Whilst British and Americans refer to chips as “French Fries”, the Dutch talk about “Vlaamse Frites” or Flemish Fries. This is an acknowledgement of how central frites are to Belgian culture but don’t write off Amsterdammers who are pretty confident that they also know a thing or two about how to fry a potato and are rightly proud of their own “patatje” heritage.
Before we get into the best place to get them, there are several things you need to know about proper Vlaamse Frites. Firstly they come served in a paper cone, usually outrageously hot, with a little fork which you’ll find a help when you get closer to the bottom and the sauce is starting to flood the last few crispy bits. Sauce-wise purists will tell you its mayonnaise all the way. Dutch mayo is creamer, sweeter and thinner than Helmans and definitely worth a taste. It’s often simply referred to as Fritesaus whilst Mayonnaise is slightly thicker. But be sure to explore the full list – saté sauce is authentically Dutch due to the country’s Indonesian heritage whilst those who hark back to childhood memories of stirring ketchup and mayonnaise together will be satisfied with Cocktail or Whiskey sauce. If however you want to go for the full experience ask for Oorlog (meaning war) which is a combination of saté, mayo and onions and just as messy as it sounds.
There are several places that vie for the title of best frites in Amsterdam but Marc’s absolute favourite is Vleminckx and he’s not alone. I’d love to share details of some hidden hotspot that nobody knows about but the truth is that this ever-popular spot really is the very best. Winner of various chip awards, and featured in almost every international guidebook you’ll find a queue of tourists at the tiny hole in the wall from opening time at 11.00 through to close at 19.00. The good news though is that it’s not just tourists who love this place. Listen carefully and you should hear some Dutch being spoken in the queue too. There’s nowhere to sit (the enterprising bar opposite will let you grab a table if you buy a drink) but it’s a street-food experience not to miss and due to the high volume, the chips are always freshly made, piping hot and just as crispy as they ought to be.