Whether you’re looking for the perfect cup of coffee to start your day, or a lazy weekend brunch treat, Amsterdam’s restaurants have breakfast and brunch options to suit everyone.
Until very recently, breakfast in the Netherlands consisted primarily of bread topped with hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles), cheese, jam or peanut butter. In fact, this is what you’ll still find many families eating most days of the week. But thanks largely to an influx in Antipodean immigrants over the past decade, the weekend brunch culture has slowly but surely been making inroads. This is especially true in Amsterdam, where you’ll now find plenty of restaurants serving breakfast and brunch.
In many cases, brunch menus feature the same list of standard fare: eggs benedict (but there’s rarely an English muffin in sight), scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, BLT sandwiches and so on. Since Dutch pancakes are also popular, these are now increasingly appearing on breakfast and brunch menus, with their American counterparts making an appearance as well. But a few eateries are upping the brunch game in terms of creativity: serving international-fusion variations on brunch dishes like chicken and waffles or shakshuka. In short, whether you’re looking for coffee and a croissant or corn fritters and a Bloody Mary, Amsterdam offers something for everyone.
Arguably the first Antipodean brunch spot in Amsterdam, serving its signature blend of internationally inspired brunch fare, Little Collins is still one of the best. Owner Georgina and her team started in a small, cosy venue in De Pijp, and expanded to a second, larger venue in Amsterdam-West in January 2019. The menus are a little different at the two locations, but you can expect things like their “kimchi pocket”, a pastry pocket oozing with cheese and kimchi, topped with chilli-ginger-glazed bacon; or their “guasacaca” – an avocado-based salsa served with halloumi, black beans and coriander. Local Tip: Both locations are generally packed at brunch-time, but try stopping by in the evenings – many of the dishes are similar in style, and you’ve got a much higher chance of scoring a table.
Serving some of the best coffee in Amsterdam, Drovers Dog has similarly Aussie origins and already boasts three locations to its name. The largest (and therefore easiest in which to find a table) is Drovers Dog Wibautstraat, where the menu serves everything from generous avocado toast and eggs benedict to fabulous brunch burgers. The interior has a rustic-industrial vibe, and the service is generally excellent. If you’re in need of hair-of-the-dog therapy, their signature Bloody Mary is also one of the best in town – because you can’t go wrong with bacon-infused vodka.
A relative newcomer to Amsterdam’s brunch scene, Box Sociaal is one of the few excellent places to eat in the otherwise underserved Plantage neighbourhood (near Artis Zoo). At brunch, you can expect classic like eggs benedict as well as more creative dishes like sesame and spring onion-stuffed waffles with crispy fried egg and glazed mushrooms. Whatever you choose, the team’s sense of humour is everywhere in evidence: the staff love a bit of banter, and their menu is hilarious – Mortgage on Toast, anyone? (Because everyone knows that avocado toasts are the only thing standing between Millennials and home-ownership!)
A list of breakfast and brunch spots wouldn’t be complete without some pancakes – albeit more of the fluffy American variety than the flat Dutch variety (more usually eaten for lunch). Madam Pancake is nestled among the sex shops of the Red Light District, but don’t let that put you off: the food is fresh and flavoursome, and the service very friendly. For under €20, you can get a huge stack of pancakes with various toppings, as well as good coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice with a ginger shot on the side. Perfect preparation for a day of sightseeing.
Dignita’s two locations (one at the southern end of Vondelpark, the other by the Hermitage Museum) are known for their child-friendly atmosphere: space for the kids to play means adults can eat brunch in peace. But even if you’re child-free, Dignita is well worth a visit. Their dish of chickpea and courgette fritters with halloumi, poached egg, dukkah and minted yoghurt is so popular that many customers go to Dignita for that alone. But even if you’re only there for freshly baked bread and croissants, Dignita delivers.
Reminiscent of an English tearoom, Greenwoods has two locations – the one on Keizersgracht is the best for brunch. Overlooking the canal of the same name, there’s even a little canal-side terrace that’s a great spot to sit outside in summer. Don’t miss their homemade soda bread, which transports you straight to your long-lost Irish grandmother’s kitchen. Greenwoods serves eggs any way you can imagine, as well as full English breakfasts and American pancakes for those Anglo-Saxons looking for a taste of home.
Tucked down an alleyway off the buzzing Kalverstraat shopping street, Gartine is a civilised haven of calm. Ingredients fresh from their allotment are prepared with care and presented on finely patterned china. Even a simple croissant is served with jam made using fruit from their own orchard. There are also more substantial dishes, like the beloved Dutch wentelteefjes (much like French toast) served with caramel syrup and blueberries. The teas are exquisite, too. If you’re too late for breakfast, try Gartine’s High Tea in the afternoon – a real treat.
For a more traditional continental breakfast, look no further than bakery and pâtisserie Gebroeders Niemeijer. Although their fantastic French breads, viennoiserie, tarts and chocolates are all available to take away, their central location has its own seating area for breakfast guests as well. Until noon, you can order a selection of breads and pastries with butter and jam – with or without excellent cheese and charcuterie as well – plus fresh coffee and orange juice. Prices are reasonable, depending on which combination you choose.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Tom Coggins.
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