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. Bord'Eau

    $$$$ | Rembrandtplein | French

    Inside the regal Hotel de l'Europe, this playfully modern French restaurant is elegant without being stuffy. Of course, the ingredients are...Read More

  • 2. Café Luxembourg

    $$ | Centrum | Café

    One of the city's top grand cafés, Luxembourg has a stately interior and a view of a bustling square, both of which are excellent for people...Read More

  • 3. De Foodhallen

    $ | International

    Modeled after Madrid's indoor San Miguel market, this always-packed food hall in a former tram-maintenance building is unfailingly popular with...Read More

  • 4. In de Waag

    $$$ | Nieuwmarkt | International

    The lofty wood-beam interior of the 17th-century Waag (weigh house), converted into a grand café and restaurant, is lighted by hundreds of candles...Read More

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  • 5. Johannes

    $$$ | Western Canal Ring | French

    Small-plates tasting menus are all the rage in Amsterdam, and this intimate 15-table eatery in a historic canal house with Dutch Puritan decor...Read More

  • 6. Librije's Zusje

    $$$$ | Eastern Canal Ring | Dutch

    You can expect great things from this elegantly understated sister restaurant to the three–Michelin star Librije in Zwolle, northeast of Amsterdam...Read More

  • 7. Blauw aan de Wal

    $$$$ | Red Light District | Mediterranean

    In the heart of the Red Light District is a small alley that leads to this charming oasis, complete with the innocent chirping of birds. Original...Read More

  • 8. Brasserie de Keyzer

    $$$ | Museum District | European

    In the shadow of the golden lyre that tops the Concertgebouw (Concert Building), this culinary institution has been serving musicians and...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Café Americain

    $$$ | Leidseplein | French

    Although thousands of buildings in Amsterdam are designated historic monuments, few have their interiors landmarked as well; this one does,...Read More

  • 11. Cafe Reijnders

    $ | Leidseplein | Dutch

    With one of the biggest terraces on the square, Reijnders is the perfect place to observe the crowd. When the weather turns, this brown café...Read More

  • 12. Café Van Puffelen

    $$ | Western Canal Ring | European

    The menu at this popular, well-established spot highlights typical café items, from pasta to fish to grilled steak, with a local and organic...Read More

  • 13. Café-Restaurant De Plantage

    $$ | Plantage | Mediterranean

    The stunning decor in this expansive space next to the Artis zoo is reason enough to visit, but the Mediterranean-influenced food is excellent...Read More

  • 14. CT coffee & coconuts

    $$ | De Pijp | Eclectic

    This lively spot with soaring ceilings and three levels of seating—a former 1920s cinema—attracts a young crowd for the eclectic but generally...Read More

  • 15. D' Vijff Vlieghen

    $$$ | Centrum | Dutch

    The "Five Flies" is a rambling dining institution that takes up five adjoining Golden Age houses filled with densely evocative decor—complete...Read More

  • 16. De Belhamel

    $$$ | Western Canal Ring | European

    On the edge of the Jordaan neighborhood, this classic Amsterdam restaurant is blessed with gorgeous Art Nouveau detailing and wallpaper, as...Read More

  • 17. De Kooning van Siam

    $$$ | Red Light District | Thai

    Smack in the middle of the Red Light District, this Thai establishment is favored by local Thai residents, which is an excellent indication...Read More

  • 18. De Roode Leeuw

    $$$ | Centrum | Dutch

    Timeless and classic, De Roode Leeuw is a light along a strip of otherwise uninspiring road; it's one of the few non–fast food restaurants around...Read More

  • 19. De Silveren Spiegel

    $$$ | Centrum | Dutch

    Despite appearances, this precariously crooked building near the solid Round Lutheran Church is here to stay: it's managed to remain standing...Read More

  • 20. Haesje Claes

    $$ | Centrum | Dutch

    Groaning with pewter tankards, stained glass, leaded-glass windows, rich historic paneling, Indonesian paisley fabriks, and tasseled Victorian...Read More

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