Amsterdam may be best known for being a red-light, drug-fueled playground, with a constant stream of tourists lined up outside the Heineken Museum. But the village-y city has so much more to offer, like fantastic restaurants showcasing Dutch and international cuisines, food shops and markets, and bars serving classic cocktails. Rent a bike, stroll along the canals, stare at the iconic architecture, and keep an eye out for these food-loving stops along the way.
Spend your Saturday picking out the best of the best at Lindenhoff Marché, less than a half hour from Amsterdam’s center. Local farms come together for a market of fresh fruits, a traditional Dutch baker, and dairy products in the Dutch countryside.
The rustic and whimsical charm of De Bakkerswinkel should prove just right for a sweet breakfast or high tea in the afternoon. There are a number of locations around town, where locals and visitors read the morning paper or work on their laptops with tea, coffee, homemade pastries, and organic eggs as fuel.
The waterside Amstel Hotel (pictured) is home to the sleek and subtle Restaurant La Rive, where avant-garde international cuisine meets Dutch flavors. Think mackerel with oysters, shrimp, and papaya, or quail with duck liver, mushrooms, and Madeira wine. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/drobm)
The less-than-easily-Googled Le Restaurant is the latest venture from chef Jan de Wit, a formerly two-Michelin-starred chef. It is relaxed, simply sophisticated, and offers French-inspired local and seasonal cuisine. Dishes like light cream of fennel with beetroot, grapes, and croutons, and North American beef with creamy polenta and crème fraîche have already earned the restaurant critical acclaim.
Drink among the locals at Café Zilt, on the waterfront just before the start of the Red Light District. Start or end a night here, with a wide range of beers and great bar snacks, like their famous spicy meatballs.
Swill and sip at Vyne, a charming and intimate wine bar with an extensive cellar on view from basically every vantage point in the place. Find a seat on the caramel-colored leather banquette and pick on snacks like scallops with bacon and pear compote and foie gras, while tasting from their endless selection of wines from around the world.
Bonus: October through February is the cheapest time to go to Amsterdam, even though the city is alive and bustling with tourists all year round. The Amsterdam Marathon, Museum Night, and traditional winter and holiday celebrations (including raucous New Year’s Eve parties) are some of the season’s great tourist draws.