I got to be honest. The food is not a highlight in Amsterdam nor in the whole Netherlands.
I don’t like comparing much because each destination is unique, but seriously, there’s not much to say about Dutch kitchen.
To be frank, I cannot compare it to some other national kitchen even if I want to.
Well, I could say it’s land of snacks. And sweets. (Probably because tourists are smoking much cannabis – it’s a joke 🙂 but not far from the truth!)
At the same time, you can always enjoy in diverse food aromas around the streets of Amsterdam. The city is a home to loads of international restaurants.
Also, you can have plenty of fun in the Dutch capital.
You may not have full stomach with €10, but for sure you will have enough fun with the same amount!
In this article I will mention some typical Dutch dishes and more importantly, the best places where you can eat properly & have a good time after it or perhaps 2 in 1.
Beware that even though I was living 4 years in Amsterdam, I don’t have many excellent photos of food. That’s because I’m a huge foodie and I like to eat food, not take photos of it.
So, I promise I will be a bit more patient in the future with my appetite, so I can decently present you how good my chosen dishes are. 🙂
I’ll try to steer you in the right direction and I hope my picks will help you to have the best time and a full stomach when in Amsterdam!
Although The Netherlands is not known for its cuisine, you should try at least some of the traditional snacks and dishes in the list below.
The Netherlands has a strong cheese culture, with recipes dating back generations. Most Dutch cheeses are hard or semi-hard and classified by age. ‘Jong’ or young is the creamiest and softest flavor. ‘Belegen’ is slightly harder and nuttier tasting, but still quite smooth. ‘Oud’ or old is the hardest from all.
There are many souvenir packages with traditional Dutch “cheese shaver” to perfectly cut any cheese into slices.
I got seriously hooked up on cheese called ‘Old Amsterdam’ (award winning matured Gouda taste).
WHERE TO FIND DUTCH CHEESE?
When it comes to Old Amsterdam, I would definitely suggest Old Amsterdam Cheese Store in the city center that even offers tastings.
Cheese shops are perfect places to get a true sense of the variety of Dutch cheese and they are basically everywhere around the city. Above, I’ve mentioned two. Street markets are full of traditional food culture, and cheese is definitely no exception to this: go early, when the market isn’t so busy. (Noordermarkt is a must!). To dig deeper into a cheese culture, visit Amsterdam Cheese Museum.
It is undoubtedly the most famous pastry from The Netherlands. It’s a unique kind of cookie/waffle filled with special sweet and sticky syrup (the ‘stroop’) in between. You can buy them in every supermarket.
However, for the best ‘stroopwafels’ in Amsterdam, you should go to ‘Landskroon’ bakery or to the Albert Cuyp Market. Many places in Amsterdam are offering a free cookie together with a coffee and almost every better bar/restaurant offers one ‘stroopwafel’ instead of a regular cookie.
They are simply little deep-fried mini croquettes that are usually served with mustard and made from beef ragout. Beer is a perfect drink that pairs with bitterballen.
OTHER TRADITIONAL DISHES INCLUDE:
– KROKETS– deep-fried roll with meat ragout inside, covered in breadcrumbs. The meat is usually veal or beef.
– OLIEBOLLEN– again deep-fried and topped with powdered sugar being the traditional year-end treats, while in Croatia people eat these when they have nothing else to eat at home lol. They come plain or filled with raisins and the best is to eat them from roadside stands, fresh and warm.
– SNERT (PEA SOUP)- it’s usually chock full of smoked sausage and served alongside a slice of rye bread. There are many veggie versions around the city too. Amsterdam is very vegetarian and vegan friendly city.
-STAMPPOT- a dish with a base of potatoes, into which you mash any vegetable you want: carrots and onion (hutspot), kale…
-DROP- Dutch version of licorice with impressively wide variety of flavor and texture combinations. Dutch drops are often laced with a rather puzzling ingredient called salmiak with almost umami flavour.
-HARRING- maybe the most famous Dutch food, raw fish-herring that is served together with chopped raw onions and gherkins. The way of eating is a real Dutch tradition too. In the Netherlands, new herring is eaten by lifting up the herring by its tail into the air and then taking a bite upwards. If you have a sensitive stomach like I do, rather try harring sandwich called ‘broodje haring’.
-PATAT- Dutch version of french fries that are much thicker than the normal French Fries and are actually invented in Belgium.
BEST PLACE TO EAT THEM: Vlaams Friteshuis Vlemminckx
-POFFERTJES- I would describe them as much fluffier and thicker baby pancakes made with yeast and buckwheat flour, typically served with a powdered sugar. Fresh ‘poffertjes’ are often made at an roadside stand during winter same as oliebollen.
-JENEVER- Not a food, but a spirit precursor to gin. The spirit is distilled from juniper berries and has a malty flavour similar to whisky. It was traditionally used for medicinal purposes and it became country’s signature drinks. And guess what? It is served in a tulip-shaped glass.
-APPLE PIE- The Dutch version is infused with cinnamon, dotted with raisins and served with a whipped cream. Winkel 43 serves t he best homemade one!
PLACES TO EAT IN AMSTERDAM
This is a very unique place where you can feel like at your own home. It’s a brewery, cafe and restaurant in one. Bierfabriek literally means ‘beer fabric’ and it brews their own beer and serve rustic, tapas like dishes.
You can draft your beer by yourself at self service tap tables, eat your chicken with your hands and throw the peanut shells on the floor. The place is full of peanuts and they are displayed in bags and on each table so you can feel free to take as many as you want. While entering and walking towards the toilet, you will hear cracking sounds of stepping onto peanut shells.
PRICES: The prices are kind of cheaper comparing to other places in Amsterdam that are serving their own beer.
WHAT TO TRY: I advise you to try ‘Rosso’ beer as it has a very distinctive taste.
Nooch is an Asian cuisine restaurant that delicately fuses modern Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Thai kitchens.
Nooch is a small and charming, Asian cuisine restaurant near the city center. Modern Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Thai dishes are served in this place. I fell in love with Asian cuisine due to this place and I can’t wait to travel across the Asian continent!
PS: They working times are limited so check the website before visiting. Reserving the table is a must because the restaurant is not very big.
PRICES: More or less is expensive. As closer you are to the city center, the more you pay.
WHAT TO TRY: Dim Sum Platter, Dadar Gulung, Lapis Legit
3. THE SEA FOOD BAR
It’s not so easy to find a restaurant with a fresh fish in Amsterdam. However, Sea Food Bar is a perfect place to taste some. An award winning, modern seafood restaurant where most of the fish comes from the North sea – coldest in the world.
It is founded by the De Visscher family who are fishmongers since 1984.
PRICES: Quite expensive, but totally worth it. They have excellent wines too!
WHAT TO TRY: Catch of the day or King Prawns were my usual choice. On the other hand, once I ordered oysters, and I ended up with 8 long hours of stomach spams. I never went there after that. Probably oysters weren’t so fresh that day. Despite that, I still recommend this restaurant because I had plenty more great dinners there and always a decent service. But, never eat oysters if they are not caught in front of your own eyes! 🙂
ZA is a Mediterranean and modern designed restaurant near Central Station in Amsterdam. This place has a great choice of quality wines, sometimes live music, tapas and delicious, perfectly served food. They even serve Croatian/Istrian wine – Roxanich Milva.
This place has a concept of “shared dining” and “tapas” style cuisine with Italian influence.
PRICES: Quite expensive, but prices are following the quality. My boyfriend ate in ZA the best piece of meat ever in the whole Netherlands. Menu is changing from time to time.
WHAT TO TRY: Home made Focaccia
5. NOVOTEL AMSTERDAM CITY
I recommend this place as I was working there and I saw how much effort chefs are putting into dishes. If you are in Amsterdam due to business and staying near RAI, it’s a nice place to relax. Avoid Mondays tho, as they are super busy.
PRICES: Expensive (4-star hotel prices)
WHAT TO TRY: Their local beer made with honey from the roof of the hotel (if they still have it). They have a great burgers too but try to order something traditional! Their menu is sometimes changing.
6. SUMO SUSHI EXPRESS AND MOJO JAPANESE RESTAURANT
PRICES: Restaurant is a bit pricey, Sumo is less expensive
WHAT TO TRY: All? 🙂
Waterkant is a trendy and cosy bar/restaurant place with a terrace (self service if you sit outside).
In this place you have many healthy food and beverage choices; vegan, vegetarian, meat, large number of beers…
If you want to be around local people, this is a perfect place for you as Dutch people love Waterkant and its vibe next to the canal.
The place has a home delivery too and great events every or every second weekend. It’s very magical in the night time!
WHAT TO TRY: Home made ginger beer, banana burger
9. BEACH CLUB 5
Beach Club 5 is open 365 days a year. It’s actually not in Amsterdam but the closest beach to the city – Zandvoort. They have a terrace with spectacular view and great steaks.
WHAT TO TRY: Steaks, mushrooms and bread
10. FLOOR 17
Don’t miss this place even if it’s grey and cloudy!
Perhaps you are from Ex Yugoslavia and you can’t survive without Balkan products such as cevapcici, Yugoslavian beers, Prijatelji shop are definitely for you!
The shop is located near the Anne Frank House and the owner is my Serbian friend so you can even have a nice chat with a proper person to find out more about the shop and all the goods inside.
Of course, you don’t have to be Ex Yugoslavian to go there.
You just have to be curious enough! 🙂
BONUS TIP 2
Amsterdam can be a tricky place to find food and drinks in the late hours. Especially bread, cosmetics and other necessary stuff.
Sterk shop is a late night shop again near Anne Frank House that has everything you need with extensive and exclusive range of champagnes, wines and beers from all over the world.
I would definitely say that is a must visit shop. (They have a beer with 32% of alcohol!)
BONUS TIP 3
If you need some vitamins, the best place to get them are definitely markets!
I advise you to visit Nieuwmarkt market square where each day except Sunday, you can find fresh veggies, fruits, squeezed juices etc.
If you eat exclusively healthy, Eko Plaza shop is a perfect place for you and you can find it in almost each neighborhood. However, Eko Plaza is a bit pricey but each day after 6PM you can find many discounts!
PLACES TO HAVE FUN IN AMSTERDAM
1. BOURBON STREET MUSIC CLUB
Bourbon Street music club – tiny and charming club with live music (entrance of minimum €5)
2. TON TON
TonTon Club is a super fun gaming place right next to Red Light District. Here you can find many video, arcade and multiplayer games with a large range of beers.
Gashouder is the perfect location for extraordinary fairs, big presentations, parties and live shows.
The ceiling is out of this world and inside you feel like you are thrown in Universe. With a surface area of 2500 m2 and a height of 14,5 meters it’s one of the most monumental locations of Amsterdam.
Both Westergasfabriek and Gashouder were a former gasworks in Amsterdam.
Events that took place there include:
- Edisons (Dutch pop awards)
- KingPins (denim fair)
- Awakenings (dance event)
- The Next Web (tech fair)
- Unseen (contemporary photography fair)
- Holland Festival (for international performing arts)
4. LAB 111
First time when my friend invited me here, I though something bad is happening because she had invited me to a hospital, laboratory.
But Lab 111 is something totally opposite: a cosy bar and a cinema.
Yet, it would be great to have a room where you can immediately detoxify after a heavy night out. 🙂
Great food and drinks are in the bar with a name: Strange Love Bar.
As has been noted, Amsterdam is a really fun and internationally diverse place where you can find all you ever desired from food to entertainment.
I hope my article was helpful and if you want to read more about Amsterdam, check out some of my previous Amsterdam’s articles! 🙂