The great news is everyone’s needs can be met in a range of wonderful restaurants around Amsterdam. Try these for starters (and not a pancake in sight):
We have always loved Mazzo. And so do our boys. It’s a cool place with great food and the first time we discovered that they also have a fabulous hidden corner at the back with toys it sealed the deal. The kids’ menu obviously includes mini versions of their great Italian classics as well as ice cream with ‘disco dip’ and Nutella pizza which unsurprisingly is a firm favourite – if your kids are like ours, one visit won't be enough.
This gorgeous restaurant on the North side of the River IJ is one of our family favourites. IJ-Kantine is the perfect example of a grown up place that also happens to be fantastic for kids. Aside from the bright colours and vast windows overlooking the water, they have a play corner with touch-screen TVs, stacks of games and toys for all ages. When the weather is good there's a sandpit on the terrace and every weekend from 14:00 to 18:00 they provide kids' entertainment overseen by a childminder, in one of their lovely meeting rooms. Activities include necklace threading, cupcake decorating, dreamcatcher making or even settling down to watch a kids' film. Having said all that, they've managed to preserve the grown-up cool in the main area and it never feels overrun by children. Come armed with the weekend papers because chances are your little ones won't want to leave.
Cafe Amsterdam ticks all the boxes. Located in a former pump station, the vast industrial room is literally awesome and full of fascinating turbines for kids to wonder at. As well as a kids’ colouring corner, they offer a brilliant children's menu with crowd-pleasing favourites such as fresh fish nuggets, burgers and pasta; a gorgeous terrace for when the sun comes out and not unimportantly great food for grown-ups too. Perhaps most important of all, the amazing acoustics mean that even the noisiest little terror won't cause a disturbance.
There's no denying that De Hallen is one of the hippest places to hang out in the city. The whole complex is fantastic (be sure to check out whether there's a kids' film on at FilmHallen) and when it comes to lunch it's the perfect place to meet fussy foodie needs. Evenings are hectic so we come around midday – I make a dash towards VietView for awesome Vietnamese streetfood but the kids enjoy fish and chips from The Butcher, Pizza from Renatos or a hot dog from Bulls and Dogs. The great thing is that due to the pick and mix variety of food on offer they often end up stretching their food boundaries and trying something a little more adventurous.
At the back of the wonderful Foodhallen is the huge and stylish new hotspot the Kanarie Club. It's a place that actively encourages people to stay all day, plugging in laptops, having a bite to eat or a drink at the bar. Best of all it’s the perfect place for little ones to join you. As well as being one of the most excitingly ‘explorable’ spaces in Amsterdam with a variety of seating styles and hidden corners; there's a decent kids' menu in the evenings and best of all a ‘pool bar’ (basically a small empty swimming pool minus water) which kids seem to go crazy for. Come for brunch on the weekend when it turns into an impromptu gathering of mini-hipsters.
Haddock is a restaurant in a cool shed on the river Ij that's more than family-friendly. As well as a separate kids' room with table football, toys and even occasional movies, the fun peaks on weekends with supervised kids-only discos and craft activities (there's even a kids' hairdresser on Monday afternoons). With a huge lawn, a terrace packed with stylish seating, sprinklers and a sand box; and a menu of crowd-pleasing kids' favourites, this is a children's paradise as well as a cool place for grown-ups to kick back and enjoy.
In summer, there are few places we prefer to hang out than on the terrace at Stork. Overlooking the River IJ, my kids have declared it ‘better than TV’ with its almost televisual shifting of scenery. The succession of extraordinary boats passing by is mesmerising - from the smallest rowing vessels to huge cruise ships and everything in between. I'm not sure who loves the food more – our boys absolutely adore the fresh fish and chips and ice lolly, we love just about everything else on the menu.
Amsterdam's four branches of De Pizzabakkers are hugely popular with families and deservedly so. As well as delicious pizzas baked in an authentic wood-fired oven and a ‘gelato bambino’ - ice cream served with raspberry or caramel sauce, children are given a ball of pizza dough to play with whilst waiting for their food (staff will even bake it for them if they're not too busy) which in our experience beats the broken colouring pencils often offered elsewhere.
Looking for somewhere to hang out in the Oud West area? Dignita might be the answer. It's a lovely, airy café with a dedicated kids’ corner packed full of toys. Clearly designed by someone who understands parents' needs, there's a large table and a couch positioned right by it so that you can keep an eye on your little ones. Food-wise there's a wonderfully named dish called simply ‘Eggy’ which is a kids' sized scrambled egg on home-made bread, and to drink, who can resist a Tony's Chocolonely hot chocolate with whipped cream or the amazing-sounding ‘Kids Fluffy’. For parents, it's all about brunch, made from fresh and ethically sourced ingredients cooked onsite to produce ‘super-lekker’ favourites and enticing cocktails.
With its bright colours, double-height ceilings, friendly staff and enticing smells, Bazar Amsterdam – slap bang in the middle of the Albert Cuypmarket – is a great place for adults and children alike. Whilst North African cuisine might not be the most obvious choice for The Minis, Bazar offers the perfect introduction by way of a kids' chicken kebab, fried potatoes and ice cream for dessert. The hum and buzz means that even noisy squawkers and restless toddlers running around can be easily accommodated and if you need more distraction than the bustling waiters, there are colouring pens on offer and even a TV corner giving parents time to enjoy their own Moroccan feast at leisure. Other favourites that welcome kids although without children's menus include HappyHappyJoyJoy where the eye-popping interior is a real favourite (there's colouring-in for little ones and kids' chopsticks for them to get stuck into Asian delights) or for a complete blow-out how about a taste of Amsterdam's finest milkshakes at Bulls and Dogs followed by Instagrammable doughnuts at Corner Bakery Amsterdam.
For more suggestions be sure to head over to our blog which is updated regularly with a whole host of family-friendly hotspots and more.