Amsterdam Restaurants

Not so long ago, Dutch cuisine consisted mostly of fried food—french fries, bitterballen, and frikandel (deep-fried sausages)—along with thick pea soup and hearty meat and potato dishes. These days, however, Amsterdam restaurants serve much higher-quality and more varied food than ever before.

Many forward-thinking Amsterdam restaurants have embraced a "New Dutch cuisine," using organic and locally sourced meat, fish, and seafood, and expertly cooked vegetables served with interesting sauces and side dishes. Some chefs are taking it a step further and growing produce and herbs on land or rooftops attached to their restaurants—garden to table cooking, if you will. Multicourse tasting menus or small plates that you can mix and match are popular at upscale eateries, making use of what's freshest at the moment, perhaps farm-fresh asparagus or North Sea mussels. The classic standbys are still widely available, too—it's hard to resist those delicious bitterballen—but they're often prepared in updated, modern interpretations.

Amsterdam has a wealth of international cuisines. The city has long been known for its Moroccan, Turkish, and Indonesian food, and there are excellent Vietnamese eateries, where you can finally get a decent bánh mì, as well as pretty much every type of cuisine you might be craving. Another thing that's big on the Amsterdam food scene these days is brunch. Traditionally, the Dutch opt for relatively simple breakfasts of buttered toast with chocolate sprinkles (called hagelslag), but places for more American-style brunch—eggs Benedict or oatmeal with fresh fruit—have popped up throughout the city, attracting the city's trend-followers. Although steak restaurants have existed for years (and continue to open on a regular basis), hamburgers are also trendy, with tiny spots elbowing their way in to become the most popular in town.

Pockets of interesting dining are emerging away from the city center, too, but Amsterdam is a small city, so don't be daunted by distance. Everything's still easy to reach by cab, tram, or bus—or make like a local and burn off some calories by renting a bike.

Despite all these changes, one thing's stayed relatively the same: the pace of service. Expect a wait to get menus, to order, and then to receive your food. You just have to go with it: it's the Dutch way!

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  • 1. Café Schiller

    $ | Rembrandtplein | French

    Next to the same-named hotel, this landmark has an authentic Art Deco interior, wood paneling, and a cozy atmosphere that makes it especially...Read More

  • 2. Choux

    $$$$ | Oosterdok | Contemporary

    A delight for vegetarians and omnivores alike, this organic, veggie-centered eatery (with meat and fish as accents, if you choose) on a nondescript...Read More

  • 3. La Perla

    $ | Jordaan | Pizza

    It's tough to find good pizza in this town, but the folks at this restaurant, tucked away on a side street, have it nailed. Their brick-oven...Read More

  • 4. Vlaams Friethuis Vleminckx

    $ | Centrum | Fast Food

    One of the best places to try the Lowlands' famous french fries is Vlaams (Flemish) Friethuis Vleminckx, where the fries are freshly made and...Read More

  • 5. 1e Klas

    $$ | Centrum | Café

    This restaurant is a stylish place to wait for your train. The original Art Nouveau brasserie interior, no longer restricted to first-class...Read More

  • 6. Abyssinia

    $ | Ethiopian

    A bit off the beaten track but conveniently close to Vondelpark, Abyssinia specializes in Ethiopian and Eritrean meals eaten with the spongy...Read More

  • 7. Bagels and Beans

    $ | Museum District | Café

    This low-key, bustling breakfast and lunch spot is a dependable option, serving the best bagels in Amsterdam. (They might not be up to New York...Read More

  • 8. Balraj

    $$ | Jordaan | Indian

    This is the oldest Indian restaurant in Amsterdam (it opened in 1977), and it's a longtime favorite of curry connoisseurs. Although the decor...Read More

  • 9. Balti House

    $$ | De Pijp | Indian

    If you find yourself craving curry, the dishes at this purveyor of Indian cuisine do have a subtle variance in flavors. Standout choices include...Read More

  • 10. Bickers aan der Werf

    $$ | Eclectic

    It's worth finding your way to this eclectic restaurant on Bickers Island, where the funky design is vaguely nautically themed. A tall communal...Read More

  • 11. Bird

    $$ | Red Light District | Thai

    The large menu of Thai standards—including some very good vegetarian options—doesn't hold many surprises but everything's fresh and tasty; diners...Read More

  • 12. Brasserie NeL

    $$ | Eastern Canal Ring | Eclectic

    In part of an ancient wooden church, NeL has a large and lovely terrace—perfect for Amsterdam's eagerly anticipated sunny days, especially at...Read More

  • 13. Burgerlijk

    $ | Western Canal Ring | Burger

    Both the menu and the seating are rather limited, but burger aficionados line up in droves for the large, juicy beef patties at this tiny eatery...Read More

  • 14. Burgermeester

    $ | Jordaan | Fast Food

    The chefs here are, indeed, "burger masters," and the tasty range of options includes beef, tuna, chicken, and lamb, as well as vegetarian-friendly...Read More

  • 15. Cafe 't Gasthuys

    $ | Red Light District | Dutch

    Bustling and student-filled, this cozy restaurant near the university serves large portions of traditional Dutch home cooking—choice cuts of...Read More

  • 16. Café de Reiger

    $$ | Jordaan | Dutch

    This atmospheric old neighborhood brown café ("brown" because of its nicotine-stained walls) has a long history of being packed with boisterous...Read More

  • 17. Cobra Café

    $ | Museum District | Café

    If you need a rejuvenating break from art viewing, head to this café across from the Rijksmuseum for coffee and cake, or for lunch on one of...Read More

  • 18. De Bolhoed

    $$ | Jordaan | Vegetarian

    This mellow organic vegetarian restaurant, with local artists' works hung on the bright orange-and-green walls, serves tasty homemade soups...Read More

  • 19. Eik & Linde

    $ | Plantage | Dutch

    The history of this traditional "brown café" can be traced back to 1832, and the old-fashioned bar has not lost its prewar charm to prefab fittings...Read More

  • 20. FEBO

    $ | Leidseplein | Dutch

    Amsterdam isn't generally a city where food comes quickly, but FEBO is an exception: this Dutch chain of restaurants functions like an old-school...Read More

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