Best Middle Eastern restaurants in Amsterdam
Tahini-drenched falafel wraps, warmly spiced shawarma and za'atar-topped flatbreads are some of the mouth-watering Middle Eastern bites you can find in Amsterdam. Let us guide you through this rich and flavourful cuisine.
At Kalila, you’ll find the best-loved Beirut kitchen in the city. Dollops of labneh (strained yoghurt), pomegranate-topped fattoush, spinach stuffed pastries and crispy fried kibbeh (lemon-shaped bulgur dumplings filled with minced lamb and pine nuts), complement its popular manoushe (Lebanese wraps). Kalila has a fast-food, deli concept: the manoushe is made to order, with tubs of mezze – hummus, tabbouleh, baba ganoush and more – ready to go. Try as much as you can and leave room for a pistachio or chocolate halawa dessert.
Bread and Salt
In the same street as Kalila you'll find Bread and Salt, famed for perhaps the most authentic taste of Syrian food in Amsterdam. Its slow-cooked shawarma and flavourful falafel, labneh sandwiches and fresh fattoush (salad topped with sumac and crispy bread) are the mainstays of the menu. Its small interior and few tables outside make it a great spot for a quick lunch or takeaway to nearby Oosterpark.
Ask an Amsterdammer for a Middle Eastern restaurant and they’ll probably direct you to this De Pijp institution. Established in 1977, Artist serves traditional Lebanese dishes such as shish taouk (grilled marinated chicken grilled), bamieh (okra cooked in a tomato sauce), and a herby tabbouleh salad. And its mezze menu is among the best in the city. Finish with a traditional Arabic coffee served in a finjan.
Tigris en Eufraat
Founded in 2015 by Egyptian owner Aly Mohamed and named after the two rivers in Iraq, this Javastraat takeaway spot is well known among the falafel fans of Amsterdam. Though loved for its reasonably priced falafel wraps, the shawarma and manaqish (za’atar or meat topped flatbreads) are winners too, which are best enjoyed outside and washed down with a can of Coke. The attached shop is a haven for specially imported Middle Eastern goods, from all types of tahini, labneh, za’atar and date syrup, to frozen kibbeh and sambousek to satisfy cravings at home.
Mitts prides itself on its sustainable, high quality, organic menu full of fresh flavours, made to share. Its laid-back restaurant vibe makes it a great spot to gather a few friends over small plates and glasses of natural wine. Food-wise, Mitts offers a modern take on Middle Eastern cuisine with starters such as roasted beet with feta cream, and bigger plates piled high with barbecue-grilled meats or vegetables, tahini, za’atar, caramelised onion and pine nuts. Save room for the date crème brûlée.
The Lebanese Sajeria
The Lebanese saj – a thin flatbread baked on the curved sides of a large oven – forms the basis of each dish on the Sajeria’s menu. Don’t be put off by the lunchtime queues, these street-side wraps (there are some tables inside) are worth the wait. We recommend the za’atar and halloumi saj. Vegan options are available too.
Bar Bachrach offers a modern menu featuring the typical flavours of the Middle East and Mediterranean: calamari served with creamy hummus, fava beans and amba (mango pickle); smoked aubergine with tahini; and veal spare ribs with a harissa glaze. The interior has a warm atmosphere made for shared dining or a cosy bite at the long wooden bar.
Sham is the nickname of Damascus, the oldest capital city in the world. This Syrian kitchen offers traditional mezze dishes – hummus, baba ganoush and moutabal, but excel at big pot stews regularly seen inside Middle Eastern homes. Dig into the maqluba – translated to “turned upside-down”, this is a rice, lamb and aubergine dish, known for being stewed in one big saucepan and then turned, well, upside down, onto a plate.
As far as location goes, Cedars comes out on top for its waterside views and sunny terrace. Named after the cedar tree, the national symbol of Lebanon, the restaurant in the west of the city excels in dishes and mezze most loved by Middle Eastern foodies: spinach and walnut filled pastries, rice wrapped in vine leaves, oven-roasted stuffed vegetables, and charcoal grilled lamb chops. Don’t miss the kanafeh – a vermicelli-topped, syrup-drenched cheese dessert loved all over the Middle East.
Head down to Şerifoğlu for the best baklava in town, known to attract sweet-toothed fans from far and wide. This delicious sweet treat found all over Middle East and some of the Mediterranean is made from crispy layers of syrup-drenched filo pastry filled with a mouth-watering mixture of walnuts and pistachios. In the café you can enjoy traditional Turkish sweets, pastries and savoury snacks with a hot drink – the perfect lunchtime pick-me-up.
Mima's owners fell in love with Middle Eastern cuisine while on vacation and decided to bring the flavours to Amsterdam. You will find traditional dishes with a modern twist and a choice of flatbread, a sourdough (whole wheat) pita bread or a bowl filled with falafel, chicken, eggplant or cauliflower shawarma. Pick up or delivery only.