Food may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Amsterdam, but it’s time to get excited about it. Come with an open mind and a very empty stomach because it’s going to be filling…
Dutch food isn’t exactly famous, but there’s far more to it than carbs and cheese. Okay, so a lot of it will involve carbs and cheese, but I guarantee you’ll be craving more once some of these popular Amsterdam dishes have tickled your taste buds.
A free(ish) Amsterdam food tour
Free(ish) because you’ll still have to pay for the food and tips (sorry!). Related read: Check out this guide to tipping in Amsterdam to see how much to leave after your meals.
Amsterdam is an expensive city. And since you’re no doubt splashing out enough to visit, this Amsterdam food tour will take you to some of the more budget-friendly restaurants in town. It’s also self-guided – so you can fill up on food rather than forking out on a guide. And if this self-guided tour gives you a taste for more – or there’s something you want to try more of – you can find some themed guided tours below.
Let’s dig in, shall we?
Pancakes: A true Amsterdam breakfast
Pancakes are a universally loved food, but the Dutch know how to make them extra moreish. Enjoy the experience: Once you’ve tried pancakes in Amsterdam, there’s a good chance they’ll never taste the same again.
Now you just have to choose between sweet or savoury. Or, if you struggle to make decisions in the morning, why not try one of each? The most popular pancake flavours include bacon and maple syrup, egg, strawberry and (of course) Nutella).
Where to go: Head to The Happy Pig Pancake Shop for both traditional and quirkier pancakes, as well as options for vegans.
Wake up with Dutch coffee
Feeling the post-pancake slump? No problem! It’s time to do what Dutch people do best and down a cup (or three) of coffee.
Coffee plays a huge role in Dutch culture – more so than I realised before my recent trip to Amsterdam and Rotterdam – and my Dutch friend said he drinks up to 13 coffees per day. Yes, THIRTEEN. Double digits.
While I don’t recommend downing that many cups of caffeine (unless you want to, of course), I do recommend trying at least a couple of coffee houses while you’re in Netherlands. Because if it’s good enough to drink that often… it must be good, right?
Where to go: Relax in the minimalist décor of Moods Coffee Corner.
Taste the (Dutch) cheese
You didn’t think we were going to take a food tour of Amsterdam without cheese, did you? Cheese & More has flavours you couldn’t have even imagined along with all the classics. We chose a truffle cheese (and it was so good we may have eaten the whole thing in just a couple of days… oops).
Don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you down a whole wheel. But I’m definitely going to suggest you pick up at least one or two to take home. The wheels will last 8 weeks out of the fridge and are allowed on the plane as long as they’re fully wrapped. And if you’re still not convinced, just give them a try…
Where to go: The Cheese & More store has plenty of samples so you can try before you buy. Or, y’know, just try.
Get salty with a Beef Sandwich
Are you ready for lunch? No?
Well, we have a little bit of a walk to get to our next stop: Van Dobben. And if you haven’t worked up an appetite by the time we arrive, I’m sure you will once you step in the door and smell the sweet, sweet scent of fried food.
By “sweet”, I mean salty, because everything here is best served with the white stuff. In fact, one of the best dishes is the salt beef sandwich. It’s certainly not much to look at, but give it a chance. Once you bite into that juicy beef, it will be nothing but love and satisfaction.
Where to go: It doesn’t look that special from the outside, but Van Dobben is the place to be.
I hope you saved some room! While you’re at Van Dobben, order some bitterballen to eat now or on the way to our next stop – it’s the one thing you really HAVE to eat in Amsterdam.
These deep fried croquette balls are one of the tastiest Dutch foods. They’re also one of the more moreish – so don’t blame me if you can’t stop after the first one. Along with kapsalon (which we’ll get to in a bit), they’ll probably be the thing you miss most from your trip to Amsterdam.
Where to go: You’ll find bitterballen everywhere and anywhere, but the locals consistently recommend Van Dobben.
Boats & beers
Now that it’s after lunchtime, it’s totally acceptable to open a can of beer. In all honesty, it’s perfectly acceptable in the mornings in Amsterdam too, but I thought we’d keep things classy…
After munching your way through the menu at Van Dobben, head back down to the canals for a waterside beer. Or, better yet, hop on a boat tour and enjoy a beer (or two) on the river.
Chocolate Company = good company
Chocolate lovers, welcome to paradise. If you’re as bad as me at decision-making, you’re going to want to set aside some time to mull over the endless options at the Chocolate Company.
This chocolate-crazy chain can be found all over the Netherlands and the Amsterdam “chocolate cafe” has all the favourites. Don’t leave without trying a ‘hotchocspoon’ – aka the best hot chocolate you’ll ever taste. Try the house brownie if you’re not too full and take home some of the signature truffles to be the most popular person in the office.
Where to go: The Chocolate Company has seats so you can sit and indulge slowly.
A perfect Dutch platter
Head out of central Amsterdam for a more affordable – and more authentic – hangout in the evening. De Pijp is a district full of restaurants and bars that are popular with a young, local crowd.
Head to Boca’s for some tapas style snacks and sharing platters. If you want to try some traditional frites, here is the place to do it – the trio of frites consists of three different styles of fries and three different sauces (the truffle one is amazing!).
Where to go: After eating, spend a little time enjoying a cocktail at Boca’s or head to one of the many casual bars nearby.
Kapsalon: Your end of the night food
There are some things in life that you shouldn’t knock until you’ve tried and ‘kapsalon’ is one of them. No, it doesn’t look particularly appealing. It doesn’t really sound appealing, either. But once you’ve tasted a kapsalon, you’ll have nothing but heart-eyed emoji eyes for it.
Kapsalon is essentially a deconstructed shwarma but even more delicious (hint: don’t hold back on the garlic sauce). It’s especially delicious after a night spent drinking in one of Amsterdam’s many bars, so it’s the perfect midnight snack to see you through to tomorrow’s pancake breakfast. Because you’ve got to try all the flavours, right?
Where to go: ‘Kapsalon’ means ‘barber’ – make sure you don’t head to the wrong one! And if you still need to justify the greasy mess you’re about to consume, Leeman Doner is only a short walk from De Pijp main bar area and open until 1am. You’re welcome.
Amsterdam Food Tours & Events
Still hungry for more? Fill up on these specialised Amsterdam food tours:
The Heineken Experience is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Amsterdam for good reason.
Hop on a candlelit cruise to try some of the best cheese and wine.
Want something a little less obvious? Try this 4-course live cooking dinner cruise.
Explore Amsterdam’s famous Jordaan district and taste 12 local foods.
Amsterdam’s more famous for its cannabis than its food, and this coffee shop tour will teach you everything.
Face the freeze at Amsterdam’s ice bar for a refreshing night out in the city.
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