It is rare to find a small, family-owned café with a line leading out the door in a city like Boston, where there are coffee shops and brunch spots on every corner. Located near Harvard Square, Zinneken’s is one. What’s their secret to success? The owners of the cozy restaurant pour their culture into the handcrafted dough of their Belgian waffles. “Best Belgian waffles made by actual Belgians,” they state on their website.
“My husband started this restaurant,” said employee Cristina Caprar. “He wanted to bring something new to the U.S.”
Although many restaurant menus list Belgian waffles, Zinneken’s signature Liège waffle (or Belgian Sugar waffle) is not commonly sold across the U.S. Their use of pearl sugar, imported from Belgium, sets them apart. When the dough bakes in their cast irons, the pearls caramelize, resulting in a uniquely “soft ‘n chewy” texture. Their Brussels waffle is the “light ‘n crispy” alternative. Each waffle is made-to-order, freshly baked in front of customers and then topped with their choice of tasty toppings, ranging from fresh fruit to imported Belgian chocolate and Speculoos (biscuits).
Caprar said that her husband knew how special the Leige waffle is in Belgium and believed America lacked authentic Belgian waffles. After college, he started the business with friends from school, sharing food he missed from home with the greater Boston area. A few years after building their name, the owners decided to move one step further and created the Zinneken’s truck.
While the restaurant was initially established by a close-knit group of friends and family, Caprar said their employment is not exclusive. Their site offers the opportunity to become a part of their “new niche in the gourmet food industry.”
If their list of 10 Good Reasons to Join Zinneken’s doesn’t entice you then their sugary scent that permeates down the street definitely will. Zinneken’s is open throughout the day and into the night, providing the option of breakfast, dessert, or even a late-night snack. You will surely return once you’ve gotten a taste of their waffles, a sip of their coffee and a feel for their homey environment.