For visitors wanting to experience Amsterdam as a budget traveller’s paradise, there are plenty of places to grab a bite without going far out of pocket.
Filling up on good, affordable food without resorting to burgers from Amsterdam’s ubiquitous FEBO windows – as satisfying as their offerings are – isn’t difficult. For a satisfying meal likely to set you back less than €15, check out Culture Trip’s recommendations below, as well as free things to do throughout the city.
Market, European, Street Food, Asian, Vietnamese, American, South American, $$$
Spend what your budget allows as you eat your way around the world at this popular indoor food court in an Oud-West tram depot-turned-cultural hotspot. Amsterdam’s culinary diversity is displayed in everything from crispy soft-shell crab buns at Le Big Fish to rice-paper rolls at Viet View, burgers with sweet potato fries at The Butcher, and potent drinks at the Gin & Tonic Bar. The warehouse-like hangout buzzes with activity at any time of day or night and is perfect for thawing out in inclement weather. After your meal, catch a movie at FilmHallen or check out De Hallen’s shops.
What began as a food truck selling homemade Lebanese fare has morphed into two small, family-run eateries serving some of Amsterdam’s best Middle-Eastern wraps, soups and desserts. Named after the round grill, called a saj, used to bake flatbreads (called manoushes) that envelop tasty fillings, the first was an instant hit in the boutique-lined Nine Streets area. A second on trendy Utrechtsestraat serves alcohol. While they aren’t places to linger, both are great for a quick lunch, dinner or take-away snack. Wraps are priced under €10; most sides and desserts run less than €5.
Run by students (get 25% off with student ID), this eco-friendly café off Amsterdam’s Red Light District serves no-frills, mostly organic snacks, meals and drinks. Portions are generous on both the lunch and dinner menus, featuring burgers, soups, salads and mains served in a dining room that doubles as an art gallery for young talent. The student staff cook, serve and entertain, learning the restaurant business as they go. Live music, pub quiz challenges, and open mic and game nights are regularly scheduled. While the performances may bowl you over, the bill won’t, especially if you’re a student entitled to that deep discount – a rarity in Amsterdam.
If you’re craving Asian flavours, this hole-in-the-wall in Amsterdam’s Chinatown has been serving some of the best west of Bangkok, albeit adjusted for Western palates, for more than two decades. Working over sizzling woks in an open kitchen, chefs turn out exotic curries, meat and vegetarian dishes redolent with Thai basil, and such regional specialties as yam kai jang, a Laos-style grilled chicken. Most mains go for under €15. All are best eaten at the window counter, where you can watch the action on lively Zeedijk. Can’t find a seat? Try the Bird Thais restaurant across the street, where a more extensive menu is served at slightly higher prices, in a more upscale ambience.
In Portuguese, frango means chicken, and this two-level De Pijp bistro outfitted with colourful Portuguese tiles, brick walls and rustic wooden tables takes it to a new level. The extra ‘g’ lets customers know Franggo’s flame-grilled delicacy is available to go – excellent fare for a picnic in nearby Sarphatipark. The chickens are butterflied, flattened and flame-grilled over hot coals to yield crispy skin and succulent meat. Order a half or a whole bird, add fries, salad, rice or a baked potato, and corn on the cob, and you’ll eat well for around €10.
Waves immigrant of Indonesian and Suriname origin introduced spicy curries and peanut satés to the Dutch culinary scene in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of the most affordable in Amsterdam is served at the Warung Spang Makandra restaurants in De Pijp, Oost and Nieuw-West, open for lunch and dinner daily. Showcased on Anthony Bourdain‘s The Layover, they’re sources for Surinamese sandwiches, steaming saoto soup, and spicy beef rendang served over rice or noodles. Portions are generous, and there are ample vegetarian options.
While Belgian fries are sold throughout Amsterdam, this legendary hole-in-the-wall has served some of the best since 1957, topped with any of 25+ artery-busting sauces ranging from classic mayo to knock-your-socks-off samurai and oorlog (war), a novel blend of mayo, saté sauce and onions. While tucked on a back alley near Spui, it’s easy to find if you look for the inevitable line. Enjoy the same famous fries with rotisserie chicken, beer and cocktails at The Chicken Bar, the sister restaurant down the street that opened in 2018.
Under a ceiling of red umbrellas, feast on Asian flavors in dishes with Thai, Malay, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Chinese and Korean influences at the latest brainchild of Chef Julius Jaspers of TV’s Top Chef fame. Typical dim sum specialties like steamed dumplings, spring rolls and bao buns are perfect for sharing at lunch or dinner. After the success of the original location in Amsterdam’s Oud-West, a second location opened in De Pijp with a 14-seat private dining room and a photo booth to capture the fun.
For a true Dutch experience, reserve one of just six tables at this tiny hideaway near the Red Light District, where owners Arno and Ali have been serving traditional Dutch pancakes – fluffy spheres topped with sweet or savory toppings, more like French crêpes than their American cousins – in a typical 16th-century house since 1962. The cosy restaurant is adorned with 100+ dangling teapots, portraits of the Dutch Royal Family, and paintings of Amsterdam in earlier eras. Dishes hover around €10, but the real cost of your meal starts with ascending a precipitously steep staircase, an exercise in nostalgia that leads to a place where you can fill up for a reasonable price.