Amsterdam top 10 things to eat: a critical approach

When in Amsterdam....visitors always ask what local specialty food to eat and try? 

Our Approach:

  • Review websites with a top list of things to eat in Amsterdam
  • Collate
  • A critical analysis
  • Recommend places to try the local delicacy.
  • Include options you can try all year and not seasonal food.
  • At the end there are a range of food tours for you tick as many off the list in one outing.

10. Patat (Fries)

Although originally from Belgium(hence the name Flaamse Frites) the locals have adopted this local snack. Most street corners in tourist areas will have an outlet. Served in paper cones with an assortment of sauces of your choice.

Be sure to try the Amsterdam topping of Peanut sauce, Mayo and fresh onion. Locally referred to as Patatje Oorlog. 


Manneken Pis was voted the best fries in all of the Netherlands. Sadly, it is located on the Damrak rated the ugliest street in Amsterdam. Order and head three blocks to the west to sit on the Single canal and enjoy your fries.

Manneken Pis
Damrak 41, Amsterdam

9. Rijstaffel (Indonesian)

The Jewel in the crown of the Dutch Empire was Indonesia. Indonesian restaurants abound in Amsterdam similar to Indian restaurants in England. 

The Rijstaffel is a colonial invention. No Indonesian would ever serve small amounts of anything on their table. The meal was invented to make the colonial masters satisfied. Nonetheless, you order a fixed menu and an assortment of curries and other small Indonesian dishes are presented in the middle of the table for you. 

When reading reviews of Indonesian restaurants be mindful that many reviewers have never been to Indonesia or have tried the food before. Also, that many Indonesian restaurants reduce the flavour to cater to Northern European pallet. 


Puri has a simple interior and at times grumpy staff (which is very Amsterdam). However, the Rijstaffel is excellent and recommended by the local Indonesians. It also doesn't have the high price tag that many Indonesian restaurants attach to their Rijstaffel. Probably another reason for the recommendation.
Albert Cuypstraat 58-60

8. Pancakes

Dutch pancakes are thin like crepes but the size of a large plate. Toppings are sweet, savoury or both. You can have them for breakfast, lunch, or all three.

Local's enjoy the mixture of bacon, cheese and topped with syrup on one pancake.

Pancakes are very simple to make so the below is nice old quirky place.


Pannenkoekenhuis (Pancake House) Upstairs has been at the same location since the 1960s. The charm of the place is the death defying stairs and the little tables.

Grimburgwal 2

7. Koffie (Koffie)

Yes, it is not an eat. However, it is an integral part of Dutch society. You don't need half a gallon of coffee to keep you going in Amsterdam. A simple black coffee with some coffee milk on the side(is optional) and one biscuit. This is all you need to feel what a majority of the country runs on, coffee.


Cafe Barones is situated centrally and next to some of the buildings of the University of Amsterdam. Well regarded coffee and a mixture of locals, students customers with a busy bike path at the front to watch the world pass.

Torensteeg 2

6. Apple Tart

Dutch apple tart recipes date back to the 1500s. Different from other countries in that there is a biscuit base and lattice top. Also, local appel varieties are often used such as Elstar and Goudreinet. Mixed with cinnamon and lemon juice don't forget to ask for whipped cream on the side.

Many places rate their Apple Tart as the best in town. Some places have built a reputation just on their pie alone. However, like pancakes Dutch Apple Tarts are not hard to make and most places have a very good tart.


Anywhere in the Jordaan. The Jordaan is a district in the 17th Century area. Every guide book and site lists Winkle 43 as the best apple pie but they are normally filled with tourists. Explore the alleyways of the Jordaan and find a place to yourself and order the apple tart You will find a better experience and as good a slice of pie as the famous places.

Herring from Meer Dan Vis (Photo byAmsterdam Food Tour see below)

5. Herring 

Most cities built from a commodity base. For Amsterdam it was Herring and beer. Once this country pioneer the curing of this little fish it could be sent further as a commodity and exchanged for beer. From this humble start the country becomes a world power in the 17th century to the country it is today.

Note: In Amsterdam we do not hang it by the tail and take bites from it dangling above your head. Custom dictates that you get it cut up into small slices and sample in a civilised manner.

If you are not here from May to July. Get some onion to go with the fish as the new herring is is out of season.


Meer dan Vis source their fish from small fishing vessels rather than industrial boats. They do this daily so it is sure to be fresh.

Meer Dan Vis
Tweede Eglantiersdwarsstraat 13 (long name for a short street...its in the Jordaan)

4. Ossenworst

Its a sausage. The only EU accredited food to be special to Amsterdam. Have it on a sandwich or as slices for a beer snack. The beef sausage is lightly cured and mixed with pepper and other spices.

Originally ox(hence the name ox sausage) was used when large number of them were imported from Austria and Germany in the 17th century. The boom in the spice trade made a delicious combination. Today the sausage is beef.


Vet (fat) Butcher is known for their quality meat. Although the only place to sit is the bench at the front. Pop into this unassuming quality Dutch butcher in the middle of Amsterdam's Chinatown. Order an Ossenworst sandwich.

Zeedijk 99, Amsterdam

3. Stroopwaffel

Originally from Gouda (same place as the cheese) this local favourite dates back to the 1800s when a baker wanted to use leftovers. Today. two thin waffles are stuck together by syrup hence the name syrup waffel.

This is your best gift to take home with you. In the supermarkets these retail for 2 euros depending on the brand. They are a hit with all. Even that person that doesn't like sweets.


Fresh from the Albert Cuyp Market. You won't be able to take a fresh one home from your travels but you can tell people about the best way to have them. There is one stall holder on the market which does them fresh. Do becareful as the syrup is dangerous when hot.

Albert Cuyp Market

2. Bitterballen/Kroket
Deep fried crumbed beef stew. They come in ball(bitterballen) or log (kroket) shaped. Bitterballen are normally served with bitters (mustard) as a beer snack. Krokets can be a snack or added to bread for a sandwich. 

Bitterballen is generally meat while krokets can come in a range of flavours from shrimp to vegetarian.


Any Brown cafe. A traditional dutch bar that is brown on the inside. Hence the name, Brown Cafe. Cafe t' Smalle (the Small cafe) is a charming place though normally busy. If it is busy just cruise the near alley ways and look for old cafes.

Cafe t' Smalle
Egelantiersgracht 12

1. Cheese

Of course Cheese is number 1. Cheese in the Netherlands dates back to 2 centuries before Christ. The rich delta pasture has produced cheese famous all over the world. Gouda and Edam are the most popular internationally. Although the later is mainly exported. Aged, young, smoked, spiced there is cheese for every occasion. 

There is a range of cheese shops in Amsterdam. Many cheese shops have sprung up for the tourist market over the last few years. Be sure to taste but don't waste your money.


Kaaskamer is for serious cheese heads. It is a retail place for you to take away or purchase a sandwich with some tasty cheese

Kaaskamer van Amsterdam
Rundstraat 7

Not a bad list for a city and country not known for cuisine. There is something for everyone. The cheese head, the sweet tooth, the adventurous and the conservative. So when you are asked about Dutch food in Amsterdam you have something to say.

Now you can spend hours navigating Amsterdam on your own trying to find these and other places to get your Dutch treats. However, to do it properly and save time here is a list of food tours so you can tick a number of these and many others off your list while learning something.

Food Tours of Amsterdam

Eating Amsterdam - 75 euro per person, 3-4 hours, 6 stops and a canal cruise. 6-12 people per group

Urban Adventures - 36 euros per person, 2.5 hours. 4 snacks and 1 drink. You get to go to a supermarket and finish at at micro-distillery. 12 people group maximum

Omy Amsterdam Jordaan Food Tour - 50.00 euro per person, 2 - 2.5 hours. 5 stops food drinks included and the history of the Jordaan. 4 people group maximum.

Hungry Bird Tour - 59 euro per person. Snacks and drinks equal to a full lunch. 8 people group maximum

Shop, Cook, Eat Tour. Go to the market with a local chef buy local goodies. Bring them back learn to cook local and eat or invite the rest of the family or friends to eat. 110 euro per person. Eaters are charged additional fee of 45 euros drinks and food included.

Tours by Locals - 290 - 560 euro for 1 to 10 people. 6 stops, 2.5 hours

Other interesting blogs

Beer related things to do in Amsterdam

Things to do in Amsterdam: local tips from famous Amsterdammers

Overcoming the biggest problems to Amsterdam for Visitors

Places to mum for lunch when visiting Amsterdam

When in Amsterdam...enjoy!

When in Amsterdam... - Blogged

No comments:

Post a Comment