We all know that Amsterdam has got a hot and heavy dating scene... so much so that you might need to squeeze in a couple on the same day. Or maybe you’re looking for a lighter investment to test the waters before the all-out evening splurge. Or maybe, just maybe, you’re looking for a spot to wind down a hot date from the night before. In any event, sometimes lunch is the way to go. It’s quick, cheap, and there’s no obligation to hang around after. That said, here are our 14 picks for the best places to take that special someone to a midday meal.
The area around Amstel Station continues to unexpectedly vie for hotspot status with the latest outpost of this stylish hotel (V) and restaurant combo. The new lunch menu -- an international mash-up ranging from eggs Benedict to a juicy bastilla pulled-chicken pastry with a fruity salad or a flavor-packed udon-noodle dish with pork belly and crab meat -- is silence-around-the-table-inducing spectacular. But this new locale gets bonus points for all that space. In addition to a jaw-dropping cavernous, multi-room interior, there’s a green-rimmed terrace that gets some sun for all but the late lunch shift and inside and outside feature glass cages, which include an outdoor smoking lounge. There’s an above-average wine list, the service is attentive (the water is refilled without question so often that even the Dutch might feel like they’re drowning), and the desserts, supplied by Brittons Bakery & Cakery, are as sweet and rich as you’d hope.
Just down the street from The Lobby’s original location is the under-the-radar, local favorite, which we previously tipped for its sweet strawberry-and-goat-cheese-topped steaks. No reservations, no menu, but expect plenty of laughter as you try to remember the details of the surprisingly long menu recited by one of the two sister owner/waitresses. The interior is knus and cozy, and the alley terrace even more intimate (bring on the footsy action). In addition to said steak, options include Indonesian meatloaf, mackerel mousse, and the odd sandwich -- but they’re all subject to change.
Embark at Westermarkt
Brunch by definition includes alcohol (what’s up mimosas and Bloody Marys?!), which makes it perfect for getting past first-date awkwardness. But if the awkwardness doesn’t go away, the prime canal views sliding past the windows and open roof (when the weather plays nice) offer the perfect excuse to get totally absorbed in your surroundings. Plus, as this is part of one of our favorite brunch empires, the food and the drinks are delicious and the all-inclusive formula (well, more than one alcoholic drink is extra) makes it easy to divvy up the bill.
You’ll have plenty of time to break the ice waiting in line for this popular lunch spot that, despite its three floors of striking white space, is almost as packed during the week as it is on weekends. But if you’re lucky, you’ll get rewarded with one of the loungey couches or bean bags to snuggle up on over coffee, plus a huge variety of (healthy) food and drinks. If you’re not, you’ll get one of the more traditional tables, but still have unfettered access to the full menu, of course.
If your date is the more active type, biking to this location feels like an adventure, with a waterside mini-manor from the 1900s as the treasure at the end of the trail. It’s your new “home on the Amstel.” Expect wholesome fare served with juice, coffee, beer, and wine. You might even get lucky... with some (indoor or outdoor) live music or one of the changing art exhibitions.
Want to see if your chemistry goes beyond the superficial? Try really getting to know someone (and your food and drink) by dining together in pitch blackness. Things could get either very intimate or incredibly weird... but dating is all about rolling the dice, right? Not just a dinner joint, you can also make a reservation for Ctaste’s Sunday brunch or high tea... or a chocolate (or other) tasting, if you prefer.
Amsterdam’s (literally) biggest opening of the year also boasts the city’s best lunch views. Reserve in advance, choosing between a two-course menu for €27.50 or a three-course menu for €34. The food can be hit or miss (come back for dinner at the pricier rotating restaurant Moon one floor below if you’re looking for top-quality cuisine), but you’re here for the adrenaline-inducing lookout platform (which doubles as the restaurant’s smoking space). Then it’s just €5 if you and your sweetheart want to lose your lunch over the 50-metre drop via a giant swing for two. All those other suckers you see on the roof who didn’t go the lunch route paid €12.50 to get up here via the back elevator without getting any food or cocktails out of the deal.
Whether you sit inside or outside -- but sit outside if you can, because that garden is amazing -- there will always be a table free plus plenty of eye candy at this Panama-adjacent, Asian-street-food-themed small-plates place where sharing is caring. With tapas-style ordering, you can decide whether there’s enough chemistry for another round of the spice-pumped munchies and decent wines by the glass as you go.
There’s lots of room inside (with a surprisingly cozy vibe), but unless you live in the area, you’re probably heading here on a sunnier day for a more intimate and fun date. With its edge-of-the-Bos location, your meal of locally sourced chicken or other fresh international fare accompanied by picks from top-trained wine professionals is easily combined with anything from an adventure rope course to a boat ride through the forest to a ride on a historical “museum” tram.
Show your date how alternative and in the know you are with this farm setting just a few minutes' bike ride behind Westerpark. The meals are cheap and simple and served in a cozy little house or a spacious garden with the greenest views in the “city center.” Nibble your tosti slowly and watch the chickens and sheep stroll. Enjoying yourself? Then bring your date back for one of the regular afternoon and evening events. If it goes really well, you can even get married here! Eventually, of course.
For when you really want to impress, the city’s most revered restaurant gets slightly cheaper at lunch -- meaning you’re shelling out a mere €50 per person for seven courses of Michelin-starred kaiseki cuisine (“kaiseki” means the fanciest of the fancy traditional Japanese fare; and the Japanese-trained chefs here know their business well). Or go the “cheap” route with a €40 bento box. At this time of day, you’ll even get to enjoy it with enough daylight to see the surrounding Japanese- and European-style gardens.
One of the coolest locations in Amsterdam (well, hottest maybe) is this operational greenhouse that has dished out high-end locavore eats for more than a decade. Again, it’s a spot where you can “cheat” with the cheaper lunch option -- a two-course meal will set you back €39, or you can go with a selection of three lighter dishes for €18.50. Once you’ve selected your deal, the rest is taken out of your hands: the chef sets a new menu each day, and everyone eats along and enjoys the view. That said, you won’t mind having one less decision to make once they present you with the list of 40 wines to choose from.
The name is a play on the name of the restaurant that owns this space come nightfall, Terpentijn. It’s “thinner” (as in paint) with a Dutch accent. And they dropped the H because they didn’t want to be misleading: this food definitely isn’t going to make you any thinner. It’s comfort food in a fancy jacket. So you get the same clean, green Terpentijn décor, but with a midday menu featuring fish and beef burgers, two types of French toast, Bloody Mary soup (vodka optional), poached eggs with pulled pork, fries three ways, and more.
The menu is alternately classic and inventive -- think red gurnard fish with tomato, lentil cream, broad beans, olives, and watercress-chimichurri or... beef sirloin -- and ever-changing. But what will keep you coming back is their location. Whether you’re sitting on the huge wooden terrace or inside the delicately mod two story interior, bring some extra tissues to wipe up your date’s drool (and this will happen before the dishes even come). If this spot doesn’t get you lucky, well, it’s just not the right match.
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1. The Lobby FizeaustraatFizeaustraat 2, Amsterdam
2. Café van KerkwijkNes 41, Amsterdam
3. G'sGoudsbloemstraat 91, Amsterdam
4. C.T. Coffee & CoconutsCeintuurbaan 282-284, Amsterdam
5. Thuis aan de AmstelKorte Ouderkerkerdijk 45, Amsterdam
6. ctasteAmsteldijk 55, Amsterdam
7. A'DAM TorenOverhoeksplein 1, Amsterdam
8. HappyhappyjoyjoyBilderdijkstraat 158, Amsterdam
9. De VerandaAmstelveenseweg 764, Amsterdam
10. Yamazato RestaurantFerdinand Bolstraat 333, Amsterdam
11. De KasKamerlingh Onneslaan 3, Amsterdam
12. TinnerRokin 103, Amsterdam
13. RivaAmstelboulevard 1, Amsterdam
Located within the boutique Hotel V, The Lobby Fizeaustraat serves a variety of tasting menus consisting of elegantly plated, modern European fare like steak tartare with langoustines, corvina ceviche with kumquat, and veal tongue with pan-fried duck liver. The wine list is as robust as it is accessible, organized first by glasses and bottles of red and white under €50, with the remainder arranged according to region. The ambience proves intimate despite the cavernous size of the place, which boasts lush fauna, mid-century inspired décor, and glass floor-to-ceiling lounges for smokers.
Café van Kerkwijk is a hidden spot with no tangible menu -- the wait staff will recite it for you. There are some tightly packed tables for small groups and a charming terrace space. The draw is the inventive, changing menu ranging from giant sandwiches to Indonesian chicken to mackerel mousse. But its signature dish is the steak, served on a bed of goat cheese and topped with strawberry sauce -- dinner and dessert in one. Just be ready to wait for a table because this popular joint doesn't take reservations.
This Jordaan resto has a "not-so-secret love affair with brunch" and the menu proves it, with options like scones, oysters, eggs, cinnamon French toast, salads, bagels, and a host of boozy drinks.
Hiding behind the art deco facade of a former film palace, this bright, airy cafe with plenty of space is perfect for studying, casual get togethers, or dates. The all-day kitchen churns out elevated entrees, a number of juices, and an impressive selection of wines, beers, teas, and coffee.
Located within a turn of the century mansion, this cozy café serves ingredient-forward brunch favorites like vegetable crudité, sun-dried tomato frittatas, cured meats, and salmon mousse on toast. The menu rotates based on market availability for optimum freshness but adheres to the overarching comfort food theme and is regularly paired alongside a fluctuating wine list. The overall dining experience at Thuis aan de Amstel works with the character of the location itself -- a homey, eclectic townhouse on the Amstel River, peppered with local artwork and most easily accessed by bicycle.
Ctaste is Amsterdam’s dining-in-the-dark experience (including brunch). After you turn up in the plush arrival lounge, your waiter (who’s always blind) will lead you to your table in pitch-black darkness, where you will learn to pour yourself drinks by feel and try to identify your food before giving up and asking your waiter what the hell you just ate.
A'DAM Toren is a multi-purpose tower right along the water that opened its doors to the North Amsterdam in 2016. Within its 22 floors it houses a hotel, a nightclub, restaurants, bars and an observation deck, all offering stunning panoramic views of the entire city. At Moon, the circular restaurant on the tower's 19th story, you can choose from a simple menu of small plates like scallops, eel and fois gras as the entire restaurant rotates to give you a 360-degree view you don't even have to move for.
IA Creative's Asian street food-inspired spot prides itself on fresh food preparation, with open woks, streaming pans, and sizzling barbecues cooking your food in real time. Expect savory-sweet-salty-spicy combinations, like shrimps in panang curry, roasted pork char siew, and chili-smothered bok choi, all served in a woodsy terrace strung with charming Chinese lanterns.
De Veranda is an Amsterdam staple, loved by locals and tourists alike for its sun-drenched outdoor patio and globally inspired cuisine. In warmer months, the terrace is a popular haunt for wine aficionados looking to imbibe while looking out over the Amsterdamse Bos and snacking on nondenominational light bites like steak tartare and octopus escabeche. The ambience is relaxed, but the higher price point makes it the type of locale for classy dinners with special people; the wealth of seating also allows it to double as a venue for weddings and private parties.
This Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant keeps it totally traditional, with Kyoto-style kaiseki cuisine and sushi chefs trained in Tokyo. The €100+ chef's menus are on the experiential aspirations list of every glutton in the city.
This Watergraafsmeer spot is a giant greenhouse dating from 1926 in the middle of Park Frankendael, full of plants and everything. Plus 140 seats. This greenhouse also cooks up those plants (and meats and cheeses and other stuff sourced from the local countryside) and serves them in some pretty posh, pretty delicious three-course meals -- a new one for the whole restaurant each day.
Three words: Bloody Mary soup. Whether you opt to add actual vodka to it or not, it's impossible to deny how strong the brunch game is at Tinner, the midday little sister to late night's Terpentijn. The same industrial-chic décor and bohemian ambience is there, but the food menu shifts to focus on wholesome comfort food favorites like banana bread French toast, grilled sandwiches, toasts, and poached eggs with pulled pork. The barista offerings range from quality brews to innovative libations like the surprisingly refreshing espresso tonic, as well as the coconut milkshake, a delicious standout.
Serving globally inspired cuisine in an airy, sleek space, Riva boasts a seasonally rotating food menu, a robust yet affordable list of European wines, and a sun-drenched patio overlooking the Amstel River. Brightly flavored plates like Creole mackerel ceviche, softshell crab with laksa curry, and beef sirloin over polenta illustrate the culinary prowess and diverse creativity of the kitchen, which operates for lunch, dinner, and late-night services, as well as weekend brunch. The scenic views and upscale ambience make it an ideal date locale, but it's a solid option for any refined and relaxed meal.