Amsterdam – Eating

Dutch cuisine used to be little more than a contradiction in terms. This harks back to the days when Holland’s hard-working merchants saw spices, coffee and cheese more as tradable commodities than something to be enjoyed. The leading Dutch restaurant critic, Johannes van Dam, recently went so far as to say the Dutch would eat anything if it were well presented (‘if it had a bow on it’).

Seriously, and take it from someone who lived here for years, it’s not as bad as all that. A memorable meal awaits if you know where to look. And a major delight is the huge choice of cuisine, including delicacies from the former colonies. (When in Amsterdam, you have to eat an Indonesian rice table – it’s the law.)

Another great joy is the visual flair of Amsterdam’s restaurants. From the sumptuous interiors of supper clubs to pint-sized designer cafés, you can feast your eyes as well as your stomach.

Restaurants who care will change their menus seasonally, if not daily. Where we have listed individual dishes, they’re either always on the menu or a reference to give you a line on the chef’s creativity. Most places will have a few vegetarian choices.

Last but not least, don’t forget about traditional Dutch cooking. While not exactly refined, with good honest dishes like hutspot (hotchpotch) it can be delicious.


You’ll find all colours in the rainbow, but Italian, French, Thai and Chinese are so widespread they’re practically seen as national cuisines. Spanish-style tapas are all the rage, as is sushi, Pacific-Rim fusion and wok/noodle shops. Dutch chefs fly the flag highest at nouveau cuisine and fish restaurants, but there are also grease vendors like Febo.

In the De Pijp district, Indian and Turkish eateries are as common as one-speed bicycles, plus there are cuisines you may never have heard of, like Surinamese, a pleasant surprise. Chinese is always a good bet, particularly in the little Chinatown near the Zeedijk.


Traditional Dutch cuisine revolves around meat, potato and vegetables. That said, contemporary chefs have made some great strides, and what’s now called ‘Dutch’ often has echoes of far-off, mystical lands.

Some typical dishes include stamppot (mashed pot) – potatoes mashed with vegetables (usually kale or endive) and served with smoked sausage or strips of pork. Hutspot, similar to stamppot but with carrots, onions and braised meat, is a popular winter dish. Erwtensoep is a thick pea soup (a spoon stuck upright in the pot should fall over slowly) with smoked sausage and bacon.

Year-round favourites include broodjes (filled sandwiches). Quality broodjeswinkels (sandwich shops) are like elaborate delis. Pile hot or cold ingredients onto a choice of breads and rolls, from roast beef or fish salads to cheeses and osseworst (raw beef sausage, a Dutch delicacy).

Kroketten (croquettes) are a Dutch classic: a ragout with meat, sometimes even fish or shrimp, that’s crumbed and deep-fried. (Van Dam, the culinary maven, just published an encyclopaedic history of this creation.) They are also served as small balls called bitterballen, with mustard.

Pannenkoeken translates as ‘pancakes’, although North Americans will be in for a surprise – the Dutch variety is huge and a little stretchy, served flat, one to a plate and topped with wide combination of ingredients, both sweet and savoury.

There’s plenty of seafood at stalls around the city. Haring (herring) is a national institution, prepared with salt or pickled but never cooked; your standard model is beheaded, split and filleted, served with diced onion and sometimes sweet-pickle chips as a garnish. Paling (eel) is usually smoked. Mosselen (mussels) are best eaten from September to April; the classic preparation is to cook with white wine, chopped leeks and onions, and serve with a side of frites or patat (French fries).

Some typically Dutch desserts are fruit pie (apple, cherry, banana cream or other fruit), vla (custard) and pancakes. Many snack bars and pubs serve appeltaart (apple pie) and coffee throughout the day – there’s a reason Dutch apple pie is so admired.


Whatever you do, you must sample this tasty legacy of Dutch colonial history. Some dishes are concoctions rather than traditional Indonesian, but that doesn’t make them less appealing. An Indonesian rijsttafel – a dozen or more tiny dishes, some startling spicy, with rice – should be a highlight of your visit.

Smaller nasi rames (boiled rice) is similar in concept and served on one plate. Bami rames is the same dish with thick noodles. Gadogado is lightly steamed vegetables with peanut sauce and hard-boiled egg. A delicious staple is saté or sateh (satay), marinated barbecued beef, chicken or pork on small skewers.

Other stand-bys are nasi goreng – fried rice with onions, pork, shrimp and spices, often topped with a fried egg or shredded omelette – and bami goreng, the same thing but with noodles.

Indonesian food is usually served mild for Western palates. If you want it hot (pedis, pronounced p-dis), say so but be prepared for the ride of a lifetime. You can play it safe by asking for sambal (chilli paste), although it may already be on the table. Sambal oelek is red and hot; the dark-brown sambal badjak is based on onions and is mild and sweet. If you overdo it, a spoonful of plain rice will douse the flames.


This former South American colony has dishes familiar to those who know the Caribbean, with African, Indian and Indonesian influences. Chicken features strongly, along with curries (chicken, lamb or beef), potatoes and rice, and a hard-boiled egg is usually in there somewhere. Roti are unleavened pancakes. It’s a pleasant fire on the tastebuds, and great value.


Opening Hours

Dinner is the main meal, usually served from 6pm to 10pm. Many restaurants only do dinner, and will fill up by 7pm. Try arriving for the ‘second sitting’, when films and concerts start, between 8.30pm and 9.30pm. Kitchens tend to close by 10pm and leave late-night grazing to the street vendors.

For lunch your best bets are cafés. Their meals tend to be reliable, but not life- changing. Many cafés open as early as 10am, and lunch can be ordered from 11am to 2.30pm. They’re great places to hang out, even after the kitchen shuts down. Many lunch cafés may allow you to linger until later afternoon.

Breakfast before 10am can be a problem. Unless your hotel serves breakfast, you may need to wait until the cafés open, or locate a bakery.

Restaurants tend to be open for business daily, but a few take Sunday and Monday off. Some go ahead and take several weeks off in July and August, so phone ahead or risk seeing ‘On Holiday’ at the front door.

How Much?

Eating out may seem reasonable compared to some other European cities (hello, London and Paris), but know that prices are up sharply since the euro was introduced in 2002.

Lunch will set you back anything from €2.50 for a basic sandwich to €10 for a complicated salad. Main courses will cost €8 to €18, lunch or dinner, at middle-of-the-road restaurants. To cut your bill, look for the dagschotel (dish of the day), and heartier appetites might go for a dagmenu, a set menu of three or more courses. Except at top-end restaurants, main courses should cost under €25, and three-course dinners are readily available for €25 to €35.

Breakfast tends to be overpriced: at a café, you can expect €5 for coffee, something baked and maybe some orange juice. Consider hitting a bakery the next morning.

A beer will generally set you back around €2, and nonalcoholic drinks are only slightly cheaper. House wines are generally €3 to €5 per glass, although the sky’s the limit on full bottles.

Last but not least, many restaurants do not accept credit cards; check in advance.

Booking Tables

Virtually everyone speaks English well. Apart from the busiest upper-crust restaurants, booking a table is rarely a problem. A phone call a day or two before your arrival should do the trick. Seating at most cafés is first come, first served.


This guide is based on the average price of a main course, including tax. See individual listings for prices of set meals where available.

€€€ over €25

€€ €12-25

€ under €12


If you’re from a ‘service with a smile’ kind of society, service in Amsterdam may be impersonal, off-putting and just plain slow. Don’t take it personally, it’s not directed at you.

Tax and a service charge are included in the bill, but unless your server really messes up, a modest tip is in order. Round up to the next number, or around 5%; a 10% tip is considered generous. If your bill comes to €9.50, you might leave €10.

If you’re paying by credit card or just need change, state the amount you want to pay, including tip, as you hand your payment to your server (this will usually elicit a proper ‘thank you’!). Note that servers appreciate being tipped in cash, as they may not actually receive a credit-card tip.


Amsterdam has some great takeaway shops, known in some quarters as traiteurs (caterers). You’ll find slick delis, bistros or street windows selling Spanish tapas, Italian tagliatelli, Indonesian skewers and ol’ stand-bys like pizza or falafel. Department stores like De Bijenkorf and Vroom & Dreesman have good cafeterias.

The chains Volendamer Vishandel (fish, sandwiches and snacks) and Bakkerij Bart (bakeries) can be found in shopping areas. AH To Go has branches in heavy-traffic zones such as train stations. And fish stands selling broodje haring (herring rolls) are always fairly close by.

As for supermarkets, Albert Heijn (look for the white AH on blue) is prominent but competitors such as Dirk van den Broek, Edah and Aldi are nicer-priced. Farmers markets are held throughout town. The chain Gall & Gall sells wine and beer, and is often attached to Albert Heijn supermarkets.


The city centre offers everything from supremely elegant Dutch cuisine to the hippest restaurants and DJ clubs. Some of the highestend places are where you’d least expect them, such as in the Red Light District. Highlights here are the top-rated Blauw aan de Wal as well as the little Asia- and Chinatown at the south end of Zeedijk. The bottom of the street called Nes in the Medieval Centre offers several nice cafés and restaurants outside the slipstream. Nieuwmarkt is one of Amsterdam’s liveliest squares, and certainly its loveliest; the surrounds brim with tempting eateries.


SUPPER CLUB Contemporary Dutch €€€

tel 638 05 13;; Jonge Roelensteeg 21; 5-course menu €65; dinner

If you’re looking for a scene, you’ve found one. Enter the theatrical, all-white room, snuggle on the enormous mattresses and snack on victuals as DJs spin house music. Shows are provocative and entertaining – if it’s lamb night, live sheep may be led through to the kitchen. If it’s hospital night, look out.

SEA PALACE Chinese €€

tel 626 47 77;; Oosterdokskade 8; mains €9.60-36, yum-cha courses €13.50-5; lunch & dinner

Funny thing about floating Chinese restaurants: they look like tourist traps and may well be, but from Hong Kong to Holland many are admired for good food. The Sea Palace’s three floors are busy with people, both Chinese and non, who come not just for the great views of the city from across the IJ. Even if you order dim sum from a menu instead of a cart, the shrimp in the ha kow dumplings go pop in your mouth just the same.

LUCIUS Seafood €€

tel 624 18 31;; Spuistraat 247; mains €17.50-28, set menus €35; dinner

Simple, delicious and consistently full, Lucius is known for both fresh ingredients and not mucking them up with lots of sauce and spice. The interior, all fish tanks and tiles, is workmanlike and professional, just like the service.

D’VIJFF VLIEGHEN Contemporary Dutch €€

tel 530 40 60;; Spuistraat 294-302; mains €20-28, set menus from €39; dinner

So what if every tourist and business visitor eats here? Sometimes the herd gets it right. The ‘Five Flies’ is a classic, spread out over five 17th-century canal houses. Old-wood dining rooms teem with character, featuring Delft tiles and works by Rembrandt and Breitner. Some chairs have brass plates for the celebrities who’ve sat in them.


tel 626 83 52; Oudezijds Voorburgwal 177-179; mains €8.50-24, dim sum €2.50-4.50; lunch & dinner

This huge Hong Kong–style restaurant with the requisite red lanterns is always lively. Join gaggles of local Chinese for daily dim sum (11.30am to 4.30pm; we like the meaty, flavoursome cha sieuw bao pork buns) and a 24-page menu (!) of classic Canto cuisine.


tel 626 74 33; Torensteeg 7; mains €3-21; breakfast, lunch & dinner

Although you could try sandwiches and pastas here, half the patrons seem to be eating the famous apple pie. For €4.50 you get a mountain of apples dusted in cinnamon, surrounded by warm pastry and fresh cream. In warm weather tables are set up on the bridge over the Singel.

HAESJE CLAES Traditional Dutch €€

tel 624 99 98;; Spuistraat 273-275; mains €13.30-20, set menus from €28.50; lunch & dinner

Haesje Claes’ warm surrounds, a tad touristy but with lots of dark wood and antique knick-knacks, is just the place to sample comforting pea soup and endive stamppot. The fish starter has a great sampling of Dutch fishes.

LE PETIT LATIN Mediterranean €€

tel 624 94 25; Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 306; mains €11-19.50, set menus €32; 7-11pm Tue-Sat

Easy to overlook, with its step-down entrance, the ‘Little Latin’ drips with culinary authority, and it’s not just the curled travel posters from the Côte d’Azur. If you can’t read the blackboard scrawl, chef Jacques from Marseille will crouch to give you the day’s specials – Aquitaine lamb? Fresh mullet flown in from the Riviera? Who can say non. The wine list is brief but formidable. Reserve or weep.


tel 428 22 22;; Nes 67; mains €13-18, set menus €25; 11am-11pm

This cavernous ex-tobacco factory started its career as a restaurant in fine fashion a couple of years ago. Now the hype has subsided, it’s just a very good stylish brasserie, with a simple lunch menu and staples such as Caesar salad and entrecôte for dinner.

GREEN PLANET Vegetarian €€

tel 625 82 80;; Spuistraat 122; mains €9.50-16.50, sandwiches & salads €6-10; dinner Mon-Sat

This modern veggie eatery cares…about your health, biodegradable packaging, peace, love and decent food. Come for a soup, salad, antipasto or cake. Mains include goulash, dumplings and Indian masala.

GREKAS Greek €

tel 620 35 90; Singel 311; dishes €8-15; 1.30-9.30pm Wed-Sun

What started as a catering shop has bloomed into one of the city’s best-loved Greek restaurants. Low overheads (there’s almost no seating) means low prices with high-quality, generous portions of Greek home cooking: moussaka, roasted artichokes, chicken in lemon sauce.

DE KEUKEN VAN 1870 Traditional Dutch €

tel 620 40 18;; Spuistraat 4; mains €6-14, 3-course menu €7.50; lunch & dinner Mon-Sat

Thanks to a recent makeover, you’d never guess that this smart-looking place was once a restaurant for the poor. It still keeps up that heritage, though, with decent cooking (think stamppot or couscous) at exceedingly decent prices.


tel 626 56 03; Grimburgwal 2; mains €4.50-10; noon-5pm

Climb some of the steepest stairs in town to reach this small-as-a-stamp restaurant. The lure? Pancakes that are flavoursome, inexpensive (most under €7.50) and filling. We like the one with bacon, cheese and ginger. It’s a one-man show, so service operates at its own pace.

DOLORES Organic €

tel 620 33 02; Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal; mains €2.75-9; lunch & afternoon tea

Biologische (organic) is the name of the game at this tiny shop, which resembles a kiddie train station in the traffic island. Try organic burgers, tostis (grilled sandwiches), chicken and frites. Service has been known to take its time, but it is fun to watch the world go by at the picnic-table seating outdoors. It is on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, opposite No 289.


tel 624 60 75; Voetboogstraat 33; small/large €1.70/2.20, sauces €0.50-0.60; 11am-6pm Tue-Sat, noon-6pm Sun & Mon

This hole-in-the-wall takeaway has drawn the hordes for its monumental frites since 1887. The standard is smothered in mayonnaise, though you can ask for ketchup, peanut sauce or a variety of spicy mayos. If the queue’s too long, consider Wil Graanstra Friteshuis on Westerkerk square.

Also recommended:

Kantjil to Go (tel 620 09 94;; Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 342; dishes €3.75-6.25; lunch & dinner) Cobble your own Indonesian combo from rice, noodles, meat and veggies.

Van den Berg’s Broodjesbar (tel 622 83 56; Zoutsteeg 4; sandwiches €1.60-4.45; 9am-6pm Mon-Fri) Try gehakt, thin meatball slices served warm with killer-hot mustard.

Volendamer Vishandel (tel 626 33 88; Zoutsteeg 6; sandwiches €2.20-4.50; breakfast & lunch) This three-table shop has immaculate fresh fish and a great location.


BLAUW AAN DE WAL International €€€

tel 330 22 57; Oudezijds Achterburgwal 99; mains €24-27, 3-course menu €40; dinner Mon-Sat

Definitely a rose among thorns: a long, often graffiti-covered hallway in the middle of the Red Light District leading to a Michelin-listed garden of Eden. Originally a 17th-century herb warehouse, the whitewashed, exposed-brick, multilevel space still features old steel weights and measures, plus friendly, knowledgeable service and refined French- and Italian-inspired cooking. In summer, grab a table in the romantic garden.

NAM KEE Chinese €

tel 624 34 70;; Zeedijk 113-116; mains €6-16.50; lunch & dinner

It won’t win any design awards, but year in, year out, Nam Kee’s the most popular Chinese spot in town. And why not: there’s good roast anything, and service is snappy. A new, fancier location has opened at Geldersekade 117.

NEW KING Chinese €

tel 625 21 80;; Zeedijk 115; mains €4-16; lunch & dinner

If you want Chinese on the Zeedijk but don’t want to feel like you’re slumming it, New King is about the fanciest on the block. The roast meats may have you asking ‘how much is that duckie in the window?’ (€24 with the full service of different courses.)

EAT MODE Asian €

tel 330 08 06;; Zeedijk 105-107; mains €4-12.50; noon-11pm

This smart little fusion diner covers the Pacific Rim in style. Order, take your number and plop down at a New Age marbledwood table while they whip up your seaweed salad, California spring rolls or Thai tom yam goong soup. Does a booming takeaway trade too.

Also recommended:

Kam Yin (tel 625 31 15; Warmoesstraat 6-8; mains €4-13; lunch & dinner) Zero atmosphere, just tasty Surinamese and Chinese dishes.

Skek (tel 427 05 51;; Zeedijk 4-8; mains €6.50-13; lunch & dinner) Trendy student hangout (student ID gets you one-third off ) and live bands.



tel 622 95 33;; Staalstraat 22; mains €6.75-25, set menus €19.50-23; dinner Tue-Sun

Top-shelf soups, duck or shrimp curries, and noodle dishes are the order of the day at this sophisticated restaurant with bright art. Note: some locals refer to it by its old name, Tom Yam. A pretheatre menu is available.


Utrechtsestraat Hands-down our favourite dining street.

Negen Straatjes A great place to browse for clothing or lunch, home wares or dinner.

Haarlemmerstraat This newly trendy strip on the way out of town has some cool new spots.

Leidseplein and surrounds Included for quantity if not necessarily quality. Prices are reasonable, and it’s minutes’ walk from entertainment.

Albert Cuypstraat West of the famous market you’ll find a stash of exotic choices including Cambodian, Kurdish and Surinamese.

HEMELSE MODDER Contemporary Dutch €€

tel 624 32 03;; Oude Waal 9; mains €16, 3-/4-/5-course menus €24/28.50/32; dinner

A little hard to locate, but worth it. Extraordinary care goes into dishes – you might find pot-au-feu with chicken or polenta soufflé – and you may even find a sprig of mint in your carafe of water. Desserts are wonderful, including the namesake hemelse modder (heavenly mud) chocolate mousse. The dining room is spare yet comfy, or snag a table out back on a warm night.


tel 622 00 34; Nieuwmarkt 9; mains €9-14; dinner

Indulge in a fondue frenzy at this delightfully well-worn brown café. People have been flocking here for more than 30 years for the gruyère fondue as well as the entrecôte. Note: it’s generally closed for a large part of the summer, but do you really want fondue in hot weather anyway? Reservations advised.


tel 624 9065;; Staalstraat 12; prices vary; lunch

Squarely between the Amstel, the Red Light District and Nieuwmarkt is this handsome, rustique takeaway shop with lasagne, savoury pies, and lovely olives and cheeses. Lunch will set you back about €5.


The restaurants in this part of town exude the conviviality that has long been a hallmark of the Jordaan. The Haarlemmerstraat and surrounds are trendy, but many people still gravitate to the eateries along Westerstraat. You may want to lose your way in the narrow backstreets, where the next hot spot may be opening up.

BORDEWIJK French €€€

tel 624 38 99;; Noordermarkt 7; mains €22-30, set menus €34-50; dinner Tue-Sun

Other places have grander reputations, but some critics dub Bordewijk the king of the hill. The interior is so minimal that there’s little to do but appreciate the spectacular French/Italian cooking. The chefs are not afraid to take risks (we once saw lamb’s testicles on the menu), but its skilled staff take your wishes with aplomb.

BALTHAZAR’S KEUKEN French-Mediterranean €€

tel 420 21 14;; Elandsgracht 108; 3-course set menu €26; dinner Wed-Fri

Consistently one of Amsterdam’s top-rated restaurants. Don’t expect a wide-ranging menu – the byword is basically ‘whatever we have on hand’ – but it’s usually absolutely delectable. Plus, there’s a modern-rustic look and attentive service (!). Reservations recommended.


tel 627 50 12; Elandsgracht 29; mains €17-21, 4-course menus €27-32; dinner

Chairs wrapped in straitjackets, bright art on the walls, neckties in the tables (it makes sense when you see it), a mai pen rai (no problem) atmosphere and delicious cooking (go for the almost buttery tom kha gai soup or crunchy, spicy duck salad) keep it busy here night after night.

JEAN JEAN French €€

tel 627 71 53;; 1e Anjeliersdwarsstraat 14; mains €17-22, 4-course menu €35; dinner Tue-Sun

One of the hottest places in town, this cosy neighbourhood bistro offers honest and affordable Gallic comfort food: soups, meat and fish dishes etc. The setting is understated yet sophisticated, and service is professional.

NOMADS Middle Eastern €€

tel 344 64 01;; Rozengracht 133; mezze plates €3-8.25, couscous €15-21.50, 3-course set menu €45; dinner Tue-Sun

It’s the Supper Club concept on the road to Morocco. Wine, dine and recline on mattresses amid decadent decorations, and graze on platters of mod Middle Eastern snacks while being entertained by belly dancers and DJs. Superbly sexy, and best experienced with a lively group.

LOCAL International €€

tel 423 40 39;; Westerstraat 136; mains €7-19.50; dinner

This eel’s nest of contempo-cool, with long, tall tables stretching its entire length, ensures that you will never eat alone. Go with friends, and it’s an instant party. In keeping with the ‘long and thin’ theme, main dishes are grilled on skewers: there’s an international selection from yakitori to beef stroganoff, all served with potatoes, salad and appropriate sauces.

BURGER’S PATIO International €€

tel 623 68 54; 2e Tuindwarsstraat 12; mains €13-19, 3-course menu €25; dinner

Despite its name, this is no hamburger joint. Rather, an air of easy-going cool permeates the modern interior, and the namesake patio is a fun hideout. Meats are free-range, pastas are popular, and touches like crudités, aïoli and tapenade make the prices seem more reasonable than they already are.


tel 320 44 47;; 2e Egelantiersdwarsstraat 24a; mains €9-19; noon-10pm

If the Dutch are famous for pancakes of meat, seafood and veggies, so are the Japanese. At the continent’s only shop specialising in okonomiyaki (literally, ‘cook as you like’), you’ll get yours in a hot iron dish with your choice of fillings and topped with flakes of dried bonito. There’s a J-pop backdrop and barely two dozen seats.

DIVAN Turkish €€

tel 626 82 39; Elandsgracht 14; mains €13-17; lunch Fri & Sat, dinner nightly

In a town where ‘Turkish’ usually means ‘takeaway’ (or ‘pizza’), Divan offers a calming alternative. For €23.50 you get the meze combo starter of 10 assorted dips, skewers and salads, and we loved ali nazik (minced lamb with aubergines in yogurt garlic sauce), but it was the gracious, sweet service that will take us back.

MOEDERS Traditional Dutch €€

tel 626 79 57;; Rozengracht 251; mains €13-17, 3-course menus €24-28; dinner

Mum’s the word at ‘Mothers’. When this friendly place opened, staff asked customers to bring their own plates, flatware and photos of their own mums as donations, and the result is still a delightful hodgepodge. So is the food, including stamppot, seafood, Moroccan dishes, a vegetarian frittata and a rijsttafel of traditional Dutch dishes.


tel 623 73 44;; Westerstraat 184-186; mains €9.50-15; dinner Tue-Sun

Action! Cinema Paradiso opened in 2002 in a former movie theatre, and glitterati have been appearing in the dining room ever since. Direct yourself to a booth or table near the open kitchen, and enjoy pastas, pizzas, lots of antipasti and stargazing. Go for cocktails and drink in the atmosphere.

DE BOLHOED Vegetarian €€

tel 626 18 03; Prinsengracht 60-62; lunch mains €3.50-11.75, dinner mains €9.50-14.50, 3-course menu €22; lunch & dinner

The ‘Charlie Brown’s pumpkin patch goes to India’ interior is a nice setting to tuck into enormous, organic Mexican-, Asian- and Italian-inspired dishes; in warm weather, there’s a verdant little canalside terrace. Leave room for the banana-cream pie. Veggies swear by it – reserve.


tel 625 20 41; Nieuwe Leliestraat 162-168; mains €9-13.75; dinner

Service can be spotty at the ‘Flying Saucer’, but if you’re prepared to take your time in the summer camp–chic dining room, you’ll enjoy some of the city’s favourite veggie gratins, lasagnes and Indian-inflected meals. There’s a decent wine list.


tel 626 77 08; Brouwersgracht 139; mains €3.50-13; breakfast & lunch

This window-lined corner place in the Jordaan serves a magnificent, fresh-made breakfast (€12.50), laden with Dutch cheese, pâté, smoked salmon, eggs, coffee and fresh juice. It’s also pleasant for afternoon cake and coffee (try the cheesecake or nut tart). We love the sassy service that describes itself as ‘straight-friendly’.

MOEDER’S POT EETHUISJE Traditional Dutch €

tel 623 76 43; Vinkenstraat 119; mains €3.80-11.50, 6-course set menus €13-15.50; dinner Mon-Sat

Moeder (mother) is in his 60s (yes, his…he’s big and gruff and probably a sweetheart inside), and he’s been serving up solid, inexpensive meals for decades. The tiny kitsch-laden shop serves home cookin’: beefsteaks, schnitzels and chicken with potatoes and vegetables (some canned) like your own moeder always wanted you to eat. The set menus are a steal.

DUENDE Spanish €

tel 420 66 92;; Lindengracht 62; tapas €3.50-9.50; dinner

Flamenco music (Saturday night), big shared tables and reasonably priced tapas guarantee Duende’s popularity. It’s great for a party with a big group of friends – or strangers. The front room is the more lively (and attractive) of the two. Note: order at the bar.

DE BLAFFENDE VIS Contemporary Dutch €

tel 625 17 21; Westerstraat 118; mains under €8.50; breakfast, lunch & dinner

Meals at the rowdy, corner ‘Barking Fish’ are better than they need to be for the price (contemporary Dutch – steak, fish, chicken – changing daily). Students and 30-somethings happily bop and swish beer while listening to music with a beat.


tel 420 27 74;; Binnen Oranjestraat 14; sandwiches €5.45-7.50, other mains €4-6; 10.30am-8pm Tue-Sat, noon-8pm Sun

This Australian-run company is known for quality. Small cases house gorgeous prepared vegetables and meat dishes, and you can get a variety of quiches and sandwiches including fresh tuna, tapenade and artichoke hearts.


Amsterdammers love raw fish. Herring season is announced with all the fanfare of the new Beaujolais elsewhere: look for ‘Hollandse Nieuw’ signs at the fish kiosks around town. The proper way to eat a herring is to dangle it above the mouth and bite bit by bit (don’t worry, it’s already been filleted for you).


tel 623 02 23; Noordermarkt 43; mains €2.50-6; breakfast, lunch & dinner

This sprawling, indoor-outdoor space is great for people-watching, popular for coffees and small meals, and out-of-thepark for its tall, cakey apple pie (€2.50). On market days (Mondays and Saturdays) there’s almost always a queue out the door.

Also recommended:

Bloemgracht (tel 620 20 88;; Bloemgracht 47; mains €21.50, set menus €35; dinner Wed-Sun) Quality cuisine in a lovely canal house. Try the grilled tuna with smoked potatoes.

Broodje Mokum (tel 623 19 66; Rozengracht 26; sandwiches from €2) Great sandwiches – point and they’ll tell you the price.

Noodle & Go (tel 773 09 13; Brouwersgracht 125; dishes €4-7; lunch & dinner) Noodles or fried rice, plus meat and a veg, and you’re on your way.


It may not have the ethnic dining diversity of other parts of town, but the Western Canal Belt makes up for it with some interesting and surprisingly fashionable options. Notably, the Negen Straatjes (Nine Alleys) are filled with cafés and small restaurants to match their lovely boutiques.


tel 625 08 07;; Leliegracht 46; mains €31-53, 4-course set menus €45-65; dinner Tue-Sat

Lobster dishes, duck-liver terrine and an unusual elegance keep Jean-Christophe Royer’s Michelin-starred restaurant busy every night. However, the excellent, caring

service puts it over the top in our book, making this an extraordinary restaurant by world, not just Amsterdam, standards.


tel 622 10 95;; Brouwersgracht 60; mains €18-21, set menu €32; dinner

In warm weather the canalside tables at the head of the Herengracht are an aphrodisiac, and the sumptuous Art Nouveau interior provides the perfect backdrop for excellent, French- and Italian-inspired dishes like silky roast beef.

LOF Fusion €€

tel 620 29 97; Haarlemmerstraat 62; mains €18-21, 3-course menu €35; dinner Tue-Sun

Chef Sander Louwerens combines Southeast Asian and Mediterranean flavours in complex and complementary ways. This is evidenced in dishes such as pike served with fennel and miso sauce. Schoolhousesurplus décor manages to feel cool.

STOUT Fusion Café €€

tel 616 36 64; Haarlemmerstraat 73; lunch mains €4.75-13, dinner mains €15-21; lunch & dinner

Slick, hip couples congregate at this airy, artful café to air-kiss, read design magazines, gossip and share imaginative fusion dishes (carrot and coriander soup with spicy tempeh, Thai chicken burger with kimchi) and fruit shakes. In warm weather, sit on an outdoor cushion and watch the world go by.

CASA PERÚ Peruvian €€

tel 620 37 49;; Leidsegracht 68; mains €12-20

When the weather’s good, there’s nothing quite like enjoying a crema de ajo (cream of garlic) soup or lomo saltado (beef with onion, tomato and French fries) while looking out over the Leidsegracht and the Prinsengracht. Indoors, it’s busy and homelike.


tel 423 38 17; Keizersgracht 312; 3-course menu €19.50; dinner

This former kitchen to some large canal houses offers a great deal. It’s in the basement (struisvogel means ‘ostrich’), and yes they do serve the bird, along with a nightly rotating menu – generous portions of more conventional French-inspired choices. It gets crowded; book ahead.

WERCK Contemporary Dutch €€

tel 627 40 79;; Prinsengracht 277; mains €14-18.50; lunch & dinner Mon-Sat

Finally, a café that is worthy of the highprofile location between the Anne Frank Huis and Westerkerk. You can choose from sandwiches and snacks (€3 to €8) or steaks and more involved mains; think chicken with smoked bacon or black tagliatelle with morel sauce. Most people come to see and be seen on the crushed white-stone terrace.

CILUBANG Indonesian €€

tel 626 97 55;; Runstraat 10; mains €7.25-18, rijsttafel €21-37; dinner Tue-Sun

In the Negen Straatjes, cute, cosy and slightly romantic, celadon-hued Cilubang soothes the stomach and soul with rijsttafel and attentive, personal service. It’s been at it for 2½ decades. The food is west-Javanese style, and with any luck you’ll hear gamelan music too.

DE 2 GRIEKEN Greek €€

tel 625 53 17; Prinsenstraat 20; mains €13-17; dinner

Craving stewed mountain goat or some juicy lamb chops? This relaxed, family-run bistro caters to your carnivorous desires with great grills and gets ‘opa!’s from locals. In nice weather, grab a seat on the flowerlined terrace out back. If you’re a fan of Greek wines, this is the place to go.

ENVY Mediterranean €€

tel 344 64 07;; Prinsengracht 381; Tapas €4.50-17; set menus €50; lunch & dinner Wed-Sun, dinner Mon-Tue

This hip, sleek restaurant encourages diners to take a five-course menu of seemingly endless, top-notch tasters. The designer globes are there to light up the media stars here most weekends.


tel 423 60 34;; Herengracht 309; mains €3-12.50; 8.30am-5.30pm Mon-Fri, 10am-5.30pm Sat, noon-5.30pm Sun

Not a buffet but a sit-down café, Odette and Yvette show how good simple cooking can taste when you start with great ingredients and a dash of creativity. Soups, sandwiches, pastas and quiches are mostly organic, and you might find smart little extras like pine nuts in your quiche. Sit by the window for one of the city’s prettiest canal views.


The Dutch craving for sweet things goes back to the Golden Age, when Brazilian sugar poured into Amsterdam’s 50-plus sugar refineries to satisfy the demand for confections and sticky delicacies. Calvinist ministers warned about the evils of lekkerheid, or the hankering for sweetness, and the nation experienced its first real epidemic of cavities.

The most famous Dutch sweet is the drop, sweet or salty liquorice sold in a bewildering variety of flavours and shapes. Familiar ones are honing (honey), munt (mint), laurier (laurel) and salmiak (salty). The striped ‘Engelse’ (English) drop is dipped in coconut fondant. You can get your drop fix at Het Oud-Hollandsche Snoepwinkeltje, and many supermarkets or drugstores have a self-serve ‘carousel’ of sweets.

Traditional pastries, cakes and biscuits are prepared for special occasions. December is a good time to sample the spicy speculaas cookies or pepernoten, the little crunchy ginger-nuts handed out at Sinterklaas. On New Year’s Eve the air is thick with the aroma of oliebollen, the deep-fried dough balls dished up with powdered sugar (the Dutch brought them to America, where someone added a hole and called them donuts). Muisjes (little mice) are sugar-coated aniseed sprinkles typically served on a round beschuit (biscuit) to celebrate the birth of a child – blue and white for a boy, pink and white for a girl.

The delicious Dutch appeltaart (apple pie) is eaten year-round, along with a raft of cream cakes such as the popular Tompouce, which has a pink sugary icing. Now as in the 17th century, traditional favourites like waffles and poffertjes (little pancakes) are covered with a sweet refinement like molasses.

The Dutch have a soft spot for chocolate as well. In 1828 a Dutch chocolate-maker named CJ van Houten invented the cocoa press, and he added an alkalising agent to cocoa powder so that it would mix more easily with water – a process known today as ‘dutching’. The result is a chocolate with a dark colour and mild taste, typical of leading Dutch brands such as Droste or Verkade.


tel 427 51 03;; Oude Leliestraat 8; mains €4.50-12; 11.30am-10pm Mon-Fri, to 6pm Sat & Sun

A hip, colourful little joint run by a fun, relaxed crew. All-day breakfasts (€9), sandwiches like chicken mango and salads make up the day menu; night-time sees patrons tucking into platefuls of pasta – try the ‘Kung Funghi’ (with three kinds of mushrooms, parsley, walnuts and cream).

HEIN Café €

tel 623 10 48; Berenstraat 20; mains €4-11; breakfast & lunch

Hein simply loves to cook, and it shows in her simple, stylish, sky-lit café – you have to walk through the kitchen to reach the dining room. Media types, doing business over brunch, comment that she has a great touch with simple dishes: croque monsieur or madame, smoked salmon and fresh fruit salads.


tel 625 61 22; Huidenstraat 9; dishes €3.50-10; lunch & dinner

This once-country place in the Negen Straatjes with rustic picnic tables has gone glam with a slick makeover, a bar and even occasional DJ nights. They’ve joined the tapas wave, but it’s still popular for creative sandwiches like grilled chicken with salad and pine nuts.

LUST Café €

tel 626 57 91; Runstraat 13; mains €3.50-8.50; breakfast & lunch

Parquet floors and walls, supermod ceiling lamps and Brazilian dance beats animate this glam café. It’s a fair bet you’ll spot models nibbling focaccia sandwiches, tostis, generous salads or the popular grilled chicken club with avocado.


tel 330 60 06; Berenstraat 19; dishes €4-10; breakfast & lunch Tue-Sun

This sunny café, with its bright interior filled with fresh flowers, has a tasty set breakfast – eggs, toast, fruit, juice and coffee (€7.50). During lunch a large variety of salads and sandwiches are served: try the BLT or gigantic chicken club sandwich.

PANCAKE BAKERY Contemporary Dutch €

tel 625 13 33;; Prinsengracht 191; mains €4.95-11.50; lunch & dinner

This basement restaurant in a restored warehouse features a dizzying 79 varieties of this Dutch speciality from sweet (chocolate) to savoury (the ‘Egyptian’, topped with lamb, sweet peppers and garlic sauce). There are also omelettes, soups, desserts and lots of tourists given its proximity to the Anne Frank Huis.


tel 624 40 71; Westermarkt 11; fries €1.70-2.40; 11am-6pm

This little stall near the Anne Frank Huis has been serving up crispy fries with delectable mayo since 1956. Legions of Amsterdammers swear by them. While you’re there, ask Wil to do his impression of ‘Terminator’ Schwarzenegger – it’s priceless.

Also recommended:

Koh-I-Noor (tel 623 31 33; Westermarkt 29; mains €12.50-19.50; dinner) Venerable Indian with curries and tandoori close to Anne Frank Huis.

Letting (tel 627 93 93;; Prinsenstraat 3; sandwiches €4.50-7; 8am-5.30pm) Bright, charming snack ’n’ sandwich bar, for pit-stopping between purchases.

’t Kuyltje (tel 620 10 45; Gasthuismolensteeg 9; sandwiches €2-3.50; breakfast & lunch) Tile-lined sandwich shop. Try the pastrami and raw meats.


All roads in Amsterdam seem to lead to Leidseplein, but we don’t really recommend eating there. While cheap and cheerful, establishments there tend not to be particularly distinctive. A short walk away, however, you’ll find some attractive options.

Much the same could also be said for Rembrandtplein. Instead of eating there, walk a few steps to Utrechtsestraat, the finest restaurant row in town.


tel 622 82 92; Weteringschans 175; set menus €39.50-55.00; 6.30pm-10.30pm, closed Sun & Mon

One of our favourite French restaurants in town, with lovely canal views from the raised deck. Owner Bas Verstift will come out to chat and advise on your wine, and the fine nuances of dishes are always surprising – such as tuna carpacaccio with avocado, chicken with bacon mousse or langoustines done three ways.


De Belhamel In summer, try for an outdoor table overlooking the canal: you’ll have the beautiful Brouwersgracht alongside you and the handsome Herengracht at your feet.

La Rive ( below ) As if two Michelin stars weren’t enough, this restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel sits right on the Amstel for riverfront views.

M Café Drink in the views from the top floor of the Metz & Co department store on the Keizersgracht.

Sea Palace This floating Chinese restaurant is pleasing on the eye, and pleasing on the IJ.

LA RIVE French €€€

tel 622 60 60;; Amstel Intercontinental Hotel, Professor Tulpplein 1; mains €34-55; breakfast daily, lunch Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat

Two Michelin stars and a formal dining room with graciously spaced tables and views over the Amstel make La Rive the perfect venue for an out-to-impress lunch or dinner. The menu changes frequently, but standbys include turbot and truffle in potato pasta, or, as you’d expect, a starter of caviar.


tel 623 38 62;; Reguliersdwarsstraat 80-82; mains €13-39, set menus from €35; dinner Tue-Sun

Although D’Antica’s three dining rooms get their share of celebrities, you’d be hard pressed to find a more welcoming restaurant in town. There’s a familiar selection of pastas and meats, but cognoscenti order spaghetti al parmigiano (not on the menu) – and everyone may watch as waiters turn steaming pasta inside a wheel of cheese.

SEGUGIO Italian €€€

tel 330 15 03;; Utrechtsestraat 96; pastas €15-17, mains €26-36; dinner Mon-Sat

This fashionably minimalist storefront with two levels of seating is the sort of place other chefs go for a good dinner. It’s known for risotto and high-quality ingredients combined with a sure hand. Book ahead – it’s almost always busy.

SLUIZER International €€

tel 622 63 76;; Utrechtsestraat 43-45; mains €14.50-24.50, 3-course menu €19.50; dinner

This old-line institution – with its romantic, enclosed garden terrace – historically comprises two restaurants: a Parisian-style ‘meat’ restaurant (No 43) and a fish restaurant (No 45), though both menus are available in both restaurants. Spare ribs are the speciality of the former and bouillabaisse the speciality of the latter.

RESTAURANT RED Seafood/French €€

tel 320 18 24;; Keizersgracht 594; mains €14.50-24.50, set menus €25; 6.00pm-midnight

For those paralysed by choice, the very sexy Red is for you. It’s all about steak or lobster here, and whatever way you’re wired, the stylish waitresses will match the right wine. No prizes for guessing the main colour scheme.

TUJUH MARET Indonesian €€

tel 427 98 65;; Utrechtsestraat 73; mains €13.50-23.50, rijsttafel €23.50; lunch Mon-Sat, dinner nightly

Dare we say it? Tujuh Maret, next door to Tempo Doeloe, is just as good but attitudefree and cheaper. Grab a wicker chair and tuck into spicy Sulawesi-style dishes like dried, fried beef or chicken in red-pepper sauce. Rijsttafel is laid out according to spice intensity; makanan kecil is a mini-rijsttafel for €15.

HERRIE International €€

tel 622 08 38; Utrechtsestraat 30a; dishes €18-23; set menus €39.50-49.00; 6-10pm Mon-Sat

The name translates as ‘uproar’ – after all, the chef appeared on a Dutch cooking programme ‘Uproar in the Kitchen’ – but make no mistake, this skilled team runs like clockwork. Refined creations such as marinated lobster with parmesan cream emerge from the open kitchen with choreographed timing, served in the chic grey-and-black interior. The only drawback is the limited ventilation, irritating if smokers are present.

SATURNINO Italian €€

tel 639 01 02; Reguliersdwarsstraat 5; mains €7.50-23; lunch & dinner

The menu at this Italian bistro is as long as the phone book in a village in Tuscany. Stunning gay couples pack the different levels of this Art Nouveau–tiled and styled space for pizzas, pasta and playful flirting, and it’s perfect for a low-key lunch with your fashion-industry friends.

TEMPO DOELOE Indonesian €€

tel 625 67 18; Utrechtsestraat 75; mains €19.50-21.50, rijsttafel & set menus €25-35; dinner Mon-Sat

One of the best Indonesian restaurants in the city (it charges accordingly), Tempo Doeloe’s setting and service are pleasant and decorous without being overdone. Dishes bring out subtle flavours amid the spice, and staff are happy to accommodate vegetarians. Plus, there’s an extraordinary wine list. Downside: it’s a bit supercilious – you have to ring a doorbell to enter.


tel 622 05 77; Utrechtsestraat 87; mains €14-19.75, set menus €25-36; dinner

This modern restaurant plates up some of the best Thai food in the city. Choose from a variety of curries spiced according to your palate. The Penang beef curry is a winner, as is the fish fried in lemongrass and Thai basil.

PASTA E BASTA Italian €€

tel 422 22 26;; Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 8; 3-course menu €34; dinner

There may be better Italian food in town, but Pasta e Basta is popular with large groups year in, year out thanks to its singing waitstaff, who perform opera, standards and more. Regulars swear by the antipasto buffet and grilled meats. Reserve well in advance.


tel 320 66 84; Kerkstraat 66; mains €9.50-19.50, set menus €23-28; dinner

Don’t dismiss this cute little place: it does seriously authentic Thai. Locals and restaurant critics swoon over squid with garlic pepper and tofu with Thai basil, and stare agog at the over-the-top, carved wooden bar at the back. Other restaurants could afford to take lessons from the self-effacing service.


tel 625 97 97;; Reguliersdwarsstraat 38-40; dishes €5.50-19.50; dinner

Even if the Californians and Texans (not to mention Mexicans) among us wouldn’t stamp this place as authentic, it’s hard not to love the gorgeous courtyard and fiesta interior. Fajitas, quesadillas and enchiladas are super sized, and margaritas taste good on any continent.

SZMULEWICZ International €€

tel 620 28 22;; Bakkersstraat 12; mains €10-19; dinner

Szmulewicz’s décor is at once slick and breezy (trompe l’oeil marble walls, sculpted lighting), a diversity reflected in its menu of reliable, ever-changing international cooking: pastas, tapas, Greek dishes, beef fillets and vegetarian specialities. In summer, buskers play outside on this quiet block off Rembrandtplein.

PASTINI Italian €€

tel 622 17 01;; Leidsegracht 29; mains €9.50-19; dinner

With a gezellig, rustic-renaissance interior and a can’t-beat-it location facing two canals, Pastini wins praise for its looks, pastas and prices. Another speciality is the antipasto starter (€10.25 for five choices), but save room for dessert.

PIET DE LEEUW Steakhouse €€

tel 623 71 81;; Noorderstraat 11; mains €11.50-18; lunch Mon-Fri, dinner nightly

The building dates from 1900, it’s been a steakhouse and hangout since the 1940s, and the dark and cosy atmosphere has barely changed since. If you don’t get your own table, you may meet folks from all over (including, admittedly, tourists) at a common table, over well-priced steaks with toppings like onions, mushrooms or bacon, served with salad and piping-hot frites.


tel 625 26 81;; Keizersgracht 451; lunch mains €3.50-18, dinner mains €10-18; lunch & dinner

Grab a fashion magazine, order tomato soup or tarte tatin, or choose from a rotating menu with influences from Italy to Thailand. The canalside terrace is fab in warm weather; indoors enjoy the high ceilings and gigantic portraits of staff members painted on the back wall. Friday nights it’s a low-key gay hangout – so low-key that you may not realise it.


tel 625 35 44; Keizersgracht 449; lunch mains €4.50-9.50, dinner mains €9.50-17.50; breakfast, lunch & dinner

The industrial-mod building by Gerrit Rietveld, two terraces, friendly service and a changing menu keep this place busy. There’s a popular carpaccio sandwich, mains including fish and duck, a neat line of soups and salads, and coffee from Illy.

LOS PILONES Mexican €€

tel 320 46 51;; Kerkstraat 63; starters €3.50-7.75, mains €12.50-13.75; 4-11.30pm Tue-Sun

Owners Hector and Pedro consistently set the standard among Amsterdam’s handful of Mexican restaurants. If you’re looking for wonderfully grilled bistek, crispy chicken rolls and fruity margaritas, you’re definitely in the right place. No tacos (‘we don’t do Tex-Mex’) but who cares? One of their 60 tequilas will help you get over it.

PATA NEGRA Spanish €

tel 422 62 50; Utrechtsestraat 142; tapas €3.50-15, most under €8.50; lunch & dinner

Tapas and only tapas. The alluringly tiled exterior is matched by a vibrant crowd inside, especially on weekends, downing sangria by the jug and all those small plates (the garlic-fried shrimps and grilled sardines are standouts). Margaritas are made with freshly squeezed lime juice, as they should be. Arrive before 6.30pm or reserve.

PYGMA-LION African €

tel 420 70 22; Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 5a; mains lunch €5.50-13, dinner 14-25; dinner Tue-Sun

This modern South African bistro plates up animals you normally have to go to a zoo to see, like ostrich, springbok and zebra. Squeamish stomachs will still find more domesticated options: vegetarian dishes, ‘tipsy’ tart and blackcurrant scones.

GOLDEN TEMPLE Vegetarian €

tel 626 85 60;; Utrechtsestraat 126; mains €6.85-14.25; dinner

Golden Temple’s quietly upscale setting means that you don’t have to feel like you’re back in school just because you’re eating vegetarian food. Its international menu of Indian thali, Middle Eastern and Mexican platters is good and inexpensive. Leave room for the totally wicked banana-cream pie.


The cheesy fast-food chain Febo (fay-bo) deserves the Amsterdam sex-and-drugs treatment: before first contact, however delightful, you might as well educate yourself.

With deep-fryers like sewage tanks and a steady clientele of bottom-feeders, Febo is secretly loved for its cheap, filling, heart-clogging treats (mostly €1 to €2). Then there’s the presentation – rows upon rows of tiny glass doors like a miniature Red Light District, lined with gorgeous bits that practically wink at you: kroketten of veal or beef, kipburger (chicken burger), Feboburger (thought to be real beef with BBQ sauce and lettuce) and enough variations to send Ronald McDonald screaming for cover. Insert a coin or two into a slot and open sesame, you’ve got the greasiest date of your life.

OK, it’s down and dirty, but as long as you’re in and out quickly, who’s gonna know?

WAGAMAMA Japanese €

tel 528 77 78; Max Euweplein 10; mains €8-13; lunch & dinner

The long rows of rectangular tables, laid out cafeteria-style, are often filled with hipsters fortifying themselves for bike trips or nights on the town. Staples include chicken ramen, Japanese curries and fried noodles or rice.

M CAFÉ Café €

tel 520 78 48; Keizersgracht 455; mains €4-12; 10am-5pm

Drink in that amazing panoramic view! The location, high above the Keizersgracht in the top-floor gallery of the ritzy Metz Department Store, gives new meaning to ‘high tea’ (€12), although other dishes are nothing you can’t find elsewhere (soup, salads or sandwiches).

BOJO Indonesian €

tel 622 74 34;; Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 51; mains €7.25-11.50; lunch Sat & Sun, dinner daily (open until 2am)

After a night on the town, there’s nothing like a little Indonesian. Bojo is a late-night institution. Clubbers come for sizzling satays, filling fried rice and steaming bowls of noodle soup. The quality may be uneven, but the food is certainly well priced.

ULIVETO Takeaway €

tel 423 00 99; Weteringschans 118; dishes €4.50-10.50; 11am-8pm Mon-Fri, noon-6pm Sat

In a capacious, spare atmosphere of understated luxury, this shop is lined with huge crocks of olive oil and splendid displays of Italian specialities. If you prefer to dine in, try the long white marble table when cooking demonstrations or classes are not being held there.

ZUSHI Japanese €

tel 330 68 82; Amstel 20; dishes €3-8.75; lunch & dinner

This conveyor-belt sushi shop features post-industrial chic décor (stainless steel, brick and blondwood), club tunes, lightning service, and new grilled dishes. Add up the colours of your plates to figure out the bill.

VAN DOBBEN Sandwich Shop €

tel 624 42 00; Korte Reguliersdwarsstraat 5; dishes €2-7.50; breakfast, lunch & dinner

This diner with the hospital-tile décor has been supplying Amsterdam’s best kroketten (€2) since 1945. Also much beloved for sandwiches, soups and omelettes, and a compulsory stop on a Rembrandtplein pub crawl.

VILLAGE BAGELS Sandwich Shop €

tel 427 22 13;; Vijzelstraat 139; bagel sandwiches €2.80-5.50; breakfast & lunch

The people who gave Amsterdam bagelchic are going like gangbusters. You may feel like a New Yorker as you dive into a bagel with salmon, chive cream cheese and capers, especially if you grab the newspaper. But you’ll remember where you are at the Stromarkt branch (tel 528 91 52; Stromarkt 2), which has a canalside terrace.

BAGELS & BEANS Sandwich Shop €

tel 330 55 08;; Keizersgracht 504; bagels €2.50-5.50; breakfast & lunch Mon-Fri, lunch Sat & Sun

Join the crowds for bagels with all the usual toppings, plus some new-fangled ones (smoked chicken with avocado and pesto). Top it all off with a slice of dense fig cake; it goes exceedingly well with coffee. There’s another branch in De Pijp (tel 672 16 10, Ferdinand Bolstraat 70).


tel 623 20 36; Leidseplein 20; broodjes from €2; lunch & dinner

This is Amsterdam’s longest-running sandwich bar, although you’d never know it by its appearance (Micky D’s has more charm). Still, it stays open for late-night munchies, the quality is solid and you can’t beat the two locations (second branch at Spui 28), right in the heart of the pub ’n’ club zone.

Also recommended:

Gala (tel 623 63 03; Reguliersdwarsstraat 38; tapas €6-12; dinner) Toothsome tapas, each more like a main meal, within Rose’s Cantina.

Loekie (tel 624 42 30; Prinsengracht 705; broodjes €2.25-5.50; lunch & dinner) Butcher shop with 150 types of fillings to stuff into a broodje for you.

Maoz Falafel (tel 420 74 35; Muntplein 1; sandwiches €2.80-4.30; lunch & dinner) Its flagship creation is crispy, hot and authentic, with endless salad and toppings

Wok to Walk (tel 624 29 41; Leidsestraat 96; dishes €4-9.50; 9am-midnight) For noodly refuelling. Shockingly healthy in this part of town.


The refined neighbourhood that hosts the Concertgebouw, major museums and swanky shops is home to some very chi-chi restaurants. Don’t be surprised if you bump into tenor Placido Domingo or violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter as you wait for seating. The eastern part of Van Baerlestraat is less formal, with traditional Dutch and tapas.

BARK Seafood €€

tel 675 02 10;; Van Baerlestraat 120; mains €13-24; lunch Mon-Fri, dinner nightly

A quick hop from the Concertgebouw, this genteel place does a big pre- and postperformance business. For starters, choose from a long shellfish menu or try the blinis of smoked oilfish. For mains, we like the grilled tuna steak with bacon and balsamic sauce.


tel 470 01 11; Hobbemastraat 18; mains €5-12; lunch & dinner

This arty glass cube of a restaurant, full of original works by Corneille and Appel, sure is touristy. But when you’re all museumed out and need a salad, a massive club sandwich or a slice of ‘Karel Appel taart’, you’ll hardly notice. The hi-tech toilets are almost worth the €0.50 admission.

SABOR DE MARIA Mediterranean Tapas €

tel 662 62 76;; Roelof Hartstraat 60; mains €6.50-8; lunch & dinner Mon-Sat

This catering shop sells tapas from €1.25 per 100g, such as meatballs, stuffed grape leaves and garlic chicken wings, and main dishes like rib eye with pepper sauce, vegetable lasagne and Spanish chicken. Take it away, or settle at one of the few tables.

SAMA SEBO Indonesian €

tel 662 81 46;; PC Hooftstraat 27; rijsttafel per person €27.50, lunch specials €15, dishes €2-6.50; lunch & dinner Mon-Sat

Sama Sebo looks more like a brown café than a trip to the South Seas, and that’s OK. The rijsttafel is 17 dishes (four to seven at lunch time), and you can get individual plates if that’s too much. It’s had the same formula since 1970, so who are we to question?

Also recommended:

La Falote tel 622 54 54; Roelof Hartstraat 26; mains €6.50-14; hdinner Mon-Sat) Home-style Dutch cooking. Wait till the owner brings out the accordion.

Renzo’s (tel 673 16 73;; Van Baerlestraat 67; dishes €1.95-2.95; 11am-9pm) Italian takeaway deli with a popular miniterrace.


For lazy grazing, the Vondelpark has several cafés whose terraces buzz on a warm summer’s day. The streets just north of the park, meanwhile, are a real find for lovers of world food. Look out for exotic dishes from Asia and Africa served in surrounds that are earthy, authentic and refreshingly low-key.


Round Blue Teahouse; tel 662 02 54;; Vondelpark 5; lunch €3.50-5, dinner mains €14-19; 9am-10pm

This functionalist teahouse from 1936 is a wonderful multilevel building that serves coffee, cake and alcohol; its terrace and balcony are great for a beer on a sunny day, even in winter when the heaters are on.


tel 612 64 85;; Jan Pieter Heijestraat 145; mains €13-16.50; dinner Tue-Sun

The name is Spanish, but the lanterns, dishware and mosaic-top tables are straight out of a Marrakech souk. Try the starter of olives and brik (spicy tuna spread), mains of couscous and tajine (Moroccan stew) or mixed grills of spicy sausage, lamb cutlets and chicken. It’s the only place in town to cook with smet, a specially aged butter.

LALIBELA Ethiopian €

tel 683 83 32; 1e Helmersstraat 249; mains €7.50-13; dinner

This shop just north of the Overtoom was the Netherlands’ first Ethiopian restaurant, and it’s still our favourite. Aksumite-hide paintings with Christian motifs hang on the walls. You can drink Ethiopian beer from a half-gourd, and taste your stews, egg and vegetable dishes using endjera, a spongy pancake, instead of utensils. Trippy African music rounds out the experience.

WAROENG ASJE Javanese/Surinamese €

tel 616 65 89; Jan Pieter Heijestraat 180; mains €5-12, rijsttafel €28; lunch Mon-Fri, dinner daily

This counter-service shop serves rijsttafel, but you can get some of the same food in human-sized portions with the nasi rames special (€9) – a heaped plate of roasted meats, on skewers or in spicy stews, with stir-fried or pickled vegetables, and a deepfried hard-boiled egg.

HAP HMM Traditional Dutch €

tel 618 18 84; 1e Helmersstraat 33; mains €5-7; 4.30-8pm Mon-Fri

Elsewhere €6 might buy you a bowl of soup, but at this wood-panelled neighbourhood place €6 might buy an entire dinner: simple Dutch cooking (meat + veggies + potatoes), served on stainless-steel dishes. Beer is cheap too.


The Kinderkookkafé (tel 625 32 57; Vondelpark 6; ring for hours & reservations) lets the kids take over the kitchen with careful supervision. The small fry prepare meals from pancakes and pizzas to Moroccan, write up the menus, and even clean up (well, just a little).

PASTA DI MAMMA Italian/Takeaway €

tel 664 83 14;; PC Hooftstraat 52; sandwiches €3.10-5, antipasti per 100g €2.85-4.90; 9am-7pm Mon-Sat, noon-7pm Sun

Casual, friendly Pasta di Mamma is supremely located for picking up a picnic to take to the Vondelpark. You can choose from dozens of antipasti, gorgeous salads and more substantial plates. The countrified cafeteria space is also pleasant for eating in.


Anything can happen on De Pijp’s cuisine scene – it’s funky, frilly and fashionable, often all at once. West of the Albert Cuypmarkt, the Albert Cuypstraat is lined with unique ethnic spots, while to the north, the streets around Marie Heinekenplein heave with a spirited crowd of local 20- to 40-somethings.

PUYCK International €€€

tel 676 76 77;; Ceintuurbaan 147; set menus from €36; dinner Mon-Sat

This place near Sarphatipark offers neither games nor pretension, just imaginative, sophisticated cooking appropriate for a nice night out. Think baby lobster with lettuce, duck breast in Chinese five-spice, or a white wine–poached pear, all served with flair. If it has the Thai curry sorbet, consider yourself lucky.

MAMOUCHE Moroccan €€

tel 673 63 61;; Quellijnstraat 104; mains €14.50-22; dinner Tue-Sun

Mamouche gets serious acclaim for modern Moroccan amid minimalism. Exposed flooring, mottled walls and slat-beam ceilings complement the changing selection of couscous, lamb and fish dishes. Check out the brass fixtures in the loo – if you can find it. Reservations are a must.

KLOKSPIJS French International €€

tel 364 25 60; Hemonystraat 38; mains €19.50, set menus €28.50; dinner Wed-Sun

Located in an old bell-maker’s workshop, this charming, intimate restaurant with a handful of tables makes for a fine end to a day of poking around De Pijp. The threecourse menu of, say, smoked duck breast salad, grilled sea bass and strawberryrhubarb cake is a class act, and the wine selection is small but superb.


tel 470 89 17; Albert Cuypstraat 41; mains €10.50-18; dinner

One of the best-kept secrets in De Pijp is this exceedingly friendly, quick-serving, always-tasty spot. The butter chicken masala (€12.50) is consistently smooth and tender but the fiery tandooris and biryanis won’t disappoint either. Start with a rich mango lassi and a chapatti amuse-bouche on the shady terrace.

ZEN Japanese €€

tel 627 06 07; Frans Halsstraat 38; mains €6.50-17.75; lunch & dinner Tue-Sat

Let’s be frank: many Japanese restaurants are lovely, elegant poseurs. Zen, however, offers cooking like okāsan (mum) used to make: domburi (bowls of rice with various ingredients on top), sushi and tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet) are just the start. Décor: minimalist Dutch-meets-Japanese. It’s also popular for takeaway.

ZAGROS Kurdish €€

tel 670 04 61;; Albert Cuypstraat 50; mains €10-15.75; dinner

Never tried Kurdish food? Neither had we, but we’re glad we did. Just as Kurdistan straddles Greece and Persia, so does the cuisine, with grills and stews (mostly lamb and chicken), salads of cucumber, tomato or onion, and starters like hummus and dumast (thick, dry yogurt).


tel 618 16 69; Ferdinand Bolstraat 17-19; mains €13.50-15; lunch & dinner

De Pijp, the restaurant, is a fitting emblem of De Pijp, the neighbourhood: bright, young, cheerful, colourful, reasonably priced and good-looking both outside and in. You might see skinny young things digging into enormous plates of fish paella or tempura-style shrimp.

TURKIYE Turkish €

Ferdinand Bolstraat 48; mains €6.75-15.50; breakfast, lunch & dinner

English may not work at this simple shop, but it doesn’t matter: the dishes inside the glass case are plenty eloquent. Locals value Turkiye for its grilled mains and small plates like stuffed tomatoes and Turkish pizza (€1 to €3.50). Eat-in or takeaway.

BAZAR AMSTERDAM Middle Eastern/Fusion €

tel 675 05 44;; Albert Cuypstraat 182; mains €8-14.50, 3-course menu €15; breakfast, lunch & dinner

Beneath a golden angel in the middle of the Albert Cuypmarkt, this one-time Dutch Reformed church has fab-u-lous tile murals and 10,001 Arabian lights to complement the cuisine: from Morocco through Turkey, Lebanon and Persia. Even the plates are gorgeous and exotic. Breakfast and lunch are served all day, or just come for a beer and baklava or coffee and apple pie.


tel 671 49 30; Albert Cuypstraat 58-60; mains €3.50-13.50, set dinner for 2 from €24; dinner Tue-Sun

The owner’s welcome is warm and friendly, and the flavours are from across Southeast Asia – loempias (spring rolls), Vietnamese noodle soups, Thai curries etc. Set menus also reflect the different traditions, and there are fab displays of takeaway foods in case you don’t feel like eating in.

ALBERT CUYP 67 Surinamese €

tel 671 13 96; Albert Cuypstraat 67; mains €3.20-8.40; lunch & dinner

If you’re looking for stylish surrounds, turn away now. If, however, you’re after quality examples of Surinamese food, take a seat. A colossal portion of roti kip (chicken curry, flaky roti bread, potatoes, cabbage and egg) is a fine replenishment after a couple of hours at Albert Cuypmarkt.


tel 670 93 39;; Albert Cuypstraat 48; burgers €4-7.50; noon-11pm

This sleek little bistro makes the finest burgers in town, bar none. It uses only organic beef (or lamb, falafel or tilapia), in mouth-stretching portions that would pass as a main dish without a bun. Then come the toppings: spicy fusion veggies, bean sprouts, piri-piri mayo and more. The name is a play on ‘mayor’ (burgemeester).


tel 670 13 76;; Albert Cuypstraat 51-53; 8am-6pm Tue-Sat

Say your sweetie hates ethnic food but you desperately want something exotic on the Albert Cuyp. This quietly fancy shop bakes the appropriate bribes like yummy Valrhona chocolate tart (€3.85 per slice) or lemon cake (€6.50 per small loaf ).


tel 776 46 00;; Ferdinand Bolstraat 10; cakes per slice around €4; 10am-6pm

One of Amsterdam’s best-loved cake shops operates from this uber-kitsch parlour at the entrance to De Pijp: apple pies (Dutch, French or ‘tipsy’), pecan pie, and tarts with ingredients like truffles and marzipan with strawberry liqueur. Savouries include the mozzarella-pesto quiche. Hot-pink walls accent cakes dressed like Barbie dolls – or are they Barbies dressed like cakes?

MÁS TAPAS Spanish €

tel 664 00 66; Saenredamstraat 37; tapas per plate from €3; dinner

While ‘tapas’ has become Amsterdamese for anything served on a small plate, this cool, whitewashed room serves the real thing and is full of funsters having a garlicky good time. It wins raves from old and new customers alike.

Also recommended:

De Soepwinkel (tel 673 22 93; 1e Sweelinckstraat 19f; soups €3.50-10) Sleek, airy soupery, serving home-made quiches, cakes and tarts.

Gelateria Italiano Peppino (tel 676 49 10; 1e Sweelinckstraat 16; scoops from €0.90; 11am-11pm) De Pijp’s blue-ribbon ice-cream maker, just off the Albert Cuyp market.

Nieuw Albina (tel 379 02 23; Albert Cuypstraat 49; mains €5-11.50; lunch & dinner Wed-Mon) More polished than Albert Cuyp 67, but with flavours just as bold.


The Plantage may be just steps from Nieuwmarkt, but what a difference those few steps make, taking you to an area that’s quiet yet close to some important sights. In the Eastern Islands, a lot of our favourite places are by (or in some cases, literally on) the water. Choose from the historic and homely to world-class slick. The Eastern Docklands is the end of the line, but many agree that the trek is worth it for its beautiful eateries and innovative cuisine.


PLANCIUS International €€

tel 330 94 69;; Plantage Kerklaan 61a; mains €16-19; lunch & dinner

Next to the Resistance Museum and opposite the Artis Zoo, this dramatically stylish space (bright red bar at the back) is where TV execs head to cut deals over big serves of upmarket comfort food. Lunch is typically sandwiches, salads and pastas. The menu changes quarterly, and there are friendly, good-looking waiters.

ABE VENETO Italian €

tel 639 23 64; Plantage Kerklaan 2; mains €4.50-12.50; lunch & dinner

Sometimes you just want a corner place with decent food at honest prices. The pizza menu tops out at €9.50 and has 45 choices – the gorgonzola pizza puts this stinky cheese to excellent use. Other options include pastas, salads and meat dishes. In summer, a terrace is set up by the canal.


A TAVOLA Italian €€

tel 625 49 94; Kadijksplein 9; mains €11.50-20; dinner

Overlooked by most tourists, this authentic Italian restaurant near the Shipping Museum serves a small but well-chosen menu of meats and pastas that cry out for a selection from its excellent wine list. Even if the service can be a little iffy, the quality of the cooking is consistent and strong. Reservations are a must.


tel 622 12 09; Kadijksplein 4; mains €11.50-16.50; dinner

This laid-back place began life as a charitable coffee house for dockers, and it still has a fashionably grungy vibe – wood floors, a giant red-rose mural and tall candles on the tables. The ever-changing menu has huge plates of comfort food with ingredients like mussels and merguez (a type of spicy sausage), or try the risotto. The Belgian chocolate terrine has fans all over town.



tel 419 11 33; Sumatrakade 613; mains €24, set menus €33-66; dinner Wed-Sat

It means ‘ beyond the end’, and on your trek out here to Java Eiland you may begin to question your judgement. Don’t. This place, with its supermod architectural interior (frosted glass walls, lots of right angles), wins high praise for high French in high style – the menu changes every month or so.

FIFTEEN International €€

tel 0900 343 83 36;; Jollemanhof 9; mains €18-22, 4-course set menu with wine €42; dinner

‘ Naked chef’ Jamie Oliver has brought to Amsterdam a concept he began in London: take 15 young people from underprivileged backgrounds and train them for a year in the restaurant biz. Results: noble intention, sometimes spotty execution. The setting, however, is beyond question: Fifteen faces the IJ, and the busy, open-kitchen space is city-cool, with graffitied walls and exposed wood beams.

ODESSA International €€

tel 419 30 10;; Veemkade 259; lunch mains €3.40-8, dinner mains €17-22; lunch & dinner

Odessa rocks. Literally. This groovy boat, with indoor and outdoor eating decks and a 1970s-themed ‘plush-porno’ décor, is just the sort of place where Hugh Hefner would hold a debauched pyjama party – as if to emphasise that fact, DJs take over late at night. The menu changes frequently, and although opinions on food and service run the gamut from ‘love it’ to ‘hate it’, there’s no denying it’s a scene.

GARE DE L’EST International €€

tel 463 06 20;; Cruquiusweg 9; 4-course set menu €27; dinner

Gare de l’Est has both the smallest menu in Amsterdam and also the largest. They say that because four chefs (from traditions including North African, Mediterranean and Asian) take turns nightly in the kitchen, and what their course menus lack in length they make up for in variety over the course of a year. Portuguese tiles and glowing Middle Eastern lamps adorn the interior, and courtyard seating exudes good vibes.

PANAMA International €€

tel 311 86 89;; Oostelijke Handelskade 4; mains €11-18; lunch & dinner

The Eastern Harbour’s first grown-up restaurant has an enormous, sleek dining room, Mondrian colour scheme and steel light fixtures; it’s a good place to fortify yourself before hitting the nightclub on the same premises. Gucci-garbed couples splurge on oysters (in season) and a weekly changing menu of pastas and grills. Wash it down with the – wait for it – Panamartini (vodka, crema ciocolata, espresso).


For a whiff of the former Dutch colonies, try the Ekeko restaurant in the Tropenmuseum or the simple Indonesian and Surinamese takeaways on nearby Linneausstraat and 2e Van Swindenstraat. Further south, the park that embraces the sumptuous Frankendael is home to one of the Amsterdam’s finest restaurants.

DE KAS International €€€

tel 462 45 62;; Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3, Frankendael Park; 5-course menu €42; lunch Mon-Fri, dinner Mon-Sat

Admired by gourmets city-wide, De Kas has an organic attitude to match its chic glass greenhouse setting – try to go during a thunderstorm! It grows most of its own herbs and produce right there (if it’s not busy you might be offered a tour), and the result is incredibly pure flavours with innovative combinations. Romantic and tony.


BLENDER French-Mediterranean €€

tel 486 98 60; Van der Palmkade 16; mains €18-22; dinner daily, lunch Sat & Sun

Way out west of the Jordaan, Blender’s cheeky, curvy, 1970s airport-lounge interior (think lots of orange swivel chairs) is just the place to sip cocktails, sample inventive French-Med food and socialise as DJs spin deep house and soul. People love it and hate it for the same reason (self-conscious hipness), but there’s no doubt it’s a scene.

BETTY’S Vegetarian €€

tel 644 58 96; Rijnstraat 75; mains €17-22; lunch Wed-Fri, dinner Wed-Sun

Some consider it the top vegetarian restaurant in the country. The menu’s small on any given day, but there’s always something new. It’s rounded out by tiny tables and a decent wine selection, and everyone says to save room for dessert.


tel 682 26 66;; Watertorenplein 6; mains €10-21; lunch & dinner

One of the city’s hippest eateries is housed in a former water-processing plant near the Westerpark. Expect classic French brasserie cooking (steak bearnaise, mussels, roasted garlic chicken). Note the 30m-high wooden ceilings (with hanging metal hooks and chains) and the huge floodlights rescued from the former Ajax and Olympic stadiums.\

RESTAURANT PS International €€

tel 421 52 18;; Planciusstraat 49; dinner mains €14-19, 3-course menu €30; dinner Tue-Sat

Run by an unlikely yet vastly experienced pair – an English chef and a Columbian maître d’ – this new restaurant in the Western Islands, north of the Jordaan, already has an army of devoted fans. Expect reasonable prices, an excellent wine menu and attentive service, plus an artsy interior with mosaics of Venetian glass. The set meals change weekly and feature seasonal ingredients.

PACIFIC PARC International €€

tel 488 77 78;; Polonceaukade 23; lunch mains €3.50-10, dinner mains 13.50-17, 3-course menu €25; lunch & dinner

Among the many venues in the newly refurbished Westergasfabriek, Pacific Parc is the most established and, arguably, the most interesting. Lunch time is typically sandwiches, pastas and salads, although dinner can get pretty adventurous with selections like ceviche and stuffed lamb shanks. Late at night expect to see DJs and guest performers.

GARY’S MUFFINS Map pp58-9 Bakery €

tel 412 30 25; Kinkerstraat 140; dishes €1.50-4.50; 8.30am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm Sat, 10am-6pm Sun

This long-standing bakery serves fresh bagels, chocolate brownies from Gary’s grandma’s recipe, and sweet and savoury muffins for anyone craving a healthy(ish) minimunch.

SAL MEIJER Kosher Deli

tel 673 13 13; Scheldestraat 45; dishes €2-5; 10am-7.30pm Sun-Thu, 10am-3pm Fri)

This kosher delicatessen has little to no atmosphere, but how can you argue with a refrigerator case lined with pretty scoops of salmon, potato and egg salads? Order the heaping corned-beef sandwich – get it warm, you’ll thank us. We love the kicky ginger cake for dessert.