Jurgen Maelfeyt is a busy man. He teaches Graphic Design at KASK, run his own studio – which is behind the visuals for Toneelhuis Antwerpen, Concerthuis Brugge, Sophie D’Hoore and many others – and also has his own independent publishing platform, Art Paper Editions. Originally hailing from a small village in West-Flanders, he stuck around after finishing his degree and is not planning on leaving Ghent anytime soon. Over the years, he has lived in different places around the city, but has now settled in Ghent Dampoort, an area that gives him the vibe he is looking for. A bit of noise, the hustle and bustle of people in the streets and the right amount of shops and bars make Dampoort a perfectly liveable area. Real city life at a more affordable cost. Set to open his long-awaited bookshop and gallery space this Thursday, we caught up with Jurgen to get the lowdown on his favourite local digs.

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Dampoort serves a perfect mix: old-fashioned bakeries and supermarkets neatly intertwined with hip coffee bars and creative offices. That’s why I want to make this neighbourhood even more attractive, by renovating a site for creative purposes. The site will include offices – our own graphic design studio, Art Paper Editions, music magazine Subbacultcha … – but also a new bar by the people behind het Gouden Hoofd. On the 20th of November, we’ll open RIOT, a bookshop/gallery where we’ll offer unique and original publications by Spektor Books, Sternberg Press, ROMA publications and the likes. And off course, we’ll also present our own publications from APE here.

I really like my neighbourhood, but since Ghent is such a compact city, it’s easy to venture out to other places at each time of the day. When it comes to coffee and breakfast, one of my favourite spots is Simon Says. It was one of the first coffee bars in the city and it’s still one of my favourite spots for a decent breakfast. It’s not too fancy or too trendy, but has just the right amount of cosiness and authenticity. Another favourite is Labath, also one of the first places that focuses on good coffee. There has been a lot of movement in that area and lots of other bars have opened up, but this one definitely remains the best.

For a quick bite, Aula is one of my regular stops. Originally, this was a butcher’s shop. They have expanded their range and now also serve sandwiches and other meals, but the authentic atmosphere is still present. All sandwiches are made with quality ingredients and you can really taste the difference. Seats are usually taken quickly, meaning you might have to eat your sandwich on the sidewalk, but that doesn’t change a thing about the flavour. Another fine food spot is Het Gouden Hoofd, a no-nonsense bar and restaurant. The vibe is relaxed, and you can go in for drinks or for a bite. Fine beers, good wines and simple yet tasty dishes make this place a perfect place to go when you want value for your money. Il Cortile is also one of those places where the food is of more importance than looks. Located in Oudburg, this place seems like a true tourist trap: the interior looks awful, service isn’t always great and it’s constantly crowded. But the food is all worth it. They serve real Italian food, and it’s the best you can get around here.

A lot of the ‘Flemish Foodies’ have a restaurant here in Ghent – like J.E.F., Volta … – and they’re all great at what they do, but newcomer De Superette sticks out. Everything they serve is just fantastic. They have the best bread I have ever tasted, and the pizzas are also extremely good. Absolutely a place to visit!
When you’re looking for art and culture, S.M.A.K is off course a must-see. The Conservatory and KASK also regularly host interesting events, especially at the Bijloke and KIOSK. There is always a lot going on, with exhibitions, concerts, book launches, … opening almost daily. 019 is also a very interesting space for concerts, performances, exhibitions … Artistic collective Smoke & Dust have turned an old factory in the docks to a cultural hub, where artists and designers have the space to explore their talents and host a multitude of creative and cultural events.

Dendermondsesteenweg 80
Simon Says
Sluizeken 8
Oude Houtlei 1
Voldersstraat 24
Het Gouden Hoofd
Slachthuisstraat 96
Il Cortile
Kraanlei 53
De Superette
Guldenspoorstraat 29/33
Jozef Kluyskensstraat 2
KIOSK Gallery
Louis Pasteurlaan 2
Dok Noord 5L

Art Paper Editions is one of 25 Belgium creative and cultural imprints that has contributed a page-perfect tribute to Brussels to our upcoming edition, which is available for pre-order here.