8 Things to Eat and Drink While in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the most visited city in the Netherlands and tourists can find some amazing Dutch cuisine during their stay. However, you will find more international cuisine than Dutch cuisine in Amsterdam because it is a melting pot of cultures where you will always find good food. Our host, Jim confirmed it and thus showed us some amazing foodie finds that were not on our “Dutch foods to eat” list. The best thing about enjoying international cuisine without having to travel far is that it is not dumbed down or changed. It is authentic international cuisine that tastes as good as if you were eating it in the home country. With that being said, we still hit some of our “Dutch foods to eat” because like Paris, we really enjoy learning about the culture and lifestyle of the countries we visit. Does that mean we tried their traditional raw herring? Yes, we most certainly did!
An indoor food market that blew us away! Jim took us to Foodhallen on our first night in Amsterdam and it was an incredible dining experience. To us this was cooler than food trucks. This indoor food market had around 20 respected street food vendors and kitchens stationed along the walls with a central bar and seating sporadically throughout the building. This place was fairly large and very busy – it took us awhile to be able to find just three seats. The restaurants serve almost anything you could think of: burgers, seafood, fancy hot dogs, sushi burritos, wood-fired pizzas, Greek meze, Vietnamese street food, bitterballen, pastries, frozen yogurt and more. It literally had something for everyone!
Since it was like street food the portions are small, giving you a chance to enjoy more than one cuisine or restaurant – so that is exactly what we did. We had sushi burritos, hot dogs, bitterballen and beer. Everything was absolutely delicious!
On our last evening in Amsterdam, Jim took us to an Indonesian restaurant to enjoy rijsttafel, something we had never heard before, but as foodies we were excited to try a new cuisine and a popular Dutch dinner. Rijsttafel translates to “rice table” in Dutch. So what is rijsttafel? It is an elaborate meal which consists of many dishes served in small portions accompanied by rice – hence “rice table”. A typical rice table will include different textures, flavors and colors so guests will enjoy an array of different dishes in one sitting. Popular dishes include: babi kecap (pork belly braised in sweet soy sauce), krupuk (shrimp crackers), lumpia (spring rolls), nasi kuning (Indonesian yellow rice), satay (thinly sliced meats), sayur lodeh (vegetable stew in coconut milk), opor ayam (chicken coconut curry), and more. As we said before and learned, rijsttafel is very popular and you can easily find it in Amsterdam, but we went to one of the best Indonesian restaurants (and Jim’s favorite), Blauw. We had so much to eat that evening we cannot even remember everything we had, but some dishes that stood out to us that we do remember are: the spring rolls, shrimp crackers, vegetable stew, chicken coconut curry, and pork satay. It was all amazing and a great dining experience.
Another great recommendation by Jim, (he was such a great host), was Brouwerij’t IJ. Honestly, skip the Heineken beer and facility and head over to Brouwerij’t IJ. It is one of many amazing craft breweries in Amsterdam and yes, Amsterdam has fantastic craft beers. They tend to get overshadowed by their neighboring countries. Brouwerij’t IJ is one of Amsterdam’s most famous independent breweries because of its well known beer and the fact that it sits next to the De Gooyer windmill, the tallest windmill in Amsterdam.
Grab some of their craft beers, order their grilled sausage with mustard and take a seat on the patio with the city’s largest windmill as your view. Or if it starts to rain on you, (like it did with us), grab a seat inside, it has a great vibe with empty beer bottles placed over the bar top and along the walls.
Bitterballen are crispy, bite sized beef croquettes served hot with a side of mustard and are a favorite Dutch snack. It is traditionally made with meat and the consistency is a soft meat ragout with a crispy deep fried bread crumb exterior. We enjoyed a bitterballen tasting at De Ballen Bar located inside the Foodhallen.
In our bitterballen tasting we had some unique flavors such as: rund (traditional meat), thom-kha-kai (Thai coconut chicken), bouillabaise (fish stew), geitenkaas (goat cheese) and truffel (truffle). They were all delicious, but the truffle and goat cheese were our favorite.
Stroopwafels!!!!! One of our favorite things we ate during our entire trip in Europe. We loved them so much we bought some in Amsterdam to take home with us and it did not take long for us to devour them once we were back in the states. A stroopwafel is essentially a waffle sliced very thin into two pieces and then sandwiched together between a sweet caramel syrup. The result is heavenly.
Stroopwafels can be purchased at stores packaged together, (this is how we fell in love with them, thanks to Jim offering us his stash) and you can also find them fresh near the flower market at De Goudse Wafelbakker. Stroopwafels are not only better fresh, but it was also fun to watch the chef prepare the stroopwafels in front of us! Watching him slice the already thin waffle into two thinner pieces was incredible. Then we watched him spread the luscious caramel in between them and we about fainted. Seriously these are to die for. Please buy one and see for yourself.
Pannekoek or Dutch pancake are the best pancakes in the entire world! A traditional Dutch pancake is not to be confused with a Dutch baby pancake. A traditional Dutch pancake is a large, but thin pancake (not as thin as crepes) with the option of apples, bacon, cheese or a combination of them incorporated in the batter. Today, people can find more renditions of the pannekoek in both sweet and savory forms. The flavor possibilities are endless leading to some very creative pancakes. We enjoyed our pancakes at Pancakes! Amsterdam and regardless of it being a small restaurant, it is a very popular one and for a good reason! After standing in line for at least 30 minutes we were seated inside and instantly ordered our food. We were hungry and we were excited to enjoy some Dutch pancakes. Pancakes! Amsterdam did not disappoint us one bit. Though Dutch pancakes are much thinner than ones we eat in the United States they had so much flavor and satisfied our stomachs rather than upsetting them because we ate too much. The combination of apple and bacon within the pancakes were incredible, a balance of sweet and salty. We did not even need to pour syrup on our pancakes they were naturally delicious on their own. You may have to wait awhile, but trust us it is totally worth the wait to eat at Pancakes! Amsterdam!
Poffertjes are small, fluffy pancakes of joy covered in butter and powdered sugar! They are a popular treat in the Netherlands and we enjoyed them at Pancakes! Amsterdam. They are soft, spongy and sweet pancakes that are perfect alongside a cup of coffee. Though we recommend getting your poffertjes at Pancakes! Amsterdam we are sure you can find them at any pancake restaurant in Amsterdam.
Ahh raw herring, yes we took the plunge and had it on our last day in Amsterdam. Raw herring is a very popular delicacy in Amsterdam. In fact, the Dutch have been enjoying raw herring for the last 600 years! Raw herring is technically not raw, it is soused, meaning it is laid in salt for a couple of days to ripen. It is said that it is best eaten by holding it by the tail and eating it upside down. However, when you order raw herring you will generally find it cut into pieces served with onions and pickles – this is how we ate ours. Eating raw herring was more about conquering our mind because let’s face it this is something a lot of cultures, (Americans) are not used to seeing or eating.
It took a lot of will to get us over the mind and take our first bite. Surprisingly, it was not bad. If you enjoy sushi, this is not that far off. The raw herring is actually a bigger fish than we imagined and pretty meaty. It had a soft texture, but also had quite the bite to it. It was not bad on its own, but with the pickles and onions it was actually pretty good! Take the leap and try one for yourself! Raw herring can be found in fish stands by the canals.
What has your mouth watering from this list? Have you had any of these Dutch foods or beer before? We want to know!