One of the questions we get asked the most is “what are the latest trends of the Amsterdam food scene?”. And while we would love to come up with a surprising and insightful answer every time, that’s not how it works. It’s usually some rather unexpected event that triggers us to recognize a new trend. And so it happened last weekend on a trip to our favorite wine and liquor store Ton Overmars.
There are a lot of new local microbreweries in Amsterdam!
The Veterans – Brouwerij ‘t IJ and Brouwerij de Prael
It’s not that there were no microbreweries in Amsterdam before.
Actually, Brouwerij ‘t IJ has been around since 1985, and we have enjoyed many of their tasty brews throughout the years, especially on their lovely terrace by the windmill in Amsterdam Oost.
And it wasn’t just us, as Brouwerij ‘t IJ has been very successful. They extended their tasting room a few years ago and opened a second brewery in early 2013. So today you can find their distinct ostrich logo (a pun on IJ and ei, which means egg) in many bars and shops, and enjoy their regular selection of brews as well as seasonal specials.
Equally successful, although not around for quite as long, has been Brouwerij de Prael, another established household name in beers in Amsterdam, with its selection of beers named after Dutch chanson singers and tasting room smack in the middle of the red light district.
Given their success, and the microbrewery craze that swept the US, it’s probably surprising that nobody else was concocting fresh IPAs or mean Belgian Tripels around Amsterdam. But that has changed now.
The Rookies – Brouwerij Pampus, Two Chefs Brewing, and Butcher’s Tears
The self-proclaimed old salts at Brouwerij Pampus spent much of 2012 and 2013 experimenting with different brews, gathering extensive feedback through their Facebook page and participating in countless beer festivals with a wide variety of beers. All their beers seem to follow a sailor’s naming scheme, such as the Drenkeling (drowning person), a Juniper Ale, or Seeheld (hero of the sea), an IPA that we quite liked for its bitter yet somewhat unexpected but lovely creamy flavor.
Two Chefs Brewing also started in 2012. Coming from a background as professional chefs and looking for interesting flavors they are on a mission to put more barley, more hops and just generally more flavor back into beer. So far they have made available an IPA called Green Bullet, which indeed is heavy on the hops.
The last newcomer is Butcher’s Tears, located in small-scale industrial zone by the tram depot in Amsterdam Zuid. The tasting room and website look distinctly grungy, but there seems to be a rather professional organisation behind it if the range of beers and the list of distribution points are any indication. We liked hanging out in their tasting room where both the Night Cap, a smooth pale ale, and the refreshing Green Cap went down well.
Where to Taste
Quite a nice list if we may say so! But there appear to be even more such as Brouwerij De 7 Deugden, which provides work opportunities to disabled people, Jopen, the pride of Haarlem, or Oedipus Brewing who are currently looking for investors through a crowfunding platform.
We are probably still missing a few, so best to do some exploring yourself. Here’s where:
Brouwerij ‘t IJ, Brouwerij de Prael and Butcher’s Tears have fun tasting rooms:
1018 AL Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 528 6237
Open daily 2pm to 8pm
Public transport: Tram 10 to Hoogte Kadijk stop or tram 14 to Pontanusstraat
Cuisine: Limited selection of cold snacks
Vibe: Love all
Oudezijds Armsteeg 26
1012 GP Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 408 4469
Open Tuesday to Sunday 12pm to 12am, weekend until 1am
Public transport: Any tram, metro or train to Central Station
Cuisine: Snacks and small dishes
Neighborhood: Red light district
Vibe: Living room
1075 LB Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)6 5390 9777
Open Wednesday to Sunday 4pm to 9pm
Public transport: Bus 15 or tram 16 to Haarlemmermeerstation
Two of our favorite beer bars that serve some of the above, next to an amazing selection of specialty beers on tap and bottled, are Café Gollem and Arendsnest:
1015 BS Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 421 2057
Open Daily 2pm to 12am, weekend until 2am
Public transport: Tram 1, 2, 5, 13 or 17 to Nieuwezijds Kolk
Cuisine: Limited selection of cold snacks
1012 VZ Amsterdam
Open weekdays 4pm to 1am, weekends 12pm to 2am
Public transport: Tram 1, 2, or 5 to Spui
Cuisine: Cheese snacks
Vibe: Dive bar
Or bring a few bottles home at one of these two great specialty stores, De Bierkoning and Ton Overmaars:
1012 ZL Amsterdam
Open Monday to Saturday 11am to 7pm and Sunday 1pm to 6pm
Public transport: Tram 1, 2, 5, 13 or 17 to Dam
1059 CV Amsterdam
Open Tuesday and Wednesday 9am to 6pm, Thursday and Friday 9am to 7pm, Saturday 9am to 5pm
Public transport: 2 to Hoofddorpplein
Blue Pepper is a contemporary Indonesian restaurant that really stands out from the crowd. Its decor is stylish and yet it attracts an older more settled crowd. It serves rijsttafels (or rice tables), the most popular authentic Dutch/Indonesian dish, but served more elegantly as individual dishes rather than the usual family style. And it’s located near the center but distinctly removed from the tourist crowds.
Blue Pepper opened to much critical acclaim almost 10 years ago. A Michelin star past at restaurant Spandershoeve in the 90s, an Indonesian fusion menu and an über-cool blue decor have earned executive chef Sonja Pereira rave reviews from local critics such as Johannes van Dam and foreign food experts, including Mark Brittman of the New York Times. It’s lost some of its edge over the years but still serves great innovative food.
And indeed it’s blue! Inside, the walls and the ceiling are painted solid marine blue. There’s a blue awning above the window, blue decorations, blue business cards, and a blue website. The blue decor is further highlighted by the cold light from dozens of small halogen lamps and the small, tunnel-like space. We quite liked the cool vibe but can imagine that others may find it oppressive.
The food was great. Blue Pepper works with prix fixe menus ranging from The Sultan and I, which offers 20 individual dishes at €70, to a lighter and cheaper Summer Special at €44. The dishes are Indonesian with a modern twist as well as some unexpected Western ingredients. We loved the amuse-bouche of chicken won tons, with just the right crunchiness in the crust and lots of different flavors. Monkfish with lemon grass, shrimp with jackfruit and a spicy glass-noodle soup with a quail’s egg were other highlights. Blue Pepper is happy to substitute some red meat dishes and also offers a vegetarian menu upon request. The wine list is short but broad, including several New World options that go well with spicy food as well as expensive Bordeaux wines.
The service was somewhat sluggish as there was only one waitress serving all guests. But overall we enjoyed the slow pace as the individually served dishes of the menu kept us entertained. The option to pay by credit card, free tap water and air conditioning are other plusses that unfortunately are still not standard everywhere in Amsterdam.
In short, Blue Pepper is right for those looking for a sophisticated high-end dinner that stimulates the eye and excites the taste buds.
1054 AB Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 4897039
Open 6pm-10pm, closed on Tuesdays
Public Transport: Tram 7 or 10 to Raamplein, or 5 minute walk from Leidesplein
Vibe: Sophisticated modern
Price: €60 to €100 per person
Named after the French and invented by the Belgians, the Dutch certainly love their fries no less than these nations and make and consume them in masses. Many restaurants serve them as a side dish and there is a snack bar with French Fries on just about every corner.
But where can you find the best French Fries in Amsterdam? Somewhat surprisingly, but undisputedly, hole-in-the-wall Vleminckx on Voetboogstraat makes the most delicious fries in my city, and possibly in the whole world.
Vleminckx is amazing and certainly deserves its spot on dutchgrub’s best authentic Dutch restaurants in Amsterdam list. It’s basically a small kitchen with a window through which the fries are sold. The first thing you will see, is a long line of people waiting for their fries. The wait is never short and always worth it. And the kitchen is buzzing with washing, peeling, cutting, frying and double frying of the French Fries, which is kind of fun to watch while lining up.
The fires are large, golden and crispy on the outside and hot and steamy on the inside. They are served in a paper cone with a large selection of sauces including tomato ketchup, curry and mayonnaise, as well as adventurous concoctions such as a mixture of raw onions and peanut sauce called “oorlog”, Dutch for war.
Vleminckx is open until 6pm daily. So if you’re in town shopping, drop by and get in line for a real Dutch treat of delicious home made fries!
My lists of “Best Amsterdam Restaurants”, “Best Amsterdam Pizza” and “Best Amsterdam Terraces” are very popular. And since people often ask me for recommendations of typical local cuisine, I put together a list of “Best Authentic Dutch Restaurants” in Amsterdam.
I was a little torn about this list since, frankly, I am unimpressed about Dutch cuisine and there are better, non local food options in Amsterdam. But of course there is good authentic Dutch food in Amsterdam and I want to help you find the best pancakes, rijsttafel or French fries.
The list is broad, ranging from French fries on the street to high-end dining and from regional farmer’s fare from North Holland to exotic rijsttafels from Indonesia. Please check out dutchgrub’s “Best Authentic Dutch Restaurants” in Amsterdam and tell us about your Dutch food experiences in the comments!