At Amsterdam’s restaurants and cafés, you can eat everything from creative Dutch cuisine to Indonesian rijsttafel, as well as every global cuisine imaginable.
Little over a decade ago, Amsterdam’s food scene was rarely mentioned. The city’s best restaurants were French and Italian, most world cuisines were under-represented, and the Dutch restaurants were not much to write home about. Nowadays, Amsterdam is punching well above its weight on the gastronomic stage.
For a city of less than a million inhabitants, restaurants here are demonstrating real creativity – whether by reinventing Dutch cuisine, putting the Netherlands’ Indonesian and Surinamese colonial roots in the spotlight, or showcasing top chefs from countries across the globe. Today, you can find everything from Japanese ramen to Peruvian ceviche – and of a quality you’d expect from a city five times the size.
While there are several Michelin-star restaurants in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam does casual fine dining particularly well: high-quality ingredients, well prepared, at a decent price point and without pretension. If the service is good and you’re eating a full meal, it’s customary to tip up to 10 percent. But for lunch or drinks with snacks, most locals just round up to the nearest euro or two. Here, Culture Trip covers a selection of Amsterdam’s best restaurants spanning fine dining, Indonesian rijsttafel and casual bites.
The brainchild of culinary trio Guillaume de Beer, Johanneke van Iwaarden and Freek van Noortwijk, Breda opened in 2015 on the picturesque Singel canal and was an immediate hit. In a light and airy yet intimate restaurant, you can expect a fixed menu starting at three courses at lunchtime for €32.50 (£28), up to “de hele mikmak” (the whole shebang) at dinnertime for €86.50 (£75). Dietary requirements are of course catered for, and wine pairings are available, too – many of which are organic and unfiltered wines. Dishes are eclectic in their flavours, but with frequent nods to their southern Dutch roots (Breda is named after a city in the southern province of Noord-Brabant by the same name). The service is also impeccable.
Worst, confusingly, means sausage in Dutch. And at this small wine bar where seating is squeezed into every nook and cranny, sausages are the order of the day – served every which way. Think venison sausage, lobster sausage, blood sausage and even chocolate sausage for dessert. Worst also does excellent platters of French cheeses and charcuterie, as well as a few other non-sausage dishes. Plus, their wine cellar is spectacular – order a different (half) glass with every dish and you won’t be disappointed. On weekends, Worst switches its usual menu for a brunch menu: still fantastic but (perhaps surprisingly), you’ll find far fewer sausages!
Restaurant Daalder serves some of the best modern European food in Amsterdam | Courtesy of Restaurant Daalder
Formerly a traditional Dutch brown café, Daalder completely reinvented itself in 2013 to serve some of the best modern European food in the city. Since then, this Westerstraat restaurant attracted critically acclaimed chef Dennis Huwaë in 2016, and the kitchen has gone from strength to strength. Daalder doesn’t offer an à la carte menu – only a three- or four-course menu at lunchtime for €37.50-€45 (£33-39) and a five- or seven-course menu in the evening for €69-€89 (£60-77). Chef Huwaë uses local ingredients and international influences to create dishes that surprise and delight at every turn. And because of the relaxed nature of the venue, there’s none of the pressure or pretension that often accompanies fine dining elsewhere.
This list wouldn’t be complete without a true Dutch restaurant, and Floreyn is just that, but with modern decor and lighter dishes. Foodies are calling this style the New Dutch Cuisine, and it’s a trend that’s injecting a much-needed breath of fresh air into the Netherlands’ traditional cuisine. Take Floreyn’s mustard soup, for example – a Dutch staple, but in this case deconstructed into something much lighter and brighter in flavour, with contrasting textures as well. Needless to say, the menu is seasonally led, with local ingredients front and centre; you’ll pay €38 (£33) for three courses, €52.50 (£46) for five and €67 (£58) for seven. Located in De Pijp, Floreyn is also close to many of the city’s main attractions and museums.
The Netherlands is well known for its Indonesian cuisine, a result of its colonial history, and you can’t leave Amsterdam without trying a rijsttafel: a selection of small dishes to share, ranging from mild to spicy, served with rice. Most rijsttafels include some kind of satay skewers (chicken, goat or both), gado-gado (mixed vegetables in coconut sauce), beef rendang (a slow-cooked, lightly spiced beef stew) and much more besides. One of the best ways to experience Indonesian food is to cycle down the river to Ouderkerk aan de Amstel and stop at Ron Gastrobar Indonesia for lunch or dinner (knowing that you’ll work off the calories on the bike ride home). For those looking for something closer, chef Ron Blaauw has opened a second location – Ron Gastrobar Indonesia Downtown – in the centre of town. A typical rijsttafel will cost you around €30-40 (£26-35) per person and is well worth it.
Restaurant De Kas is housed in a greenhouse from which it sources the majority of its produce | Courtesy of De Kas
While almost all restaurants nowadays are trying to be more sustainable by sourcing their ingredients locally and only when in season, De Kas was arguably the first. Housed in an enormous greenhouse in the Frankendael Park, De Kas (which actually means ‘greenhouse’ in Dutch) sources the majority of its produce from its own grounds – whether under glass or in the gardens. For other products, the kitchen looks to nearby farms. Unsurprisingly, the menu is veg-led, with meat and fish playing only a supporting role. Dishes are small and light (but you get plenty of them), and diners are encouraged to take a walk around the venue to see where their food is coming from. Because of De Kas’s size, it’s also a great location to cater for a large group. Lunch costs between €35 (£30) and €45 (£39) depending on whether you choose three or four dishes, while dinner comes to €57 (£49) for five dishes and €65 (£56) for six dishes.
For similar reasons, the Surinamese culinary influence is also strong in Amsterdam. Yet, most Surinamese restaurants tend to be smaller, sometimes only takeaways, rarely serving alcohol and a lot cheaper in price. One of the best is Warung Spang Makandra, which now has one location in De Pijp, one in Oost, and another in Osdorp. Try the roti: a typical Surinamese flatbread that you use to mop up a hearty meat curry with potatoes, green beans and hard-boiled eggs for €7-10 (£36-9). The saoto soep is also not to be missed: a comforting soup, often with chicken, that’s more fragrant-spicy than hot-spicy. A bargain at only €4 (£3) for a small serving and €6 (£5) for a large.
A foodie favourite, The Lobby Fizeaustraat makes this list because of its all-day concept and large outdoor terrace. In the morning, pop in for a coffee and eggs benedict for breakfast, or come a little later for classics like steak tartare and Caesar salad made the way they should be. The terrace and the bar both make a beautiful backdrop for an early-evening cocktail, while the restaurant is so large inside that you might even get away without making a dinner reservation (The Lobby Fizeaustraat’s location helps with that, too – on the tip of Watergraafsmeer, you’re away from the tourist crowds.) In the evening, the six-course Chef’s Menu is on offer until 9pm for €68.50 (£59), but unlike many of Amsterdam’s other top restaurants, there are plenty of à la carte dishes as well – meaning that if you just want to pop in for a main course and a glass of wine, it’s no problem.