The Dutch certainly do not have a reputation for fine cuisine; in Amsterdam, the emphasis is more on drinks than food. However, this is somewhat of a misconception. History plays a large part in the array of food offerings available in the city today, as the country’s rich trading history has brought a number of international cuisines to the capital city. Good, inexpensive restaurants might be difficult to find – indeed there are plenty of horrible cafés and restaurants in the city – but it is certainly worth the hunt. Try the following list of local favourites for a start – almost all restaurants have an English menu and servers typically speak good English.
Key: $ = inexpensive, $$ = Moderate, T = outdoor terrace seating
De Bakkerswinkel $$
Dutch for “the baker’s shop”, this cute and charming tea room is on a main red light avenue, surrounded by sex shops and leather bars. At De Bakkerswinkel, the warm atmosphere couldn’t be any different, with the long list of teas and coffees as well as the best scones in continental Europe, served with clotted cream and the venue’s own jam. Reservations recommended.
020 489 8000
Although the address states this venue is on the Damrak, a bustling strip of neon lights radiating out from Centraal Station, it is a challenge to find. Gandhi is hidden down a corridor labeled “sauna”, and indeed when you arrive you may find the décor lackluster. However, do not fear, as the best curries in Amsterdam are served here, including an amazingly creamy and flavorful butter chicken. The Gandhi staff are super-friendly and the owner will likely stop by your table to chat and ensure your meal has been satisfactory.
020 638 3222
Wok To Walk $
This cheap and easy takeaway is popular with tourists and locals, not only because of the good value for money, but the fact that you can get a healthy and tasty stir fry made to order. Choose rice or noodles, choose a sauce, pick a filling and then select your toppings and watch your creation come to life right in front of you. Wok to Walk eateries are quite small but there is always an empty bench or quiet corner nearby to enjoy your feast.
The Pancake Bakery $$ T
The Pancake Bakery is on almost every tourist’s itinerary, and for good reason – the pancakes served up here (more like French crepes than an American ‘pancake’) are delicious and come with any number of toppings, from powdered sugar and syrup to eggs and bacon. The old canal house is charming and a couple of lucky tables upstairs offer canal-side views. The outdoor terrace is quite small so it is often full.
020 625 13 33
Dutch for mother, Moeders is a restaurant devoted to moms: the walls are lined with pictures of mothers and the menu is inspired from traditional, classic Dutch dishes that mothers would make. Try the stamppot: potatoes mashed with spices and spinach and topped with traditional sausage. Reservations recommended.
020 626 7957
Song Kwae $ T
The Nieuwmarkt area has tons of restaurants, but Song Kwae is one of the best. Their traditional Thai menu is full of tasty dishes, including a number of hot, spicy soups and a terrific pad thai. Beers are cheap, and if you still have room, try a dessert.
020 624 2568
Pasta Tricolore (formerly Pasta Di Mamma) $
Massive Italian sandwiches, prepared to order, are served up here in this delicatessen /café. The sandwiches are the highlight and they are as tasty as they are huge.
020 664 8314
A popular European chain, Wagamama serves up noodles and rice dishes with speed and ease as you enjoy conversation on the communal, long wooden benches.
Max Euweplein 10
020 528 7778
Blauwe Theehuis $ T
Dutch for the ‘blue tea house’, this is a local hot spot, hidden away in the popular confines of Vondelpark. Stop by here for a beer or glass of wine and enjoy the fresh Amsterdam outdoors, as all of the seating is on the expansive terrace. Tasty bar snacks are available.
020 662 0254
Pastini $$ T
This Italian eatery is situated in the picturesque Jordaan and benefits from a corner spot with a wonderful canal view. There are a few outdoor seats with great views around the edge of the restaurant, but the interior is equally charming with an old-world feel. Dishes are simple, but packed with flavor, the wine list is short but excellent, and the service is some of the best found in Amsterdam. Reservations recommended.
020 622 1701