Updated January 2020
Our top three Amsterdam restaurants and cafe’s whatever your mood
Everyone loves a shortlist, and navigating all the foodie recommendations on our Amsterdam blog (click here for the homepage) might feel a little overwhelming, so we have compiled a list of Amsterdam’s hot, hip and totally non-touristy restaurants and cafe’s by way of a shortcut. But please, don’t let it stop you exploring the fuller list. We have only included places on AmsterdamWonderland that we really rate so check out the main menu and navigate the blog further to discover many other unique and wonderful places to eat.
Remember, our blog is focussed on the places “Amsterdammers in the know” choose to dine out. We make a point of avoiding restaurants like predictable upmarket pan-Asian: Momo; the latest branch of Japanese/Peruvian megabrand: SushiSamba or Soho House’s global Italian Cecconis. We steer clear of dated 90’s cliche: Supperclub, “Argentinian steakhouse”: Cau (actually a provincial British chain) or the dreaded Pasta e Basta with its “p’opera” singing waiters. Disappointingly, in a city packed with authentic local and ethnic cuisine, these unsinspired eateries are frequently recommended as city dining highlights but in fact cater almost exclusively to high, mid or mass market (mostly British) tourists. Whilst you will definitely find clued-up visitors and expats dining at our shortlisted venues, you’ll also be rubbing shoulders with Amsterdam’s finest.
Clicking on the recommendations below will take you to our full review. This list is updated regularly as new gems knock old favourites off the list so it should always be current and relevant.
And fresh for 2020, we’ve added vegan and vegetarian options for every meal as well – but don’t forget to check out this fuller listing with 25 vegan-friendly choices if that’s specifically what you’re after.
Explore. Discover. Enjoy.
Quality Amster-dining will knock your socks off.
Best for special occasions (or what the hell – you don’t need an excuse!)
- De Kas – A one-off. Romantic, packed with the wow-factor, a bucket-list kinda place (pictured)
- Vuurtoreneiland – An utterly unique foodie experience in a glass structure on a remote rugged island reached by boat
- Wilde Zwijnen – our favourite way to avoid the tourists at this sensational unpretentious food-lovers paradise in the hip East of the city,
∗ A special mention here for The Duchess, scoring highly for the extraordinary room, and the “scene”, it’s a truly stunning space in the old Kas bank, now the W Hotel. Other recommendations following closely behind include Toscanini, Vis Aan De Schelde and Red all of which feature very highly in our smart-dining recommends.
Vegan/Vegetarian option: Choux – whilst we would definitely include De Kas (above) as a superb option for vegans or vegetarians, we’re throwing in another special treat for you. Choux does tasting menus that look like art and taste like heaven and you’ll miss nothing if you opt for the veggie version. Don’t believe us? Click the link to see their stunning creations.
Best for a buzzy, hip vibe and hanging with the beautiful people
- Ron Gastrobar Indonesia Downtown– We are crazy about the food at the original Ouderkerk aan de Amstel branch and now megachef Ron has gone all out with a brand new city centre hotspot offering city views, killer cocktails and music and entertainment on weekends. It is absolutely sensational and worth putting high on your list.
- NENI – based in a former Citroen garage this bright and breezy hotspot has landed on the scene with a sizzle, serving modern-Israeli/Middle-Eastern cuisine du jour from an open-kitchen, with counter seating, sharing tables, a deli and bar to say nothing of some fabulous indoor trees.
- Hotel de Goudfazant – Totally worth the journey to Amsterdam North for the buzz, the food and the vast garage interior (pictured)
*Special mention this time goes to Stork – a gorgeous spot on the River Ij serving fantastic seafood in a cool setting with a spectacular view. It’s also worth mentioning MaMa Kelly – Amsterdam’s most Instagrammable pink palace serving chicken and lobster – a definite case of ‘Here Come The Girls’! Finally, don’t rule out Foodhallen – also recommended for lunch below, Amsterdam’s mega tramshed, now a cultural centre and food hall, is rocking at night and packed with the good-time boys and girls.
Vegan/Vegetarian option: Mr & Mrs Watson – Head over to The Watsons for a menu that leads on their award-winning vegan cheeses delivered with panache – think cashew fondue and vegan tiramisu. As they say, “we are for vegan food lovers and cheese addicts”.
Cosy hotspots to avoid the tourists and enjoy some of the city’s best food
- Loetje – Lying in first place, we adore the food as well as the incredibly Dutch atmosphere and gezellig locations (especially the Ouderkerk aan de Amstel branch pictured above). It is almost unheard of for us to come to Amsterdam without at least one visit…and we come often!
- Sjefietshe – If you’re looking for a real gem of a local then head to this corner of De Pijp for the ceviche of your dreams. Incredibly good food and not a tourist in sight.
- Bar Fisk – Still dreaming about my last meal at this small, hip Amsterdam-meets Tel Aviv-meets-Barcelona hotspot in The Pijp. Any place that tempts me back two nights in a row is a serious winner (do also check out sister restaurant Bardak)
*Very special mention for a couple of other real favourites. Just like its big brother in the Special Occasion section, Wilde Zwijnen Eetbar is a little gem offering seriously fantastic food and ranks as one of our must-visit Amsterdam eateries. Another excellent bet is Fa. Pekelhaaring, Italian-inspired buzzing local favourite which is the perfect place to while away a kicked-back evening
Vegan/Vegetarian option: Yerba – The amazing reviews keep coming for this fabulous “plant-led” restaurant run by a chef who cut his teeth at our beloved Wilde Zwijnen above. Seasonal food of the highest quality. Worth considering whether you’re vegan or not (they also cater for omnivores on demand)
For more evening inspiration check the Next Time List post which lists some of the restaurants we haven’t yet been to but which we’re booking ahead for our next visit.
Best for breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, coffee and cake
The hotspots below are all favourites and most offer food from early to late. We’ve opted for our favourite meals at each, but don’t rule out having breakfast at a lunch listing or a snack at a breakfast gem – we rate the places as much as specific meals.
Best for breakfast
- Corner Bakery Amsterdam – Cute as a button cafe near the museums for a perfectly Instagrammable brekkie
- De Bakkerswinkel– This has always been a special place for us – incredibly “Amsterdam” offering a cool but unpretentious vibe; organic food coupled with sweet treats; chalk boards, homemade jams and wooden tables. You can’t go wrong.
- Scandinavian Embassy– Could there be a Michelin star in the offing for this tiny yet utterly perfect coffee bar in the Pijp (pictured) that also serves a limited menu of exceptional food.
* Special mention for CT Coffee and Coconuts, a 1920’s art deco theatre that’s been converted into one of the city’s major hotspots. You’ll find the place buzzing from early to late serving up tropical treats to The Pijp’s finest. Or for something a little-less tourist-jammed, breakfast on the terrace or warm interior at the fabulous modern-Amsterdam institution, Cafe de Jaren.
Vegan/Vegetarian option: Juice By Nature – Though not exclusively vegan, head to one of the city’s favourite spots for amazing cold pressed juices, smoothie bowls, vegan porridge, waffles and more. Healthy has never tasted this good.
Best for brunch
- G’s Brunch Boat– A chance to cruise the canals without enduring the full tourist “shabang” whilst enjoying great brunch and bloody marys (pictured). If you’re only doing one brunch, make it this one
- Dignita – or maybe this one! Some of the most fabulous early morning food in the city, presented with effortless style in a stunning setting. Eat well, do good – ticking all the boxes.
- Bar Moustache– Head to one of our go-to places and enjoy all-day favourites in this lovely cafe on the buzzy Utrechtsestraat.
*Special mention for Oeuf Amsterdam – a new discovery in one of the loveliest parts of The Pijp serving everything ‘eggs’ in a lovely unpretentious setting and De Wasserette – a much larger and ever-popular terrace over in the heart of the Pijp perfect for hanging with the beautiful people on a sunny morning. These and the names on our breakfast list are so much better than the endless queues at the groaningly touristy Bakers and Roasters of Avocado Show.
Vegan/Vegetarian option: Mr Stacks – what could be more Dutch than pancakes for brunch, and if you’re of the vegan persuasion there are none better (or more instagrammable) than Mr Stacks.
Best for lunch
- Gartine – One of our most special places (pictured) book ahead for this tiny slice of perfection serving seasonal produce at breakfast, lunch and tea all picked in their kitchen garden
- Foodhallen– There’s something for everyone at this fabulous food hall based in a converted tramshed complex that has been responsible for a complete reinvention of the dining scene in the West.
- De Ysbreeker – Probably Amsterdam’s finest Grand Cafe, this beauty, slap-bang on the Amstel river has one of the city’s very best sunny terraces and a gorgeous and historic interior.
∗ A few special mentions here. The first for Buffet van Odette where you can pull up a chair by the beautiful Prinsengracht canal and enjoy quality food in a charming setting – the truffle cheese omelette is legendary. Or for brasserie favourites check out the George cluster of restaurants (each one of the locations has a slightly different menu and ambience). The “French Brasserie in New York…in Amsterdam” concept is much loved and has become a reliable go-to for crowd-pleasing favourites. Finally if you want a slice of authentic old-school Amsterdam why not visit Eetsalon van Dobben for a kroket sandwich and a dose of banter on the side.
If you’re shopping in the 9 Streets around lunchtime, you’ll be spoiled for choice, check out this link for the 9 best places to eat in the area.
Vegan/Vegetarian option: Men Impossible – We’re going to spoil you here. Men Impossible is a tiny, outstanding ramen bar serving some of the most surprisingly brilliant vegan food in the city. But its only open for lunch on Sundays so here are some other options: The Vegan Junk Food Bar is a must with its crazy insta-hip-hop vibe or for something a little less wild check out Spirit for a vast selection of veg and vegan salads sold by the weight.
Best for tea
- College Hotel – There is simply no better spot in Winter to warm up over a cup of something steamy (pictured)
- The Duchess– High end, high tea that is instantly Instagrammable
- Pompadour – On a chilly day in the Nine Streets, drift into this “Mittel-European” chocolaterie, patisserie and tearoom.
*Not a full high tea, but if you’re after some delicious (and very pink!) tartlets and cakelets head over to Sticky Fingers for something special
Vegan/Vegetarian option: Koffie ende Koeck – This gorgeous little cafe is open from morning to late afternoon but their speciality is a vegan high tea. Drop in for plant based sandwiches and scones like you’ve never had before.
Best for coffee (yes coffee NOT coffee shops!)
- Scandinavian Embassy – One of the only locations to feature twice on the list, but if you’re a coffee drinker, not heading to this special place would be almost criminal
- Blauwe Theehuis – You won’t find gourmet beans at this historic Amsterdam cafe, but cycle out to the modernist “flying saucer” in the middle of the Vondelpark and you’ll be rewarded with a vast and wonderfully unpretentious terrace for a koffie verkeerd and a spot of people watching.
- Bocca’s Coffee – After supplying coffee to most of Amsterdam’s best eateries for years, the Bocca brothers have now opened a state of the art “tasting and training showroom” in a hidden garage-space on the Kerkstraat.
∗ Special mention for Lot Sixty One which is shaking up the Dutch “west-side” coffee scene.
Best for Dutch apple pie
- Winkel 43 – Quite simply the greatest apple pie in the world and a total Amsterdam institution (pictured)
- Cafe Papeneiland – This brown bar dates back to 1642 and serves a killer appeltaart in a cosy setting near the Noordermarkt
- De Ysbreeker – A classic Grand Cafe along the Amstel serving a slice of heaven, apple pie style (with cream of course)
Best for waterside views
- Cafe t’ Smalle – Amsterdam’s most picturesque tiny canalside terrace (pictured above and main picture)
- Cafe van Zuylen – Grab a seat right on the bridge over the Singel canal for a stunning vista along with your coffee
- Cafe de Jaren – An Amsterdam institution with its Amstel-side wooden deck and excellent food. Chances are you’ll have to fight for a prime spot on a sunny lunchtime
*special mention for De Ysbreeker – a wonderful Grand Cafe that has a huge terrace along the Amstel beloved by locals who enjoy sunny lunchtime rays and good food
Best for food on the go
Impossible to rank in any order so in joint first place…
- Herring – The original streetfood and the best bar none.
- Patisserie Holtkamp – Visit Amsterdam’s finest bakery, – supplier of croquettes and perfect patisseries to the Dutch Royal Family
- Vleminckx – Chips, patatjes, frites…whatever you call them, a visit to Amsterdam would be incomplete without a taste
- Pisa Ijs – The only place to head for ice cream on a hot Summer day
- Charley’s Satébar – a moving food truck that sets the standard for the Netherlands’ favourite ethnic eat
Best for Instagram and foodie fads
Amsterdam ranks highly in the Instafood phenomenon and there’s no shortage of places keen to generate ‘likes’ for snaps of your snacks. So get your Clarendon, Lark or X-Pro II at the ready and start uploading these bad boys to your feed:
- The Avocado Show – Everything’s avo at one of the city’s most anticipated and blogged about hotspots serving the green stuff against a backdrop of blush pink banquettes
- Corner Bakery and Bulls and Dogs – If freakshakes are your thang, go freaking crazy with Amsterdam’s sugar monsters
- Sticky Fingers– The pink tiled wall at this hotspot has provided the perfect backdrop for bloggers nibbling patisserie perfection
- Vegan Junk Food Bar– insane punk mash-up sees vegan food in rainbow colours. Pinky Bratwurst or Daddy McChik’n anyone?
(and if Instagram is your thing, check out this post with tons more “insta-inspiration”
Best by season
Check out our full “Amsterdam by season” post here packed with restaurants and cafes for lazy Summer days or long Winter nights.
Best for kids
Click here for our “Eating out with kids” guide to find a bigger selection, but if we had to pick a top three it would look something like this…
- Cafe Amsterdam – Wonderful room (pictured) and a fantastic kids menu. Just the kind of kid-friendly but grown-up place we love
- The IJ-kantine – Another laid back adult vibe in a place that caters brilliantly for little people on the North side of the river Ij
- Fa. Pekelhaaring – Seriously excellent laid-back grown-up interesting Italian and super family friendly if your little ones are fans of spaghetti. Lets face it. Who isn’t?!