So what is Dutch food exactly? Generally speaking, it’s simple, hearty, meat and potatoes fare. Favourites include erwtensoep (pea soup with ham and smoked sausage), stamppot (mashed potatoes mixed with vegetables, served with meat and gravy) and suddervlees (slowly braised meat). Thanks to its proximity to the sea, fish and seafood also feature heavily on Dutch menus, especially plaice, mackerel, eel, mussels and shrimp. The Dutch are also crazy for their friet (chips/fries)! Even upscale restaurants often serve their meals with a side of friet and mayonnaise.
Perhaps the best way to taste traditional Dutch food is to get someone’s grandmother to invite you over for dinner. But assuming you don’t manage to track down a granny, here are some suggestions for where to find a satisfying Dutch meal (in no particular order).
Top 10 Dutch food restaurants
1) Moeders (Mothers) is packed with kitsch in the best possible way. The walls of the restaurant are plastered with photos of mothers, and the menu features all the Dutch classics. You can even order a dinner sampler with a variety of typical dishes on one plate.
2) Housed in six connected historical buildings, Haesje Claes will take your taste buds back in time. The menu is exclusively old-fashioned Dutch food, offering pea soup, fish stew, chicken livers and everything in between!
3) Take your favourite carnivore to Loetje (website in Dutch) for what is often claimed to be Amsterdam’s best traditional biefstuk and friet (steak and chips). The menu also has a few fish items, but this is no place for vegetarians!
4) Tucked in a side street between two canals, ’t Zwaantje is a cosy brown café serving no-nonsense local favourites. Try the suddervlees (stewed beef) for a taste of home-style cooking.
5) Named after the owner’s mother, some say that Greetje is the closest you can get to a home-cooked Dutch meal in a restaurant. They often get high marks for their welcoming atmosphere and friendly service.
6) Be prepared to be surrounded by locals at Hap-Hmm! This restaurant serves old-fashioned Dutch food with prices to match. Dinners start at just €7.50 and many repeat customers swear it’s “just like grandma used to make”.
7) De Silveren Spiegel offers typical Dutch cuisine with a refined touch. The setting is part of the experience as you enjoy your meal in a historical building under exposed wooden beams.
8) A bit outside the city centre on the Javaplein, Wilde Zwijnen is a relative newcomer on the Amsterdam restaurant scene. They focus on presenting authentic Dutch dishes with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal, high-quality ingredients.
9) D’Vijff Vlieghen is a well-known location for an elegant Dutch meal. The dining area is spread across a variety of rooms, including one with original etchings by Rembrandt. The menu features modern and creative interpretations using typical Dutch ingredients.
10) In summer, IJscuypje churns out homemade ice-cream in a variety of delectable flavours. Come autumn, all five branches of the shop are converted into Stamppotje, offering a selection of traditional takeaway Dutch meat and potato combos.