Food & Drink

The 8 Coolest Restaurants in Amsterdam

Published On 12/13/2013 Published On 12/13/2013

Perhaps on account of their ovens, The Dutch have never been considered a global food powerhouse. Thanks, however, to the country’s illustrious history of owning other countries, Amsterdam’s resto scene has, over the decades, cultivated a globe-spanning array of delicious colonial dining spots that’ve both challenged, and raised the game of the more locally inspired places. Here are the eight best in town...

Elysia Brenner

De Klos
Why You Absolutely Need To Go There: You’ve never eaten this much meat

This carnivorous cavern is no nonsense: no website, no reservations, and no menu. OK, so there is a menu, but it’s scrawled on a chalkboard and printed on T-shirts, and it’s just a list of meats, with a heavy emphasis on ribs and steak. In fact, the only meatless items on there are baked potatoes, cheesy French onion soup, and beer. Despite its location in the middle of the Leidseplein tourist masses, its intimidating interior -- a tiny, dark 17th-century-style tavern both packed with, and dependent on heavy wood beams -- discourages the casual passing traffic from popping in. Still, the locals are obsessed, so expect a wait.

de culinaire werkplaats

de culinaire werkplaats
Why You Absolutely Need To Go There: You pay what you want for food that could be art

On the other end of the scale, the Westerpark eatery de culinaire werkplaats (“the culinary workplace”) is totally vegetarian, but makes up for it with insane inventiveness. Monthly menus are inspired by abstract concepts (like “light”, “water”, or “architecture”), which are then translated into six small courses of fruits, veggies, and grains reimagined with modern twists like "vegetable paper" or "deconstructed apple pie". Eating in this bright, white space is a bit DIY, as in, take your own dishes to the sink, but they’ll happily make you an extra serving of your favorite. Also? At the end of the meal, you decide what to pay.

De Bakkerswinkel

De Bakkerswinkel
Why You Absolutely Need To Go There: You can get a beef tartare sando AND cake

This mini Dutch lunch empire now has five locations dishing out its homespun goodness in Amsterdam alone, but this is the flagship brunch and high-tea spot. Get there by noon to skip the wait, and load up on specialties like addictive savory scones and mouthwatering quiches of the day, or open-faced sandwiches topped with hearty meats, veggies, or bacon and egg. Needless to say, save room for dessert.

Tomaz Amsterdam

Why You Absolutely Need To Go There: It’s some of the best local food in town

Just outside the tourist entrance to “secret” central courtyard de Begijnhof, Tomaz’s terrace sits in the shadow of the skewed houses and narrow streets of Amsterdam’s medieval quarter. Inside, its two rooms with wine bar are loaded with charming Dutch coziness, which, like the Dutch-style menu (boasting such local delights as stamppot, a veggie-potato mash topped with a massive smoked sausage or meatball and gravy), is best experienced on a chill winter night.

Pancakes! Amsterdam

Why You Absolutely Need To Go There: Uh, see above

Obviously the one traditional Dutch dish that few tourists are likely to miss is pannenkoeken (that’s “pancakes”). The local take is thinner, and more crepe-ey, and loaded with a pretty wide range of sweet/savory toppings. But not all pancakes are created equal. Pancakes! earns its exclamation point with a menu that’s part classics (think ham and cheese, or baked apple with ice cream) and part world tour (including a buttermilk American style, with real maple syrup and bacon). The one downside is that, although pancakes are elsewhere dinner fodder, this kitchen closes by 7p.

Elysia Brenner

Café Kadijk
Why You Absolutely Need To Go There: You’ve never had Dutch-Indonesian food before

Whether or not you knew Indonesia was once a Dutch colony, you can’t miss its culinary effect on the city. Cooler locals come to this diminutive spot on the postcard-perfect, drawbridge-and-giant-arch-adjacent Kadijksplein for well-spiced Dutch takes on classics like hot pumpkin-paprika soup and the mini "rice table" dinner sampler. Then they linger until closing (1 or 3a) to chat up the cool-kid bartenders over cigarettes and wines by the glass.

Elysia Brenner

Why You Absolutely Need To Go There: They have flavored beer in coconut husks

Despite never being a Dutch colony, Ethiopian food has nonetheless somehow left a sizable stamp of its own on the Amsterdam culinary map. The meal consists of delicious spongy pancakes (called injera) covered in spiced piles of meat and/or veggies, shared and eaten by hand. Centrally located Semhar ticks off all the Ethiopian-restaurant boxes with reliably delicious food, flavored beer served in coconut husks, and an Africa-vibing décor. Grab a pot of the potent, incensed coffee before you go.


Why You Absolutely Need To Go There: Duck breast flambeed in pisco, that’s why

The subtitle of this stylish, canal-side restaurant near Leidseplein is “Peruvian Fusion”, which apparently means influences from Southern Europe, Asia, and a bunch of other places collide with Latin flavors to produce the likes of duck breast flambéed in pisco, 4hr beef ribs in white wine, and rabbit legs cooked with peanuts. The space itself has a terrace running along the canal, and boasts an ultra-slick modern look inside.

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1. Café De Klos Kerkstraat 41-43, Amsterdam, 1017 GB (Medieval Center)

Café De Klos is the epitome of a no-frills restaurant: it has no website, they don't take reservations, and the menu is just a list of meats on a chalkboard. However, it is precisely this list of meats on the chalkboard that makes this place once of the best in Amsterdam. This under the radar, medieval-feeling spot is known for ribs, but it also has more than seven seared, smoked, and slathered varieties of beef, lamb, and pork steak.

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2. De Culinaire Werkplaats Fannius Scholtenstraat 10HS, Amsterdam, 1051 EX (Westerpark)

De Culinanaire Werkplaats doesn't provide a mere meal, it brings you an culinary experience. The menu changes here quicker than the seasons do and features a lineup of entirely vegetarian dishes that have been inspired by an abstract concept like architecture or "the new black." Veggie-heavy dishes delve outside the boundaries of food physics in forms like foams and taffies for a meal you'll certainly never see imitated anywhere else.

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3. De Bakkerswinkel Polonceaukade 1-2, Amsterdam, 1014 DA (Westerpark)

This is just one of five locations of De Bakkerwinkel, which serves up hearty scones and heartier fresh-made sandwiches, salads, quiches, as well as many other lunch and dinner options.

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4. Tomaz Begijnensteeg 6-8, Amsterdam, 1012 PN (Medieval Center)

This resto and wine bar's terrace is located near the skewed houses and narrow streets of Amsterdam’s medieval quarter, serving distinctly Dutch fare.

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5. Pancakes! Berenstraat 38, Amsterdam, 1016 GH (Medieval Center)

You might wager a guess at what they serve here, but their flapjacks are a little thinner and are topped with tons of sweet or savory options.

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6. Café Kadijk Kadijksplein 5, Amsterdam, 1018 AB (East)

This old school Dutch resto features authentic Indonesian cuisine like pumpkin paprika soup and traditional "rice tables". And the best part? They open 'til 3a.

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7. Semhar Marnixstraat 259HS, Amsterdam, 1015 WH (The Jordaan)

This centrally located resto serves authentic Ethiopian fare, as well as flavored beer served in coconut husks, so there's not a chance you won't enjoy it.

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8. Mashua Prinsengracht 703, Amsterdam, 1017 JV (The Jordaan)

This canal-side restaurant near Leidseplein specializes in Peruvian fusion and so it's not out of coincidence that they pour a mean Pisco Sour.



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