A Weekend in Amsterdam: Coffee, Appeltaart and Lots of Bikes
Amsterdam isn’t really known as the epicenter of food. In fact Dutch classics have more of a negative connotation than a positive one; bitterballen anyone?
Stroopwafels and appeltaart are of course the exceptions, but tell someone you’re going to Amsterdam for the food and they will probably raise their eyebrows.
However, on a recent trip to the bicycle capital of the world (or at least, I like to think of it that way) I was pleasantly surprised by all of the fantastic choices for food, proving my longstanding point that good food doesn’t need to be complicated. It just needs to be good, fresh ingredients, done well.
Headfirst Coffee Roasters
It was fitting that I got off the train and immediately tracked down a coffee roaster. And a coffee roaster with a bike in the roasting room at that. At Headfirst they are all about coffee, in fact everything feels like it’s centered around the coffee bar. The decor is minimal yet inviting, and they have fun treats like raw, vegan and gluten-free “bliss balls.” Better yet, there’s locally made, unfiltered bottles of beer being sold in the back from Oedipus Brewing.
Noodermarkt Organic Market
If you’re in Amsterdam on a Saturday, then make time for this market. There is pesto being served out of a huge ceramic vat, spelt breads, plenty of locally made cheese and even an ice cream truck. And by truck I mean bicycle. This is Amsterdam after all.
Lot 61 Roasters
Kinkerstraat 112 & Overtoom 141
Another excellent craft roaster that happens to have two locations, the one on Kinkerstraat connected with the roastery and the other in a space shared with a bike shop and a barber shop. The cold brew set up at the main location was one of those beautiful glass siphons that takes up almost an entire wall. The result was smooth and full of flavor; just as a good cold brew should be. One of the baristas has a thing for baking, so there is plenty of banana bread on hand too.
Cafe de Ceuvel
Korte Papaverweg 4
Take the ferry across to North Amsterdam and you’re immediately in another world. This area is known for NDSM, the old shipping yard that has now been turned into super funky artist spaces. Bring your bike and you can ride a little up the road to Cafe de Ceuvel. How to describe this place? A crazy, funky collection of upcycled shipping containers, furniture and building materials that feels more like you’re on a tropical island utopia than in Northern Europe. There was an organic vegetarian buffet being served for lunch, and we decided on the homemade rhubarb cordial mixed with sparkling water to be enjoyed while lounging outside.
NDSM Plein 102
Also part of the NDSM area there is Nooderlicht, a restaurant/cafe housed in a greenhouse that sprawls onto the lawn in front of it. Simple food done well. And yes, local beer of course.
Breakfast is one of those things that often gets forgotten when you’re visiting a place. Either you sleep in and you totally miss it, or you’re out the door first thing in the morning with only enough time to grab a quick coffee and maybe a piece of fruit when you’re lucky. However, a relaxed breakfast is an essential part of a good trip in my opinion. Which is why I was happy to serendipitously stumble upon Berry, a cozy cafe with a simple, tasty breakfast. Dark dense bread, organic farmer’s cheese and a bright berry smoothie is exactly what the start to a good day looks like.
Coffee Bru is what a cafe should feel like. Funky, but not forced. A cool place to hang out simply because it’s laid back and low key. And there’s carrot cake; there should always be carrot cake. Not to mention the sandwiches made on freshly baked hearty bread with avocado and feta cheese.
So the Dutch food in Amsterdam might not be renowned, but the Indonesian food is quite another matter. Restaurant Kartika happened to be a complete and utter spontaneous find, simply in the search of Indonesian food somewhere within walking distance of where we were staying. One of their menu offerings happens to be a completely vegetarian round of rijstaffel, a serving of a multitude of small dishes all meant to be shared. Result: Indonesian food is my new favorite.
Living in Paris, any place that has decent vegetarian and vegan options always feels like a godsend. Not that I am 100% either of those things, but if you even have an inclination to them, Paris can be a rough place. S.L.A. is essentially healthy fast food, a place to go and grab a salad for a soup, which they’re happy to box up for you so you can pack it in your bag for your train ride later.
Here’s the thing about Amsterdam: you can’t go to Amsterdam without going to Winkel. This is THE place in town to get appeltaart. And if you’re coffee’d out like I was after too many craft roast filters in a weekend, opt for the house mint tea, full of fresh mint sprigs.
Now, go book a ticket to Amsterdam.
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