Kelderke. It's as touristy as most of the others but has decent food and local people will eat there. Very traditional Belgian food like mussels and chips and my personal favourite of rabbit cooked in beer (called lapin a la gueze).
One of my personal favourites in Brussels is a North African restaurant called La Kasbah on Rue Antoine Dansaert which does really nice tagines and couscous.
If you like fish then the fish market up at St Catherine is surrounded by fish restaurants. I don't much like fish so don't go there often but by and large if it looks relatively clean, it should be alright.
La Quincaillerie is a rather upmarket brasserie where famous people are alleged to eat. In my view it's slightly over priced but the food is good.
Brussels is also renowned for chips. These are served in restaurants but also in friteries / fritkots which are just stands in the square with no seating. There's a good one on Place Jourdain called Maison Antoine.
You may have problems with museums etc as most of them keep office hours. Not many of the shops open late but in terms of the shops there are, there's a rather nice square called Place du Grand Sablon which has upmarket shops and antique shops as well as my favourite cafe (Wittamer) and my favourite chocolatier (Pierre Marcolini). Avenue Louise has all of the designer shops and the department store called Inno.
You could go to a concert or opera one evening. The Palais des Beaux Artes has concerts of mainly classical music and the Opera House La Monnaie has a reasonably good programme. The Botanique also has music some evenings. Or you can just find a bar, drink a beer and watch the people go by.
The public transport in Brussels is really good with buses and trams all over. Tickets are pretty reasonably priced. I wouldn't usually bother with taxis in Brussels unless i was going somewhere the transport didn't go.