What’s new: Antwerp rules, with tapas, Dunkin Donuts and hip headpieces


A new tapas bar on Marnixpl aats has a power team behind it, while Dunkin Donuts needs no introduction and a popular hair salon makes quality, affordable hair pieces for women dealing with hair loss


Antwerp’s Zuid neighbourhood has a new tapas and grill bar in Tío. Located on the eternally hip Marnixplaats, it fits right in, with its trendy pinchos and extensive wine list.

Tío borrows from traditions across Spain’s rich food scene, with a focus on the Catalan region and Moorish influences. The menu has selections of pinchos, tapas and grilled dishes, all of which can be mixed and matched to create a lovely Spanish-inspired meal. Or you can start with pinchos (bites eaten via toothpick), move on to tapas and then end with spiced pulled lamb, for instance, or smoked mussels.

The menu is small enough to concentrate on specialities but large enough to create many combinations. It’s also very reasonably priced, with the most expensive option – a healthy portion of Iberico ham – costing €14.50. Vegetarian selections are somewhat limited – but that’s Spain for you. Tío also specialises in Spanish wines and cavas.

The interior mixes exposed brick, dark wood and lush, green plants to good effect, though it has expanded its terrace during the corona period. That’s no loss to customers as Marnixplaats is a fine place to while away a summer evening.

The dudes behind Tío are no newcomers: Raphael Helsmoortel is the 30-something entrepreneur behind Antwerp’s Sum Sum, La Taqueria, Sumac and Fugu, while Mo Aoulad is responsible for the Meat & Eat franchise. Kings of casual chic, they now have six outlets in the Zuid neighbourhood.

Tío also does take-away, which can be ordered via the website, and can be found on UberEats.


Hair hot-spot The Pony Club in Antwerp has launched a line of hand-made headpieces combining headwear and hair. The hair is real, collected by owner Hiske Van De Wouwer from her customers with at least 30 centimetres to donate.

Van De Wouwer was inspired by one of her regular customers, whose mother had lost her hair and struggled to find decent looking, affordable wigs. Indeed: Women who lose their hair, whether permanently or temporarily, have long struggled with how to deal with it. Quality wigs cost hundreds or even thousands of euros.

Van De Wouwer realised that she cuts a huge amount of hair every day that just gets thrown away. So she enlisted the help of her own mother and five other women to help her design and make the Hairbuddy.

Hair contains DNA; it’s a part of someone’s story

- Hiske Van De Wouwer

The line includes beanies, baseball caps and other kinds of hats and scarves, with a variety of styles of hair cascading down from each one. “There’s something magical about cutting away someone’s long locks,” says Van De Wouwer. “Hair contains DNA; it’s a part of someone’s story. If we can transform these manes into cool hairstyles for people who have suffered hair loss, that is a beautiful gift.”

Prices range depending on the piece, but the most expensive at this point is €170. What’s more, they are covered by medical insurance, which usually refunds the entire cost.

Anyone with at least 30cm of hair they can spare can make an appointment for a haircut at The Pony Club. Hair can also be sent to them through the post. Donors are asked to create pigtails and bind them with three hairbands before slicing them off. Then just mail them to the salon as Charlottalei 36, 2018 Antwerp. All hair colours and types are accepted.

Dunkin Donuts

Whether you consider it good news or bad, Belgium opened its first Dunkin Donuts outlet last week. The American mega doughnut chain can now be found on De Keyserlei in Antwerp, just a few steps away from Central Station.

These days, Dunkin prefers to be thought of as a coffee house and doughnut shop, but, considering the superiority of coffee in Europe, there’s no reason to head to the Antwerp location for anything but the wide (wide, wide) selection of sweet pastries.

The grand opening last Wednesday in Antwerp, however, hit a snag when a gimmick didn’t quite work out as planned. The new outlet advertised that the first 100 people in line on opening day would get a free box of six doughnuts every week for a year.

Obviously underestimating the popularity of such a gift, staff appeared surprised when people began lining up the day before, planning to camp out for the night. Because of measures to control the spread of the coronavirus, this did not sit well with the police.

So Dunkin management just awarded the first 100 people in line the free doughnuts and sent everyone away. The people who showed up early on the actual morning they were supposed to were then very annoyed to find that they had lost the chance to earn the year-long prize.

And who could blame them? Dunkin’s doughnuts are, in fact, very good, whether you choose the simple glazed or a version with frosting so bright blue, it seems like it shouldn’t be edible. If you do not have a hankering for a doughnut, it’s worth it just to pop in and see the counter, full to bursting with different colours, shapes and sizes of sweet, doughy goodness.

Photos Tío courtesy Tío, photo Hairbuddy ©Sofie Coreynen