Restaurants in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is home to a huge variety of restaurants for travellers looking to spice up their taste adventure. The options, spread out over more than 1,000 venues, range from French cuisine to Indonesian take-away and, naturally, there are plenty of authentic Dutch alternatives (characterised by the use of smaller meats such as sausage and an abundance of vegetables). Amsterdam has a very strong tradition of cafeteria dining, including 'brown cafés', so named because of the dark, nicotine-stained walls and wooden fittings. In these cozy places you can sample the local beers alongside staples such as steak, satay and salads: a hearty and cheap dining option. The array of cafés means travellers can enjoy filling meals on even the tightest budget. Chinatown (along Zeedijk, close to Nieuwmarkt) also offers a number of reasonably priced Asian restaurants. At the other end of the scale, there are some serious fine-dining options where you'll pay upwards of €100 a head.
While in Amsterdam, try some of the local snacks: savoury pancakes (or pannekoek), pickled herring sold at brightly-coloured fish stalls at canal intersections, frikadel (a snack sausage served with mayonnaise, ketchup and onions), and small windmill-shaped cookies called speculaas that are traditionally dipped in coffee. Don't forget to look for the 'Vlaamse frieten' signs to try chips or fries the Dutch way: with mayonnaise!
While breakfast will traditionally be served up until 10am, lunch between 12pm and 2pm, and dinner from around 5pm, the Dutch prove to be flexible in both tastes and preferred eating hours, with several restaurants and cafés operating into the wee hours of the morning. This is especially true on the city's vibrant Leidseplein and Rembrandtsplein squares dedicated to late night entertainment. Service is renowned for being poor in Amsterdam, as a gratuity is usually included in the bill and waiting staff do not rely on tips for their salary. If you do receive good service, however, it is polite to round up the bill to the nearest euro. If you do tip, it is customary to leave it in cash rather than including it on a credit card payment.
Blauw aan de Wal
One of Amsterdam's delightful secrets, this charming restaurant is peaceful and tranquil in the midst of the bustling Red Light District. An alley leads patrons to the tiny square where Blauw aan de Wal (Blue on the Quay) is hidden, a modern minimalist restaurant with a courtyard that was once part of a monastery. The fare is Mediterranean inspired and the service renowned for its excellence. Reservations necessary. Closed Sunday. Dinner only.
Address: Oude Zijds, Achterburgwal 99
Telephone: (020) 330 2257
D Vijff Vlieghen
The 'Five Flies' is one of the world's famous restaurants, oozing old-world charm with antiques and Rembrandt etchings on the Spui, and offering New Dutch Cuisine, created using only fresh Dutch products. Brass plaques on the chairs remind diners of the famous names like Orson Welles and Walt Disney who have patronised the rambling establishment that occupies five adjoining historic houses. D'Vijff Vlieghen also offers an organic five-course vegetarian meal. Open daily for dinner. Reservations advised.
Address: Spuistraat 294-302 (opposite the Amsterdam Historical Museum)
Telephone: (020) 530 4060
Cafe de Jaren
Contemporary and stylish, the chief attraction of the Café de Jaren is its waterfront terrace overlooking the Amstel River, in the heart of the city. It makes for a great place for a pre dinner drink, the sampling of a superb bottle of wine or enjoying a strong coffee. The menu is varied and attractive, with fare ranging from soups and sandwiches to steaks and pastas. With a classic French feel to it, the high ceilings and tiled floors of the Café de Jaren exude a refined elegance. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Address: Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20-22
Telephone: (0)20 625 5771
Amsterdam is well supplied with oriental restaurants particularly in its rejuvenated Chinatown district. One of the most popular institutions, serving a mix of Asian cuisine from Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese, to Malay and Filipino, is Dynasty. The themed interior is exceedingly colourful, the ceiling adorned with upturned paper umbrellas. A big attraction is the beautiful Canalhouse Garden, usually packed out for summer dining. Reservations essential. Closed Tuesdays.
Address: Reguliersdwarsstraat 30
Telephone: (0)20 626 8400
Pasta E Basta
The lively Pasta E Basta restaurant has hit on a gimmick that draws customers as much as the delicious plates of pasta it serves: the waiters and bartenders sing opera arias while they tend the tables. This makes for a jovial atmosphere, where guests enjoy the excellent wine list and superb Italian fare in an intriguing environment. Bookings should be made well in advance. Open daily from 6pm for dinner.
Address: Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 8
Telephone: (020) 422 2222
Amsterdam's most popular Mexican-style bar buzzes with warm Latin-American ambience and serves up notoriously potent margaritas along with a number of food specialities. The menu includes regular Mexican favourites like burritos, nachos and enchiladas. Fillet steak and burgers are also available and are well complimented with Mexican beer. Open daily from 5pm.
Address: Reguliersdwarsstraat 38-40
Telephone: (0)20 625 9797
De Silveren Spiegel
The elegant Silveren Spiegel (Silver Mirror) is one of Amsterdam's best known traditional restaurants, featuring a romantic atmosphere enhanced by beautifully decorated candlelit rooms in two historic houses. Highlights on the menu include seafood and meat dishes both of which are cooked in traditional Dutch manner.
Address: Kattengat 4-6
Telephone: (0)20 624 6589
A large established eatery, Café Luxembourg's affordable prices, traditional atmosphere and superb food continue to draw crowds throughout the year. With heavily wooded tables, a long, well stocked bar, soft lighting and a pleasant atmosphere, Café Luxembourg is the ideal place for a lunchtime salad or sandwich, evening drink accompanied by a mouth-watering array of snacks or a laid back wholesome evening meal. In summer patrons can people-watch from the bustling sidewalks and in winter friends and couples can cosy up with a nice bottle of red or a crisp pint. If you're looking for a great meal at an affordable price, Café Luxembourg is the ticket. Open daily from 9am for lunch and dinner.
Address: Spuistraat 24
Telephone: (020) 620 6264
The place to go for authentic Dutch food. Greetje is located in a district that includes many beautiful old buildings, and has a great view of Montelbaanse Tower. It's known for having some of the best service in Amsterdam, and offers up traditional Dutch recipes with a modern flair. Try the taster platters for a sampling of many different dishes. Greetje is open for dinner only, from 6pm, seven days a week.
Address: Peperstraat 23-25
Telephone: (020) 779 7450
At the top of a precipitous staircase, hungry visitors can pack into this tiny pancake house for tea and sustenance. This two-man operation serves up savoury and sweet pancakes at reasonable prices. There are only four tables in this charming eatery, and hundreds of teapots hanging from the ceiling. The service can be slow, but locals swear it's worth the wait.
Address: Grimburgwal 2, Medieval Centre
Telephone: (020) 626 5603