A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City’s Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine
A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Fries with That? Amsterdam's Iconic Street Foods
No visit to Amsterdam is complete without sampling some of the city's iconic street foods. And there's no street food more quintessentially Dutch than fries - or friet, as they're called locally. Crispy, golden brown, and served piping hot in paper cones, Amsterdam's fries stand up to any in the world.
The city's love affair with friet dates back centuries. As early as the late 1600s, fried potato slices were sold from pushcarts as a quick, delicious snack. These carts eventually evolved into permanent frietkots - freestanding stalls devoted entirely to fries. Today, frietkots remain a fixture in Amsterdam, dishing out fries topped with savory mayonnaise or curry ketchup.
One beloved friet institution is Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx, which has been frying up fries since 1887. Located just off the main square, it draws long lines of hungry tourists and locals. The secret to their perfectly crisped fries? Frying them twice in pure beef fat for an unbeatable crunch. Don't skimp on the toppings either - their signature "frites speciaal" comes loaded with mayo, curry ketchup, and diced onions. Delicious!
For a modern twist on classic fries, head to FEBO. At this fun, theatrical eatery, fries and other fried snacks are sold from automated machines built right into the walls. Just pop in some coins, open the small metal door under your selected item, and enjoy piping hot fries, croquettes, kaassoufflés, and more. With locations all over the city, FEBO offers nostalgic, on-the-go bites 24/7.
And you can't visit Amsterdam without trying the city's famous street sandwich, broodje haring. This open-faced sandwich features tender marinated herring topped with diced onion and gherkin pickles. Herring vendors all over the city will prepare it fresh for you to enjoy as you stroll the scenic canals. Stop by Stubbe's Haring for extra-generous fillets from a stall that's been serving since 1957. The perfect portable meal!
What else is in this post?
- A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Fries with That? Amsterdam's Iconic Street Foods
- A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Beyond the Stroopwafel: Traditional Sweets and Treats
- A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Going Dutch: Classic Cuisine in Cozy Brown Cafes
- A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Haute and Happening: Amsterdam's Celebrity Chef Restaurants
- A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Ethnic Eats: Diverse Cuisine Reflects Cosmopolitan Culture
- A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Markets and Food Halls: Shopping Amsterdam's Fresh Ingredients
- A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Bar Hopping for Bites: Trendy Snack Spots Fuel Nightlife
- A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Coffee Shops: More Than Marijuana on the Menu
A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Beyond the Stroopwafel: Traditional Sweets and Treats
The Netherlands is renowned worldwide for its deliciously sweet baked goods, with the caramel-filled stroopwafel leading the pack as the country’s most iconic treat. But beyond this familiar favorite lie many more tantalizing traditional sweets just waiting to be discovered.
Venturing into one of Amsterdam’s cozy brown cafes or patisserie shops reveals a treasure trove of classic Dutch confections. Prepare your tastebuds for the complex blend of flavors and textures found in traditional baked goods like speculaas, pepernoten, and banket.
Speculaas are crunchy, spiced cookies flavored with a heady blend of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and pepper. Their exact recipe varies by region and bakery, but the result is always a rich, aromatic cookie perfect for dunking in milk or coffee. The intricate relief patterns pressed into speculaas are also a point of pride for bakers.
Pepernoten, sometimes called peperkoek, are another Dutch holiday classic. They resemble miniature gingerbread cookies, with a crisp, crunchy texture rather than soft chewiness. The combination of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg gives pepernoten their warmly spiced flavor.
Banket is a sweet almond paste confection that has been popular in the Netherlands since the 1800s. It comes in long bars sliced into sticks or molded into letter shapes. Banket is especially popular around the winter holidays as a special treat.
The Dutch penchant for sweets extends to pastries as well. Creamy, custard-filled tompouces feature delicate layers of puff pastry sandwiching rich vanilla pastry cream. They’re topped with a dusting of powdered sugar or drizzled chocolate. Meanwhile, the jam-filled gevulde koek is a heartier affair, consisting of two plates of shortcrust pastry encasing a layer of spiced almond paste and preserves.
Indulging in these nostalgic sweets offers a delicious glimpse into Dutch culinary culture. As you bite into the crisp, brittle crust of a banket letter, you’re experiencing the same flavors and textures as generations of Dutch people before you. Savoring the warm spices in a pepernoot or speculaas immerses you in Dutch holiday traditions. And don’t forget to pair your treat with a good cup of coffee - the Dutch way of life!
A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Going Dutch: Classic Cuisine in Cozy Brown Cafes
No food tour of Amsterdam is complete without stopping by one of the city’s quintessential “brown cafes” to immerse yourself in relaxed Dutch dining culture. Brown cafes (so named for their dark wood paneling) offer a cozy, welcoming atmosphere perfect for lingering over classic local fare. Here you’ll find the true essence of Dutch cuisine, often family recipes passed down through generations.
For a stellar starter, try uitsmijter, an open-faced sandwich showcasing fried eggs served atop thick slices of bread. The eggs can be prepared sunnyside up, over easy, or scrambled, then topped with ham, cheese, and veggies. Hearty yet comforting, uitsmijter makes the perfect anytime meal. Or opt for a seasonal specialty like snert, a thick split pea soup, or zuurkoolstamppot, a winter dish of sauerkraut, potatoes, and rookworst sausage.
Of course, no Dutch meal is complete without bitterballen, crunchy deep-fried meatballs typically served with mustard for dipping. Other fried bar snacks like kroketten (croquettes) and frikandellen (sausage) pair perfectly with beer or geneva, a Dutch gin.
If you prefer sweets, go for poffertjes, mini fluffy pancakes drenched in powdered sugar and butter, or stroopwafels, crispy wafers sandwiched around oozing caramel syrup. Or order an appeltaart, a huge slice of spiced apple pie, and don’t be shy about adding a generous dollop of whipped cream!
At dinnertime, keep an eye out for regional specialties. Try Hollandse nieuwe, tender new season herring served raw, or ossenworst, a type of raw beef sausage. Meat and potatoes feature heavily here; popular dishes include hachee (tender braised beef) and hutspot (carrots, onions, and mashed potato).
The beauty of dining in a brown cafe lies not just in the food itself, but the charm and character of these historic locales. With their dark wood, antique bottles lining the walls, and stained glass windows, brown cafes exude old-world ambiance. Expect checkered tablecloths, candles glowing in bottles on each table, and walls decorated with historic photos or artwork. You may even see domino games and lively conversation flow between regulars bellied up to the bar. Friendly waitstaff gladly share recommendations and the story behind each dish.
A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Haute and Happening: Amsterdam's Celebrity Chef Restaurants
Amsterdam’s culinary scene has exploded in recent years, with celebrity chefs putting innovative new spins on Dutch cuisine. Foodies flock to taste cutting-edge creations at restaurants helmed by famous names like Ron Blaauw, Jacob Jan Boerma, and Richard van Oostenbrugge. While staying true to their Dutch roots, these chefs draw global inspiration to craft unforgettable fine dining experiences.
Ron Blaauw earned two Michelin stars for his restaurant Ron Gastrobar. His playful riffs on local fare include “ bitterballen” reinvented as a sous vide chicken ball with buttermilk sauce. Jacob Jan Boerma puts sustainability first at restaurant The White Room, meticulously sourcing every ingredient from Dutch fields and waters. Dishes like salt-baked celery root with truffle showcase hyper-local flavors.
The ultra-hip &samhoud places opens up fine dining with its laid-back vibe and interactive dining experiences like “Chef’s Studio.” Here the chef himself prepares each course right at your table while explaining his creative process. Mid-meal, guests are whisked down to the kitchen to watch staff at work plating dishes for the entire restaurant.
At Bougainville, chef Richard van Oostenbrugge blends French technique with global elements like yakitori sauce and Singaporean black pepper crab. The 10-course menu references Dutch East India trading history through spices and seasonings. Two Michelin stars confirm Bougainville’s status as a destination dining experience.
For the inside scoop, one expat described her dinner at Ron Gastrobar as “an unbelievable culinary journey.” Each dish offered inventive textures and flavor combinations she had never tried before. From silky oyster emulsion to foamy smoked potato and crunchy chicken skin crackers, the meal highlighted Blaauw’s knack for molecular gastronomy.
Other diners praise &samhoud places’ laid-back energy, which encourages guests to interact freely with chefs and servers. The hip warehouse setting also promotes a relaxed, convivial vibe. Servers seem genuinely invested in making sure patrons have a good time.
A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Ethnic Eats: Diverse Cuisine Reflects Cosmopolitan Culture
As an international crossroads for centuries, Amsterdam has absorbed culinary influences from around the globe. This diversity manifests in a thriving ethnic food scene mirroring the city's cosmopolitan culture. Amsterdammers have access to authentic global cuisines right in their own backyard.
For a taste of Indonesia, head to Tempo Doeloe. Theirclassic rijsttafel (rice table) comprises up to 40 small dishes like satay, gado gado salad, and sambal oelek chili paste, all served atop fragrant rice. Diners describe feeling transported to Java or Sumatra through the many complex flavors and spices. Don't miss their flaky roti canai flatbread served with curry for dipping.
At Nam Kee, the dim sum menu goes on for pages. Their har gow dumplings earn raves for their delicately pleated wrappers enclosing juicy shrimp. Other standouts include roast duck buns, turnip cakes, and custard tarts dusted with powdered sugar. Beyond dim sum, Nam Kee excels at Cantonese classics like Peking duck carved tableside and wok-fried lobster in ginger sauce. Make reservations or be prepared to wait.
For authentic Turkish food, locals swear by Istanbul Grill House. Their mixed grill platter piles on succulent chicken skewers, spicy Adana kebab, and smokey lamb ribs. Traditional sides like creamy haydari yogurt dip, bulgur pilaf, and wholesome lentil soup round out the meal. Baklava makes for a sweet finish. Adding Turkish tea or coffee completes the experience.
At midday, join the queues at Febo for Dutch working folks' favorite - broodje kroket. This classic sandwich features a crispy deep fried meat croquette stuffed into a soft bun. Served from automat machines, it's the perfect quick, hearty lunch on the go. Late night, snackers flock here for fries, kaassoufflés, and bitterballen.
Ethiopian restaurant Addis Ababa transports diners to East Africa through colorful murals, low seats, and traditional woven baskets containing spongy injera bread. This tangy fermented flatbread substitutes for utensils - use it to scoop up vibrantly spiced stews, vegetables, and meats from shared plates. An Ethiopian coffee ceremony after the meal offers respite from Amsterdam's drizzly weather.
A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Markets and Food Halls: Shopping Amsterdam's Fresh Ingredients
Amsterdam's markets and food halls offer a bounty of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients essential to Dutch cuisine. Exploring these lively public spaces provides an immersive glimpse into the foundations of the city’s food culture.
The Albert Cuypmarkt stands as one of Europe's largest outdoor bazaars, attracting over 100,000 visitors each day. Vibrantly colored stalls stretch endlessly through the street, hawking wheels of Gouda cheese, buckets of pickled herring, towers of chocolate letters, and mounds of stroopwafels hot off the griddle. Crates brim with tulips and produce from Dutch fields. The scent of fried fish hangs in the air as vendors deftly bread and fry massive fillets to order. Here you’ll rub elbows with locals stocking up on daily staples. Don't leave without sampling kibbeling, chunks of white fish fried to a golden crunch and served with tartar sauce.
Inaugurated in 1888, the Noordermarkt not only houses an organic farmers’ market on Saturdays, but also hosts the famed Noordermarkt Flea Market on Mondays year-round. Beyond the vintage wares, food lovers flock here to stock up on farm-fresh eggs, creamy cheeses, honey, and seasonal fruits and veggies. After shopping, relax at the rustic wooden picnic tables with a fresh mint tea, sampling from your market purchases.
The 19th century De Hallen now houses Amsterdam’s largest food hall, comprising over 20 eateries and food shops. At the on-site butcher, cheesemonger, baker, and produce market, locals handpick ingredients for that night’s meal. Or grab a bite from popular stalls like Bakers & Roasters, known for their Cape Malay curries, or The Butcher burgers and dry-aged steaks. On weekends, an adjoining hall hosts the 11,000 square foot Markthal with over 100 produce, meat, fish, and cheese vendors, plus global eateries.
Foodhallen in the hip west holds the title of Amsterdam’s first food hall. Modeled after an industrial train station, it features 21 stands peddling tacos, poké bowls, ramen, and more. Long communal tables encourage mingling among solo diners. Events like free movie nights, crafts markets, and poetry slams further the laid-back social vibe.
Through the voices of locals and tourists, we gain insight into these markets’ significance. An Amsterdammer described the Albert Cuypmarkt as embodying “the roots of the city.” A British expat relishes Foodhallen for offering global cuisine all under one roof alongside Amsterdam natives. For travelers, exploring De Hallen provides an intimate look at everyday Dutch life through conversations with farmers, cheesemakers, and fishmongers.
A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Bar Hopping for Bites: Trendy Snack Spots Fuel Nightlife
Amsterdam's nightlife thrives not just in its bars and clubs, but also in the trendy snack spots fueling revelers' nocturnal adventures. Late-night nibbles are integral to the city's party culture. From bitterballen to Belgian frites, grab some bar bites to keep your energy up for hitting the next hot spot.
Few foods say "night out in Amsterdam" like bitterballen. These crunchy deep-fried meatballs appear on bar menus across the city. Order a round for the table to share alongside local beers or genevas. The crisp breadcrumb coating gives way to a rich, soft veal or beef filling - the perfect drunken snack. Popular brewpub 't Arendsnest serves their bitterballen with creative dipping sauces like mustard-beer fondue for added flavor.
If you need some ballast after a night of imbibing, Amsterdam's frites stands deliver. Open late, these crispy fries doused in mayo or curry ketchup will sop up the booze and grease the wheels for more revelry. Look for the neon "Frites" sign outside Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx near Rembrandtplein square, a favorite drunk food pit stop.
Belgian frites institution Frituur No. 1 draws late night crowds for golden fries and snacks like frikandellen sausages. Their secret? Frying in ox fat for an unbeatably crisp exterior. Crowds spill out the door waiting for a cone of No. 1's perfectly salted fries - just what your taste buds crave after leaving the club.
For a sweet nightcap, chocolate shop Puccini Bomboni stays open until 1 am on weekends. Their artisanal bonbons and truffles offer a decadent final stop. The rich, creative flavors - from Tahitian vanilla to Absinthe to Mediterranean olive oil - satisfy your midnight chocolate fix. You can also sip Schrobbeler espresso liqueur infused with their chocolate for an indulgent treat.
If the munchies kick in post-bar, Amsterdammers flock to late-night kebab shops and pizzerias. Grab a seat at Pizza Mondo for wood-fired Italian pies, from classic Margheritas to more creative options like the Nordic with smoked salmon, crab stick, and dill. Their cozy patio with twinkle lights has you covered no matter how late your night lasts. No time for a sit-down meal? Snackwalla's kebab stands all over the city offer tasty shawarma rolls and durum wraps until 3am.
A Taste of Amsterdam: Exploring the City's Eclectic Food Scene From Street Eats to Haute Cuisine - Coffee Shops: More Than Marijuana on the Menu
Amsterdam's famed coffee shops certainly offer more than just marijuana on the menu. While cannabis products put these unique cafes on the map, their food and drink selections deserve equal attention. Because who doesn't love soaking up a buzz with delicious fare?
Coffee shops boast an array of munchies perfect for getting those late night cannabis cravings under control. Nachos, fries, and pizza tend to dominate menus, but some spots get more creative. At flaws, house-made ice creams like rosemary olive oil and masala chai cater to any case of the munchies. Or try their cloud cake, an ethereal vanilla coconut confection. At Katsu Coffee Shop, the Crispy Katsu Burger with panko-breaded chicken satisfies savory cannabis-fueled cravings. Vegetarians praise the Super Green Burger featuring a crispy chickpea fritter.
Beyond standard stoner fare, certain coffee shops excel at craft coffee, teas, smoothies and juices - appealing options for patrons not partaking in cannabis products. The downstairs coffee bar at The Old Church distinguishes itself with single origin pour over coffees and espresso drinks expertly pulled on a La Marzocco machine. Their golden turmeric latte strikes the perfect balance between earthy spice and lightly bitter espresso. And the Superfood Smoothie with spinach, avocado, coconut milk, and maca powder provides an energizing, restorative beverage.
At Cafe Nomads, you can geek out on coffee while enjoying their cannabis offerings. Choose from single origin espressos, Chemex pourovers, and specialty coffee drinks like horchata and dirty chai lattes. Their baristas take time to explain different preparation methods and bean profiles. Pair an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe pour over with a CBD-infused joint for a clear-headed, calm vibe.
Finally, coffee shops' casual, eclectic interiors encourage lingering over quality cups of coffee, tea, and food. With cozy couches, funky art, chill music, lush plants, and stained glass accents, these cafes feel like an extension of one's living room. Plush pillows, tapestry wall hangings, and dim mood lighting further enhance the laid back atmosphere. Cafe guests emphasize how spending hours tasting different strains while nursing a cup of expertly-brewed coffee made them feel like a cafe regular rather than just some stoned tourist. One expat described becoming so immersed in The Old Church's chill environment that she completely lost track of time. For her, the cafe felt more akin to an artist's living room than just a place to buy weed. She appreciated how the staff wanted to educate her on all the menu's offerings, not just push cannabis products.