Restaurante Madrid Amsterdam

We have always missed a good tapas restaurant in Amsterdam. Until we heard of Restaurante Madrid in Amsterdam West. Located on the corner of Bellamystraat and Ten Katestraat, not exactly one of the foodie neighborhoods of town, Madrid delivers: A typical Spanish interior with wooden furniture, lots of wine and ham on display and colorful artwork. A friendly Spanish waiting staff that knows and loves Spanish cuisine. A menu that has all the tapas classics as well as some lesser known specialties. And last but not least well executed dishes across the board.

On one of the few pleasant evenings of this summer, we sat outside and eagerly poured over the menu. Making decisions wasn’t easy with too many of the tapas and pinchos sounding appealing. Luckily the waitress was more than happy to help out with recommendations and while doing so also set us up with an incredibly fruity Priorat wine that wasn’t on the wine list. We love restaurants that go the extra mile to make their guests happy and Restaurante Madrid certainly came through!

As for the tapas, we went with a large selection to share and let us sample as many as possible. We especially liked the classics. The Iberico ham was very smooth, the bacalao had great flavor and the patatas bravas a perfect sauce. Of the specials, the marinated pork with white beans and the chorizo in dough hit the spot.

Over a second bottle of the Priorat we started chatting with the next table, a group of Spaniards living in the neighborhood that had discovered Restaurante Madrid recently and quickly became regulars. When leaving, they asked us to keep the secret about this great restaurant as to not spoil a good thing.
Bellamystraat 11
1053BM Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 4899375
Public Transport: Trams 7 or 17 to Ten Katestraat
Cuisine: Tapas
Neighborhood: West
Vibe: Tasteful
Price: €50 per person

Kaap Kot – Peacefulness and Views in the City

Note: Unfortunately Kaap Kot has closed doors as of January 2012.

The other day we were asked for a recommendation for New Year’s Eve on Twitter. A special yet cozy place in the city. This immediately made me think of Kaap Kop, which unfortunately is closed for NYE, but is definitely one of those rare places that are located right in the city and still manage to have a very calm and remote feel to them.

The concept of Kaap Kot is to temporarily occupy a space that the city planners have designated for future development. This has given Kaap Kot access to vast locations with amazing views and peacefulness as the surrounding areas are mostly unoccupied. It has also led the owners to use a simple but cool metal building structure that can be quickly disassembled and reassembled in a different location.

After a few years on IJdijk, south of the IJ, just west of A10 exit S114, Kaap Kot is currently located on Korte Ouderkerkerdijk. The location is amazing, sitting on the banks of the Amstel, by what rowers know as the grote bocht – or great bend – a very wide part of the river, opposite the Amstel train station and Rembrandt tower. You get a great view of the business center while sitting quietly surrounded by docks and a rowing club.

kaap kot amsterdam

Kaap kot is great for summer lunches out on their terrace, but also for winter dinners when it provides refuge and coziness. The decor is simple and the menu Mediterranean. For lunch Kaap Kot serves fancy sandwiches, salads, soup and some pasta dishes. For dinner there are also some simple fish and meat dishes with salad and french fries.
Korte Ouderkerkerdijk 30
1096 AC Amsterdam
Tel.: +31 (0)20 463 71 58
Public Transport: Metro to Spaklerweg
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Neighbourhood: Watergraafsmeer
Vibe: Water
Price: €25 to €40 per person

Best Amsterdam Terrace List Updated

The weather in Amsterdam has been incredible for weeks now. When the weather service initially warned of a heat wave back in early June, I chuckled. But when the sun kept shining, with temperatures at unprecedented 30 degrees centigrade for weeks on end, I smiled. And while this meant less eating out, it also meant lots of time on Amsterdam’s terraces enjoying many a Weihenstephaner Weissbier or IJwit from Brouwerij ‘t IJ.

With more nice days expected to follow, I decided to update my list of Best Amsterdam Terraces and added long-time favorite Café Onder de Ooievaar as well as the new crowd pleaser Bar Brandstof. So check out Amsterdam’s best spots for a cool brew, hope for more good weather and join us for a cool brew: Best Amsterdam Terraces

erdinger at ooievaar

Cost of Drinks on Amsterdam Terraces

Amsterdam came in at a quite affordable number 29 in the recent Mercer Worldwide Cost of Living survey 2009 – City ranking. The research investigates over 200 goods and services in 290 locations.

The ranking shows that overall Amsterdam is considerably cheaper than leader Tokyo or European capitals Milan, Paris and London. Food and drinks are another story, though. This is confirmed by the results of the yearly research on the average cost of drinks on popular terraces by Dutch gastronomy consultancy Van Spronsen & Partners.

Van Spronsen sampled the cost of two glasses of the legendary small Dutch beers, two glasses of regrettably trendy rosé wine and two soft drinks. Amsterdam is the most expensive city in the Netherlands with an average cost of € 16,= for the six drinks. Rotterdam and The Hague come next at € 15,20.

I ran a quick check of the prices against my list of best Amsterdam terraces. Not surprisingly, Cafe ‘t Sluisje in Amsterdam Noord is cheapest at € 12,60 – a significant saving. But even centrally located hot spots Cafe Walem and Cafe de Jaren charge less than the average – € 2,20 for a soft drink, € 2,30 for a small beer and € 3,00 for a glass of rosé. Even Gent aan de Schinkel, the most expensive on my list, is below average at € 15,80.

Pick your spot in the sun carefully as clearly some terraces in tourist locations are charging way too much for poor quality!

cafe de jaren amsterdam - terracegent aan de schinkel amsterdam - terrace

Best Amsterdam Terraces

Note: This is an old version of dutchgrub’s best Amsterdam terraces. For the up to date version with a map, please see

Amsterdam is a different city when the sun comes out. The locals know all too well that sunny days are precious and head for the parks, terraces and boats in masses. It’s quite amazing how everyday life just stops, everybody drops whatever they have been doing, and heads out for that perfect spot in the sun.

Not surprisingly, there are plenty of terraces and finding the right one is not easy. Having seen the standard recommendations in the recent TimeOut and the local NL20 magazine, I decided to publish my own list. Their recommendations seem to focus mostly on trendy places and ignore some of the intricacies of Amsterdam including weather, crowds and the ubiquitous lack of service.

So here are my picks for best terraces in Amsterdam where you can enjoy great drinks and a few snacks. All of them have great location, mostly off the beaten path and situated in such a way that you can actually sit in the sun if it decides to shine. Beware, many of the terraces around the canals will be in the shade from the late afternoon on. And all terraces provide a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, service with a personal touch rather than unpleasant crowds, plastic chairs and overwhelmed staff.

Brouwerij ‘t IJ

At micro brewery Brouwerij ‘t IJ you can sip a range of home brewed Belgian-style beers on a great terrace under an old Dutch windmill. What more can you ask for? Its simplicity and quirkiness has made the brewery very popular. On sunny weekend afternoons the terrace literally spills over as the thirsty crowd claims each and every inch of the brewery’s pub, the terrace and the pavement of the nearby streets. There is an interesting mix of regulars, locals, families, beer enthusiasts and tourists. You have to walk to the counter to pick up your own beer, choosing from a pilsner, three trappist, a wheat and two specialty beers.
Funenkade 7
1018 AL Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 622 83 25

Gent aan de Schinkel

Gent is a mix of restaurant, local bar around the corner and lovely outdoors cafe in the summer. It’s located in an old building next to a drawbridge over the Schinkel canal by the western exit of Vondelpark. The restaurant has a monthly changing organic menu. The regulars enjoy sitting on the high bar stools and drinking Affligem, Chouffe, Palm or one of the other Belgian beers on tap. And on a sunny day it seems as if anybody who lives west or south of Vondelpark gathers around one of the outside tables on the sidewalk or in the small beer garden right by the Schinkel. In case you are looking for a place to stay, there is a great bed and breakfast in one of the small houses next to Gent with an equally great view of the canal.
Theophile de Bockstraat 1
1058 TV Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 388 28 51

Cafe Hesp

Cafe Hesp is a typical Amsterdam-style brown cafe with a large terrace directly by the Amstel, down near Amstel Station. Most people head to the Amstelhaven or De IJsbreker to enjoy a few drinks and snacks next to the Amstel. I prefer to head further upstream to Hesp, which has two large terraces with sunlight until late in the evening and a great selection of 20 types of beer on tap. Hesp serves decent bitterballen and sate with fries and draws a large after-work crowd, especially on Friday. It’s fun to watch the mostly business crowd gather around the beer garden style tables and get rowdier and rowdier as another large round of Weihenstephan or Palm arrives and is downed to much cheers and merriment.
Weesperzijde 130-131
1091 ER Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 665 12 02

Cafe de Jaren

Cafe de Jaren, like Cafe Walem, is an Amsterdam institution. De Jaren has been around for years and every Amsterdammer has been there at least a few times. It’s almost as chic as its neighbor, classy Hotel de l’Europe. It’s spacious, with high ceilings, and boasts a classic chic that makes it a great destination for either fun or business. De Jaren actually has two terraces, both hidden in the back of the building, overlooking the water across from the Stopera. One terrace is on the first floor, the other downstairs, tucked away in a corner, with a dock that some guests use to arrive at De Jaren by boat. There is somewhat of an intellectual feel because of newspapers available on large tables. It’s a terrace where you would have a trendy caffe latte or a good glass of white wine or champagne.
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20
1012 CP Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 6255771

Cafe ‘t Sluisje

‘t Sluisje is like a village tavern, far off the beaten path on the other side of het IJ behind Central Station. You get there by ferry and will feel great about leaving the hectic city behind. The Nieuwendammerdijk is a former dyke, lined by century old small Dutch houses. ‘t Sluisje is located in one of them, built in 1565 next to the boat lock. The same family has been running the cafe for over 100 years with a few interruptions. Everything at the cafe is simple – there is a small menu of snacks and people come to enjoy a traditional beer or jenever and not fancy drinks. It’s a great destination for a bike tour beyond city limits. Alternatively you could opt for Klein Kalfje, another great terrace out in the countryside, a few miles up the Amstel, heading south of Amsterdam towards Ouderkerk.
Nieuwendammerdijk 297
1025 LM Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 636 17 12?

Cafe Walem

Cafe Walem, run by the same owners as Cafe de Jaren, is somewhat of an institution and has been in its Keizersgracht location for over 20 years. The food at Walem is not great and the service can be erratic. The chic terrace, however, is great. It’s one of the few sunny locations around the canals, by the Leidsestraat bridge over Keizersgracht. The crowd, like the retro-modern interior design, is very stylish and wants to be seen. You may spot a local celebrity and Cafe Walem is also very popular by the gay scene.
Keizersgracht 449
1017 DK Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 6255771?

Picnic in Vondelpark

When the weather in Amsterdam is as beautiful as it has been throughout April and May, there is no stopping the usually sun deprived Dutch from crowding the canals with boats and covering the parks with picnic blankets.

A very convenient way to join in the fun is to pick up a ready-made picnic basket at Casa e Cucina, an organic lunchroom with friendly service and free wifi. Casa e Cucina is located on Koninginneweg, less than 5 minutes walking distance from Vondelpark.  The picnic baskets are € 14,95 if you order in advance and contain a tuna salad wrap, pasta salad, a piece of carrot cake, water and orange juice.

And I’m sure you’ll be able to organize the missing beer or prosecco from one of the convenience stores on your way!

ready-made picnic baskets from casa e cucina
ready-made picnic baskets from casa e cucina