Eating Out in the Netherlands

Some cultures live to eat, but like the Dutch, other cultures simply eat to live. But if you like meat and potatoes, you’ll love hearty Dutch food. If you like game and dairy, you’re also in the right place. When going out, you’re never rushed through your meal and will never get your bill unless you ask for it. Dutch service is not motivated by tips (not more than 10% is suggested by the way) and sometimes you notice–especially the busier the establishment is.

Culinary Tours

Amsterdamsel Tours can offer you, by request, various types of culinary-themed tours. Enjoy street food, a sit down classic meal, or savour the flavour of ethnic dishes brought to Amsterdam’s harbours by colonies and immigrants.

And where can you get great service and a great meal on your own? Read below…

The Restaurant Guide

Here’s a guide to restaurants and cafés that are locally run and serve quality food. Everything is organised by the most famous areas in town. Scroll down to the location you happen to find yourself in for listings of various cuisine or style. Eet smakelijk!

Area One: Dam Square

Cafe de Barones on the corner of Spuistraat 122 and Torenstraat 2 (just behind Royal Palace on Dam Square) combines huge windows for crowd-watching, a great location near Dam Square and Spui, with long reading tables, power supply, good beer and coffee, and a laid-back staff. Free wifi.

CAU is new and has some of the best steaks in town. Just off Dam Square behind the Hotel Krasnapolsky, see the meat on the grill from the street side window and try not to drool. Try the eggplant lasagna on the side.

De Drie Graefjes‘ excellent salads and sandwiches combine with a nice terrace or picture window, from which to sit behind and take in a great view of the quaint, active, and densely structured street behind the Nieuwe Kerk on Dam Square. Much better than lunching on the square itself and paying “square prices.”

Cote Ouest Cafe Restaurant is behind the Nieuwekerk off Dam Square and has wonderful mussel and duck dishes with a comfortable and intimate atmosphere. Romantic enough without being too frilly.

De Roode Leeuw off Dam Square on Damrak has a rich red decor and formal service would make you think it’s expensive, but it’s not. Try the bitterbalen, Dutch split pea soup (erwtensoep), or have a frothy cappuccino.

Area Two: De Pijp, Museum Quarter

My favourite place for pannenkoeken is De Carrousel, in a grassy area across the street from the Heinken Experience. Prices are fair, the huge pancakes are delicious, and there are carousel horses in the middle. Try the fresh orange juice, poffertjes, and uitsmijters.

Bazar Moroccan food on the Albert Cuypstraat in a former church with affordable food, large portions, lively music, and colourful decor. Kitchen open late.

Pata Negra and Sal Gorda are Amsterdamsel’s favourite Spanish tapas restaurants, the former south of Rembrandtplein and the latter in the Museum Quarter.

Area Three: Flower Market, Rembrandtplein, Spui

Blue buzzes with free wifi and the oohs and aahs of people enjoying the  superb view of old merchant’s houses in the center of Amsterdam in their angular and modern space, found on the third floor in the Kalvertoren in the shopping district. T: +31 20 427 39 01

Eetsalon van Dobben is an institution. If it’s old-fashioned croquettes, smoked eel, egg salad, or meatball sandwiches you seek, with a glass of milk, of course, then park on a bar stool along the marble counter and feel like it’s 1945 all over again.  T: +31 20 624 4200 A: Korte Regulierdwarsstraat 5, off Rembrandtplein

While you are in Holland, try the cuisine of Indonesia, the former Dutch colony. For a great location with delicious rijsttaffels and good prices, I suggest Kantijl en de Tijger just off the Spui square.

Cafe Schiller is the most elegant spot on Rembrandtplein. Enjoy the classic bar in the front, and a mid- to upscale menu offered in the back.

If it is high-brow Dutch fare you seek, then De Vijf Vliegen modernizes traditional hearty dishes of the Low Countries and top it off with a cheese board of the region’s best, while sitting in their very Dutch dining room complete with Delft tiles, and old hearth, and gezelliheid. Try the three-course menu for a good sampling, or go all out with their larger course offerings.

Le Zinc et les Autres is Amsterdamsel’s absolute favourite French cuisine in Amsterdam. Try the five-course carte blanche paired with a glass of perfectly matched wine per course. South of Rembrandtplein on Prinsengracht.

Area Four: Jordaan and West

Cafe Restaurant Dulac has a great menu for meat lovers and vegetarians, plus good DJs on weekends while you eat. Check out its backyard terrace when the weather’s nice.

De Koevoet is tiny, quiet, and has very good Italian food in the heart of the Jordaan. Try the limone taart. T: +31 20 624 0846 A: Lindenstraat 17

Cafe Kobalt is at the northernmost point along the Singel Canal with great uitsmijters, Revolutions tea, and great work space.

There are many fine cafes serving large sweet or savoury pannenkoeken but a delight to visit for its interior and choice is the Pancake Bakery just north of the Anne Frankhuis on the Prinsengracht. Just avoid pancakes with cheese; they’re too oily. Also be prepared for LOTS of tourists. See Carrousel for a cheaper and more local pannenkoekenhuis across from the Heineken Brewery.

For some of the best classic Dutch food, head west of the Anne Frankhuis to Moeder’s. Get there at 17:00 if you didn’t make a reservation, or call ahead, for some old fashioned hotchpotch (an array of Dutch stamppot, worst, braised beef, and stewed vegetables).

Cafe Ramenas (Radish) is in the Jordaan along the Haarlemmerdijk and is part of a hotel by the same name. It has free wifi and the atmosphere of a typical neighbourhood Dutch brown cafe with great coffee. Try the goat cheese and honey toasted sandwich and watch the cyclists peddle by.

Area Five: Red Light District and Nieuwmarktnieuwmarkt

Like many gems hidden in the Red Light District, Restaurant Anna has formed in two formerly more lascivious buildings next to the Oude Kerk. Lively and busy, class up your dining experience with a view of the ladies of the night.

Eetcafe van Beeren is just off my favourite square, the Nieuwmarkt, and serves up good steaks and spicy ribs in an earthy atmosphere. In lieu of website, map their address: Koningsstraat 54, +31 20 6222 2329

Blauw aan de Wal is an upscale eatery in the heart of the Red Light District with a charming courtyard, intimate ambience, and kind staff. Fresh seasonal menu changes each week.

Cafe Stevens on the Nieuwmarkt not only has an excellent lunch and dinner menu. Finish it with a hot chocolate with whipped cream or a stiff drink with a side of wireless connection.

Eetsalon Plein 26 has no atmosphere whatsoever, but it is a great option for simply traditional Dutch food like stamppot, gehaktballen, kroket, frikandel, and frites. The long counter lined with stools and meals for well under 10 euros makes it my favourite late-nite Dutch diner.

Area Six: Leidseplein

De Balie across the taxi line from Leidseplein is a fantastic grand cafe with cultural events, a good menu, a sunny front room, and a private back room for the literati and homeless freelancers to plug in and spend a full day of productivity. Free wifi.

De Klos is an Amsterdam institution, and be prepared to wait in line for some of the best steaks in town. Sit at their rustic bar and share a meal; it’s big enough for two. North of Leidseplein on Kerkstraat 41-43, next to Camper shoes on Leidsestraat.

Area Seven: Market Eating

Amsterdam’s markets have stalls selling genuine Dutch food and are lined with streets full of good restaurants. Click here for the section on what to do in Amsterdam for free and scroll down to the Markets section that elaborates on the city’s markets and what you can eat there.