Rome’s got the sun but Amsterdam’s got the restaurants, a tourist advert once boasted. It’s true – Amsterdam has more than 1,000 restaurants and nearly twice that number of cafes and bars.
And Amsterdam restaurant cuisine is not all cheese and carrots. While traditional favourites like stamppot and kroketten are never out of favour, Amsterdam offers an astonishing choice of cuisine, with virtually every nationality catered for.
There are stylish, top quality restaurants alongside traditional Amsterdam cafes, pancake houses, ethnic eateries and good value snack bars . . . the variety is enormous.
What to eat
This is the least of your problems. The city is packed with restaurants of every kind. Dutch cuisine has enjoyed a major resurgence and there are plenty of Amsterdam restaurants with local dishes on the menu.
A local speciality is the pancake-restaurant pannenkoekhuiz with endless varieties of pizza-sized pancakes and omelettes. Seafood is also extremely popular.
As a major trading port, Amsterdam has imported culinary flavours from across the world – Indonesian, French and Surinamese to Turkish, Spanish and Ethiopian to name a few.
Where to eat
Leidseplein, just off Dam Square, is hugely popular with tourists and prices reflect this. Restaurants, bars, outdoor cafes and coffee shops have a lively atmosphere and it’s a great place for people watching. Try not to notice the Burger King and English-style pubs.
The nearby Korte Leidsedwarsstraat and Lange Leidsedwarsstraat are where to avoid the main tourist strip.
De Pijp is popular with students, young professionals and foreigners. The mix makes for a colourful neighbourhood packed with small ethnic restaurants and bars.
On and around Albert Cuyp are dishes from all over the world: Kurdish, Turkish, Cambodian, Assyrian and more.
The Nine Streets of the Jordaan area have a wide variety of upmarket restaurants, bars and cafes. The area retains its artistic roots and is full of small, cosy venues.
Chinatown has more restaurants than you can shake a chopstick at. The Indonesian rice table, or rijsttafel, invented by Dutch colonists, consists of rice and as many as 20 hot and cold side dishes.
Regularaarsdwarstraat, just off the Rembrandtsplein, is the place for finer dining. Top notch international restaurants are sprinkled among the more exclusive gay bars.
Spuistraat, parallel to Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, also has a good selection of upmarket restaurants.
Book Amsterdam Restaurants online
Getting a table
The Dutch tend to eat early and many restaurants close before 11pm. Reservations are recommended and even smaller restaurants get crowded. Restaurants with outside terraces are always in demand on summer evenings.
Smoking is allowed in restaurants and non-smoking rooms are rare but many have an outdoor terrace. Amsterdam waiters are invariably friendly and most speak superb English.
All Amsterdam restaurant bills include 19% tax and a 15% service charge, but it’s customary to leave a tip of 5-10%.
Prices have risen sharply since the introduction of the euro but there are still many restaurants offering good value meals. If you are on a budget choose dagschotel (dish of the day). Imported wines are expensive in Amsterdam and even a modest French vin de table can add substantially to the bill.