Amsterdam, often celebrated for its historic canals, vibrant art scene, and cycling routes, is also a culinary paradise waiting to be explored. The city offers an extraordinary array of gastronomic delights that range from traditional Dutch fare to international cuisines. Whether you’re a food connoisseur or a casual traveler looking to satiate your taste buds, Amsterdam has something for everyone.
Understanding the local food culture is an integral part of truly experiencing any new destination. Food is not just sustenance; it’s a window into the soul of a place, revealing insights into its history, traditions, and even its people. In Amsterdam, every dish tells a story, every flavor offers a new discovery.
So, if you find yourself wondering, “What to Eat in Amsterdam? Best Restaurant in Amsterdam,” you’re asking the right questions. This guide aims to take you on a culinary journey through the city, introducing you to must-try dishes and the best places to eat in Amsterdam. Prepare to embark on an unforgettable gastronomic adventure.
The Culinary Landscape of Amsterdam
Amsterdam’s culinary scene is a melting pot of flavors, traditions, and innovations. The city’s rich history as a trading hub has made it a gastronomic crossroads where East meets West, and old meets new. From bustling food markets to Michelin-starred restaurants, Amsterdam offers a diverse range of dining experiences that cater to all palates and preferences.
Traditional Dutch Food
When it comes to traditional Dutch food, simplicity and heartiness are key. Rooted in the agricultural richness of the Netherlands, classic dishes often feature local produce, dairy, and seafood. Staples like “Stamppot” (mashed potatoes mixed with vegetables), “Haring” (raw herring fish), and “Poffertjes” (small, fluffy pancakes) are not just meals but a nod to the country’s heritage. These dishes are often enjoyed in “Eetcafés,” traditional Dutch pubs where the atmosphere is as warm as the food.
Cheese and More
No discussion of Dutch cuisine would be complete without mentioning cheese. Gouda and Edam, named after Dutch towns, are internationally renowned and are often enjoyed in slices or as part of a “Kaasplankje,” a Dutch cheese platter.
Modern Dutch Food
In contrast to its traditional counterpart, modern Dutch cuisine is characterized by its creativity and willingness to experiment. Influenced by global culinary trends and techniques, contemporary Dutch chefs are redefining what Dutch food can be. Fusion dishes that incorporate elements from Asian, African, and South American cuisines are not uncommon in the city’s trendier neighborhoods.
Fine Dining and Innovation
Amsterdam is home to several Michelin-starred restaurants that showcase the pinnacle of modern Dutch gastronomy. Places like Ciel Bleu offer not just meals, but curated experiences that are visually stunning and palate-expanding. The use of locally-sourced, organic ingredients is often a hallmark, reflecting a broader societal emphasis on sustainability.
Traditional vs. Modern: A Harmonious Coexistence
What’s truly extraordinary about Amsterdam’s food scene is the harmonious coexistence of the traditional and the modern. It’s not unusual to find a centuries-old café serving classic Dutch apple pie right next to a sleek, contemporary restaurant offering molecular gastronomy. This juxtaposition offers food lovers a rich, layered experience that honors both the past and the present.
Must-Try Traditional Dutch Dishes
When visiting Amsterdam, indulging in traditional Dutch cuisine is a must. The city offers a plethora of local dishes that are deeply rooted in the country’s history and culture. From sweet treats to savory delights, here are some traditional Dutch dishes that you absolutely must try.
Stroopwafels: The Sweet Indulgence
Stroopwafels are more than just a cookie; they are a Dutch institution. Comprising two thin waffles stuck together with a layer of sweet syrup, these treats are irresistibly delicious. Originating from the city of Gouda, stroopwafels have become a staple in Dutch households and are often enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea. You’ll find them in supermarkets, but for the authentic experience, it’s best to get one freshly made from a street vendor.
Bitterballen: The Quintessential Dutch Snack
Bitterballen are deep-fried balls filled with a mixture of beef or veal ragout. Crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, they are a popular snack often served in bars and cafes. Bitterballen are best enjoyed hot, accompanied by a side of grainy mustard for dipping. Whether you’re enjoying a leisurely afternoon at a local pub or need a quick snack while exploring the city, bitterballen are a must-try.
Gouda Cheese: A Dutch Classic
No trip to Amsterdam would be complete without sampling some authentic Dutch cheese, and Gouda is perhaps the most famous of them all. Named after the city of its origin, Gouda cheese is rich, creamy, and varies in flavor depending on its age. Young Gouda is soft and mild, while the aged variety offers a robust, nutty flavor. Cheese shops and markets in Amsterdam offer extensive selections, often with free samples to help you find your favorite.
Cheese Markets and Tastings
For the ultimate Gouda experience, consider visiting a traditional cheese market or signing up for a cheese tasting session. These events offer insights into the cheese-making process and provide an opportunity to sample various types and ages of Gouda.
Where Do Locals Dine in Amsterdam?
While Amsterdam is teeming with eateries that cater to tourists, there’s something special about dining where the locals do. These establishments often offer a more authentic experience, both in terms of food and atmosphere. If you’re looking to eat like a local in Amsterdam, here are some establishments you shouldn’t miss.
Café Loetje: The Steakhouse Legend
Café Loetje is an Amsterdam institution, renowned for its mouth-watering steaks. Located in the Amsterdam-Zuid area, this eatery started as a neighborhood café but quickly gained fame for its “Biefstuk,” or beef steak. Cooked to perfection and served with a generous helping of gravy and fries, the steak here is a must-try for meat lovers. The ambiance is cozy and unpretentious, making it a popular choice for both locals and visitors alike.
If you’re visiting Café Loetje, try to go during off-peak hours. The place can get quite busy, and they don’t take reservations for small groups.
Moeders Restaurant: A Homely Experience
The name “Moeders” translates to “mothers,” and this restaurant lives up to its name by offering home-cooked Dutch meals in a setting that feels like someone’s dining room. The walls are adorned with pictures of mothers from all over the world, adding to the homey atmosphere. The menu features traditional Dutch dishes like “Stamppot” and “Hachee,” a type of beef stew. It’s the perfect place to experience Dutch comfort food at its best.
Don’t leave without trying one of their traditional Dutch desserts like “Appeltaart” (apple pie) or “Poffertjes.”
The Pantry: Authentic Dutch Fare
Situated in the Leidseplein area, The Pantry offers an intimate dining experience with its rustic décor and limited seating. The restaurant specializes in authentic Dutch cuisine, serving up classics like “Erwtensoep,” a hearty pea soup, and “Kibbeling,” deep-fried fish chunks. The Pantry is a hit among locals who appreciate its focus on traditional recipes and quality ingredients.
The Pantry often has seasonal specials that showcase local produce, so be sure to ask about the day’s offerings.
Best Breakfast Spots in Amsterdam
Starting your day with a hearty breakfast is essential, especially when you have a full itinerary of sightseeing and exploration ahead. Amsterdam offers a wide range of breakfast spots that cater to various tastes and preferences. Whether you’re a coffee aficionado, a pancake lover, or someone who enjoys a wholesome meal, the city has got you covered. Here are some of the best breakfast spots in Amsterdam that locals and tourists swear by.
Bocca Coffee Roasters: For the Coffee Connoisseur
If you’re someone who believes that a day doesn’t truly start until you’ve had your first cup of coffee, Bocca Coffee Roasters is the place for you. Located in the heart of the city, this café is a haven for coffee enthusiasts. They source their beans directly from farmers, ensuring top-notch quality and flavor.
What to Try
Apart from their excellent range of coffees, Bocca also offers a selection of pastries and light bites. The almond croissant is a crowd-pleaser, and their avocado toast pairs perfectly with a black coffee.
Pancakes Amsterdam: A Twist on a Classic
As the name suggests, Pancakes Amsterdam specializes in—you guessed it—pancakes. But these aren’t just any pancakes; the café offers a modern twist on this classic dish. You can choose between American-style fluffy pancakes or the thinner Dutch version, both of which come with a variety of toppings and fillings.
For those with dietary restrictions, Pancakes Amsterdam offers gluten-free and lactose-free options, ensuring that everyone can enjoy their delicious offerings.
Dignita: A Wholesome Start to the Day
Dignita is more than just a café; it’s a social enterprise that focuses on sustainability and community building. Located in the scenic Amsterdam Zuid area, the café offers a menu that emphasizes fresh, organic ingredients. From smoothie bowls to eggs benedict, the options are both wholesome and delicious.
The Ethical Choice
What sets Dignita apart is its commitment to ethical practices. All their profits go towards supporting local projects, so you can enjoy your breakfast knowing you’re contributing to a good cause.
Fine Dining Experience in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is not just about casual eateries and traditional Dutch pubs; the city also boasts a vibrant fine dining scene that caters to the most discerning palates. From Michelin-starred establishments to restaurants that focus on farm-to-table concepts, Amsterdam offers a range of upscale dining experiences that are both exquisite and memorable. Here are some of the top fine dining restaurants in the city that you should consider for a special evening out.
Ciel Bleu: Dining at New Heights
Situated on the 23rd floor of the Hotel Okura, Ciel Bleu offers panoramic views of Amsterdam, but it’s the food that truly steals the show. With two Michelin stars to its name, the restaurant is a pinnacle of culinary excellence. Helmed by chefs Onno Kokmeijer and Arjan Speelman, the menu is a celebration of modern European cuisine with a focus on seasonal and local ingredients.
The Wine Pairing
Ciel Bleu also offers an extensive wine list, carefully curated to complement their dishes. Opt for the wine pairing to elevate your dining experience to the next level.
Restaurant Floreyn: A Modern Take on Dutch Cuisine
If you’re interested in experiencing Dutch cuisine with a contemporary twist, Restaurant Floreyn is the place to be. Located in the De Pijp neighborhood, the restaurant offers a modern interpretation of classic Dutch dishes. Think venison with traditional “hutspot” but reimagined with a touch of culinary flair.
For the full experience, consider opting for their tasting menu, which provides a well-rounded exploration of what modern Dutch cuisine can offer.
De Kas: Farm-to-Table Excellence
De Kas is unique in that it operates its own greenhouse and garden to source fresh, organic ingredients. Located in a stunning glass building that was once a municipal greenhouse, the restaurant offers a daily changing menu based on the produce available. The focus is on vegetable-centric dishes, although meat and fish options are also available.
Sustainability at Its Best
De Kas is committed to sustainability, not just in sourcing ingredients but also in its operations, making it a choice you can feel good about.
Best Places for a Quick Bite
Amsterdam is a city that never slows down, and sometimes you need a quick but satisfying meal to keep up with its pace. Whether you’re in between museum visits, shopping sprees, or just exploring the city, there are plenty of spots where you can grab a quick bite without compromising on quality. Here are some of the best places in Amsterdam for a fast, yet delicious, meal.
Vleminckx: The King of Fries
When it comes to fast food, nothing beats a good old serving of fries, and Vleminckx serves some of the best in Amsterdam. Located in a narrow alley off the Kalverstraat, this small kiosk has been serving fries since 1887. The fries are crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and come with a variety of sauces to choose from.
The Sauce Selection
While mayonnaise is the traditional Dutch choice, Vleminckx offers a range of other options, including ketchup, satay sauce, and even a special “oorlog” sauce, which is a mix of mayonnaise, peanut sauce, and onions.
Le Salonard: A French Delight
For those who prefer something a bit more refined but still quick, Le Salonard is a French deli that offers a range of sandwiches, pastries, and cheeses. Located in the De Pijp neighborhood, this charming spot is perfect for grabbing a baguette sandwich or a quiche to go.
Cheese and Charcuterie
If you have a bit more time, you can also opt for a cheese and charcuterie platter, which is perfect for sharing and can be enjoyed at one of the nearby parks.
Warung Mini: A Taste of Suriname
Amsterdam’s culinary scene is as diverse as its population, and Warung Mini offers a quick introduction to Surinamese cuisine. This small eatery serves a variety of Surinamese dishes like roti, bami, and nasi, which are both flavorful and filling.
The Roti Roll
For a meal on the go, try their roti roll, which is a flatbread filled with curry, potatoes, and vegetables. It’s a handheld feast that’s perfect for eating while you explore.
Unique Dining Experiences in Amsterdam
While Amsterdam offers a plethora of dining options, some experiences are so unique that they transcend the ordinary and become memorable events in themselves. Whether it’s dining on a boat cruising through Amsterdam’s iconic canals or enjoying a meal in a converted sea rig, the city offers some truly one-of-a-kind culinary adventures. Here are some unique dining experiences that you won’t want to miss when visiting Amsterdam.
Miss G’s Brunch Boat: Sail and Savor
Imagine enjoying a sumptuous brunch while cruising through Amsterdam’s picturesque canals. That’s exactly what Miss G’s Brunch Boat offers. This experience combines the best of both worlds: sightseeing and delicious food. The boat is elegantly designed, providing a luxurious setting to enjoy a variety of brunch items, from classic eggs benedict to more exotic options.
To make the experience even more enjoyable, Miss G’s offers bottomless mimosas. It’s the perfect way to add a little sparkle to your morning.
REM Eiland: Dining on a Sea Rig
REM Eiland takes the concept of waterfront dining to a whole new level. This restaurant is located on a converted North Sea oil rig and offers stunning views of the IJ River and the city skyline. The menu is a mix of modern European dishes, and the setting is industrial chic, providing a unique contrast to the fine dining experience.
The Sky-High Bar
After your meal, make sure to visit the rooftop bar for a cocktail. The elevated views and the unique setting make it a perfect spot to unwind.
Moon: Dining in the Sky
Located in the A’DAM Tower, Moon offers a dining experience that is literally revolving. The restaurant rotates slowly, providing a 360-degree view of Amsterdam. The menu is equally impressive, featuring contemporary dishes that make use of seasonal and local ingredients.
The Wine and Dine
Moon offers a carefully curated wine list designed to complement their dishes. Opt for the wine pairing to make your dining experience truly celestial.
How Much Does a Nice Dinner Cost in Amsterdam?
Dining out in Amsterdam can be as affordable or as extravagant as you make it. The city offers a wide range of options to suit various budgets, but if you’re planning a nice dinner, it’s essential to know what to expect in terms of cost. Here’s a breakdown of the average expenses and some tips for enjoying a budget-friendly meal without compromising on quality.
Average Cost of Dining
The cost of a nice dinner in Amsterdam can vary significantly depending on the type of restaurant and the dishes you choose. At a mid-range restaurant, you can expect to pay anywhere from €20 to €40 per person for a three-course meal, excluding drinks. Fine dining establishments, especially those with Michelin stars, can cost upwards of €100 per person, not including wine or cocktails.
Drinks and Extras
It’s also worth noting that drinks can add a substantial amount to your bill. A glass of wine can range from €6 to €12, while cocktails can cost up to €15 each. Always check if service charge and VAT are included in the menu prices; otherwise, you may be in for a surprise when the bill arrives.
Tips for Budget-Friendly Options
- Early Bird Specials: Some restaurants offer early bird menus, which are less expensive than the regular menu but offer a similar quality of food.
- Set Menus: Opting for a set menu or a tasting menu can often be more cost-effective than ordering à la carte.
- Share Dishes: If the portions are large, consider sharing appetizers or even main courses to save money.
- Drink Water: Tap water is safe to drink in Amsterdam, and asking for it can save you the cost of bottled water or other beverages.
- Check for Deals: Websites and apps often offer special deals or discounts for various restaurants, so it’s worth checking before you make a reservation.
- Local Eateries: Often, restaurants that are a bit further away from tourist hotspots offer excellent food at more reasonable prices.
Frequently Asked Questions
When it comes to dining in Amsterdam, several questions often come up for both first-time visitors and those familiar with the city. Here, we address some of the most frequently asked questions to help you navigate Amsterdam’s culinary landscape more effectively.
What is the most famous food in Amsterdam?
The most famous food in Amsterdam is arguably the Stroopwafel, a sweet treat consisting of two thin waffles with a layer of syrup in between. These are available throughout the city, from street vendors to cafes. Another contender is Bitterballen, a popular Dutch snack that consists of deep-fried balls filled with beef or veal ragout.
Is Amsterdam famous for any food?
Yes, Amsterdam is famous for several foods, including but not limited to:
Cheese: Particularly Gouda and Edam.
Haring: A raw herring fish typically served with onions and pickles.
Poffertjes: Small, fluffy pancakes usually served with powdered sugar.
Dutch Apple Pie: Known locally as Appeltaart, it’s a must-try dessert.
Where do locals dine in Amsterdam?
Locals in Amsterdam often dine in neighborhood eateries known as “Eetcafés,” which offer traditional Dutch food in a cozy setting. For a more contemporary experience, areas like De Pijp and Jordaan are filled with trendy restaurants that locals frequent. Specific places include Café Loetje for steaks, Moeders Restaurant for home-style Dutch cooking, and The Pantry for authentic local dishes.
How much is a nice dinner in Amsterdam?
The cost of a nice dinner in Amsterdam can vary widely depending on the restaurant’s caliber and your choice of dishes. A meal at a mid-range restaurant can cost between €20 to €40 per person, excluding drinks. Fine dining experiences, especially at Michelin-starred restaurants, can go upwards of €100 per person, not including beverages.
Conclusion: Your Culinary Journey Through Amsterdam Awaits
Amsterdam is a city that captivates not just through its iconic canals, historic architecture, and vibrant culture, but also through its diverse and delectable culinary offerings. From traditional Dutch staples like Stroopwafels and Bitterballen to modern gastronomic marvels at Michelin-starred restaurants, the city serves up a culinary palette as colorful and varied as its famous tulip fields.
Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or someone who simply enjoys a good meal, Amsterdam’s food scene offers something for every taste and budget. You can start your day with a gourmet coffee at Bocca Coffee Roasters, enjoy a quick but satisfying lunch at Vleminckx, and then treat yourself to a luxurious dinner at Ciel Bleu. And that’s just scratching the surface.
The city’s culinary landscape is a melting pot of flavors, traditions, and innovations, reflecting its rich history and diverse population. From the cozy Eetcafés where locals dine to the trendy eateries in De Pijp and Jordaan, each restaurant and café tells its own unique story. It’s a gastronomic journey that takes you through the heart and soul of the city, one dish at a time.
So, as you stroll through Amsterdam’s winding streets and picturesque canals, let your curiosity guide you and your taste buds lead the way. The city’s culinary treasures are waiting to be discovered, and there’s no better time to explore them than now. Bon appétit or as the Dutch say, “Eet smakelijk!”