Not so long ago, The Hague had something of a dour reputation as a centre of government, a pedestrian sort of place with a handful of expense-account restaurants that lacked a certain verve and vigour. Things have changed – and so very much for the better.
There is still a scattering of smart – sometimes very smart – restaurants in The Hague, but these now play second fiddle to more inspiring establishments, where a new breed of Dutch and foreign chefs have developed creative menus that often feature local, organic ingredients. All of this is very much to the delight of writer and foodie Suzanne Morton-Taylor, who talks to Culture Trip about her favourite restaurants in The Hague. And, as she points out, visitors shouldn’t forget the Scheveningen district, the fishing port on the coast just four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the city centre, where you can sample the freshest of seafood among the old docks.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Morton-Taylor’s favourite Italian restaurant in The Hague is a modestly decorated neighbourhood joint, offering superbly prepared and authentic Italian food. Choose a full meal consisting of an antipasto, pasta and a main course, though the antipasto and pasta alone are more than enough for most. There are only a few tables at Bacco Perbacco, so early booking is essential. Also, prices are reasonable with main courses hovering around €20 (£17), and incidentally, it doesn’t serve pizza. The restaurant lies north of the city centre on the way to Scheveningen, well away from the main tourist strip but readily reached by tram.
In the city centre, close to several of The Hague’s main attractions, narrow Denneweg is flanked by several of the coolest restaurants in town, and Dekxels is right up there, with its long and deep premises offering a boho-meets-industrial vibe. The menu is adventurous, and although it includes European cuisine, the most distinctive are its Asian fusion dishes. For example, try the beef tataki with shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice), garlic, chives, nori (seaweed) and ponzu (a citrus-based Japanese sauce). More regular dishes include truffle risotto and peking-style duck; mains are in the region of €14 (£12). Come early or make a booking to be sure of a seat.
Morton-Taylor – along with just about every other foodie in The Hague – reckons that this is “the best seafood restaurant in town”. Simonis aan de Haven is a large and airy place, whose garish decor – think fishing nets, plastic crabs and other nautical knick-knacks – adds to the lively atmosphere. The seafood is served canteen-style, so you order at the counter and wait until they call your number. However, it’s reliably delicious. Portions are generous and prices inexpensive – the sea bass is around €20 (£17), for example – and the fish soup is delicious. Simonis lies among the clutter of Scheveningen harbour, a tram ride from the city centre.
If you thought Scheveningen harbour was all about seafood, think again as this new Peruvian restaurant has made something of a name for itself with rave reviews in the local press. The decor is industrial – exposed beams and so forth – and the menu is startlingly original. One good choice is the pachacamac ceviche, comprising mushrooms, avocado, yellow pepper, green herbs, sweet potato and crispy quinoa. It is all very professionally done – the chef used to work in Michelin-star restaurants – and there is also a liver-wilting range of cocktails. The Caballero de Los Mares (red vermouth, grapefruit, Campari and Angostura bitters) will certainly zing your palate.
Another restaurant on the lively Denneweg is Walter Benedict, an attractive bistro-style restaurant with an elegant facade and bare-brick walls inside. The menu is a canny combination of French and Dutch dishes plus the odd surprise – it serves a mean Flammkuchen (tarte flambée). Customers can opt for a full dinner or light bites and take advantage of an excellent wine cellar. A house speciality is the oysters – three for €8.25 (£7), six for €16.50 (£14) and an extravagant 12 for €33 (£28).
A traditional brown café combines with a bijou restaurant at this delightful little spot on Molenstraat – a narrow and inordinately quaint pedestrianised street in the centre of town. Le Café is an engagingly informal restaurant with vintage photos hanging on the walls, boho-brown furnishings and fittings, and a short and simple French-style menu that includes the likes of snails and oysters. One especially tasty main course is the beef bavette with shallots in a red wine jus for €25 (£21.50). After dinner, select from a good range of bottled beers, and hang around drinking until the wee hours.
The Hague has a substantial Italian community, and for many years, they pretty much ruled the (non-Dutch) gastronomic roost. The restaurant scene is much more diverse today, but the city is still home to several outstanding Italian restaurants, with Giuliano’s one of the best. It is an intimate, two-floor establishment with rustic bygones hanging on the walls and a mostly traditional Italian menu. The house speciality is a beef stew with potatoes and peas, but of course, there is much more, including six different spaghetti dishes from a very affordable €12 (£10.25). Giuliano’s is handily located in the town centre.
If the informal, canteen-style vibe of Simonis aan de Haven doesn’t quite ring your bells, then head round Scheveningen harbour to get to its cousin restaurant, Catch by Simonis. The seafood here is equally fresh and delicious, but the premises are much smarter. Catch occupies an attractive, glassy modern building overlooking the marina and comes complete with an outside terrace with comfortable sofas. Highlights of an ambitious menu include king crab, several different sorts of caviar, and a plaice fillet stuffed with mushrooms and served with potatoes and truffle gravy for an affordable €27 (£23). Also, try the catch of the day.
Rivalling Denneweg, if a little farther out of the city centre, Prins Hendrikstraat is another focus of The Hague’s vibrant and vital social scene, holding a string of cafés, restaurants and independent shops. Here, behind a fancy facade with fish and an octopus painted on the window, is where you’ll find Hendriks – a slick and modern place with some neat decorative touches, including a multiperforated wall. The menu offers a great range of seafood, both fish and shellfish, including a classic fish and chips. However, one of its specialities is mussels served several different ways, with the white wine and garlic version being a favourite.
This article is an updated version of a story originally created by Lucy Freeland.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.