Cast off your chains
You’ll quickly notice that Amsterdam isn’t big on chains. Not of the bicycle variety – there’s probably more of them than people… But unlike many other cities, Amsterdam embraces independent cafes and restaurants.
From quirky hole-in-the-walls, to chic high-ceilings, Indonesian to Italian, settle in to grab-and-go, these 5 great places to eat that will fuel you up after a long bike ride and make you wonder why you ever bothered with Maccy’s. Oh, and did I mention – they’re all less than 10 minutes cycle from YourCityBike.
The Lebanese Sajeria
This small, family-run eatery is big on flavour. In just four years, they’ve grown from a food-truck into two restaurants in central Amsterdam. From morning till evening, Manoushe – traditional Lebanese flatbread – is freshly cooked before your eyes. People gaze through the window as the chef turns the bread on its ‘saj’ that bakes from beneath, as he drizzles it with their signature Zaatar spices and dusts it with Labneh.
The wrap comes with your choice of Lebanese favourites: halloumi, hummus, or spiced meat to name a few. They make their own Labneh (yoghurt-based cheese) every day, and import spices directly from Lebanon, elegantly combining an authentic taste of the eastern Mediterranean with their own personal craft.
Their two locations aren’t massive, so expect to wait for a table during busy periods, but in each, you’re only 30 seconds walk from a beautiful perch on the canal. Find a spot, close your eyes, and let your taste buds transport you to Lebanon.
More than half the menu is veggie/vegan, but I have to recommend their beef and hummus Manoushe. It’s bursting with flavour: rich, tender meat, sweet and tangy sesame and spice, all balanced by creamy hummus and fresh mint and veg. The wraps are bigger than they look, and make a substantial afternoon pick-me-up as you explore the Nine-Streets. Add a cup of lentil and coconut soup for €3.25 to turn it into a feast, and don’t miss out on traditional desserts: honourable mention goes to their Manoushe Halawa – an impossibly delicious combination of flatbread with sweet sesame, pistachio, and cranberry.
To step into Il Pacioccone is a curious experience. You leave behind Amsterdam and find yourself transported to a traditional Tuscan trattoria. When your food arrives, the sensation deepens.
What sets this place apart from the rest is their dedication to authenticity. From the ingredients sourced direct from Italy, to the wood fired oven, you will not find a more genuine Italian restaurant in Amsterdam.
Their menu changes every day. It is short, but leaving the tricky business of choosing primarily up to the chef will not disappoint. All the ingredients are fresh and seasonal, with special Italian wine to match.
The wooden panels, warm lighting and low ceiling offer an Italian take on gezelligheid. The outdoor area carries with it the vibes of a village square: the perfect place to enjoy the last rays of the day over a chilled glass of rose.
Their pizzas are a particular highlight, cooked (as everything is) almost instantaneously in the searing heat of the wood fired oven. Without a regular menu, my only recommendation is that you visit with an empty stomach and prepare to settle in for an Italian feast.
Just down the street from YourCityBike, is one of the best burger places I ever encountered. A bold claim, indeed, but when you cross the threshold and smell the meat cooking and see the creations coming out of the kitchen you’ll thank yourself you missed breakfast.
What marks Lombardo’s out from the rest is the quality and range of meat they source. You can choose from Black Angus, local lamb and pork, Scottish salmon, and premium Wagyu. They also have veggie and vegan options that could tempt even the most committed carnivore. I recommend the Moos & Blues, which comes with a proper chunk of proper stilton for those who want a change from Gouda.
The guys who work here are super friendly and will make your food just how you like it. The place seats around 10 people, so come in a small group with a big appetite and let Mr Lombardo cook you up a storm.
Cafe de Klos
That is all.
To venture a little west out of the city to Baires is to set your horizons a lot further west. All the way to Argentina in fact. I used to think empanadas were just silly pasties. I saw the light after visiting this place.
Whether for lunch, dinner, or just a snack on the way into town, Baires is your access to Buenos Aires in Amsterdam, and all the flavour that goes with it. It is medium-sized, comfortable, and with a friendly atmosphere. There’s a lovely spot to sit outside in the afternoon sun, set back from the quiet street.
The traditional Argentine mix of beef, onion, pepper and raisin balances flavour, texture and spice beautifully. But, even as an omnivore, I think their vegan creation has an edge: sweet potato, fresh wild spinach, corn and almonds…
Three empanadas will set you back only €10. A hearty feast in a small package.
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