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. &samhoud places Restaurant

    $$$$ | Oosterdok | Eclectic

    This bi-level waterfront restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Oosterdok serves some of the most creative (and dearly priced...Read More

  • 2. Incanto

    $$$ | Rembrandtplein | Italian

    Hidden amid a cluster of fast-food joints near the historic Art Deco Pathé Tuschinski theater, this cozy gem of a restaurant serves high-end...Read More

  • 3. An

    $ | Eastern Canal Ring | Japanese

    At this friendly and long-popular Japanese eatery, you can enjoy a relaxed evening meal accompanied with excellent plum wine ( umeshuu ). The...Read More

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Hemelse Modder

    $$ | Nieuwmarkt | European

    This bright and stylish restaurant is on one of the city's broadest canals and has a long-standing reputation for high quality at a great price...Read More

  • 10. Levant

    $$ | Leidseplein | Turkish

    Not far from the Rijksmuseum but refreshingly removed from the crowds, this simple Mediterranean restaurant specializes in mezes like hummus...Read More

  • 11. Vakzuid

    $$ | Museum District | Eclectic

    Slightly off-the-beaten-track, this sprawling bar-café-lounge-restaurant is in Section South of the still-new-looking 1928 Olympic Stadium,...Read More

  • 12. Van de Kaart

    $$ | Mediterranean

    This subcanal-level eatery with its peaceful dining room offers a savvy and stylish balancing of Mediterranean tastes. Though the menu is in...Read More

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