50 Things to Eat in Amsterdam Before You Die
There used to be a good reason that Amsterdam wasn’t known as a foodie city, but these days great restaurants open faster than you can get the check at the last one (nobody said it was a fast-foodie city). So let’s take a moment to tip our hats to the eateries -- decades old or spankin’ new -- that are raising Amsterdam’s culinary bar one dish at a time. These are the top 50 picks for your plate that you’ve got to chomp down on before you bite it.
1. Fresh giant stroopwafel
Albert Cuypmarkt (address and info)
This is the most iconic/best-known spot to pick up these oversized exercises in ooey-gooey sugary goodness (and one of our top six food trucks in the city), but really you can nab one at pretty much any street market. As long as it comes straight from the griddle, it will be everything your last relationship never was. And it only costs €1.
2. Anticucho de lomo
Mashua Peruvian Fusion (address and info)
It’s a €14 appetizer, so it better be good. And it is. Superior to the meal-sized version of the lomo beef for its thick yellow-pepper sauce, the skewered bites of cow flesh are melt-in-your-mouth tender and completely saturated with sun-dried pepper and pisco flavor.
HEMA (address and info)
The only staple of Dutch cuisine other than stroopwafels that seems to consistently get buitenlanders excited, this sweetly smoked sausage is actually just as delicious from the Albert Heijn, but the snack bar at the Dutch version of K-Mart is the most iconic and hassle-free (as in, it comes on a roll and you don’t have to cook it yourself) spot to pick one up.
4. Assorted bon-bons
Ganache Amsterdam (address and info)
The classiest chocolates in Amsterdam are tucked in the back of the city’s oldest church surrounded by purveyors of the “world’s oldest profession.” Every day offers up new surprises with classic truffle flavors playing second fiddle to flower-coated spice bombs or sparkly liquor-accented numbers. The store's open until 10pm every day to satisfy your after-dinner chocolate cravings. What you do after that is up to you...
5. Huevos rancheros
Tomatillo (address and info)
Amsterdam’s much-maligned Tex-Mex scene has some promising pockets, and this casual spot next to Vondelpark was one of the first. It doesn't have all the brunch trappings, but it does probably have the best huevos rancheros in the city. It’s a saucy number big on portion size and fresh organic goodness. (If you live nearby, you can even get it delivered.)
6. Poffertjes with kirsch, cherries, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream
The Pancake Bakery (address and info)
Sure, you can pick up these baby bad boys in any number of places (you’ll find some more recommendations here), but this is one of the tastiest ways to get drunk off bite-sized pancakes, plus the place stays open later than many of the other pancake shops.
7. Hummus meal
Sir Hummus (address and info)
This is not the supermarket hummus you have in your fridge. It’s served warm for breakfast or lunch, with a fork and some hearty toppings, including eggs or slow-cooked beef if you like. They call it “Israeli porridge” (and these Jerusalemites would know). The meal includes a huge dish of hummus, pita bread, and a salad. Plus you can throw a spicy vegan sauce or an even spicier other sauce on top. Get there early to make sure it doesn’t sell out for the day.
Mantoe (address and info)
Afghan pasta (yes, from Afghanistan) is the name of this restaurant’s game. Seriously: it’s literally the restaurant’s name. These ravioli-like bundles are filled with meat and/or veggies and topped with a chili-tomato-split pea sauce laced with mint-accented kwark. Get the small size (€12.50) as an appetizer or the bigger version (€17.50) as a modest meal.
9. Chicken tikka masala
Balti House (address and info)
Rich yet fresh with just the right touch of sweetness -- whatever dish the joint might be named after, most expat devotees would declare this the busy Indian restaurant’s biggest draw.
10. Injera with mixed stews
Semhar (address and info)
For some unknown (but very welcome) reason, Ethiopian food is all the rage in Amsterdam. and this is our favorite spot. Ask for the sampler platter (there’s also a veggie-only version) and you and your party will get giant, spongy Ethiopian pancakes topped with little mounds of various (sometimes spicy) meat and veggie stews. You eat with your hands, using the injera itself as a utensil. (you can get a gluten-free version too, by the way, if you let the resto know 24 hours in advance). Wash it all down with banana or mango beer and/or some seriously fragrant coffee.
11. Döner kebab
We already named it the best kebab truck in the city. Try one if you don’t believe us. (If you’ve already had one, you’ve probably already stopped reading this sentence to run out and grab another.)
12. Vietnamese loempia
Another food truck favorite, these giant homemade spring rolls are only €1 each.
13. Homemade ice cream
Mezzo Ijssalon (address and info)
The IJscuypje chain of ice cream shops is great... but this one-off shop manages to pack more richness into every creamy, milky flavor. (OK, it has some pretty pungent sorbets, too.) The standard flavors include strawberry, a liquor-kissed malaga, and a kid-friendly “Smurf” flavor. The rotating lineup of special flavors tends to get creative, with an occasional spicy chocolate and others, and it's served (at least some of) it year-round.
14. Taco Tuesday
J.D. William’s Whisky Bar (address and info)
This new opener from spring has not only upped the city’s whiskey game, but it’s also offering some seriously tasty tacos to go with it every Tuesday. You have three options for €4 each: sake-fried chicken served with a spicy yogurt curry sauce; edamame falafel served with pickled cabbage and red bean hummus; and Korean-style beef with spicy mangoes, cilantro and lime salsa, and creamy kwark. Obviously you should get one of each.
15. Bloody Mary
Teds (address and info)
OK, we know this is technically a drink, not food. But it’s as good as everything on this list. When we named Teds one of our fave new openings of the early summer, we failed to highlight the all-day brunch and boozy high-tea spot’s brilliant Bloody Marys. Our expert Bloody Mary tasters detected a hint of pickle juice, which made all the difference.
16. Kaeng ped kai
White Elephant (address and info)
There’s some strong competition for the title, but we’re going to give it to White Elephant: Best Thai in Town. The Thai restaurant classic, chicken in green or red curry, is not only exploding with fresh flavor, but it’s pretty fricking spicy, too. Making your meal the culinary equivalent of jumping out of a plane.
17. Gouda-style cheese, aged one year
Reypenaer Tasting Room (address and info)
We’ve recommended this spot twice for a reason: it’s the best cheese in the city. And as much as we love the crystal-packed, 2+ year-old variety, this is the one that nabs the awards, and with good reason: it’s a perfect balance between a creamy texture and potent flavor.
18. Porcetta di ariccia
19. Flemish fries
Vleminckx Since 1957 (address and info)
Amsterdam has borrowed the fries of Belgian sister city Brussels with much success. Ask the locals where to pick up the best batch, and most will point you to this back-alley fry shack with 25 dipping sauces on offer. Oorlog (or “war”), a mix of spicy peanut saté sauce, mayo, and onions, is perhaps the most fun to order, but we like the spicy sambal-mayo samurai sauce best.
20. Homemade sambal
Sampurna (address and info)
We want to hate this Indonesian spot for its illegal no-tap water policy and unfriendliness toward, ahem, bloggers and journalists. But the food is just too good. The best part of every meal is the one part you don’t have to pay for: three flavors of spicy sambal (chili) sauce that you won’t find anywhere else, with a uniquely tasty (and not at all fishy) array of kroepoek (prawn crackers) to dip. For the main meal you should obviously get a “rice table” -- we recommend the Kuning. Fair warning: the food is proper Indonesian-style spicy here.
21. Apple pie
Villa Zeezicht (address and info)
Almost everyone will send you to Winkel for apple pie (and we’ve recommended it ourselves), but we’re going to court controversy here and recommend the Villa Zeezicht version, which is basically a pastry filled with warm, chunky applesauce. (Really, though, we think you should try both.)
23. Bali steak
Cafe Loetje (address and info)
We’ve already named Loetje one of the most important restaurants in Amsterdam for its legendary steaks. But this is the steak you should get (if you like some spice in your life): fried in butter and topped with sambal chili sauce. Then get a sticky toffee cake for dessert.
24. Horse steak
Piet de Leeuw (address and info)
After the scandal broke that its steaks were actually made from horse meat, this decades-old family restaurant decided to embrace it. Though it serves beef, the according-to-many more flavorful horse steak is the real house specialty. Though not as common as it used to be, eating horse in Holland is totally not weird (you can pick it up at a standard butcher).
25. Wild boar croquettes with mustard
Pllek (address and info)
You can get the standard bitterballen in all their delicious (or disgusting, if your taste buds are broken) glory at any bar or febo. But these are so much more than standard. Plus, that watery view can’t be beat.
The Lobby (address and info)
The restaurant of Hotel V’s most central location is a pioneer in this Alsatian (that’s from Northern France, for the geographically impaired) pizza -- so that’s exactly what you should get when you go there. Served between noon and 10pm, the thin, crusty flatbread forgoes tomato sauce in favor of fresh and cheesy toppings, like smoked ham, peach, and walnuts or pumpkin, goat cheese, and sunflower seeds.
27. BBQ farm chicken
Bierfabriek (address and info)
Yep, this place makes its own beer on site, but come for the chicken. Before it hits your plate it spends 24 hours marinating in oil, herbs, and (of course) beer before a nice, slow rotisserie grill over charcoal. It comes on a bed of greens with a side of rustic fries and a whole slew of different dipping sauces.
28. Baka bana with peanut sauce
Warung Mini Van Wouw (address and info)
Pretty much everything at this Indonesian-accented Surinamese family establishment, already dishing out tropical flavor for 30 years, is delicious. However, this snack dish wins for its decadent mix of sweet and rich baked bananas with the salty and slightly spicy saté sauce.
Bistro Bos (address and info)
Bos en Lommer
This thoroughly Dutch invention takes your choice of savory döner or shoarma meat (chicken, veal, or lamb here) places it on a nice healthy bed of salad... and then covers that in fries and smothers those in cheese. Once lightly baked, the dish is topped off with spicy sambal and garlic sauces to make sure you get all the flavors. This new-ish spot in West is an excellent spot to try it.
30. Sashimi & maki rolls
Izakaya (address and info)
Posh without being too posh, Izakaya is half the city’s favorite spot to grab sushi (though it's actually got a full menu of shared dishes). It’s Michelin-quality Japanese with modernizing twists.
31. Spare ribs
Cannibale Royale (address and info)
We have nothing but love for Café de Klos, but once we tried the smoky tenderness that are these perfectly prepared pieces of meat (literally falling off the bone), there was no going back.
32. Nieuwe haring
Your food truck of choice
The best time to try the tourist-torturing traditional raw herring is when the first fresh catches come in in June or July. This time of year, you don’t even need to eat it coated with onions -- but you probably will anyway.
33. Cheese fondue
Cafe Bern (address and info)
Best fondue in the city? That’s the general opinion. And it's got some deliciously saucy steaks to pair.
34. American pancakes with maple syrup
Pancakes! (address and info)
When an American gets homesick, or someone else wants a taste of authentic American breakfasting, the only cure is the thick buttermilk pancakes served at this lunch spot with the self-explanatory name.
35. Idiazabal pastry
Mercat (address and info)
Mercat’s modern take on tapas includes a light and puffy pastry of flaky filo dough topped with smoked sheep’s cheese (the Idiazabal), figs, and caramelized onions. It’s pretty amazing, even if you don’t like onions or sheep’s cheese.
Yamazato (address and info)
This chef-determined parade of uber-traditional Japanese small dishes made our list of the best meals in the entire country (as the only one from Amsterdam), so you better believe it makes this list as well.
37. Pizze calabria in rosso
Ciro 1939 (address and info)
The thin-but-bready crust is topped with a pleasingly tomato-y sauce, spianata piccante (a spicy salami) from Calabria, mozzarella fior di latte, and many spicy chili peppers. Did we mention it’s spicy? There are some spots in the shop to sit down, but most of the pizzas and other meals are going out the door for takeout or delivery. And it’s definitely the best delivery pizza in town.
38. Poached oyster with foam of coconut, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, and red pepper
Restaurant Jaspers (address and info)
Um, did you read the description? There is years of experience gained by chef-owner Jasper Videler at some of Amsterdam’s top restaurants at play here.
39. The KimChief
40. Rissóis de Leitão
Margarida (address and info)
Hidden down a small alley, this Portuguese café also doubles as a showcase (and shop) for high-quality clothing and accessory craftsmanship. The menu is full of comfort foods, and these meat-filled pastries fill your stomach with a warm, heavy hug.
41. Garlic ice cream
The Garlic Queen (address and info)
One of the restaurants giving Rembrandtplein a controversial edge in our neighborhood rankings, everything here is made with garlic, from an orangey aperitif to this surprisingly delicious dessert. Sweet and savory mix for a flavorful mouthful of creamy coldness.
42. Red velvet cake
Drie Graefjes (address and info)
The shop’s name might be super dutch (it’s a reference to the street name, Gravenstraat), but this is known to most as “the American cake shop.” So, yep, you’ll find carrot and all the rest here, too. But the red velvet is kind of legendary...
43. Foie gras and chive (sushi) roll
Momo (address and info)
The seriously non-traditional sushi of this see-and-be-seen bar and restaurant’s lounge menu includes this fatty guilty pleasure.
44. Surprise egg dessert
Ron Gastrobar (address and info)
When a dish is featured right in a restaurant’s logo, you damn well better order it. It looks like an egg in a nest, but it’s something much sweeter. Since the resto goes to some lengths to keep what exactly it is a surprise, we’ll play along... intrigued?
45. Mac n’ cheese
Braceland Bar-B-Q (address and info)
One of the best new openings of 2014 captures the Texas roadhouse spirit with style, right down to the creamy baked mac n’ cheese that could have come from an American grandmother’s oven.
46. Jamón ibérico
Ibericus (address and info)
You can watch the thin slices of flavor-packed Spanish ham being flaked off the dried pig’s leg of your choice as you order in the most authentic Spanish butcher in Amsterdam.
47. Boerenkool stamppot
The Pantry (address and info)
The Dutch were into kale before it was cool. The epitome of winter comfort food is a mash of potatoes and kale topped with (this is the important part) a thin meat gravy and smoky-sweet sausage (the “rookworst”). This traditional Dutch-meal spot is a great place to try it out.
48. Whole-wheat oliebollen
Hartog’s Volkoren (address and info)
Indisputably one of the best bakeries in the entire country, Volkoren was doing the whole-wheat thing before you were. It dishes out bread and sandwiches all year, but its popularity skyrockets in the wee hours of January 1 when the New Year's party crowd lines up with morning-minded families for a heartier (and honestly healthier) version of what is essentially the Dutch New Year's donut.
49. Steamed oysters
Nam Kee (address and info)
Don’t just get them because there’s a book and a movie named after them. Get them because there’s a book and a movie named after them for a reason. Be aware: these are some big-ass bad boys.
50. Solomillo de la casa & feta tiganiti
Orestis (address and info)
OK, we’re cheating here as this is really two dishes, but you’ve really got to try both sides of this Greek-Spanish hybrid restaurant. The prior is steak tenderloin with sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and Mediterranean herbs and the latter is a tapas-size serving of delicious fried cheese smothered in honey and almonds.
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