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When we first fell in love with this magical city, it was for its balance of beauty, history and unpredictability. It is the only city in the world where you will find a coffee shop piping out its fragrant smog nestled beside an antique toyshop. It is the only city in the world where you will see locals spilling from their front doors to enjoy bottles of red wine and plates of cheese in the sun, their legs dangling in to the waters of the canals, while the S&M shop across the street sells its last stainless steel leash. It is a perfect mix of the liberal and the whimsical, and this uncontrived blend is what keeps us coming back time and time again.
So yes, the first time we set eyes on Amsterdam, our attentions were (for once) diverted from our stomachs as we weaved between the various pleasure domes of shopping, art, music and greenery. Yet the more time we spend there, the more we realise that it is truly one of the food centres of Europe. The thing about the Dutch is that they have exceptional taste; what is average in Holland would be considered a triumph in most parts of the UK. As a result, there are few places in their capital that are undesirable for a food or drink pit stop.
Scaling the city, you’ll find yourself pointing out an unrealistic number of places that you wish to return to later on. With this in mind, here are our personal favourite spots to indulge and replenish in this dreamy city.
Situated on a quiet, leafy street, Lavinia is the quintessential spot for a lazy brunch, most ideally on a rainy day (which, let’s be honest, aren’t few and far between in Holland). Made up of brick walls, giant pots of fresh flowers, and candles flickering morning and evening, it can feel like huddling into a welcoming stranger’s living room.
The brunch menu is bursting with fresh and satiating foods, all prepared in their open, airy kitchen. Come in here at breakfast and try the creamy oatmeal laden with homemade raspberry jam, almonds and elderberries, or the granola with Greek yoghurt and berries.
- +31 20 626 1432
- Go to Website
A short ferry ride from Central Station (join the hordes of cyclists on the free ferry to the N.D.S.M wharf) in the rising Amsterdam Noord, this local favourite is worth setting aside a whole summer’s day for. Pllek means ‘beach’ in Dutch, and on sunny days this restaurant throws open its monumental doors for people to come and lie on the stretch of manmade beach that stretches out onto the IJ River.
Visitors can lie in shored rowing boats, or bring their own towels to enjoy a punch of Dutch sun. The atmosphere is unmissable in warm weather, and since Noord is still relatively under the radar, Pllek is a far more appealing place to hang out in the summer months that the repellently busy Vondelpark.
From inside the giant, crater-like space, Pllek offers fantastic food and drinks at fairly reasonable prices, like crispy-skinned cod with sweet potato or Moroccan lamb stew with pumpkin, harissa and couscous. Also be sure to get some homemade bitterballen, a veal croquette that we ordered by accident and re-ordered twice more. Secure your spot on the beach early and watch the Noord locals pour in around you.
- +31 20 290 0020
- Go to Website
Two words: bloody Mary. They are something to behold in here; strong and dark with a bejewelled rim of salt and spices. Collin’s is open for brunch and dinner, and serves inventive dishes like mackerel kedgeree, coconut-crumbed French toast with homemade lemon curd, as well as oysters, Korean beef tartare and braised beef brisket. Whether you’re after traditional brunch fare or something a little jazzier, Collin’s has the lot. The setting is simple, cool and clean, with excellent people-watching opportunities at the glass-fronted benches.
- +31 20 673 2293
- Go to Website
Two For Joy
One of two daintily-named coffee houses in the city (side note: ‘coffee house’ sells coffee, ‘coffee shop’ sells other, greener-hued products), Two for Joy is located on Haarlemmerstraat, the vibrant stretch of road dotted with vintage boutiques, curiosity shops and the city’s oldest cinema. They offer a delightful array of baked cakes and brownies, as well as fresh sandwiches, soups and small bites. But ultimately, Two for Joy is beloved for its coffee, which is roasted in-house and sends plumes of bittersweet scents gliding into the street outside.
- +31 20 22195 52
G's Really Nice Place
You only need to attempt to park your bike outside G’s to realise how much of an institution this ‘Really Nice Place’ is. But with a little perseverance, you’ll find yourself nestled in the loving arms of one of Amsterdam’s most friendly establishments. This is a place that understands the art of tending to a hangover, and offers breakfast specials complete with two bloody Mary’s per person. The menu is separated into sections; ‘Foreplay,’ ‘The Main Act,’ ‘Happy Endings,’ ‘Tipsy,’ ‘Hot’ and ‘Sober,’ and contains every element necessary for a boozy Saturday brunch or a sobering Sunday morning feast. Expect piles of perfectly cooked eggs, glistening French toast, fresh fish and succulent bacon, all finished with the varying artistic stamps that make this such a treasured hub of the thriving Jordaan district.
Aside from being incredibly bright and airy, Venkel refuses to let you leave its doors without having been fully revitalised from head to toe. The menu is all in Dutch, but one of the squeaky-clean staff will ask you what you like, and proceed to rustle up a salad of titanic health benefits right in front of you. They serve pretty much every seasonal vegetable you could think of, and offer up a rainbow of fresh juices. Oh, and Venkel means ‘fennel’ in Dutch (one of the only words of this frankly impenetrable language that we can actually remember).
- +31 20 772 3198
Apple pie is Holland’s soul food, they take it very seriously. With this in mind, we searched high and low for Amsterdam’s best slice, and found it in the guise of Winkel, one of the city’s oldest cafes. Follow your nose along Prinsengracht until you see a striped green and white awning and a swarm of beautiful people eating giant slices of pie on scrubbed wooden tables, and you’ve found Winkel. The rest of the menu contains Dutch classics like pea and ham soup and rye sandwiches, but don’t mess around with all of that. Get straight to the point and order yourself a glass of fresh orange juice and apple pie, which you’ll see come piping hot out of the dumb waiter. The cakey, cinnamon-filled concoction will fast become your favourite thing to munch on during a weekend (and weekday) afternoon.
- +31 20 623 0223
- Go to Website
Two For Joy
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