My five favourite restaurants in Amsterdam
I love Amsterdam! Although I live in the south of the Netherlands, I’ve been to Amsterdam many times. Over the years, I’ve spend countless hours walking its streets and canals. Lately, when I went through my collection of photo’s again, I realized that there were almost no pictures from Amsterdam. When I’m in a city that’s close to my home and that I visit more often, I don’t take as much photo’s as when I’m exploring new places. Do you recognize that?
Lately I’ve been to Amsterdam again, which made me realize that this city definitely earns a post on Vinquiries – and more than one! My first post about Amsterdam features my five favourite restaurants over there. I’ve been out for dinner many times, but there are five restaurants that stood out for me personally. These are places that I genuinely recommend and would visit again myself. I’ve visited all featured restaurants at least once and this post is not sponsored in any way. I’ve ordered the places on price, starting with the cheapest option (although this also depends on your order, of course ?)
Amsterdam counts many burger bars and I think this is the only one that I’ve been to. So although I have little to compare to – I’m usually not that much into burgers – this is a place where I would go again for a quick lunch. What I really like is the option to create your own personalized burger; you can choose the type of burger, the sauce, and build up all kinds of toppings. Then they prepare your burger in front of you, in the open kitchen. Burger Zaken is located in the heart of Amsterdam, just a few steps away from the Red Light district.
Visit Burger Zaken at Oude Hoogstraat 2. Go to their website.
Another place that I would recommend is the Cantonese restaurant Nam Kee – for the one who know it, indeed, the restaurant from the movie. Although Nam Kee was already well-known in the area of Amsterdam, it’s fame increased when the Dutch writer Kees van Beijnum in 2000 released his book ‘De Oesters van Nam Kee’ [The Oysters of Nam Kee’], which was movie adapted in 2001. The book has been on my shelves for a while, but I have to admit that it’s still on my ‘to read list’. Sorry book, it’s about me (and my lack of time), not about you.
Nam Kee has three locations, all in Amsterdam. The first restaurant opened in 1981 at the Zeedijk, the second in 1992 at the Nieuwmarkt, and the third place opened in 2010 at the Marie Heinekenplein. I’ve been to the Zeedijk and the Marie Heinekenplein. The place at the Zeedijk doesn’t look great at first sight. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, it’s almost always crowded, which means you often have to wait for a table since this location does not take reservations. Finally seated, the ambiance isn’t great with its gray walls and TL-lights. The food, however, is delicious and surprisingly affordable.
Compared with Nam Kee at the Zeedijk, the Marie Heinekenplein location will be a world of difference! As cramped and crowded it is at the Zeedijk, so spacious and quiet it is at the Marie Heinenenplein. I went there on a weekday for a late lunch, so the place was quite empty. That allowed me to have a quiet chat with a friend whom I had not seen for a long time. We ordered some green tea, which was refilled for free, and spend the afternoon drinking tea and eating oysters and other tasty stuff. Although it wasn’t busy when I was there for lunch, I can imagine that it will be busy during rush hour or in the weekend. This location does take reservations, so to be better safe than sorry, ensure yourself a table.
My personal Nam Kee favourites are their Peking duck and ‘Oesters van Nam Kee’ [Oysters of Nam Kee], steamed oisters in blackbeansauce. Beware! Their portions are huge. If I order a starter and a normal size main courses, I cannot finish it. I should say here that I’m not a big eater, but usually I’m able to finish my plate.
Visit Nam Kee at the Zeedijk 111, the Marie Heinekenplein 4 and the Geldersekade 117. Go to their website.
The restaurant that without doubt delivers a unique experience is Ctaste. In Ctaste, you’ll be dining in the dark, and by dark I do not mean dimmed lights and candlelight, but literally pitch-black. Whut? The idea of dinner in the dark is to focus on the other senses than the one we usually rely on the most – our sight. Since you cannot see your food, you’ll focus more on its taste and smell. Ctaste has only surprise menus (in several prize categories). The waiters don’t tell you about the food when they serve it like they normally do in a restaurant, but at the end of the evening after you’ve left the dining area. This way you have to guess about the food you’re eating. Believe me, this is more difficult than you expect!
I can hear you think, “but what about the waiters, isn’t it impossible to serve food without being able to see where you’re walking?” Yes, for most people it is! However, for people who are blind or visually impaired, this is the most normal case of being. They will serve your food and will guide you when you’re walking in the dark eating area. And what’s a better way to end a dinner than with a polonaise with all your friends, from your table to the entrance? ?
Visit Ctaste at the Amsteldijk 55. Go to their website.
MOMO is totally different than the other places I’ve mentioned. I would say that it’s more of a modern and trendy place. It’s a restaurant, bar and lounge with Asian cuisine and delicious cocktails. On Thursday to Sunday there’s a DJ who mixes his records behind the bar. This makes MOMO a perfect place for an evening out with good food, drinks, and music. Although it’s not a cheap option, I think it’s worthwhile to pay MOMO a visit when you’re in Amsterdam.
Visit MOMO at the Hobbemastraat 1. Go to their website.
Last but not least: Vinkeles. This might not be in everyone’s price range, but I have to include this one since it’s definitely among the best restaurants I’ve ever been. Vinkeles is located in the 18th century bakery building of the luxurious Dylan Hotel. The historical setting creates a sophisticated and impressive, yet intimate ambiance. The cuisine is French with an international twist. I’ve been to Vinkeles a few times and every single time has been fantastic! Chef Dennis Kuiper will surprise you with his unique and original creations. They also offers great wines and have the best recommendations for pairing with food – very important for a wine lover like me! It’s for a reason that Vinkeles has been awarded a Michelin star.
Visit Vinkeles at the Keizersgracht 384. Go to their website.
Where to find these places?
In case this post has inspired you to visit one of these restaurants in Amsterdam, I tried to make your life a bit easier by providing you with a map that features all above mentioned restaurants. Click on the image for a larger version.