Amsterdam’s expensive. And while we love all the internationals that come to town to spend their cash (and support some of our best new openings), this can also cause a little bit of inflation. Rents are bad enough, but what’s a person supposed to eat without blowing their budget? Even a Big Mac costs more than €5 (it’s €6.25). That said, these 19 iconic Amsterdam eats -- from late-night snacks to full meals -- are guaranteed to keep your stomach and wallet full.
FEBO (address and info) Price: €1.60 You knew this was coming. The deep-fried empire of wall food was obviously made for the frugal and the drinking, and we already crowned this breaded, deep-fried packet of cheese its irreproachable king.
Mezrab (address and info) Price: €5 The soup at this storytelling and live music theater (basically your only edible option beyond tosti’s) is dished out by Mama Sahebdivani before almost every show. It’s part of a long-standing tradition and is cooked in huge batches intended to bring people together. Bonus: free entertainment! But you ARE encouraged to donate, of course.
Happyhappyjoyjoy(address and info) Price: €5 Our favorite sharing-is-caring, tapas-style Asian street vendors endear us to them even more by making this delicacy. It’s a steamed black bun with crispy chicken topped with white cabbage and yuzu mayonnaise, and it’s as affordable as it is delicious.
Your pick of pizza or pasta
Pizzeria Rimini (address and info) Price: €5 Amazingly, there are still a bunch of spots in the Leidseplein area where you can grab pizza or pasta for €5. We’re picking this one because of its consistency and style. Is it the best pizza in the city? Not many people will say that. But for €5, it’s damn good. Also, you can sit down to enjoy it.
Noodles/rice/veggies & sauce
Wok to Walk (address and info) Price: €4.90 Pick between the four types of noodles, two types of rice, and/or pure veggies paired with one of eight types of sauces. Whatever you choose, you can get this Amsterdam-born eatery’s sizzling pairing for under a fiver -- a filling meal substitute or late-night godsend that’ll go into your fridge when you get home and be just as delicious for lunch the next day. If you can scrounge up the extra couple of euros, add toppings, like chicken, peanuts, and/or bamboo shoots.
Isikogullari (address and info) Price: €2-5 Amsterdam’s other favorite type of pizza is topped with delicious meat and is available in six varieties for €5 or less. On top of that, they’re also willing to deliver them. There are also two shaorma varieties, with and without cheese, for €0.50-1.00 more. Though we’ll stick with the grill-flavored spicy chicken and cheese for €5.
Maoz (address and info) Price: €4.95 The city’s most ubiquitous falafel chain is continuing to keep prices low and you can even save 5 cents by skipping the bread and going for the salad box. Whatever direction you take, the buffet of toppings is at your complete disposal.
HEMA (address and info) Price: €2 (€3 with a soda) One of the most beloved snacks in Amsterdam (and in all of the Netherlands) is essentially a giant Dutch hotdog served at the Dutch version of a Kmart. “Rookworst” simply means smoked sausage, but its fans sign on for its sweetly savory ham-like quality which is best enjoyed with a big dollop of spicy mustard.
Chicken dürüm wrap
Mesut (address and info) Price: €5 Both locations are delectable and open until -- at least -- 1am. The popular and conveniently located Mesut 2 on the Rozengracht is even open until 6am on weekends, but you likely knew that. There are 16 wraps and sandwiches to choose from for this price or less, and the rest of the menu is reasonably cheap, also.
Vlaams Friethuis ''Vleminckx since 1957" (address and info) Price: €4.50 This hole in a wall down a back alley off of Spui is easy to find thanks to the crowd it attracts every time it throws open its shutters. The sauces cost extra, but you have almost 30 to choose from. “Oorlog” (or “war”) is a novel mix of mayo, peanut-based saté, and onions, but we’re sticking with the spicy sambal-mayo hybrid known as “samurai sauce.”
Triple ice cream with whipped cream & a cookie
Venetië IJs (address and info) Price: €4.90 A taste of Italy (chocolate, strawberry, vanilla) with all the right toppings for just the right price.
Lucky’s Vispaleis (address and info) Price: €3.50 Local fish lovers eat it raw from the tail, but you might want to add bread and some onions to your (still raw) herring. Truth be told, you can pick this dish up at fish shops all over (the best time is mid- to late-summer, when the first fresh catches of the year start rolling in), but this particular one was named the best a few years ago by the (un)official herring testers of the Netherlands (that’s a thing here) with one of the best scores -- 8.5 -- any shop in the city has seen to date.
Meal of the day
MKZ Eetcafé (address and info) Price: €5 The menu is constantly changing and food is first come, first served. But at this OCCII-based café, you can enjoy three courses of vegetarian fare for a mere €5. See also: Molli Chaoot (on Tuesdays and Wednesdays) for more vegan squat eats.
IKEA (address and info) Price: €2 Did you know that the official HQ of IKEA is actually in Amsterdam, and not Sweden? All over Europe, though, the furniture giant is actually a favorite spot for cheap food. From hot dogs to daily breakfasts for €1 (croissant, cheese, bread, jam/butter, a boiled egg, and tea or coffee), the joint is full of inexpensive food that’s quite palatable. However, Wednesdays are the cheapest of the cheap, when the usual €4 special goes for half-price. And with fare like veggie balls with chickpea tagine, that’s a great deal.
La Place OBA (address and info) Price: €3.25 It’s self-service at its freshest. And at the top of Amsterdam’s central library, it comes with one of the city’s best views. Plus, there’s a ton of other fare in the under €5 range throughout the day as well.
Bagels & Beans (address and info) Price: €4.95 This chain of coffee and bagel cafés is popular because it’s consistent (and easily located wherever you are). They’ve got half a dozen bagels under the €5 mark. This one is our favorite (at any price point, actually), topped with sun-dried tomatoes, black tapenade, pine nuts, and basil.
Vietnamese Loempia Price: €1 You never know when they’ll be open, but this food truck on the Waterlooplein market has, hands down, the best spring rolls in the city. And everything else they serve is cheap and delicious, too. At quieter moments, the lady running the joint will regale you with Vietnamese folk songs and tales from her home country -- free of charge.
Buurtboerderij Ons Genoegen (address and info) Price: €5 We already named this one of our favorite places to take a lunch date, but did you know that they also offer three-course meals every Wednesday and Friday for a fiver? You pick whether you want meat, fish, or veggies. The rest of the week, the evening menu price skyrockets to a whopping €8.
BUUF (address and info) Price: €3.80 This mixed plate is but one option (although the best) at this super-cheap, ‘70s-themed lunch spot. Note that the large version is only €5.80, or you can take your pick from a selection of sandwiches -- from North Carolina pulled pork with coleslaw and BBQ sauce to goat cheese with arugula, honey-thyme dressing, walnuts, and red onion -- for a mere €3.50 each. And dinners here cost €9.80.
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Elysia Brenner is an Amsterdam-based freelance writer, editor, and translator.