Amsterdam, an unexpected food haven

Last updated 18th July 2022

Shellie Bailey-Shah and her sons experience the culinary delights of the Netherland’s capital – visit late spring or in summer for the warmer weather.

Why go?

My sons and I recently embarked on a three-month trip around the world and spent three wonderful days in Amsterdam. We cruised the picturesque canals, toured the Anne Frank House, admired Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and climbed the ‘I AMSTERDAM’ sign. But perhaps surprisingly, some of our most memorable moments in Amsterdam revolved around the food.

My 10-year-old son, Aidan, has a culinary mission: to sample pancakes in every country that he visits. He loves pancakes! And the best pancakes that he has found so far are in Amsterdam.

Where to eat

Our favorite spot is The Pancake Bakery, located in a former Dutch East India Company warehouse on Prinsengracht, near the Anne Frank House and Westerkerk. Cozy and welcoming, the restaurant offers an endless variety of both savory and sweet pancakes, plus a full selection of international flavors.

To sample hearty Dutch cooking, head to De Blauwe Hollander (The Blue Dutchman) near Leidsegracht for dinner. We’d recommend the pea soup with rye bread and smoked bacon and traditional Hotchpotch (a traditional Dutch dish made of boiled and mashed potatoes, carrots, and onions) with mashed potatoes, vegetables and beef or sausage. For kids, there’s chicken fillet or croquet Van Dobben (veal) with French fries and apple mash.

Don’t leave Amsterdam without tasting the Indonesian food. Indonesia was a former Dutch colony, and the Dutch have a fondness for the cuisine. For lunch, go to Sama Sebo near the Rijksmuseum and try the Nasi Goreng – the best bowl of food that I had in three months of traveling! For dinner, try rijstaffel (rice table) at Sampurna. It’s a bit pricey – but delicious. Rijstaffel is a shared buffet of 10-15 small dishes served at your table. Don’t like one of the dishes? Just move on to the next. (We bet that you’ll love them all!)

Finally, to have a truly Dutch experience, eat fresh herring at one of the street stalls, called haringhandels. My two boys missed out; they couldn’t get past the smell.

The lowdown

When:  To enjoy the city to its fullest, plan a visit in late spring or summer.

Getting there: British Airways flies to Amsterdam from Gatwick, Heathrow and London City; from £76 return.