Dutch cuisine has not yet entered our kitchen as much as Italian or Chinese cuisine. To be honest even my knowledge of Dutch food was limited to Gouda and Edam cheese. But when I traveled to Amsterdam I was so amazed at the variety & colonial influence in the Dutch cuisine that I decided to write it all down in this tiny Amsterdam food guide. Use this for your weekend of gluttony! Let me tell you the 12 things you need to try in Amsterdam in this ‘Hungry in Amsterdam’ guide.
Top 12 things to try in Amsterdam
First is everyone’s favourite
Traditionally, Dutch cuisine is simple. Most of it is either salted, fried or dried in order to preserve it for a longer duration and you can have it on the go. If I wanted to sum it up in 3 words its – Meat, Potatoes and Cheese..Lot’s and lot’s of cheese in different shapes and forms! Think colourful cheese, cheese with herbs & spices, vintage cheese..Yum!!
Where to taste the best cheese
De Kaaskamer van Amsterdam – This shop not only sells a large varieties of cheeses but also tasty breads & cured meats. Tight on budget but hungry in Amsterdam? You can sample each type of cheese for free (you can thank me later 😎)
Reypenaer Cheese tasting – Understand the ripening process of one of the historical cheese in Netherlands & taste some of the finest cheeses with wine pairing
Cheese Factory in Vollendam – Travel 30 min outside of Amsterdam and you are in pretty Vollendam. Here you can see how the cheese is made and sample a lot of varieties.
As yummy as it can get
2. Potato Fries
Get your fix of Patatje Oorlog – thick fries topped with Mayo, Satay sauce and onions at any snack bar.
Hungry in Amsterdam guide to the best Patatje Oorlog
Vleminckx Sausmeesters – A small hole-in-the-wall place with the best fries and around 30 choices of sauces. If you are roaming in central Amsterdam and spot of long queue of hungry looking people, follow it! Most likely it lead you to this shop.
It’s a fishy business
Have it raw or have it in sandwich – Herring is a dutch specialty & famous street food. The Dutch have been eating it since many centuries and it’s on the same level as Fish & Chips to the British.
Best Herring in Amsterdam
Vlaardingse Haringhandel at Albert Cuyp market serves one of the best Herrings & Broodje Haring (Herring in a bread)
It’s not as it sounds
Snack on the go when you are hungry in Amsterdam or a bar snack with your beer, Bitterball is your friend.
Best Bitterballen in Amsterdam
Any local pub or restaurant will serve bitterballen as appetizer
A breakfast staple
Somewhere between a French Crepe and think pancake is the Dutch Pannekoek (pancake). You can have it with traditional toppings like apples, cheese, thin bacon, apple syrup (Stroop) or really savoury with meat & even vegetables! Being hungry in Amsterdam is an excuse to stepping into small bakkerij (bakeries) and having one of these massive pancakes with coffee which will keep you full for half a day at least!
One of the best pancakes can be found here
Pancakes Amsterdam in Negen Straatjes (9 little streets) – A small and cosy place that serves amazing pancakes with varieties of toppings. Bacon, Banana & Chili pancake anyone?
Take your eating game up a notch
6. Fine dining
Take your eating game up a notch to taste what the high-end restaurants are putting up on their menu. With 16 Michelin star restaurants showcasing best of local ingredients and regional dishes, you have a lot to choose from.
Hungry in Amsterdam guide’s recommendation to fine dining
Rijks – Located right next to the Rijksmuseum, this was my first and the best experience dining in Amsterdam. The service is excellent and the staff is very helpful in answering your questions on ingredients & recommending dishes. Try the dessert made entirely with Leidse Blaarkop milk. Tasting the Leidse kaas (Leyden cheese) was the best start to my trip in Amsterdam.
A surprising international find
7. Indonesian Rijsttafel
The last few centuries & the colonial history have heavily influenced the type of food available in the cities. There are many Indonesian restaurants serving Rijsttafel (Rice table) which is an elaborate meal with many small dishes (even 40 at times!). This Dutch colonial feast consists of anything from satay to nasi-goreng to fruits & vegetables.
I love Indonesian cuisine and it was even more fantastic to taste it in Amsterdam! Read This post on Bali & Balinese cuisine (the original Nasi-goreng!)
Late night & cheap eating
8. Croquettes from vending machine
It might seem a step down from fine dining & Rijsttafel but if you want to truly experience what locals eat, buy one of the croquettes (kroket) from vending machines. For less than 2 Euros you can eat hot crunchy croquettes from FEBO vending machines – It’s called food from the wall! It’s an experience you should not miss. The best street food in Amsterdam!
Warm them up over a cup of coffee
Stroopwafel is made by slicing the thin waffle while it’s still hot and adding caramel syrup (Stroop) in between the 2 layers. A typical stroopwafel or syrup waffle is chewy in the middle and slightly crunchy on the outside if you are eating it fresh. In the times before electricity & microwaves, stroopwafels were kept on a steaming hot cup of coffee and warmed. Now you can get biscuit like stroopwafels almost everywhere!
For authentic stroopwafels, head to the street stalls and small bakkerij (bakeries). Head to Lanskroon from homemade stroopwafels.
Time to wash it all down
10. Beer tasting
Now it’s time to quench your thirst! Everyone knows of Heineken & Amstel but did you know truly local Dutch beers are only brewed locally in micro-breweries?
Brewerij de prael is one such micro-brewery that you can visit. They organise tours of their brewery and have tasting options.
Beer giant Heineken offers a tour through their former brewery which ends in a tasting session which is more popular with the tourists. See Heineken experience
And make it bit fancy
11. Jenever tasting experience
Jenever is a juniper flavoured spirit in Netherlands & forerunner to modern-day London dry Gin.
To drink Jenever the authentic way – sipping it straight from the glass without touching the glass with your hands, go to any local bar or proeflokaal (tasting room that belongs to a distillery) & ask for Jenever on its own. How to spot a local bar? Look for bar with sand on the floor (to absorb any spills), less or no tourists and no elaborate food menu! Taste both oude (old) and jonge (young) Jenever.
House of Bols organises liquor and Jenever tasting.
Something unusual & very local
Corenwyn or Corn wine is a cask-aged Jenever and tastes much different from a typical young Jenever. If you are a whiskey connoisseur and love fine ages whiskeys, you have to try Corenwyn. It is usually stored in neat looking earthenware bottles and I guarantee that you will fill your suitcase with at least one bottle of this stuff!!
Hoping your next trip to Amsterdam is full of great food and amazing drinks!
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