Amsterdam is the most beautiful city and after spending 5 days there I can definitely say it’s one of the top places on my list of ‘places I want to live’. I highly recommend you take some time to visit Amsterdam, even if it’s just for a weekend. It’s absolutely stunning and you can spend hours just wandering the pretty streets and alongside the canals.
However, Amsterdam is so much more than its aesthetic. It’s full of culture and history (the Rijksmuseum is amazing and the Vondelpark is gorgeous), but it’s also jam packed with delicious places to eat and drink. The Dutch have a lot of specialties that you don’t often see outside of the Netherlands, and they also have some sublime versions of things that you can, so you genuinely have to try everything!
I hope this little guide gives you a good starting point for your next trip to Amsterdam.
This cafe is down a side street off of Dam Square, so you may not come across it by chance. It was recommended as having some of the best waffles in town, and boy, they were right. These waffles have the best texture; soft with structure, and not too crispy. They also have the option of 3 kinds of chocolate toppings (or plain I guess); white, milk or dark. Obviously dark is the best choice! The dark chocolate balances the sweetness of the icing sugar sprinkled over the waffle, and they give you a generous serving too. You can top it off with whipped cream too if you’re feeling especially fancy. Metropolitan also serves up a delicious liquorice ice cream if you’re looking for something different….
Where: Cafe Loetje
Kroketten are basically large croquettes, and come filled with different kinds of meat ragout, although it’s more traditional to be beef or veal. Cafe Loetje was a last minute find for us. We had just finished up at the Van Gogh Museum and were looking for somewhere not far to eat and found that they served up some of the best steak in Amsterdam, and it was only 10 mins walk away. I really wanted to try the kroketten as it’s traditionally served (I’d had one from the cult fast food place FEBO, which wasn’t bad!), on thick bread with mustard. Cafe Loetje serves a fantastic veal kroketten (plus the steak was as amazing as the reviews said) and their chips are a great side option too, although it’s big, so you might want to share! The photo above only shows half a portion, you actually get two kroketten on two slices of thick farmhouse bread. It’s a big place with indoor and outdoor seating, plus a conservatory area too, with a great ambience.
Johannes Verneerstraat 52
Where: Winkel 43
You can find appletaart throughout Amsterdam, but this apple pie is like heaven. It’s made with a sweet pastry that covers the bottom, sides and top, and is packed full of apples that still hold their shape when cooked. There’s also a cake like texture between the pastry and the apples which just makes this pie perfect. I love the range of textures in Winkel’s pie, and it also comes served with freshly whipped cream on top. It’s a hefty slice of luxury and the perfect afternoon tea spot, or perhaps for elevenses on a Saturday during a trip to the Noordermarkt which sets up just alongside the cafe.
Where: Albert Cuyp market
So, a stroopwaffel shouldn’t be a mystery to anyone, as you can buy this all over the place. However, nothing comes close to a freshly made one in Amsterdam. I had never tried one quite like this, and I loved watching them being made. The mixture is pressed into a round waffle iron type machine and once it’s cooked it gets slathered with a caramel or syrup (stroop means syrup) and sandwiched with another freshly made thin, round waffle. The waffles are slightly biscuit like in texture as they snap instead of bend. Normally, you put one of these on top of a hot drink to warm the syrup in the middle, but when you buy one fresh, this is unnecessary! When you get to Albert Cuyp market, have a look for the guy with the red and white checked tablecloth making them straight on the table on front of you. Delicious.
Ok, so you might think I’m insane for recommending chips to you as a must try food, but what makes them special is the interesting topping. The chips from Vleminkx are perfectly cooked, piping hot, and fluffy as anything in the middle, but the topping is, well, unusual. Oorlog means ‘war’, and I’ve heard a few reasons as to why this specific topping is named it, but nothing definitive. However, I like the one that says it looks like a mess, just like war. Oorlog is satay sauce, mayonnaise and raw white onion, in this case served on chips. It’s divine, and I will challenge anyone who tells me otherwise. Satay sauce is a more savoury version of the taste of peanut butter and you’ll find it served with a lot of South East Asian cuisines. With chips it’s perfect, and it actually balances out quite nicely with the creaminess of the mayonnaise and the tang of the onion. Vleminkx is not far from the floating tulip market, so if you find yourself down there, give them a try! I did, twice. No regrets.
Stamppot (& Dutch gin)
Where: Haesje Claes
This is a dish you want to eat when it’s a little chilly outside, as it’s proper comfort food and a little reminiscent of the old English favourite sausage and mash. Mashed potato is mixed with vegetables, in the case above it was red cabbage, and topped with a sausage (in the Netherlands it’s usually smoked) or bacon. In our case it was both, and it came served with gherkins and pickled onions and a dollop of mustard. My parents actually recommended this restaurant to us, and we loved it. The food was exceptional and the ambience was fabulous. It was very old fashioned in style, like a traditional European pub, with a lot of dark wood and antique items dotted about. It’s been open since 1520 so this isn’t surprising! They also have a list of different Dutch gins, or jenever as it’s called there, and I recommend a shot of one of these to go alongside this hearty meal.
Poffertjes (or pancakes)
Where: The Pancake Bakery
Poffertjes are like mini pancakes and come served traditionally with butter and icing sugar. You can also get them topped with Nutella, which is obviously a popular choice! This photo is not actually from the Pancake Bakery, as it was a little too dark in there for a good one, but I wanted to show you what they looked like! I tried a few different kinds while I was in Amsterdam and I definitely preferred them from The Pancake Bakery, situated along the canal on Prinsengracht, not far from the Anne Frank House. They’re light and fluffy and delicious, but there’s often a large queue so get there early! The pancakes themselves are also really tasty, but very very big, (so good luck finishing one) and they come in both savoury and sweet varieties.
Where: Reypenaer Tasting Room
Cheese is a true love of mine and so when I found that we could have a tasting at Reypenaer, I was thrilled. Reypenaer don’t make the cheese itself, instead they specialise in ageing cheeses, both Gouda and goats’ cheese (although like no other goats’ cheese I’ve ever tried, as it tasted like Parmesan). For €16.50 you get to learn about Reypenaer and what they do, taste 6 different cheeses (basically unlimited amounts), pair wines and port with the cheeses, and also use a cheese guillotine (I want one). It was maybe one of the best afternoons ever, plus they give you a discount certificate when you leave to use in the shop above. Perfect really, and the discount is valid for the rest of your life so that gives you a perfect excuse to return time and time again. The 1 year gouda is really, really good, but as you the cheese gets older, it gains a more crystalline texture and a richer and more intense flavour, so if you love cheese, try those too!
Noordermarkt is only open on a Saturday so I recommend including a Saturday in your trip. It’s a gorgeous market, not too big, and the perfect place to pick up groceries (especially if you’re in an Airbnb), bits for a picnic, souvenirs to take home (customs permitting), or just a yummy snack. We had fabulous bread and cakes from the Le Perron stall, and delicious local oysters from another. There are cheeses abound (although a little pricey), and fresh vegetables, fruit, flowers and sauces. You’re sure to find something you love and you know that it’s mainly local.
Ice Cream & Sorbet
Where: Yscuypje (IJscuypje)
Ice cream is not unique to the Netherlands, but for me Yscuypje was something special. I went there a few times during my trip, as there were so many flavours to try! Their pink grapefruit sorbet was especially delicious. It’s some of the best I’ve tried, so if you’re wandering the canals on a sunny day make sure you stop by one of their branches for a scoop, or three…
Prinsengracht 292 (there are other branches). On Google Maps search ‘IJscuypje’ instead.
So, you can’t eat without something to quench your thirst, but what is there on offer besides the regular options?
Where: Damrak Gin Cruise (Friendship Amsterdam)
We were visiting a friend in Amsterdam and she recommended we try the gin cruise. It’s a sightseeing cruise around the canals and river with a really great commentary from the onboard crew. We had some beautiful views, took in a lot of information and facts about the city, and had a delicious, and huge, gin and tonic to boot. Just a note, there are no bathrooms on the boat, so I wouldn’t have more than one! There are a few boats like this with different specialty drinks (I saw a rum one), but obviously gin was the one to go for! They give you a little discount on your first drink and then you can sit back on the comfy cushions and enjoy the ride. It lasts 60 minutes and costs €15 per person.
Departs from Oudezijds Voorburgwal 230
Where: Brouwerij’t IJ
This is a local brewery that operates under the largest windmill in Amsterdam. They have only one pub, or taproom, but their beer is available all across the city. Here at the pub, you can taste all of their beers in small sizes, so you can get a taste of a few different varieties, instead of only one. Plus, they have some unique bar snacks, like cubes of local cheese and raw sausage. Tables are for sharing, but if it’s a sunny weekend there may be a lack of space. However, there are tables inside and out so there’s a lot of choice. They also do brewery tours so you can see how they make the beer.
Where: Dr. Blend
If you want something non alcoholic, then I would definitely suggest taking a trip to Dr. Blend for a ‘blend’ of fruits and veg in their juices and smoothies. After all this food I’ve recommended, then maybe a fresh juice is just what the doctor ordered! They also offer salads, breakfasts, wraps and sandwiches so if you fancy a light bite, this could be a good spot, although I’ve not tried any of the food itself.
Is there anywhere you would recommend for a visit to Amsterdam? I can’t wait to go back again!