Of all the types of restaurants around the world, you don’t see a lot of Dutch ones — and after a recent trip to Amsterdam, I can kind of see why. Food is not the Netherlands’ main attraction, and one’s culinary experience there can be awful or great depending on where you dine and what you order. With that in mind, here’s a guide to foods that may not taste the way you’d expect and ones I’d recommend instead.
Amsterdam is famous for these fried balls of meat — the city center is filled with machines that dispense them. But they are not for everyone. The inside is less like a meatball than like a creamy meat juice (which, in my opinion, is as unappetizing as it sounds).
Most French Fries
French fries are pretty innocuous, right? Unless you’re in Amsterdam and you dislike mayo and/or ketchup, which may be squirted all over your fries if you do not request otherwise. Just make sure to speak up before your food is prepared, and you should be fine.
This word translates to “cheese sticks,” but don’t expect mozzarella sticks. Inside the Dutch-Indonesian cookie is a very mild, soft cheese almost reminiscent of American cheese. The Netherlands may be known for its cheese, but this is not the best it has to offer in that department.
I actually think these are delicious, but they are not what you’d expect. Amsterdam iced cappuccinos are almost like coffee-flavored slushies, with crushed ice, milk, and lots of sugar.
Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx Fries
If you want higher-quality dipping sauces for your fries than ketchup or mayo, Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx is your place. The Belgian fries can come with satay sauce, apple sauce, yellow curry sauce, and every sauce you can imagine, including but not limited to mayo and ketchup.
There are a lot of great cheeses in Amsterdam, but my favorite is Buffalo mozzarella, an almost sour-tasting fresh mozzarella. You can find it at the grocery store or on the menus of many restaurants. My favorite was at the Lloyd Hotel, which makes a salad with buffalo mozzarella, summer squash, peas, and roasted pumpkin seeds.
If you’re looking for a classic Dutch delicacy, this custard, made of fresh milk, eggs, and sugar, is vanilla pudding 2.0. The Pulitzer hotel’s restaurant Jansz serves a delicious vla for dessert that comes with chocolate chips, cookie crumbs, and a rich, almost cheesy whipped cream you can mix in to create your own culinary adventure.
Iced Americano or Latte
The closest thing you can get to a good old American-style iced coffee is an iced Americano. Unless you’re at Starbucks (of which there are many), in which case you can ask for an iced latte. If you’re looking for a hot drink, Louis makes the frothiest latte macchiato I’ve ever seen. It's just one way the world drinks coffee.
We were hosted by the Pulitzer and Lloyd hotels during our stay in Amsterdam but the rest were our explorations and eating.