Amsterdam has been recognised as the top travelling destination over the last few years, especially among the younger travellers, and for a good reason. The picturesque canals, the bicycles, the youthful, throbbing lifestyle, all these create a rather attractive scenery to the millions of tourists that visit the city every year. At the same time, the multicultural identity of the city, and the whole country to some extent, has led to the characterization of Amsterdam as one of the best gastronomic destinations, at least within Europe
Eat like a Dutch
Although Dutch cuisine admittedly is not one offering an abundance of choices, that does not mean that it is not worth a shot. Haesje Claes Restaurant, for example, presents a variety of fish-based options, fish being one of the major elements of Dutch gastronomy, while in Petit-Restaurant De Rozenboom you may taste traditional croquettes, soups, and mainly Stamppot, which consists of mashed potatoes and other vegetables served with smoked sausage.
My favourite dish, though, or rather snack or dessert, should be Stroopwaffels. As you could tell by the name, they are round crunchy waffles with a layer of rich syrup in between. They can be found in Albert Cuyp market, open daily from 9 to 17 except Sundays, and it is situated in De Pijp district.
In case you prefer a more luxurious –but also more expensive- version of them, there is no better place to visit than van Wonderen, in the Jordaan district, known for its impressive Stroopwaffels, covered with chocolate, various nuts, even marshmallows!
Before any objections are made, let me tell you that the best place to taste a foreign cuisine is for sure at its place of origin. However, thousands of migrants from all over the world reside nowadays in Amsterdam, thus bringing with them their culinary traditions and culture, and making their presence quite felt on the gastronomic scenery of the city.
Starting off from something a bit closer to my Mediterranean taste, right in the centre of the city you may find “La zoccola del pacioccone” –even approved by native Italians- where you will have the chance to taste authentic Italian pizza. Be prepared to wait for a while in line, since it is a rather little restaurant; however, the fresh traditional ingredients, coming straight from Italy, are more than enough to satisfy the most patient customers.
When it comes to meat-lovers, Amsterdam is the place where most American dishes, from appetizing burgers to juicy steaks, have found their rightful home. From The Bulldog Palace in the central Leidseplein, which has now become a landmark of the city, to The Happy Bull and Dubbel, where you may also have a beer in the evening, you will have an abundance of meat-dishes at your disposal. In case you are interested in something different than usual, the Argentinean Salmuera, in the alternative Jordaan district, should be your first choice.
Whenever you miss Mediterranean cuisine, but you are also in the mood for a more out-of-the-ordinary option, the ultimate choice should be Raïnaraï, an Algerian restaurant in Jordaan district, right by the canal. Its colourful outside decoration with fruits and vegetables creates a warm and familiar environment, while among its delicious dishes Chicken Tagine, stewed with apricots and vegetables, and Zineb, that is pumpkin filled with goat cheese, spinach and fig, certainly stand out.
Check also “Groningen: experience Holland in a different way“
Adventure through Asia
For the more adventurous ones, Amsterdam is the ideal destination for you to taste some of the most popular cuisines of Asia. Starting off from India, Akbar Indian Restaurant, though it might not look like a lot at first, will carry you away and on to a magical culinary journey, presenting authentic spicy dishes and a traditional environment. Among my favourite dishes are Chicken Kashmiri, a mild dish with an intense coconut flavour, and Lamb Tikka Karahi, for the braver ones, as it is a lot spicier, while the menu also offers a variety of vegetarian options. In case you opt for a more modern version, your destination should be Ashoka Restaurant, where unique Indian tastes are combined with a simple and contemporary setting.
Moving on to our next gastronomic stop, Indonesian Sama Sebo, situated close to the Museum Square, provides the travellers with two basic options, Nasi Goreng (fried rice) or Bami Goreng (fried noodles). You may try them in their simple form, meaning a portion of rice or noodles accompanied by chicken satay, eggs, vegetables and fried banana (delicious, trust me on that!), or in their extended version, that is the basic dish accompanied by a variety of little plates with an abundance of ingredients, from red meat to tofu.
Our little tour ends in Nepal, with a visit to Bhatti Pasal, really close to Bloemenmarkt, right in the heart of the city centre. This restaurant promises a unique and authentic gastronomic experience since it combines its highly experienced chefs-owners with the special Nepalese tradition.
And the good old brunch…
Apart from its fanatic enthusiasts, brunch is the perfect solution for most travellers, keeping you full from the morning till the evening stop for dinner. In Amsterdam, this type of meal flourishes, with only some of my favourite examples including TEDS –don’t forget to try the eggs benedict and the banana pancakes-, Kessens, with its simple yet elegant setting, also reflected on its dishes, and of course The Avocado Show. Staying true to its name, this restaurant is famous for its exceptional menu with the main ingredient being –yes, you guessed correctly- the avocado, a fact that attracts tourists from all over the world, waiting in line just to get a taste.
-Dutch follow almost devoutly the meal times, with their main meal being dinner, around 6 to 7 in the evening. Certainly, most kitchens take into consideration the habits of the tourists, therefore staying open until 9 or 10. However, you should keep in mind that in most places you will probably not be served after 11.
-In most restaurants, especially those of foreign cuisine, a reservation is required, which can be made either online or in person, and even just a few hours ahead.
-During your walking around, it is probable that you will not end up close to the abovementioned places, however, as being hungry is not exactly helpful at this point, you should bear in mind that the best and safest choices would be in Jordaan and De Pijp districts.
All these highlight one of the main reasons why Amsterdam is such a beloved destination for so many travellers (myself included!). The endless choices of European and international-ethnic cuisine create a heaven on earth for foodies everywhere and bring the whole world on your plate!