Beyond the windmills, tulips and canals, the Netherlands has another cultural wonder to experience: its cuisine. So what is Dutch food exactly? Generally speaking, it’s simple and hearty. 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 haring, mackerel and mussels. 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).
Mom’s home cooking is always best, but Amsterdam tourists don’t always have the opportunity to share a meal at home with the locals. The next best thing is Moeders (“mothers” in Dutch), a restaurant in the city centre that serves only the most traditional Dutch dishes. All the favourites are on the menu at this cosy restaurant, which has all the touches of home. Fill your belly with stamppot or suddervlees, a beef stew; for dessert, treat yourself to poffertjes or a slice of homemade pie. If you’re feeling a bit homesick, bring a photo of your own dear Ma to hang on the restaurant’s wall — mothers are celebrated at Moeders!
Moeders // Rozengracht 251 // Canal Ring
Where better to sample Dutch cuisine than right next to the hub of history and culture in Amsterdam? Rijks, the restaurant of the Rijksmuseum, offers a locally-sourced menu that complements a lengthy stroll through the rooms of the museum. Its kitchen upholds the principles of Slow Food, an organisation that promotes regional cuisine, and the Ark of Taste, which encourages the use of local ingredients. Platters highlighting regional fish or meat — gurnard or pigeon, for example — are available, as are artisanal cheeses. Afterwards, head to one of Rijks’ four espresso bars for a coffee with a dash of the Dutch liqueur advocaat.
RIJKS // Museumstraat 1 // Oud-Zuid
For over thirty years, the Café Loetje has served as a landmark in Amsterdam. Regulars and out-of-towners alike flock there for its homemade fries and juicy steaks, which many have proclaimed to be the best in the Netherlands. Amsterdam now has six branches of Loetje (and even more beyond), so there is plenty of choice for every carnivore.
Café Loetje, Werfkade 14 | Ruyschstraat 15 | Stationsplein 10 | Johannes Vermeerstraat 52 | Parnassusweg 1021 | Ferdinand Bolstraat 188A
In Amsterdam Oost, on the recently renovated Javaplein, you will find restaurant Wilde Zwijnen. Do not expect an authentic Dutch interior but the focus here is on presenting authentic Dutch dishes, using fresh, high-quality seasonal products as much as possible.
De Silveren Spiegel
De Silveren Spiegel – the Silver Mirror – offers traditional Dutch food in the stunning surroundings of a 17th-century building. The building and restaurant’s history stretches back to the Dutch Golden Age, and De Silveren Spiegel’s elegant rooms, which have been left in their original state where possible, are certainly befitting its fairytale-like name. But the restaurant does not rest on its historical laurels: the food is up to the high standards set by the interior. And in the summer, there is a sunny terrace to boot.
De Silveren Spiegel // Kattengat 4-6 // Centrum
STROOP Pannenkoeken & Meer
Serving up the savoury and sweet plate-sized pancakes for which the Dutch are known, STROOP (which means “syrup”, by the way) embraces traditional Dutch cuisine with local ingredients. The restaurant is situated within NoordOogst, an urban agricultural project in Amsterdam Noord where sustainable, eco-friendly businesses find their place. In fact, the ingredients used by STROOP are more than local — they’re right next door!
STROOP Pannenkoeken & Meer // Meteorenweg 272 // Noord
In Amsterdam we eat pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Check out our selection of favourite pancake restaurants.
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.
Greetje // Peperstraat 23-25 // De Plantage
Viscafé De Gouden Hoek
Fish is a staple of Dutch cuisine, and it’s no wonder since Amsterdam itself is surrounded by water. At Viscafé De Gouden Hoek, the taste of fresh fish and its history in Dutch culture is celebrated in traditional Dutch and modern dishes. Kibbeling, a snack of deep-fried white fish, is a favourite traditional snack, but there’s also tempura and Sriracha-style fish and chips on the menu. Go for the freshest of the fresh with the fish of the week with a side of Amsterdams zuur, and finish it all off with a dessert of hangop (a type of yoghurt) with caramel and, of course, sea salt.
Viscafé De Gouden Hoek // Van Limburg Stirumplein 10A // Westerpark
Even though the restaurant has a French name, L'Invité offers modern Dutch cuisine. L'Invité takes you on a culinary journey through the Netherlands. The chefs love the local farmers, fishermen, hunters, wine and cheese makers. Light, local and sustainable. It's all about tasting the pure products from Dutch soil.
L´invité // Bloemgracht 47 // Jordaan
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.
D'Vijff Vlieghen // Spuistraat 294-302 // Centrum
For another taste of authentic Amsterdam flavour and Dutch culture, don't miss a visit to a traditional Dutch pub known as a 'brown café'. Check out our selection of our favourite brown bars and don't forget to order a kopstoot.