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The 38 Essential Amsterdam Restaurants

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At the beginning of this decade all eyes were on Paris, which was experiencing the peak of the so-called bistronomie movement. London quickly followed with a restaurant and food truck surge that changed the culinary landscape in the British capital for good. But now Amsterdam is booming. Now that its world-famous museums have reopened in the last few years (after simultaneous closures for refurbishments), the Dutch capital is attracting more tourists than ever, and the rattle of their suitcase wheels can be heard all along the canals.

The Amsterdam food and dining scene is clearly benefiting from these busy times. According to the Dutch newspaper Het Parool, the number of restaurants has grown by 27 percent in the last five years. In 2015, no fewer than four new restaurants opened every week —€” which is a lot for this compact city of less than a million inhabitants. Amsterdam doesn't have a long and rich restaurant history, and the Dutch are not big on going out for breakfast or lunch (a proper lunch, not just a sandwich), which doesn't help, either. In fact, it would've been difficult to compile an "Essential 38" for Amsterdam as recently as 2010.

But the Amsterdam food/restaurant scene has certainly grown up very quickly. Things really got going when chef Ron Blaauw threw off his fine-dining shackles and relaunched his two-Michelin-starred restaurant as a casual gastrobar in April 2013, paving the way for the next generation of chefs and restaurants. And the Dutch love for burgers, breakfast, brunch, and coffee shops (not the getting-high kind) is growing every year.

With this Essential 38, you will get a bite of Amsterdam's thriving restaurant scene, but also with some traditional eats mixed in. You wouldn't want to leave Amsterdam without having eaten a Dutch herring, now would you?

Price key:

$ = Less than €15 (16 USD)
$$ = €16 - €39 (18 - 44 USD)
$$$ = €40 - €66 (45 - 73 USD)
$$$$ = €66 (74 USD) and up

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Merkelbach

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Located in a former 18th-century coach house, Merkelbach's spectacular garden is hands-down the best outdoor dining experience in Amsterdam. The restaurant prides itself on following the principles of the Slow Food movement, so expect a seasonal menu with local ingredients. During the day you can walk in for coffee and apple pie, and there’s a compact lunch menu. [$$]

Brouwerij 't IJ

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This Amsterdam brewery has a unique canal-side location, right next to an old windmill, and the outdoor terrace is a popular hangout on sunny days. Around seven beers are available on tap, including the classic “Zatte” and “Natte” and often a special seasonal brew, too. A small selection of bar snacks is on offer, including the traditional Dutch Ossenworst, a raw and smoked beef sausage. [$]

Rotisserie Rijsel

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Rijsel serves Flemish and French classics like boeuf à la mode, huzarensalade (Russian salad), presskop (head cheese), and rotisserie poussin, all prepared with the finest ingredients. This — combined with a well-chosen and well-priced wine selection — has put Rijsel on everybody’s favourite list since its opening in 2012. Booking ahead is essential and (if on offer) don’t think twice about ordering the Côte de Boeuf. [$$$]

La Rive

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An Amsterdam fine-dining institution since the early ‘90s (and once the home of renowned Dutch chef Robert Kranenborg), since 2008, Rogér Rassin has been at the helm of La Rive’s kitchen. Don’t be fooled by the traditional, ever-so-slightly formal dining room, because, au contraire, Rassin’s cooking is deliciously modern and seasonal. The dinner-only restaurant has a unique riverside location, so try to book a window table. [$$$$]

Patisserie Kuyt

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Follow locals and food obsessives from near and far to this fabulous patisserie for the finest pies, cakes, chocolates, biscuits, and eclairs. Kuyt also has a good selection of delicate savory pastries, quiches, and biscuits. The choice is overwhelming, but don’t leave without a “Appelschnitt,” or better yet, enjoy any of the beautiful and delicious baked goods in the tea room. [$]

Slagerij de Leeuw

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Head to this butcher’s shop/deli if you’re planning to cook a meal in your rental apartment. De Leeuw, the only gourmet butch shop in Amsterdam, offers a wide range of top-quality fresh meat and poultry, such as Wagyu and Rubia Gallega beef, Iberico pork, and Bresse chicken. But for your gourmet picnic, there’s also a great selection of charcuterie, cold meats, patés, and other ready-made delicacies. [$$]

Librije's Zusje Amsterdam

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Literally the young sibling (“zusje” means little sister) of Jonnie Boer’s three-star restaurant De Librije in Zwolle, Librije’s Zusje is located in the stunning Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Executive chef and De Librije alumnus Sidney Schutte has a modern and cutting-edge style of cooking, which shines through in all the dishes. The tasting menu has a hefty price tag, but it’s worth every cent. [$$$$]

Guts and Glory

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Guts & Glory — a lively, stripped-down place just off Rembrandt Square opened by the super-talented chefs Guillaume de Beer and Freek van Noortwijk and their partner Johanneke van Iwaarden — is one of the hottest places to eat in Amsterdam. Its signature is the single-ingredient menu called “chapter,” which changes every two to three months. After Chicken, Fish, Beef, Pork, and Vegetarian, de Beer and van Noortwijk will soon embark on chapter six: Italian. [$$-$$$]

Bord'eau - Restaurant Gastronomique

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If you can afford it, head to the two-Michelin-starred Bord’eau for the ultimate fine-dining experience. Here, chef Richard van Oostenbrugge wows his guests with his incredibly skilled, classic technique-based cooking. Expect the finest produce, maximum flavors, exquisite sauces, and picture-perfect plates. In fact, Bord’eau’s signature apple dessert is the most photographed/Instagrammed dessert in Amsterdam. [$$$$]

Oriental City

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Located in Amsterdam’s “Wallen” area, Oriental City is a firm favorite with locals and Amsterdam’s Chinese community alike. You’ll be tempted by much of the extensive menu, and Oriental City’s dim sum is among the best in Amsterdam. The restaurant has many tables divided over two floors, but still be prepared to stand in line on Saturdays. [$$$]

Restaurant Gebr. Hartering

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Part of Amsterdam’s new wave of casual and unpretentious restaurants, Gebr Hartering has helped shape the city’s lively dining scene. The eatery is run by brothers Paul and Niek Hartering and the concept is very simple: hearty food cooked with great ingredients, to be enjoyed with a glass of fine wine. There’s a daily-changing menu, which includes the big-hitter “Fleckvieh” beef, grilled on charcoal. [$$$]

Nam Kee

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One of Amsterdam’s longest-running Chinese restaurants, Nam Kee is best known for its Peking duck window display and famous for its steamed oysters in black bean sauce — fantastic oysters that owe their fame to the Dutch film (and novel) Oysters at Nam Kee’s. [$$$]

Relatively new on the Amsterdam dining scene — but booked solid for dinner every night — Choux serves natural wines and light, fresh cuisine, the latter always with a touch of comfort. Order three, four, or seven courses from the monthly-changing menu by chef Merijn van Berlo (including an excellent vegetarian option). For those who fail to snag a seat at dinner, there’s also a three- or four- course menu available at lunchtime. [$$$]

Restaurant Stork

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Hop on the IJplein ferry (near Central Station) for lunch or dinner at Stork, housed in a former Stork engines factory building on the north banks of the river IJ. Order sole or lobster with fries or tuck into a delicious plateau fruit de mer and enjoy the great views of the river. Stork’s riverside terrace offers a wonderful al fresco dining experience. [$$]

Gebroeders Niemeijer

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Start your day with a cup of coffee (featuring Costadora beans) and a freshly-baked croissant at Gebr. Niemeijer bakery, or order one of its French-style breakfasts, with petit pains, croissants, marmalade, and jam. At lunchtime, Gebr. Niemeijer serves simple sandwiches and salads. There’s also a great selection of baked goods, and don’t miss out on their baguettes (you know, for that Vondelpark picnic). [$]

This funky place is an ideal spot for an American-style brunch — which has grown increasingly popular here in recent years — and provides respite for those in desperate need of a hangover Bloody Mary. Gs serves a full range of egg dishes; its chicken waffle burger is somewhat famous among locals. The Bloody Mary menu offers no fewer than 13 different versions. Gs has two branches. Consider booking a seat online in advance.

Elizabeth Auerbach<

Toscanini

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Toscanini is the most-loved Italian restaurant in Amsterdam’s Jordaan, and with its 30-year history, probably one of the oldest, too. No pizzas here: Instead, expect a proper (seasonal) Italian menu with a choice of antipasti, primi, secondi, and dolci. Toscanini offers non-fussy food with great ingredients and maximum flavor, served in a wonderfully bustling setting. It’s a great dinner spot — and there’s an excellent wine list, too. [$$$]

Cafe De Klepel

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Quality wines and bistro food take the spotlight at Café De Klepel, part of the recent Dutch bistronomie movement. This friendly and popular place is run by young sommelier duo Margot Los and Job Seuren (formerly of De Librije). Pop in for a glass of wine (at the bar) with some charcuterie or cheese. For the full experience, book a table and order De Klepel’s three-or four-course menu. [$$]

Proeflokaal Arendsnest

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For a taste of the burgeoning Dutch craft beer scene, get yourself a seat at the bar at Arendsnest. At this canal-side beer bar on the Herengracht, you can try over 30 Dutch beers on tap and no fewer than 100 bottled beers. You’ll be spoiled with choices, but do try one of Jopen Brewery’s award-winning beers, particularly the Extra Stout, which won a gold medal in the 2015 World Beer Awards. [$]

La Perla

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If you’re in the mood for a pizza, La Perla in the Jordaan is the place to go. The restaurant is split in two, with the pizzeria on one side of the street, and the huge wood-fired oven on the other. Try the classic Margherita (with buffalo mozzarella) or order the special porchetta di Ariccia, made with oven-roasted pork. [$$]

Restaurant Breda

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A more upscale restaurant by game-changing chefs Guillaume de Beer and Freek van Noortwijk (compared to their other restaurant Guts & Glory, anyway), Breda’s opening was greeted by widespread critical acclaim. Dishes are modern with creative flavor combinations, and you can taste the ambition of these young chefs. Sit down for dinner and order the Basic, Extra, or Full Monty tasting menu, and enjoy fine wines selected by sommelier Johanneke van Iwaarden. It’s open daily for lunch and dinner. [$$$]

Haringstal Ab Kromhout

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Contrary to popular belief, Dutch herring is not raw but salt-cured — although the complex curing process does give it a raw finish on the tongue. First of the season herring are called Hollandse nieuwe and are usually available starting in early June. You can find herring stalls all over the city, but Haringstal Ab Kromhout come highly recommended. Order one au naturel or go for the traditional raw chopped onion and pickle accompaniment. Can't make it to Ab Kromhout? Kras Haring on Wittenburgergracht is also an excellent option. [$]

Broodjeszaak ‘t Kuyltje

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Leisurely lunches are not part of everyday life in the Netherlands, but the Dutch do like a good sandwich, preferably on the go. The best place to get a taste of a Dutch-style sandwich is ‘t Kuyltje. People queue up for its pastrami sandwich, but equally delicious is the Tartaar Speciaal (minced raw beef, onion, hardboiled egg) or the Halfom sandwich (half corned beef, half liver). [$]

Fromagerie Kef

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Cheesemonger Fromagerie Abraham Kef supplies many Michelin-starred restaurants in Amsterdam with cheese. The original shop (est. 1953) is on the Marnixstraat, but since 2014, a second branch also operates on the Czaar Peterstraat. On Sundays the Marnixstraat branch regularly organizes cheese and wine tastings. Kef’s fantastic cheese selection (mainly made from raw milk) includes some magnificent aged Dutch cheeses. Don’t leave without some Remeker. [$]

Foodhallen

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Formerly a tram depot, De Foodhallen is now the place to get a taste of the Dutch street food scene. There’s something for everyone here: grilled cheese sandwiches (at Caulils), a bitterbal tasting (at De Ballenbar), burgers (at the Butcher), hotdogs (at Bulls & Dogs), Vietnamese street food (at Viet View), BBQ pork (at the Rough Kitchen), sweet tartlets (at Le Petit Gateau), Mediterranean snacks (at Maza), and lots more. [$$]

Amsterdam is famous for its deep-fried snacks like kroket and bitterballen (both similar to croquettes) and frikandel, a type of sausage. At 75-year-old fast food chain Febo you can buy these snacks from an automat. There are branches scattered all over the city, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get your teeth into a frikandel or a kaassoufflé, a pocket of deep-fried cheese. On Fridays and Saturdays some branches are open until 4 a.m., perfect for your wee-hour drunken munchies. [$]

Patisserie Holtkamp

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A family-owned pastry shop where Amsterdam locals go for their sweet treats, expect Patisserie Holtkamp to offer a small but superb range of French and Dutch patisserie, cakes, chocolates, and biscuits (no cupcakes here!). Holtkamp is also famous for its veal, shrimp, and cheese kroketten (croquettes), which are deep-fried to order in the shop. [$]

Rijks at the Rijksmuseum

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Rijks brings a fresh approach to museum dining (it’s housed in the Rijksmuseum of Dutch art and history). On the menu — designed by chef Joris Bijdendijk (formerly of the three-Michelin-starred Le Jardin de Sens and the one-starred Bridges) and his team — find inventive small plates. Also featured are dishes by guest-chefs who cooked at Rijks, like André Chiang and Tim Raue. Definitely order the spit-roasted celeriac. [$$$]

Conservatorium Brasserie & Lounge

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With its immense floor-to-ceiling windows and glass ceiling, this is hands-down the most impressive lobby-cum-all-day-dining-room in Amsterdam — an essential part of the total experience at this cosmopolitan hotel. Enjoy drinks and snacks in the lounge area or go to the brasserie for lunch or dinner. Standout dishes include veal cheeks with mac and cheese, lobster au gratin, and apple crumble. There’s also a selection of sandwiches and steaks. [$$$]

Thrill Grill

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With its first-rate burgers, Thrill Grill has rapidly become a household name for real burger lovers. Thrill Grill is the brainchild of veteran chef Robert Kranenborg, a local legend. The meat is from old Dutch dairy cows and cooked medium-rare. Get your teeth into a classic beef thriller or go for the salmon or veggie falafel burger. The branch on the Gerard Doustraat provides particularly lovely ambiance. [$$]

Le Garage

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This iconic restaurant was founded by restaurateur Joop Braakhekke in 1990 in a former garage. It’s famous for being a celebrity haunt, but perhaps equally famous for its dramatic red and black decor that hasn’t changed since opening. Le Garage has a heavily French influenced menu (steak tartare, canard à la presse, île flottante), but there’s also room for modern dishes (squid carbonara, tuna pizza). [$$$]

Par Hasard

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Herring and cheese aside, most people also think of fries when thinking of Amsterdam. The Belgian-style double-baked fries at Par Hasard (meaning: “by accident”) are regarded by many as the best fries in town. Grab an order with a traditional topping of mayonnaise, satay sauce, or zoervleis (a type of beef stew). [$]

Elizabeth Auerbach

The Fat Dog

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For hot dogs, look no further than the Fat Dog, Amsterdam’s first-ever hot dog joint, opened by acclaimed chef/restaurateur Ron Blaauw in 2014. Order an all-pork frank with sauerkraut, mustard, and onion marmalade (called “Gangs of New York”) or go for the chicken “Gado Gado” hot dog with satay sauce, cabbage, and serundeng (spiced coconut flakes). Innovation doesn’t stop there: The lamb dog comes with baba ganoush, and there’s also a veggie dog. [$]

Twenty Third Bar

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The Dutch cocktail scene is small but growing. The best option, if only for the amazing views, is Twenty Third Bar, situated on the 23rd floor of the Hotel Okura. The extensive cocktail list primarily features classics priced at €15 (champagne cocktails €19.50), and there’s a small bar snack menu. Okura’s notoriously expensive two-Michelin-starred restaurant Ciel Bleu is located on the same floor. [$$]

BAK restaurant

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Bak is a pop-up turned brick-and-mortar restaurant located on the banks of the river IJ in Amsterdam’s recently re-developed “Westelijk Havengebied” area. In short: Expect serious food and serious wine, served in a laid-back setting. The menu reflects chef Benny Blisto’s love for seasonal and local ingredients, and on the wine list you can expect natural wines and quirky grape varieties. For lunch, BAK offers a very affordable three-course menu for €27. [$$]

Yamazato

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Yamazato provides an unexpected slice of Japan in the Dutch capital, including dining room views of a Japanese garden with a koi pond. In the evenings, the Michelin-starred Yamazato — which is also in the Hotel Okura — offers authentic kaiseki tasting menus, but you can also step in for lunch and order a bento box or the great value lunch menu (five courses for €50). An à la carte menu including sushi and sashimi is available, too. [$$$-$$$$]

Restaurant Blauw

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Restaurant Blauw is an Indonesian spot renowned for its rijsttafel, which is the thing to order. Rijsttafel is a table-filling feast of small dishes, rice, and condiments, a hybrid Dutch-Indonesian tradition that originated during the Dutch colonial era. There’s a vegetarian rijsttafel option, and you can also order more traditional Indonesian dishes from the a la carte menu. Arrive hungry! [$$]

Ron Gastrobar

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Amsterdam’s thriving dining scene owes a lot to Ron Blaauw. Three years ago, he relaunched his two-star restaurant into the more casual and wallet-friendly Ron Gastrobar, leaving his fine-dining years behind and at the same time launching a new trend. In fact, Michelin Netherlands is even talking about the “Ron Blaauw effect.” All dishes are priced at €15 (desserts €9) and the restaurant is lauded for its dry-aged barbecue steaks. [$$$]

Kuiper&Kuiper, courtesy Ron Gastrobar

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Merkelbach

Located in a former 18th-century coach house, Merkelbach's spectacular garden is hands-down the best outdoor dining experience in Amsterdam. The restaurant prides itself on following the principles of the Slow Food movement, so expect a seasonal menu with local ingredients. During the day you can walk in for coffee and apple pie, and there’s a compact lunch menu. [$$]

Brouwerij 't IJ

This Amsterdam brewery has a unique canal-side location, right next to an old windmill, and the outdoor terrace is a popular hangout on sunny days. Around seven beers are available on tap, including the classic “Zatte” and “Natte” and often a special seasonal brew, too. A small selection of bar snacks is on offer, including the traditional Dutch Ossenworst, a raw and smoked beef sausage. [$]

Rotisserie Rijsel

Rijsel serves Flemish and French classics like boeuf à la mode, huzarensalade (Russian salad), presskop (head cheese), and rotisserie poussin, all prepared with the finest ingredients. This — combined with a well-chosen and well-priced wine selection — has put Rijsel on everybody’s favourite list since its opening in 2012. Booking ahead is essential and (if on offer) don’t think twice about ordering the Côte de Boeuf. [$$$]