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 res
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 varie
Not so long ago, Dutch cuisine consisted mostly of fried food—french fries, bitterballen, and frikandel (deep-fried saus

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 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

  • 2. Mamouche

    $$ | De Pijp | Moroccan

    Romantic and posh, this charming candlelit North African restaurant with exceptionally friendly service has been a hit with locals and tourists...Read More

  • 3. Pllek

    $$ | Eclectic

    Befitting its location in the former shipyards of the newly hip NDSM area, this quirky restaurant is housed in a series of cavernous shipping...Read More

  • 4. Restaurant As

    $$ | Oud-Zuid | Mediterranean

    A Chez Panisse–trained chef whips up frequently changing menus with local ingredients and a Mediterranean flair at this lively restaurant in...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. Amsterdam

    $$ | International

    This airy spot west of the Jordaan is an industrial monument: for a century, it housed a plant that pumped water from coastal dunes. Now, under...Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Café Bern

    $$ | Nieuwmarkt | Swiss

    This dark, woody, and well-worn café—as evocative as a 17th-century Jan Steen interior—has been serving the same simple cheese fondue for decades...Read More

  • 13. 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

  • 14. Café Loetje

    $$ | Museum District | Steakhouse

    Amsterdam locals closely guard their pick for the best (and least expensive) steak house in the city—but that doesn't prevent hordes of diners...Read More

  • 15. 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

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 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. Griekse Taverna

    $$ | De Pijp | Greek

    This comfortable taverna scores points for its excellent, affordable, and fresh-herbed meze, brought to table en masse for you to choose from...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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