If this is your first trip to Amsterdam, it is natural to wonder about how you will handle basic, day-to-day tasks. Perhaps the most basic task of all is feeding yourself:
Will it be difficult to find food in Amsterdam?
Will you like it?
Will you find yourself staring in horror at mystery food items?
Will something appear to be moving under the batter?
The good news is that, as a capital city in Western Europe with a thriving economy and a huge tourist industry, there are plenty of restaurants in Amsterdam, covering pretty much every variety of cuisine you can imagine.
Whether you have a hankering for Mongolian Barbeque or vegan soups, it should be easy to find a restaurant within Amsterdam to satisfy your desires.
If, when you visit new countries, you like to go native, you will be glad to hear that Dutch cuisine is a solid option, with taste profiles that are well-matched to most other Western tastes.
You can learn all about it in our What is Dutch Cuisine? article, which includes some handy tips on what to do if you discover that you have a bitterballen. For now, however, here is a quick list of the three good Dutch cuisine restaurants in Amsterdam:
Moeders (in the Rozengracht area)
Sounding like a Brooklyn gangster describing his favorite part of the job, Moeders actually means “mothers” in Dutch, so, you can expect home-style cooking in comforting surroundings, including an extraordinary number of framed photos of mothers, they are apparently not fussy, any old mother will do.
The food looks tasty and, as you will see on the Moeder’s website, their prices are good too.
Viscafé De Gouden Hoek (in the Westerpark area)
Meaning “Fish café on the Golden Corner”, this is where you can experience the sea-faring legacy of Dutch cuisine, including Kibbeling, which is deep-fried white fish, a hugely popular snack.
Be sure to visit the distinctly fishy Viscafé De Gouden Hoek website.
Piet de Leeuw (on Noorderstraat)
Styled like the quintessentially Dutch “brown cafes” – the traditional pubs where Amsterdammers have enjoyed their beer for centuries – this dimly-lit steakhouse offers hearty meals that won’t leave you hungry by the end of the night. Of particular note is the inclusion on the menu of horse steaks, making this the perfect retreat after a tough day at the racing track.
Visit the Piet de Leeuw website for more alarming discoveries.
American: The Happy Bull
The Happy Bull has a terrific reputation for getting American classics right: burgers, milkshakes, pulled pork and fries. You can view their straightforward menu on The Happy Bull website.
Be aware that The Happy Bull is likely to get crowded on Amerian days of celebration such as Thanksgiving, Independence Day and Donald Trump’s birthday.
If you are really in the mood for an Italian, you could just hop on a train at Central Station and wake up in Rome, but visiting the Toscanini is probably a more sensible approach to satisfying your Italianate urges.
Considered by many to be the very best Italian eatery in Amsterdam, Toscanini won’t be cheap but, hey, if you wanted cheap you would be back in your hostel, boiling up a pot of pasta. Visit the Toscanini website to view the menu and read about the philosophy behind how they boil their pots of pasta.
Chinese: Oriental City B.V.
This seems to be the most popular Chinese restaurant in Amsterdam, making it a terrific opportunity to hang out with Chinese tourists. You can view their menu at the Oriental City website.
After your feast, you can explore nearby Chinatown and Amsterdam’s famous Red Light District. Personally, when I am in this part of town, I like to walk past the crowds of junkies and pretend that I am in my favorite TV show, The Walking Dead.
Turkish: Leeman Döner
Amsterdam has a huge Turkish community and they have all integrated perfectly. Among the bounties of multiculturalism, the city is blessed with every sort of Turkish cuisine, ranging from coffee shops to kebab shops.
Kebab aficionados rate Leeman Döner highly, pointing out that you can tell a place is authentic when they have those two little dots over the letter “o”.
They have, without a doubt, the worst website I have seen for any business, ever, but that has not put off their many fans.
As a nation, the Japanese decided to make up for the atrocities of World War II by focusing their attention on ridiculously small details regarding how you should arrange seafood. The result is this Japanese restaurant with a Michelin star and prices that you may well consider more objectionable than the Sandakan death marches.
This is definitely the place to go when someone else is paying. Part of Hotel Okura, where the presidential suite costs almost four thousand euros per night (Book now, someone else is looking at this room!), you can savor the sheer extravagance of their menu at the Yamazato website.
Indonesian: Blue Pepper Restaurant And Candlelight Cruises
Indonesia used to belong to the Dutch – at one stage they had a huge global empire that was actually richer than the British Empire – so, naturally, Amsterdam has a big Indonesian community and a lot of excellent Indonesian restaurants.
One that appears to receive more rave reviews than the others is The Blue Pepper Restaurant, but this may be because they have delighted customers with an innovative twist: once night per week during the summer, they hire a boat and hold what they call a “candlelight cruise” around the canals of Amsterdam while serving a full meal, all prepared right there on the boat.
Judging by the reviews, it is a memorable experience. I mean memorable in the good sense, unlike the dinner service on the Dublin to Holyhead ferry, which was memorable in the bad sense. It took me four washes to get that Scottish guy’s puke completely out of my jacket and, to be honest, it still doesn’t smell right.
Vegetarian: Albert Heijn
Vegetarians will be delighted to find Albert Heijn supermarkets spread throughout the city, providing a wide variety of bread and butter. Oh, no, wait … are you allowed to eat butter?
Be sure to visit the Albert Heijn website to find out whether their chia yogurts are ethically sourced.
Food delivery services
The Netherlands is just as tech savvy as any other country, so, it is no surprise that online services exist who will collect your food from almost any Amsterdam restaurant and deliver it to you at your hotel or vacation rental apartment.
Of course, visiting the actual restaurant and enjoying the atmosphere is one of the nice things about being on vacation. These delivery services can be a life-saver, however, when you want the same food but simply don’t have the energy or inclination to deal with the full restaurant experience.
It is also damn handy if you are arriving in Amsterdam late at night and want a good meal to be waiting for you at the hotel – try to time it to arrive just after you arrive yourself, perhaps order it in the taxi or on the train from the Airport.
Another bonus is that, if you are a politician, you are 98% less likely to end up with spit or other forms of human waste in your food if you have it delivered, as opposed to sitting in the dining room of the restaurant. Remember to use someone else’s name.
Meaning “home delivery” in Dutch, Thuisbezorgd has a clear website with a full English-language version. You can search through restaurants according to their distance from your current location, helping to ensure that your gazpacho won’t be delivered cold.
They have partnered with a huge range of restaurants because they make it easy for them to participate. The person who picks up the meal and delivers it to you works for Thuisbezorgd, not the restaurant, all the restaurant has to do is prepare the food as they would for a sit-down customer.
On the Thuisbezorgd website, you can browse through each restaurant’s menu and independent reviews by other Thuisbezorgd customers. Once you have made your selection, you can pay the full amount, including delivery, using PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, iDeal or American Express. You can even pay with Bitcoin if you don’t mind the fact that, by the time you receive your food, what you paid will now be enough to buy a small car.
The fact that you have pre-paid makes the whole process so much smoother. You can even skip the tip by explaining to the delivery guy that tips are not traditional in the Netherlands.
Is American Fast Food Available in Amsterdam?
It sure is! McDonald’s has been here for almost 50 years and many others followed. You will have no problem keeping up your dietary fat levels with the help of familiar brands such as:
Hard Rock Cafe
Many even provide a convenient delivery service for customers who are no longer able to leave their homes.
Emergency Option if You are Completely Stoned Off Your Mittens
This is probably the most authentically Dutch thing you will come across during your visit to Amsterdam. Febo is something that could not possibly have sprung existence anywhere other than Amsterdam. Only in Amsterdam would it be a major selling point that you are able to buy warm junk food without having to deal with another human being.
The first thing you will notice are the “automats”: coin-operated compartments contained warm food items, ranging from burgers to various forms of kroket, a Dutch potato-based specialty that you can learn more about in our What is Dutch Cuisine? article.
This is not good food and, yet, you will find yourself mysteriously drawn to it, unable to resist the urge to convert the loose change in your pocket into stodgy, luke-warm comfort food.
In general, you should avoid Febo but there is one golden exception: when you are thoroughly and utterly stoned out of your wee mind. That is when, suddenly, not having to deal with other humans becomes of paramount importance: when you are high, having to worry about whether the guy serving you fries thinks you are a drug-addled deviant can completely kill your buzz.
Better to avoid that situation altogether and make sure you have plenty of two-euro coins in your pocket before you start your jolly cannaboid adventure because, at some point in your wanderings, you are bound to stumble across a Febo and, believe me, it will be like finding God.