Traditional Dutch Food and Restaurants in Amsterdam

While the Dutch are not known for their cuisine, there are some Dutch foods everyone should try at least once. Here’s where to nosh, dine, and nibble in one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

The Dutch are notorious for certain things: their adherence to schedules, affinity for bicycles, liberal laws and lifestyle, tulips and windmills. Despite the reputation for not being big on food, there are certain Dutch foods that every foreigner should try. Additionally, there are some great restaurants in Amsterdam that are not to be missed.

Outside of Amsterdam you will find more snack bars than anything else, as the Dutch are famous for slapping things on toast, or popping something in the deep fryer and having just a few bites. This article has got you covered no matter what you want to eat.

Traditional Dutch treats to try


The Dutch are generally tall and thin thanks to genetics, eating to live (rather than living to eat) and all that cycling. But there are certain Dutch mainstays that everyone should try.

The first on the list and my favorite is Stroopwaffels. These are thin waffle-like cookies with caramel sandwiched in between them. Sure, you can find them in the international aisle of most countries’ grocery stores, but in Amsterdam you need to do it the right way. Put your stroopwaffel on top of a cup of coffee or tea (or hot chocolate) for a minute and the caramel will melt and the cookie will get toasty. Then enjoy the surprisingly heavy treat the Dutch way.

Another fantastic Dutch treat is hagelslag. These are chocolate sprinkles (or jimmies), but the Dutch don’t put them on ice cream. Instead, they’re put on toast with butter, Nutella or other spreads. The Dutch love hageslag – you’ll see everyone from children to business men enjoying it on toast any time of day.

Before we move on to “real” food, let’s take a minute to explore speculaas and speculoos. Speculaas are a deliciously spiced cookie, often in the shape of a windmill. They are great with tea, cider, or coffee.

Speculoos is a spread made of the cookies. Yes, it’s liquid cookie. Once you try this it is impossible not to buy it any time you come across it in the store. In other countries it is often packaged as “cookie spread” and with the brand name “Biscoff”.

Traditional Dutch food everyone should taste


When in Amsterdam it is sometimes hard to find traditional Dutch food, however, it is possible. If you decide to visit a Dutch restaurant (and you should, at least once) try the local fare to gain an understanding of the culture. The best place to do this in town is Moeder’s.

Stamppot is about as Dutch as it comes. It is a mix of vegetables and potatoes (mashed) and what you will typically find for dinner. From one vegetable (lettuce or other greens, carrots, peas) to a more upside down shepherd’s pie version, the Dutch eat a tremendous amount of potatoes and stamppot is the way that they are most likely to make it to the table.

Pannekoeken is Dutch for “pancake”. Pannekoeken are thin, like crepes, and served savory or sweet. Like in many places in Europe, the Dutch eat them for dinner, rather than breakfast. Plain pannekoeken are eaten with Nutella, butter, jam, or any other spread as a light meal or snack.

A dinner pannekoeken spread might include Gouda and bacon, vegetables, or chicken. Pannekoeken is generally cut into strips with a knife and fork and then rolled before being eaten so that the flavors meld.

Another Dutch meal tourists should try is ertwensoep, a thick pea soup. Vegetarians, this one is not for you as it has bacon and ham. The traditional soup is made with peas, potatoes, broth, bacon, onion and a ham hock in the cooking water.

The goal is to make the soup so thick that a spoon is able to stand up in it. Some restaurants serve it a little more liquid (but still thick) while others make it the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Bitterballen are croquettes of beef or veal that are finely minced or chopped and mixed with flour, broth, and butter and then breaded and fried. The Dutch are very fond of croquettes like these ones and you will be able to find them in restaurants, pubs and at snack bars. They are savory croquettes enjoyed as a snack or alongside a meal.

Croquette-like food also makes for a popular dessert: olliebollen, or Dutch donuts, are fried small desserts. These can be found at restaurants and snack bars and should be tasted for getting a sense of Dutch cuisine.

Restaurants to visit in Amsterdam


If you’re in Amsterdam for any amount of time, and you’ve tried the traditional food, then consider moving on to some other stars of the city for meals you’d expect in foodie towns at reasonable prices.

Craving Italian? Trust me when I recommend Panini located at Vijzelgracht 3-5. It’s the first place I’ll enjoy a meal the next time I’m in Amsterdam. Unassuming and small, the Italian eatery has a modest menu with excellent options.

Breakfast should be skipped because it’s limited and you can get the same things for less money at a coffee shop or market. Lunchtime paninis are great, but if you want a pleasant surprise, come here for dinner. With both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, Panini offers excellent Italian fare from soup to nuts. If the tomato soup is available, get it! Also: if gnocchi is available, order it!

Salads are fresh and nicely prepared and hot dishes are served piping hot and beautifully plated. Another good thing about Panini is that the service is great and they are tourist-friendly. This is not always the case at Dutch restaurants, more due to cultural differences than anything else, but it can be intimidating if you don’t speak Dutch.

Restaurant Kamasutra at Lange Niezel 9 near the Red Light District offers excellent traditional Indian food for those craving a little spice and eastern flair. Kid and family friendly, it is off the beaten path but easy to find and not located in direct line of any brothels, so you can sit at the window without having to explain to your kids what those lovely ladies are doing.

While the menu is in Dutch, they do have menus in other languages and the wait staff, the night I was there, spoke English, Spanish and French. This is another spot I will revisit for my Indian fix. The food is excellent and there are many spiced to choose from. The only thing that stuck out was that the saag, while great, was very different from any other saag we’ve had. Not sure if it’s a Dutch thing or this particular restaurant.

Looking for a dinner that’s something else entirely? You’ve got two choices that are like no other meal you’ll ever experience. Supperclub has two Amsterdam options: a traditional venue in the city and a cruise.

Supperclub has a few venues around the world that are known for being an experience that goes well beyond dinner: four course meal, contests, dancing, performance art, acrobatics, rope dancing… you never know just what you’re going to get at Supperclub, but there’s a good chance you, or someone you know, will be pulled into the action.

Starting with drinks in the bar, the venue is all welcoming and accepting and once things move to the dining room (where you will sit on a bed with your party) there’s no telling where the night will go. The food comes from a local source, it’s creative and fresh, the staff is phenomenal, and the night never unfolds the same way twice.

Book far in advance if you wish to experience Supperclub!

Get your drink on


In addition to eating, sometimes it’s nice to take a break from your busy day or end the night with a quiet drink. Amsterdam is a great place to enjoy a drink and gaze at the people walking by.

Café Mulder at Weteringschans 163 is small, rustic, and a great place to get a pint or a mixed drink. You are in for an absolute treat if Case is tending the bar. Get him talking about music and he’ll play something for you, and, if he likes you, he’ll curate a playlist. It’s like drinking in your house, only while at a bar in Amsterdam. The ambient is beautifully appointed, rustic, and near the tram.

For a daytime break, grab a table outside of Boutique Hotel and Brasserie Patou at P.C. Hoofstraat 63. The people gazing is incredible and the wine list isn’t bad at all. Service here is typical of Dutch eateries, so prepare for it to be a little chilly. It’s not you, it’s a focus on efficiency and service, but it can be off putting at first. Light eats here are also a treat – so consider ordering something to share and enjoy checking out the people of Amsterdam.

Heineken, Amstel, Hoegaarden… you’ve been drinking lots of Dutch beer. But maybe you’re craving something a little different? Well, head over to Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 250 and prepare to be amazed. This is the home of Beer Temple, a bar that serves really good American Beer from all over the country – securing bottles, cans and draught beer from America’s greatest microbreweries.

They also make an American style house beer called Temple Bier that is fantastic. Be sure to sample beers from Michigan (Founders, Shorts, Dark Horse for some of the best the state offers along with interesting choices from Jolly Pumpkin), California (Russian River produces award-winning beers), and New York (Southern Tier).

Ten things to know about eating and drinking in the Netherlands

Bunch of flowers on the table

  1. A glass of water is often not a given. Just ask for one. Similarly, there are no free refills on non-alcoholic beverages – you will pay for each beverage.
  2. When eating outdoors it is customary to sit at a table just as someone leaves. It will often not be cleaned until you sit down. If you stand around waiting for someone to clean it prior to sitting, you’ll get annoyed with everyone jumping ahead of you in line.
  3. It is common to tip 5-10 percent, unless the service is particularly bad. Other thing to keep in mind when tipping is that many Europeans follow a rule of tipping one or two Euros per person in the party. It is considered classy to quietly say to the waiter the total amount you want him to charge you. If the bill is 41 Euro, for example, you can hand over 50 and say, “45”. Wait staff appreciate tipping in cash, even if you are paying with a credit card. Also, hand the tip directly to the waiter rather than placing it on the table.
  4. While not necessary, the Dutch eat with a fork in their right hand and a knife in their left. Using the right hand for both utensils in a restaurant is viewed as awkward.
  5. Prior to a meal the Dutch say, “Eet smakelijk” (pronounce the ee like a long a. Pronounce the a like ah, e like eh, and ij like eye). It is common for one person to serve everyone at the table and then to serve himself. Often, if a meal is large or heavy, the Dutch will say, “Wij leven morgen nog wel” which essentially means that you have tomorrow to behave.
  6. The Dutch eat more licorice than anyone else in the world and it comes in several varieties – sweet, salty, double salt for flavor and you can choose between it being hard or soft. If you are coming from another place and visiting with a family, bring red licorice as many Dutch are not familiar with this and find it highly amusing.
  7. It is customary, when welcomed into a Dutch home, to be given a coffee and one cookie. Many Dutch will laugh at their own custom and joke that they are known for the one cookie. It is considered rude to ask for additional cookies.
  8. The Dutch generally eat sandwiches for breakfast and lunch (toppings on slices of bread) and dinner is eaten around 6 pm. Dinner is often cooked at home and either made up of a traditional meal like stamppot or a meat/potato/vegetable plate.
  9. Restaurants often have vegetarian options and can meet other dietary needs. It is best to call ahead and ask for them, then make a reservation so that the kitchen is prepared.
  10. “Going Dutch” isn’t just an expression and it is considered polite to split a bill after a meal with Dutch friends.

About the author

Nancy K.

When I’m not busy writing my next travel article, you can find me showing America to exchange students, hiking, cycling or planning my next vacation. My favorite destination is anywhere I haven’t been yet! You can follow or, better yet, talk to me on Twitter and G+.


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  • Hallo Youqueen,
    In this article about Amsterdam and food, I read something isn’t correct.
    In the Netherlands we eat always with fork and knife, or fork and spoon!
    The fork always in the left hand!! Knife or spoon in the right hand. When you eat rice or pasta, we use a spoon instead of a knife. It is not “well behaved” to eat only with your fork in your right hand.
    With kind regards,
    Do you know that we love the Indonesian food? You didn’t mention in this article…

    • Thank you, Elsbeth! You are absolutely correct. I’m not sure I let that mistake get by my final edit. The Dutch do not eat with their fork in the right hand… that is a rather American habit and also looked as as lowbrow here. Thanks for the catch!