UPDATED FOR 2018!
As you’ll know from my Amsterdam city guide, as well as chilling the hell out, wandering the canals and just floating around where the wind took me, I also got stuck into some absolutely perfect food. Much like any other large European city, there is such a huge range of places to eat and drink that it can be difficult to know where to turn.
Added to this, it’s very easy to make a food mistake.
Much like how I feel when I see tourists head to Garfunkel’s in Leicester Square, I can see that there would be some terrible tourist traps in the centre of Amsterdam, that there is no need for you to fall in to. So, grab my foodies guide (and Sophie’s too!), your google maps and your tastebuds and enjoy some of the best food we found in the Dutch capital.
Breakfast and Brunch
Every day should begin with brunch, am I right? It’s my absolute favourite meal of the day, and Amsterdam does good brunch. Here are my top three recommendations for incredible mid-morning food – head to these places for all your brunch dreams to come true:
The Avocado Show
I spotted The Avocado Show in an article in the Easy Jet magazine on my way home from Naples, and as soon as I landed I hurriedly text Beverley and Sophie to get it added to our agenda.The Avocado Show is Europe’s first avocado restaurant which only opened this year, and is located in my favourite neighbourhood of De Pijp.
The food was, predictably, amazing. We got stuck into nachos, the prettiest avo on toast I’ve ever seen and an amazing avocado and quinoa salad with a giant burrata perched on top. The flat whites were good and plentiful, the atmosphere was buzzy and whilst a bit of a gimmick, it was all delicious.
You will find huge queues and no booking system, so arrive early to avoid disappointment. You can put your name down and go off for a coffee too.Don't read this is you are hungry - it's a foodies guide to Amsterdam!Click To Tweet
Bakers + Roasters
Bakers + Roasters is a little Kiwi/Brazilian cafe with a huge brunch and breakfast menu including eggs, avocado, pancakes and a scrumptious vegetarian breakfast that is not to be missed. I ate that and it came served with BREAKFAST POTATOES. That should basically always be a thing.
They do an excellent range of coffees and juices too, and the service was extremely friendly. As it is quite small, you may have to wait – but they take your phone number and give you a text when they are ready. You can grab a takeaway flat white and hang by the canal whilst you wait.
Coffee + Coconuts
Coffee + Coconuts is probably the most instagrammable cafe I’ve ever been to, and I have worked in Shoreditch. They should probably open there to be honest as they would go down a storm, and I’d get to visit every week. This was a really spacious cafe over three floors, with light natural wood, a huge open frontage and lots of foliage.
The menu had all the usual brunch menu items with the addition of gorgeous cold brewed coffee and a refreshing watermelon juice. I went for a classic smoked salmon and egg on sour dough toast, whilst Sophie tried their breakfast burrito – have it on good authority that the burrito is delicious.
It’s important to engage in cultural eating on a trip, but it is no hardship when pancakes are the order of the day. Of course there are plenty of places to get your stack, but Pancakes! Amsterdam has the most inventive menu of both traditional Dutch and American stacked you’ll find in the city.
There are four different locations, but we headed for the one just by Central Station after we had dropped our bags off for our last day. We had to wait around 10 minutes for a table, but the turnaround time is quick – although we didn’t feel rushed at all.
So the pancakes then. We opted for stacked with banana, maple syrup, strawberries and whipped cream (the bananas were baked into the pancake batter, which left the pancakes moist and tasty), and a traditional Dutch pancake with ham, camembert, chicory and a raspberry sauce. I know. The most extra pancake topping you might hope to find but it might just have been the best thing I ate all weekend.
Even with all these crazy toppings, each pancake was just 13 euros each. What a steal!
Amsterdam is full of concept stores with cafes built in, and Pluk is probably the nicest of the lot. Completely instagrammable with gorgeous homewares to buy and a cake selection that left me salivating, we headed up to the mezzanine floor to peruse the menu for our first brunch in the city.
I immediately went in for their Eggs Norwegian, an inventive Benny on a brioche muffin which did not skimp on the smoked salmon portion. Beverley opted for their Matcha Pancakes that came heard with fresh fruit and syrup and after sneaking a taste I can confidently say that the matcha green tea flavour was really lovely.
There are actually two Pluk stores and we opted for the slightly bigger one on Reestraat (in fact, this particular street was a brunchers paradise with Jansz and Ree7 on the same stretch). Brunch crawl anyone?
Lunch and Dinner
Our brunch strategy was also often a sneaky money-saving strategy, as we were so full we didn’t need to eat anything else until dinner, but all of the following places could be switched in for lunchtime if you got peckish. There are so many options in Amsterdam at every price range so it’s well worth doing some research first, but here’s where we ended up (spoiler: these were extremely tasty options).
Another European city, another food hall. It’s a tough job, but somebody has got to try all the food markets and rank them in order. Luckily Food Hallen was one of the best. It’s an incredible covered market based near Amsterdam Oud-West with food stands, bars and communal seating.
As you may have noticed from my other city guides, this sort of place is becoming pretty common in European cities, and Food Hallen was up there in terms of quality and vibe. They had an amazing gin bar, and on the Friday night the DJ was smashing out 90s RnB classics like it was no big deal. A must visit.
I grabbed a fancy hot-dog and some taqueiros, and washed it down with a couple of incredible artisan gin + tonics – but you could have had Thai, Mexican, dim-sum, burgers, cured meat, fish or pizza, and the main bar was fully stocked with wine, spirits and craft beer.
Little Thai Prince
I actually always struggled to find decent Thai food, and so when Beverley suggested Thai for our Saturday night dinner I was all the way enthused. Beverley’s excellent suggestion took me about as close to the Red Light District as I was going to be at Little Thai Prince, and it was nice to be in amongst one of the busier areas of town.
We feasted on some excellent Thai food which was exactly what the doctor ordered – I had a rather predictable Pad Thai (sorry, I’m so basic!) and Sophie had a chicken and rice dish that was so yummy, I had food envy for the whole meal. We also grabbed some spring rolls and fish cakes for starters which were absolutely needed – especially after all the beer and cocktails we’d spent two days consuming.
The restaurant was small, but authentic. You may have to queue, but it’s worth it.
Ever since my trip to Naples in 2017, I’ve become a real freak for traditional Neapolitan Pizza. Whilst I long to return to Napoli for the really good stuff, it is possible to find really authentic tasty pizza in other places in Europe.
Sotto is one of them, and boy do they take their pizza making endeavours seriously. They have been apprenticed to the guards of the Neapolitan pizza: The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) and they have also gained experience in affiliated pizzerias in Naples. The pizza is fresh, with only the dough made in advance to allow time to rise, and cooked to perfection in a specially made wood fired oven.
That’s nice and all, but how did it taste? Well, it tasted very very good. I’d say that it has firmly made it into my top three pizzas of all time (with de Michelle in Naples taking top spot and Rudy’s in Manchester taking the second). The base was cooked to perfection, and the sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes was just the right side of sweet to complement the buffalo mozzarella.
We opted for the Margherita Extra (which came with fresh pomodoro tomatoes) and the Prosciutto Cotto with the best slithers of Italian ham. The pizzas were absolutely huge, and actually we probably could have shared one – if you want to grab starters or sides I’d definitely recommend sharing a pizza because even with my appetite I struggled.
What was most surprising was the price. Our pizzas hovered around the 11 euro mark which is remarkable given the size and the quality ingredients used. There are three Sotto’s in Amsterdam and we headed to the one located at Kadijksplein which had some lovely views over the water. Before you go, bear in mind that this is a no cash restaurant, so you’ll need your debit card and pin.
Whilst we largely hopped onto one of the tables outside due to its location and dappled shade, Caffe Espirit was a total surprise food wise. Based in Spui Square, it’s a sprawling restaurant and bar taking up a lot of space (meaning plenty of outdoor seating). They do everything from sandwiches to burgers and to full on salads and have just introduced a raw/vegan menu.
Although we were pretty full from our pancake breakfast that day, we knew we wanted to eat something before heading to the airport, and so opted for one of the salads (with chips on the side, obviously). The Omega salad was full of red quinoa, avocado, peppers and green hummus, perfect for veggies, vegans and gluten free diets. It’s definitely worth popping onto the terrace even for a drink to soak up the atmosphere in the heart of Amsterdam and the late afternoon sun.
On our second visit to Amsterdam, we just wanted something simple and close to home for our first evening. We’d had a delayed flight, and it was extremely warm so anything at that point would have done for us. Luckily we were staying just a 2 minute walk from Brouwerij Troost, a small craft brewery chain and taproom that does excellent beer and super food.
I was really excited to see they did a sour beer (I’ve decided I’ve got really into the sour beer movement) called Club Tropicana, and we also tried their Pilsner which was very tasty. They do a craft beer flight to try, and if we’d returned I’d definitely have given this a go. We both opted for the Veggie Burger, with sides of sweet potato and traditional fries – but the menu was vast.
Luckily, there are locations all over Amsterdam, so you don’t have to travel out to Amsterdam-Oost if you are staying there.
Bars and Cafes
Obviously I couldn’t go to Amsterdam without sampling the beer culture and some of the cutest canal side cafes and bars around. I barely even scratched the sides of what was on offer in 3 days, but here is what I got around to trying.
The SkyLounge is located right at the top of the DoubleTree Hilton, and this rooftop bar is a great place for amazing cocktails, but mainly the incredible view. If you head over in golden hour you get rewarded with beautiful views across the entire city (and you’re more likely to be able to grab a seat outside). Cocktails are expensive, but one lasts for a really long time.
In spring they have outdoor heaters, as well as these amazing cushions which heat up when you sit on them. Yep, I’ve been scouring Google to buy my own. I had a Purple Sunset (which was based on gin, violet liqueur and cinnamon syrup – dreamy) and Sophie + Beverley had tiki cocktails called Sky Tai (which included lots of rum and fresh fruit).
Cafe de Prins
Cafe de Prins was so good we visited twice! Right alongside the canal, you could hang here with a cold beer and watch the world go by for an entire afternoon and not feel like you’d wasted any time. I have it on good authority (Beverley), that the bitterballen here is really good, but we didn’t get to try it this time.
We stumbled upon Cafe Fonteyn completely by accident. I love it when that happens – when you find the perfect location for people watching and a cocktail before making your way home after a lovely evening.
Despite its location in the heart of Amsterdam Central on Nieuwmark, this was not a touristy spot full of English beer and watered down cocktails. In fact, it had a distinctly local feel, with groups of freinds pulling up chairs to long tables outside for a good old fashioned chinwag. As we sipped on our perfectly made Dark ‘n’ Stormy cocktails, we couldn’t have felt more at home.
Adam + Siam
On my second trip to Amsterdam, Beverley had a tattoo booked. As much as I love her, I cannot be around tattoo shops for fear of crying/wetting myself/passing out, so I had an afternoon to myself during which I thought I’d do some sightseeing.
Except, I happened upon a chalkboard side along Rokin proclaiming the best Aperol Spritz in the city and well, the rest is history. Adam + Siam really do make a fantastic Aperol Spritz (I had three just to be sure), and a great shaded terrace area to watch the world go by. I saw some fantastic Asian fusion dishes coming out of the kitchen too, so I’m sure it’d make a lovely spot for a sunny lunch.
Located just along from Pluk on Reestrasse, Ree7 is a cute cafe stacked full of cakes, sandwiches and quality coffee. We only stopped in for a coffee, but the sandwiches we saw served to those around us were outstanding. If we’d had another day I think we’d have made a beeline here for lunch and I can’t wait to go back to Amsterdam to spend more time here.
You’ll find so many independent cafes around the city, but sometimes you just really need a coffee and a sit down whilst exploring. CoffeeCompany, a chain of slick cafes across The Netherlands has got your back. We opted for a refreshing iced latte with an extra shot of caramel and basked in the sunshine in one of their De Pijp locations. Well priced, great coffee and you’ll find them in all the most convenient spots.
Amsterdam is great for many reasons, but their love of waffles, pancakes, biscuits and anything loaded with sugar is definitely one of them. With all that wandering around canals you are going to need to keep your energy up, so I’d definitely recommend popping into one of the places below to get your sweet fix.
Sticky Fingers is basically a bloggers delight. Pretty coffee, pink tiles and sweet treats – a travel bloggers dream right? Located near the Vondelpark, we headed here after getting caught in a rainstorm of epic proportions to dry off and indulge our sweet tooth. If you like banoffee pie, definitely visit if you’re in the Vondelpark area.
All the food is organic, homemade and delicious with extremely friendly service. I could see myself spending Sunday afternoons with coffee and the papers, and perhaps heading home with a big box of their popcorn (from their vintage popcorn machine!).
In the heart of Amsterdam’s central district you’ll find lots of places to grab a waffle or a crepe. We happened upon the exquisitely tiny Ijs Bakery when we realised the cookie bakery Van Stepele had sold out (next time!).
They did every sort of pastry and muffin you could imagine, but we grabbed insanely chocolate covered waffles, laden with fruit and oreos and sauces. Sometimes you just need a sugar hit. And a good lie down afterwards.
Van Wonderen Stroopwafels
Can you believe that I didn’t actually have a stroopwafel until my second trip to Amsterdam? No, me neither. But here we are, and it was completely worth the wait. Sure, a stroopwafel is ten a penny in the city, but no one does them like Van Wonderen, a specialist bakery in the heart of Amsterdam.
For the uninitiated, a stroopwafel is made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel syrup filling in the middle with a texture somewhere between a cake and a biscuit. At Van Wonderen they take this concept up a notch, covering them in goodness and syrups and sweeties to ensure the sugar rush is completely authentic!
Beverley opted for a single large M&M covered waffle, whilst I couldn’t decide so I ordered two medium waffles – a salted caramel and a kletskop. Do not be fooled, the mediums are not small at all, but I polished them off with aplomb whilst sitting by one of Amsterdam’s many canals.
Did I expect to go home with such a satisfied stomach? No, no I did not. Amsterdam is genuinely a foodies paradise and in just three days we’ve barely seen the best. Whether it’s canal side dining, cocktails with a view or just a hearty, coffee filled brunch Amsterdam has it all. Top it off with a waffle or two, and I can’t imagine a better city for eating!
Want more? Here’s my chilled out city guide to Amsterdam.