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Staff throw a fish at Pesca restaurant in Amsterdam
Photograph: Saskia de Wal, courtesy Pesca

The 23 best restaurants in Amsterdam

The very best restaurants in Amsterdam perfectly capture the city's commitment to blending innovation and tradition

Derek Robertson
Christina Newberry
Written by
Derek Robertson
&
Christina Newberry
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Amsterdam might be more famous for other pursuits, but ignore the foodie fun in the Dutch capital at your peril. Ideas are encouraged in Amsterdam, and gastronomic innovation has flourished as a result, and it has happened without losing sight of traditions along the way. Here, old recipes come sparkling with new coats of paint, and that only means good things for hungry visitors.


Amsterdam is also a fantastically diverse city, one of Europe’s great cultural meeting points, and that is proudly displayed across its menus. People have been trading goods and ideas here for centuries, and what better way of bridging cultural divides than through delicious flavours? The best restaurants in Amsterdam straddle the divide between the old and the young, the near and the far.

Best restaurants in Amsterdam

Classics with a modern twist are the name of the game in this former apothecary’s shop with a canal view. Spread across several rooms boasting simple yet tasteful décor, there’s an understated elegance to everything here, from the food to the imported marble tabletops. Whether it’s the Dover sole, hanger steak or lobster risotto, chef Jeroen Robberegt’s cooking is robust and flavourful, and while dinner is the real star, they also do a mean lunch and happily cater for kids.

Price: High-end

Those on a budget should head to the ‘Yummy Bite’, which has been dishing up traditional Dutch cuisine since 1935. The butter-soft beef steak, excellent schnitzel and meatballs don't break the bank, and the portions will not leave you hungry. It’s a cosy little place, and they don’t accept bookings, so come early or be prepared to queue – it’s very popular.

Price: Budget

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The industrial, shabby-chic interior and ever-changing daily menu of modern Dutch cuisine have made the ‘Wild Boar’ a trendy (and increasingly popular) haunt in Oost. The idea is simple – choose three or four courses, order some wine, and let the kitchen work its magic with fresh, seasonal produce (do try the boar though). And if something a little lighter is required, head next door to their Eetbar, where they offer smaller, individual plates at delightful prices.

Price: Mid-range

For a modern take on Indonesian food, head to this high-ceilinged room in the Oud-Zuid neighbourhood, just southwest of Vondelpark. It may be called ‘Blue’, but this peppy spot is done out in black, white and red, with a mural-sized family portrait dominating one wall. You can find traditional rijsttafels here (including a vegan option) or opt for the ‘Experience Menu’ to sample a selection of Indonesian street food.

Price: Mid-range

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There are few better places to get stuck into fresh fish and seafood than Stork, a cavernous, south-facing space on the banks of the River IJ. A free ferry shuttles you across the water to Noord and this former factory that now serves up whole lobster, oysters, ‘catch of the day’ specials and a sumptuous seafood platter. If it’s sunny, order some ice-cold white wine, grab a spot on the terrace, and watch the river traffic bustle back and forth.

Price: Mid-range

It’s all about the stamppot at ‘Mothers’, a quirky city-centre restaurant that’s decorated with photographs of customers’ actual mothers. The closest thing the Dutch have to a national dish, the combination of mashed potato, cabbage, bacon and sausage is quite a plateful, especially when it comes with an extra meatball. There’s plenty else to choose from, but bring a hearty appetite and don’t bother with starters – portions are huge.

Price: Mid-range

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Just across the road from Artis Zoo, this Australian-style restaurant serves brunch every day (except Tuesday) until 4 pm, making it the ideal place to nurse a hangover after a big night out. Come evening (Thursday through Saturday), it’s all about burgers – beef, fried chicken or falafel – with creative toppings like kimchi slaw or mint yoghurt.

Price: Mid-range

If the finest, freshest produce, beautifully cooked, is what you’re after, then a trip to De Kas is a must. Tucked inside a set of greenhouses that date to 1926, they serve a fixed daily menu – you simply choose how many courses you want – prepared with vegetables and herbs grown in their own nursery. Their farm-to-table credentials are impeccable, and the dishes showcase each ingredient at its best.

Price: Blowout

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Ever been to a self-proclaimed ‘theatre of fish’? We’re guessing not. But what exactly does that mean? On arrival at Pesca, staff offer a glass of champagne to enjoy while you peruse the day’s catch – cod, mussels, octopus, scallops – stylishly laid out on ice. Once you’ve made your selection, drinks and sides are added, you grab a table and wait for a plate of near-perfectly cooked fish. There’s a buzzy, fast-paced atmosphere to complement the food, making it the ideal starting point for a night on the town.

Price: Mid-range

If you’re an early diner, this charming wine bar off the Dappermarkt offers one of the best deals in town. Pappardelle with ragù is a perennial favourite, while the gnocchi changes seasonally to feature strong flavours like smoked scamorza in winter and fresh green peas in spring. It’s a delightful spot for couples and small groups, with intimate seating and plenty of sharing plates and charcuterie.

Price: Bargain

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Surprisingly for a city with so many Italian restaurants, quality pizza used to be something of a rarity. We said 'rarity', not 'impossibility'; enter Sotto. Delicate dough with a perfectly charred crust, sauces made with San Marzano tomatoes, and gooey puddles of Buffalo mozzarella have given way to two further branches and membership of the prestigious Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana – one of only two pizzerias in the country to be accepted. Pizza doesn’t get much better than this.

Price: Budget

Meat lovers rejoice, for this brasserie tucked away at the bottom of De Pijp is a mecca for all things chargrilled. Impeccable burgers – try the house speciality, with added pulled pork – jerk-style roast chicken and the best ribs in town are just some of the delights on offer. Steak lover and hungry? Their 1kg Absurde, which must be ordered 24 hours in advance, has you covered. Their craft beer menu is excellent, too, with a constantly rotating range of local brews on draught. 

Price: Mid-range

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When the craving for exceptional rotisserie chicken hits, head to this French-Flemish restaurant next to the Amstel River. Set in a former domestic sciences school, it’s a no-frills space with an open kitchen. The menu changes daily but always features classic French bistro classics with a Flemish twist – Rijsel, after all, is the Flemish name for the French town of Lille. This is a locals’ favourite that’s always packed, so book well in advance.

Price: Mid-range

This tiny spot in the Czaar Peter shopping district is all about the details. The young owners are passionate about their native Italian cuisine, and their seasonal dishes shine – think house-made ravioli, beautifully prepared meat and fish, and chicken liver bonbons that explode with flavour. For the best experience, try to snag a spot on the pavement out front.

Price: Mid-range

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Forget about the stuffier (and overpriced) Italian restaurants in the city centre and West and head to this cosy little diner in Oost. Their pasta menu is short but on-point – think linguine all cozze, all’arrabbiata and a succulent lamb ravioli – while the pizzas are thin-crust delights. Do leave space for the homemade tiramisù, and if you’re feeling decadent, ask the bartender for a negroni – they serve one of the city’s best. 

Price: Mid-range

Right next to the city zoo, this ultramodern bistro boasts quite the setting. There’s a spacious bar area serving ace cocktails and nibbles, while the restaurant proper sits in a cavernous 19th-century conservatory. Contemporary European dishes – some available in small and large sizes – sit side by side with sandwiches and lighter lunch plates. If the weather permits, bag a table on the terrace, which overlooks part of the zoo and is lit with fairy lights.

Price: Mid-range

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Bord’Eau
Photograph: Bord’Eau

17. Bord’Eau

With a Michelin star, an award-winning wine list and a spectacular canalside location, this is special-occasion dining at its finest. Executive chef Bas van Kranen’s fixed menus focus on showcasing top-notch ingredients through simple but innovative flavour combinations and elegant plating. The service is impeccable, and the setting classy yet unfussy. Reservations are a must.

Price: Blowout

If you find yourself craving a Sunday roast, head to The Cottage for a plate piled high with meat, veg and Yorkshire pudding. Though the owners are Dutch, they’ve mastered British classics like sausage rolls and shepherd’s pie – while including plenty of vegetarian options, too. The scones are good, but the homemade orange and cardamom jam takes them to the next level. Don’t miss the triple ginger cake for dessert.

Price: Mid-range

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What started as a pop-up restaurant has become a go-to destination in Amsterdam’s former lumber port. After climbing the wooden stairs to the third floor of an old warehouse, you’ll step into a minimalist whitewashed room with huge windows overlooking the River IJ. BAK was originally a vegetarian restaurant, and while the set menus now incorporate local meat and fish, veg is still the star of the show.

Price: High-end

Just around the corner from Rembrandtplein, you’ll find this two-storey hotspot that focuses on seasonal dishes and barbecued meat and fish. Dinner is served as a five or seven-course set menu, and at lunch, you can order à la carte. Formerly called Guts & Glory, this long narrow room used to change its theme with a new ‘chapter’ every season. They’ve settled into a menu guided by the ingredients rather than a quarterly concept – though the inventiveness remains.

Price: High-end

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The ‘Golden Pheasant Hotel’ is not a hotel at all, but an enormous restaurant housed in a former garage in Noord (with some quaint old cars still left inside). Located on the River IJ, this is a particularly good choice in summer, when the garage doors open wide and it feels like the entire dining room is outdoors. It’s not fancy – you’ll sit on red plastic chairs – but servers are attentive. Modern bistro-style French food is prepped in an open kitchen and served at reasonable prices.

Price: Mid-range

Dutch cuisine isn’t particularly kind to vegetarians, and vegans even less so. However, several addresses have popped up to fill this important void, and this chic, airy bar-restaurant in Old West is the best of the bunch. With a seasonal menu that’s 100 percent vegan – and organic where possible – they’re open every day for lunch, light bites and dinner (plus breakfast at weekends).

Price: Mid-range

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Ignore its location in the middle of tourist hell – the hordes of Chinese expats gobbling up ‘royal fish’, Kun Pao chicken, and Sichuan steamed beef are proof of this restaurant’s authenticity. It’s small but open until midnight, and diners tend not to linger. In Sichuan cooking, chilli is king, but they’ve also got plenty of specialities for those not so keen on spice, including a mean Peking duck. Portions are huge and come with mountains of rice, making this a great place for groups.

Price: Mid-range

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