I’ve written before about Amsterdam’s unique brown café’s – those cosy bars, much like British pubs, named for their nicotine-stained ceilings where the Dutch have historically sat sipping Jenever (a juniper liqueur) or a steaming cup of coffee (and cake) – putting the world to rights.
There are many historic café’s of this type across the city but the area known as the Jordaan is home to many of the oldest and most authentic.
Papeneiland is situated on one of the most picturesque corners of the city, right by the lovely Noordermarkt (a glorious food and bric a brac market) and at the intersection of two of Amsterdam’s most gorgeous canals – the stunning Browersgracht (Brewer’s Canal) and the Prinsengracht.
So beautiful that its been immortalised in numerous sketches and paintings of the city.
The Cafe was established in 1642 and has always been run by the Netel family – specifically by the Netel sons who have always been given the name Tiel, and so, naturally it is Tiel Netel, Sr who runs the cafe today.
Inside you’ll find cosy corners, dark wood, Delft tiling and an old stove making it the perfect place to stop for a coffee and cake in Winter (if you can find a seat).
In Summer, the crowds tend to gather on the small step and terrace outside, enjoying the stunning view and some world-class people watching.
Food wise this is the place to find one of the city’s very best apple pies or appeltaart – with its biscuit-like crust, cinnamon sweet filling and big swirl of cream on the side. It’s second only to the pie at Winkel 43 a few footsteps away and no visit to Amsterdam would be complete without trying one or other. Or both for comparison. Couple it with a hot chocolate or a koffie ‘verkeerd’ (always served with a little something on the side) for the ultimate authentic Amsterdam experience.
Insiders know that the cafe is now a national monument and that the name (literally Papist’s Island) relates back to the Reformation when there was a Catholic Church on the Northern side of the canal which could be reached by a secret tunnel at the top of the stairs.
They might also know that Bill Clinton enjoyed his apple pie here so much that he ordered a whole one to take away.
But most of all, locals and visitors know that Papeneiland is one of the most gezellig spots in town.