Love letter to the snack bars of Amsterdam
It’s hard to define Dutch food culture; many locals sheepishly deny that beyond ‘stamppot’, such a thing even exists. But the elephant in the room is undoubtedly the ‘snack bar’ - a culinary institution ubiquitous across the country, frequented and beloved by all. These late-night eateries serve all manner of deep-fried delights in every hue of orange and brown. Consider this a love letter to the most deserving snack bars in Amsterdam - with useful vocab thrown in at the end to help you navigate their ludicrous menus.
Faux marble columns flank the entrance of the art nouveau façade. Snackbar Constantijn exudes a sense of palatial grandeur. Inside, the aesthetic is everything one would hope it to be: plastic chairs, pervasive beige and its own automatic snack wall (more on that, later). The menu is extensive and tantalising, showcasing no fewer than 12 sauce combos for your fries, kipcorns, kaassoufflés and a more unusual assortment of kroketten than you’ll uncover elsewhere. Without question, Constantijn executes deep-fried craftsmanship at the highest level and is the perfect entry point for curious newcomers.
Snackbar De Dijk
When you love something so much, finding the words is hard. Nobody forgets their first visit to De Dijk. Here, the menu is as thrilling and eclectic as the decor in the ‘upstairs lounge’. Your best order might be the shoarma roll, half chicken, a broodje kipcorn slathered in satay sauce, onions and mayo, or all of the above. Vegetarians can purchase off-menu items like candy, ice cream, chocolate bars and crisps. Vegans are limited to tobacco products on sale behind the counter.
Snackbar De Dijk | Haarlemmerdijk 145, Centrum
This fluorescent-lit beauty serves snacks of a no-nonsense character all the live-long day. Iridescent frikandellen, berenhappen and mexicanos snuggle together like suckling piglets beneath the glass vitrine whilst a stunning range of meat and cheese-focussed parcels are aching to be plunged into hot oil. But it is the kapsalon at Marja that truly hits the mark - a popular trough of fries, cheese, garlic sauce, and shoarma perfectly balanced with a few salad items to ensure you hit that crucial five-a-day.
It's in the slogan: De Lekkerste! (the most delicious of all time, forever and for eternity). With 22 branches in Amsterdam (and 60 nationwide), FEBO ranks alongside the Rijksmuseum as one of the most culturally significant institutions in the Netherlands. It's the kingdom of the kroket and the frikandel, which ascend hazardously hot from the fryers to be stashed in the automatic snack wall for customers' perusal. Serious gourmands may attempt the diagonaaltje - also known as scoffing your way from the bottom left to the top right of the wall in one sitting.
Vleminckx de Sausmeester
Don’t let the minute size of this chip shop fool you: they’ve been pumping out bucket loads of Belgian fries daily since the 1950s. The Dutch public can’t help but gobble them all up - to rave reviews. These modestly self-proclaimed ‘masters of sauce’ offer a whopping 25 varieties, ranging in scope from the normal ones like barbecue and curry to one called ‘Hannibal sauce’ for history buffs.
Snackbar Cafetaria Het Smikkelhoekje
This humble snack bar offers a product range that is anything but, flaunting a capacious menu that has kept a loyal following of regulars returning for half a century. Bamischijfs, spring rolls and satay skewers are positioned alongside elite brands of krokketten (Van Dobben, Kwekkeboom and Holtkamp, for the connoisseurs). There are also plenty of Halal and vegetarian options - including (but not limited to) three sizes of kaassoufflé. Whilst Smikkelhoekje is graced with a charming outdoor terrace, delivery is occasionally available for well-organised customers, via phone or fax.
Beginners vocab (A2)
frietjes (met) - a portion of fries (with mayo)
friet speciaal - a portion of fries (with mayo, curry sauce or ketchup and chopped onions)
patatje oorlog - a portion of fries (with mayo, peanut sauce and chopped onions), literally ‘the war on fries’
frikandel - a deep-fried sausage of indisputable popularity consumed en masse in the Netherlands
frikandel speciaal - when a cut is made in the longitudinal direction of the frikandel and filled with mayo, curry sauce or ketchup and chopped onions
kroket - a croquette generally filled with beef, shrimp or veal ragout or a vegetarian equivalent
kaassoufflé - a breaded pocket of piping hot fried cheese with a golden crust
mega kaassoufflé - a big one of the above
Intermediate vocab (B1)
kipcorn - a sort of chicken stick thing
broodje kipcorn - a sort of chicken stick thing in a bread roll
berenhap (also berenklauw) - an idiosyncratic construction of beef or maybe pork rounds interspersed with onion rings on a skewer and doused in satay sauce, temptingly translated as a ‘bear claw’
mexicano - nobody can confirm what this is
bami/nasi - breaded and deep-fried noodles available as a schijf (disc), bal (ball), blok (block), or bite (hap)
kapsalon - one of these will set you back 1800 calories on average
diagonaaltje - eating your way from bottom left to top right of the snack wall, any other direction is not a diagonaaltje
Advanced vocab (B2-C2)
friet super (also supertje) - a large portion of fries with one frikandel
friet waterfiets - a large portion of fries with two frikandellen
friet dubbel speciaal - a large portion of fries with two frikandellen and onions
discodel - a frikandel with mayonaise and sugar ‘disco’ sprinkles