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Make the Most of Your Trip to Amsterdam at These 5 Restaurants

Even the coffee shops will make you hungry . . .
The Best Restaurants in Amsterdam
Photo: Tasting Table

Amsterdam is best known for its canals, world-renowned art museums and coffee shops that don't serve actual coffee. And while the capital of the Netherlands hasn’t always been a restaurant destination, the city's dining scene is booming right now, with everything from traditional Dutch dishes to international cuisines. Stumped about where to start? These five restaurants will give you a good taste of the city's vibrant, multicultural dining scene.

Waterkant

The cuisine of Suriname, the former Dutch colony in South America, is on full display at this vibrant restaurant, which is located on the edge of the city's canal ring. Dig into traditional dishes like Saoto soup (chicken and vermicelli with bean sprouts, potato sticks and an egg) and curried chicken roti rolls, or just grab a bacon cheeseburger with a Parbo beer. During the summer, Waterkant assumes a beachy vibe as in-the-know Amsterdammers flock to the waterfront terrace to sip Dark and Stormys while taking in the view.

 

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Frens Haringhandel

To get your fix of herring, Holland's most iconic food, head to this stall in the Koningsplein; the owners, the Frens family, have been in the herring business since 1972. Try it chopped and served with pickles and onions or on a sandwich bun; or go for smoked salmon, pepper mackerel, tiny North Sea shrimp or oysters on the half shell. Locals take their orders to go—there’s no better way to spend a summer afternoon than by setting up a seafood feast on a bench by the Herengracht canal.

 

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Restaurant Blauw

Amsterdam is home to some of the best Indonesian food outside Asia, and it'd be a mistake to leave the city without trying rijsttafel ("rice table"), a multicourse Dutch Indonesian meal composed of small dishes like chicken satay, gado-gado and turmeric beef, all served family style with a big basket of rice. The sleek and contemporary Blauw does right by this specialty; in addition, the restaurant offers à la carte Indonesian dishes. It's no secret that this is one of the best spots in town—it's popular with both locals and tourists—so be sure to reserve in advance.  

 

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Foodhallen

Located in an old tram depot, this lively food market opened in 2014 with about 20 food vendors serving everything from top-notch Spanish tapas and Iberico ham (Jabugo) to tacos al pastor (Taqueria Lima) and crispy fried fish on pillowy steamed buns (Le Big Fish). For a legit Dutch experience, order a sampler of bitterballen—deep-fried, golf ball-sized croquettes filled with shredded meat—at BallenBar. Then wash it all down with a local beer or even a cocktail—like Dutch gin Kever Genever, ginger ale, lime, ginger and mint—at The Gin & Tonic Bar.


The Pancake Bakery

Dutch pancakes are larger and much thinner than American pancakes but thicker than French crepes. They also come loaded with all sorts of toppings, and this homey restaurant, housed a 17th-century Dutch East India Company canal house, is known for a vast array of choices. The Pancake Bakery has been around for more than 40 years and offers everything from standard toppings like bacon and apple to much more ambitious concoctions, like a Greek pancake filled with a lamb gyro, feta and tzatziki. Make sure to leave room for dessert: poffertjes (mini pancakes) smothered in walnut ice cream, amaretto and whipped cream.

Meredith Bethune is a food and travel writer based in Belgium. See how many different beers she can possibly try while living abroad at @meredithbethune.

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