Eating out in Amsterdam – It’s Not Just Pancakes and Pie

Food — By Anna Bandurska on April 5, 2010 at 10:10 pm

Dutch traditional cuisine is pretty limited to deep-fried bar snacks (bitterballen) at local brown bars, but the city is the most international in the world, and as a result you’ll have plenty of choice when it comes to selecting a restaurant.
In general, the Dutch tend to eat rather late (8-10pm), but if you have your heart set on a specific place, it’s good to make reservations and avoid disappointment. In the Netherlands there is no tipping culture, so service is slow and oftentimes poor (be prepared to ask multiple times for the same thing). However, since there is no pressure to finish your meal and clear out for the next customers, you can sit and enjoy the overall dining experience for as long as you like. Dinner outings with friends are entire social events that can take from 2 to 4 hours, so allow yourself at least 2 hours to really enjoy a restaurant.
If you’re in a rush, Chinatown is the best option. Like most Chinatowns, the restaurants are crammed, but the food is fresh and cheap, and the turnover is relatively high. Try the Thai Bird for a classier Chinatown experience.
Indonesian is a local food that has been appropriated by the Dutch as local cuisine. As Indonesia is a former colony, there is a large Indonesian immigrant community in Amsterdam. Make sure you try the kip sate (chicken in peanut sauce) – Kantjil en de Tijger is very popular with the locals.
Turkish and Middle Eastern are also common ethnic cuisines in Amsterdam. Turkish pizzas (rolled up flat bread with meat, spices and salad) is a popular snack, and available from many small shops around the city. For a restaurant experience, try Bazaar, located in the Albert Cuypmarkt and housed in an old church.
Traditional Dutch cuisine (like many other European cuisines) also consists of pancakes and apple pie. Pancakes are available with a variety of sweet or savoury toppings, and many restaurants around the city (Pancake Bakery, Menner Pancake) offer a big selection, excellent for a lunch or dinner break. Poffertjes are tiny quarter sized pancakes that usually come with sweet topping like butter and sugar, and are frequently available on pancake menus. During the festive seasons (Christmas, New Years, Queens Day) you can get these poffertjes from street vendors as well.
Oliebollen (or oil balls) are another festive snack. Deep fried dough balls covered in powder sugar, these treats are as delicious (and heavy!) as they sound, and available from street stalls that spring up around the city around New Years (mainly in Leidseplein, Museumplein, Dam Square and Rembrandtplein).
If you’re in a hurry, Amsterdam has its fair share of fast food restaurants including McDonald’s and Burger Kings – but beware: fast food service in Amsterdam is incredibly slow! It’s faster than proper restaurants, no doubt, but not nearly as speedy as what you may be used to.

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