Opposite the Rijksmuseum, Brasserie Zuiderbad is an unassuming-looking cafe that mainly caters to swimmers from the public pool next door. The food may be simple – mostly sandwiches and fried snacks – but the service is swift and it’s a great place to eat carb-rich classics at affordable prices.
Try out an uitsmijter (an open sandwich with meat, cheese and fried eggs) for €4.75 or a broodje kroket (a creamy meat croquette served in a roll) for €3.10. Bring a swimsuit and then you can work off the calories in the charming pool, which dates from 1912.
• Hobbemastraat 28, no phone or website
Dam Square and the Red Light district
The giant lettering of Jesus Loves You, high above this Christian-run cafe, is an arresting sight when emerging from the Red Light district but, inside, the vibe is laid-back and inclusive, with colourful mosaic walls giving the place an ethnic, studenty feel. Breakfast options such as pancakes, Spanish omelette or three eggs on bread with a topping of your choice are all under €10. For lunch, chunky sandwiches, including grilled goat’s cheese with bacon, caramelised onions, sweet and sour apple, walnuts and honey (€8.90) are the main affair, while the dinner menu features dishes such as lamb stew with cardamom mashed potatoes, roasted carrot, and figs (€18.90).
• Prins Hendrikkade 50, dwazezaken.nl
Anne Frank House
To dine with the locals in one of the city’s oldest eetcafes, go to de Reiger on a pretty backstreet in the Jordaan area. It doesn’t take reservations but there’s no hardship to having a drink in the wood-panelled bar while waiting for a table. The mostly organic, seasonal food includes starters of vichyssoise with pulled pork (€8.50) and bulgar salad (€9.50), while mains are often traditional dishes with a twist, such as stewed leg of lamb with chestnut potato mousseline, kohlrabi (turnip), and black radish (€22.50). Order, too, a side of the excellent skin-on homemade fries (€5). On Saturdays, it is also open for lunch, with a menu of soups, club sandwiches and flammkuchen (German-style pizza) – most for under €10.
• Nieuwe Leliestraat 34, dereigeramsterdam.nl
With its oil paintings, Delftware and frilly lamps, this restaurant can feel like stepping into a Dutch grandma’s dining room – and a world away from the neon lights of the entertainment district outside. The food is unfussy and substantial, with a focus on traditional Dutch cuisine: starters of salted herring with onions and pickles (€7.95) or smoked eel on toast (€10.95) and follow these up with a stamppot or hutspot (sausage, stew or meatballs with mashed potato mixed with vegetables) for around €14. A three-course set menu gives you a taste of three Dutch classics for €21.50. Open for lunch and dinner.
• Leidsekruisstraat 21, thepantry.nl
In his small, friendly restaurant just off Rembrandtplein, Chuck Lee, the owner, has been serving regulars, sushi connoisseurs and tourists since 2000. At lunchtimes from Friday to Sunday bento boxes (from €17.50) and main courses, including chicken katsu (€14.50), come with pickles, rice and miso soup. There’s also an extensive all-day menu of small, affordable dishes, such as skewers from €2.20 or six maki sushi from €4.30. The fresh, tangy hand rolls (from €4.80) are particularly good and are served suspended like ice-cream cornets from their own special holder. Afterwards, catch a film at the art deco Pathé Tuschinski cinema, go clubbing on Rembrandtplein or stroll up the street to the Lion Noir for cocktails.
• Reguliersdwarsstraat 131, tomosushi.nl
Oosterdok, Science and Maritime Museums
Offering shelter from the windy eastern docklands is the buzzing, bohemian Hannekes Boom, a large wooden shack serving food from 11am until late. There’s a good beer selection, including de Hanneke, a tripel beer brewed for the restaurant at the de Prael brewery, a 15-minute walk away. Lunch options like soup or a sandwich are €6.50, rising to around €11 for a burrata salad or eggs Benedict. Bar snacks include calamari with saffron mayonnaise and calvados-infused camembert with fig bread (both €6.50). The seasonal dinner menu includes mains such as guinea fowl stuffed with mushroom and hazelnuts in a truffle gravy (€18.50). In summer, boat owners pull up to the waterfront terrace and dine in the sun, while in colder months, the open fire inside is a big draw.
• Dijksgracht 4, hannekesboom.nl
Skinny Bridge and the Bridge of 15 Bridges
Having taken in the beautiful 15 Bridges view, where the Herengracht canal joins the Reguliersgracht, and watched couples get engaged on the Skinny Bridge over the Amstel, escape the tourists in this lesser-known cafe, in the first of five interconnected buildings that make up Amsterdam’s oldest record shop. The cafe attracts a crowd who come to browse the books and comics, to hear live music, or simply read the free newspapers. Lunch is mainly thick, toasted sandwiches made from Turkish bread (around €5), but generous servings of soup or salad (both around €6) are also on the menu, plus homemade cakes (from €2.50) if you’ve room.
• Utrechtsestraat 52-60, concerto.amsterdam
De Pijp district and the Heineken Experience
Vegan Junk Food Bar
The mostly young crowd who turn up for lunch and dinner at this new four-restaurant chain are keen to experience Amsterdam’s latest food trend. The music is loud, the portions are big and the service is slick. Food comes in surprising colours created from plant-based pigments – unicorn bread (€4.95), for example, is bright blue and served with a neon-pink aioli – and there’s a choice of cocktails and CBD-infused (cannabidiol) juices. The menu offers vegan takes on fast-food favourites, such as hotdogs and burgers and includes five types of fries (from €4.25) – including chick pea – as well as nine dips. If that’s too much choice, all-in-ones like the Kapsalon (€11.50), a sort-of deconstructed donor kebab with fries, should hit the spot.
• Marie Heinekenplein 9-10, veganjunkfoodbar.com
Café Restaurant Van Puffelen
When you’ve explored the boutiques of all of the Negen Straatjes, Van Puffelen’s traditional brown cafe and canalside terrace is a great spot to stop for a bite. Lunch is sandwiches, such as mackerel with samphire, fennel, radish and mustard (€8), toasties (€6) and burgers (from €12). But if it’s something more stately and stylish you’re after, go through to the next room with its dark-wood panelling and chandeliers. Here you can choose from a two-course (from €27.50) or three-course (€35) dinner menu, which includes dishes such as baked seabass with sesame noodles, stir-fried baby corn and snow peas; and roasted lamb shoulder with mint and cumin, mint chimichurri, baby new potatoes and peas. Open for lunch and dinner.
• Prinsengracht 375-377 restaurantvanpuffelen.com
Running along the northern side of the Vondelpark is the Overtoom, which used to be an unremarkable high street but is now morphing into a food-and-drink hotspot. Among recent arrivals is Umami, a chic bar-restaurant serving Asian-fusion food. Dishes are small, intricate, and an Instagrammer’s dream. For the €28.50 social dining menu, each person picks six dishes to share. However, when the mouth-watering little plates are brought out, you can get quite territorial over tuna tartare with pepper oil, mustard sauce and wasabi mayonnaise or duck in orange sauce with pureed carrot and a lychee gel. Lunchtime diners (Wed-Sun), who can’t wait to get back to the park, might like the 40-minute menu for under €20 or one of the 15 different sandwiches (from €6) with fillings such as black bean beef or crayfish with chilli mayo.
• Overtoom 31H, umami-restaurant.com
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