I have done extensive research on my many visits to Amsterdam to find some of the best bars, café’s and restaurants in the city. Mainly bars. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it. So here are some of the best places to pop into for some refreshment…
Wander around the Jordaan
It seems there’s a café or restaurant on every corner in this lovely part of town, roughly between the Norderkerk and Westerkerk (churches) along the Prinsengracht (canal). You’ll probably find equally good ones by just picking one at random and walking in, but a couple of ones I’ve been to and recommend are Café ‘t Smalle and Café de Tuin.
Drink in the Red Light District
Yes, really. Some of the best bars are here, populated by a quirky mix of locals and tourists – who are either energised by the atmosphere in this most liberal part of the city, or a bit bemused by what they’ve just seen and need a reviver. De Stoof on Oudezijds Achterburgwal is a great place to make new friends, and Wynand Fockink (that’s the name of the person who opened the place in 1679, not a hint as to what is available inside) is a still-working distillery and bar on Pijlsteeg specialising in Dutch genevers and liquers.
If you’re into sports, Bar Old Wembley on Monnikenstraat is a small and welcoming place with plenty of big screens and the friendliest bartenders in town – you’ll have a great time. After all that drinking you’ve probably worked up an appetite, so time to walk round the corner to …
Zeedijk – Chinatown
This long street is home to Amsterdam’s Chinatown, and contains a huge array of fantastic Chinese and Thai restaurants. My favourite is Thai Bird – it’s also lots of other people’s favourite so be prepared to queue – an informal and inexpensive place that serves some incredibly tasty food in a very buzzy atmosphere.
Keep on wandering up Zeedijk in the direction of Centraal Station and you’ll come to In ‘t Aepjen bar (literally, “In the monkeys”), one of the oldest pubs in the city and where sailors used to come to sell monkeys they’d picked up on their exotic travels in exchange for goods and drink. The décor is quirky and overtly simian, and the selection of beers is outstanding.
A couple of other recommendations
For food and drink, avoid Damrak (the long straight street between the station and Dam Square) unless you want to eat overpriced average steak. But just off Damrak in an alleyway called Kolksteeg is In De Wildman, another tiny historic bar serving an ever changing array of superb beers – some of which can be on the strong side so don’t overdo it!
For a visit to the botanical gardens, zoo or just mooching around the Plantage area, I’d highly recommend Café de Plantage as somewhere to stop for something to eat. Not far from there is Brouwerij ‘t IJ, a brewery and bar located in a windmill. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?