Netherlands 1012 JA
Tel: 31 20 428 1111
Part of the gentrification of the red light district, ANNA is surrounded by porn theaters and more condom and head shops than you could throw a bong at. Walk inside the long, narrow dining room, though, and all is classy tranquillity. While the decor is generic contemporary, the food is a lot more enticing than anything going on behind those red-light windows. The focus is on rich global cuisine, and some of the more seductive dishes include Iberian bacon with sautéed langoustines, a truffle risotto, and an apricot chutney flan.—Raphael Kadushin
Open Mondays through Fridays 12 pm to 14:30 pm and 6 pm to 10 pm, Saturdays 6 pm to 10 pm.
Netherlands 1015 MV
Tel: 31 20 624 3899
Even though it opened in 1985, savvy locals consistently rate this unassuming, canal-side Jordaan restaurant one of Amsterdam's pioneering modern kitchens. The dining room—a generic whitewashed box—is so modestly understated it reads like an afterthought, but the restaurant's loyal, urbane crowd is too smart for faddish decor themes. What keeps them coming back is self-taught chef Wil Demandt's impeccable food. Regularly popping up on the Amsterdam-via-the-Mediterranean daily menus is a pared-down surf and turf of quietly spicy merguez sausage crossed over sweet Dublin bay prawns, and Provençal-style rabbit with red-onion confit over grilled polenta. If you don't finish your plate, Demandt may plod out in his chef's coat and apron, like a Dutch hausfrau, to ask why—proof that this is one restaurant where the local celebrity chef is actually working the kitchen. And, as it turns out, the dining room.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays 6:30 to 10 pm.
Netherlands 1012 KD
Tel: 31 20 428 2222
One of the few reliable restaurants near Dam Square, the perennially popular Brasserie Harkema draws a buzzing mix of young locals, professionals, tourists, and everyone in between. Part of the attraction is the convivial party mood driven by the warehouse-size dining room itself, which is brightened by jewel-colored stripes of paint and cubical wine racks positioned above the open, tiled kitchen. The cheerful waiters poured into tight white T-shirts are a draw, too. However, it's the easygoing but confident menu—a primer in contemporary bistro dishes, such as chunky peasant paté, grilled tuna with wasabi mayonnaise, a very Dutch stewed veal on pommes au gratin, and coconut parfait—that keeps the massive space filled.—Raphael Kadushin
Open daily 11 am to 11 pm.
Amsterdam has a wild reputation, thanks in part to its coffee shops, but it is very much a café society, filled with places to quaff a bier topped with two fingers of foam and to get a taste of gezelligheid, the Dutch personality trait at the crossroads of conviviality, friendliness, and knowing others' business. 'T Smalle sets the model for "brown cafés" (named for their cocoa-colored walls, said to be the product of tobacco smoke over many generations). Sitting at the confluence of two charming Jordaan canals, it has a Vermeer-worthy interior of leaded-glass windows and tile floors, and open-air tables on the dock (12 Egelantiersgracht; 31-20-623-9617). Equally classic Hoppe, by Spui Square, dates from 1670 and keeps up the old ways with no music and daily replenishment of the sand on the floor (18-20 Spui; 31-20-420-4420). Intimate Spanjer & Van Twist looks out on its own timeless Jordaan canal intersection and draws determinedly arty patrons; the traditional menu of croquettes and apple pie is a bit lighter here, and includes chicken on ciabbata (60 Leliegracht; 31-20-639-0109). New-wave cafés have zealously whitewashed walls and more varied menus. Walem is centrally located, and packed by noon with the aimlessly stylish noshing on sandwiches such as beef carpaccio and shaved parmesan sprinkled with pumpkin seeds (449 Keizersgracht; 31-20-625-3544; www.cafewalem.nl). Nouveau scensters head to the café-deli Envy Delicacies, where meat cutters carve off thin shavings of prosciutto and serrano ham (381 Prinsengracht; 31-20-344-6407; www.envy.nl). "Grand cafés" think big enough to roll out soaring ceilings, canal-side terraces, and splashier decor. The three-story De Jaren, overlooking the Amstel River, is one of the largest (20 Nieuwe Doelenstraat; 31-20-625-5771; www.diningcity.com/ams/dejaren), while Luxembourg has a lovingly preserved Art Deco interior and coveted Spui-side terrace seats (24 Spui; 31-20-620-6224; www.luxembourg.nl). Even their drama is outdone by a new constellation of Frenchified brasserie-style cafés, including Café-Restaurant Dauphine, which is so roomy and French, it's housed in a former Renault garage (175 Prins Bernhardplein; 31-20-462-1646; www.caferestaurantdauphine.nl).
3 Kamerlingh Onneslaan
Netherlands 1097 DE
Tel: 31 20 462 4562
In early 2001, Amsterdam's municipal (plant) nurseries from the early 20th century in Frankendael Park became this hip, happy glasshouse restaurant, and despite being a few minutes out of town (take tram #9 to the Hogeweg stop), the buzz has been consistently high ever since. That's because owner Gert-Jan Hageman and chef Ronald Kunis (alum of River Café London and Moosewood Café in Ithaca, NY) are passionate growers and sourcers, as well as sorcerers, of food. Among the tables, bright by day, romantic by night, stand olive and kumquat trees, and just beyond the glass walls, tomorrow's dinner still grows: rows of herbs, berries, and veg. Meat and fish are organic or wild and also local, if not actually visible from your table. Meals are prix fixe, and a more elaborate multicourse tasting menu is served at the coveted chefs' table in the kitchen; there is also outside seating in summer.
Open Mondays through Fridays noon to 2:30 pm and 6:30 to 10 pm, Saturdays 6:30 to 10 pm.
Netherlands 1017 TR
Tel: 31 20 428 3632
This centrally located subterranean restaurant, just south of the Prinsengracht, simulates an old-school Dutch kitchen, with low-hanging pink lampshades and damask wallpaper. But the sleek black-leather banquettes and a local crowd of bohos and serious gourmets suggest that this homey refuge isn't going to settle for mere comfort food. Sweet grilled scallops over morel-stuffed brioche represent the kitchen's ambitious approach to upscale locavore cuisine. So does braised veal wearing a fat disk of foie gras. The molten chocolate dessert drizzled with passion fruit sauce makes for a flamboyant finish, although the reasonable prices (entrées hover around $27) bring things back to earth.—Raphael Kadushin
Open Wednesdays through Mondays 6 to 10 pm.
1 Professor Tulpplein
Netherlands 1018 GX
Tel: 31 20 622 6060
The fittingly proper, Michelin-starred dining room of the Amstel Hotel, La Rive, is Amsterdam's most formal restaurant. Troops of waiters man the genteel, wood-paneled dining room (which looks like Henry Higgins's library), and the menu references all the classics, including a textbook coquilles Saint Jacques. But in a show of local pride, chef de cuisine Rogér Rassin, who took over the kitchen in May 2008, is starting to sneak in some down-home Dutch cooking alongside all the haute flamboyance. The result: veal cheek paired with a high-low mix of truffles, garden beans, horseradish mashed potatoes, and oxtail sauce, or North Sea turbot crowned with a classic lowlands brown-butter and mustard sauce. The subtle nod to New Dutch cuisine doesn't just rouse a somewhat dated menu, but it helps the restaurant itself recharge with a distinctly Netherlandish take on the high life.
Open Tuesdays through Fridays noon to 2 pm and 6:30 to 11:30 pm, Saturdays 6:30 to 11:30 pm.
Netherlands 1011 EJ
Tel: 31 20 737 0811
Oddly, in a city that has always prized the quirky and rebellious, a lot of Amsterdam's most vaunted recent kitchens favor a formal Franco–Dutch approach (stiff tasting menus, small overdecorated dining rooms, big floral displays). Among that slightly stuffy, fancy food group, the Lastage justifies the high prices (which can stay moderate if you stick to the three-course tasting menu) and precious sensibility. Located on the edge of the red light district in a 17th-century canal house, the restaurant features chef Rogier van Dam's delicately composed plates and a very serious 12-page wine list devoted largely to southern European labels. Van Dam does best by his elegant seafood dishes, which can veer from an octopus terrine to halibut with beetroot purée.—Raphael Kadushin
Open Wednesdays through Sundays 6 pm to 10 pm.
Netherlands 1016 GH
Tel: 31 20 528 9797
The exclamation point isn't a sign of phony PR enthusiasmthe Dutch get very excited about their pancakes. They're the Madeleine of the lowlands, and this intimate restaurant in the Nine Streets district does the local soul food proud. If you're adventurous, order one of the kitchen's sideshow acts: pancake "pies" layered high in Seussian stacks; fusion experiments, such as the Sri Lankan pancake smeared with green bean curry; or an anything-goes rendition that combines chicory, ham, and raspberries. Locals, however, are more likely to settle for the classic Dutch pancakeflat as a crêpe, unadorned, and lapping over the sides of its plate. If you need a topping, sliced apples and powdered sugar are best. Even better: a heaping glass of buttermilk, which is like slurping the batter.
Open daily 10 am to 7 pm.
19 Prinses Irenestraat
Netherlands 1077 WT
Tel: 31 20 644 0100
As is the kind of conceptual, experimental kitchen that the Dutch love. On this tranquil, wooded lot on the southern edge of the city, chef Sander Overeinder and his assistants can regularly be found chopping pear wood to feed the restaurant's brick oven and grill. All that labor-intensive sweat produces a limited daily menu, but when the austerely organic, usually locally sourced, family-style food—perhaps a supernal smoked Tuscan pork that's been marinated for five days, roasted in the brick oven, and laid over a bed of parsnips and white beans—lands on the long communal wood tables, you won't regret the lack of choice. (What you might lament is the backless bench you're sitting on). It's all a little like a family backyard barbecue—assuming you have an uncle who, like Overeinder, trained at Chez Panisse and grows his own herbs, and a pastry-chef cousin who can turn out elegant finales, such as almond, apple, and polenta tart.
Open for lunch daily noon to 3 pm, for dinner Wednesdays through Sundays 6:30 to 10:30 pm.
Netherlands 1011 TJ
Tel: 31 20 779 7450
The Dutch rediscovery of the Netherlands' bulging larder climaxes at this homey restaurant near the Montelbaanse Tower. The dark wood floors and wainscoting mimic the comforting cocoa patina of a brown bar, and the trendsetters (hungry for Mama's cooking) eating beside actual mothers makes for a nicely blended crowd. They're all here for the same reason: a gastronomic tour of backroads Holland, served up by culinary ethnographer René Loven, who has recovered the most esoteric dishes from every Dutch province. The meal may begin with Frisian sugar bread, a Limburgian farmer's pâté of veal, or a bowl of greens and roasted hazelnuts tossed with Zaanse mustard and thick Dutch yogurt, then might continue on to fillet of monkfish roasted and robed in North Sea lobster sauce, or Dutch goat cheese croquettes and potato-carrot purée. The big ode-to-the-lowlands finish: a selection of Dutch cheeses, served with rye bread and (why not?) apple syrup.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays 6 pm to 1 am.
Netherlands 1017 VJ
Tel: 31 20 625 6718
Yes, it's a cliché that visitors to Amsterdam must try Indonesian cuisine, a legacy of Dutch colonial rule, but that doesn't mean it's skippable. The Indonesian table d'hôte, called rijsttafel, is an assortment of multiple plates that was fashionable long before anyone outside Spain heard of tapas. Genteel, intimate Tempo Doeloe is a classic of the genre and serves up 15 to 25 dishes such as: gado gado salad (fresh veggies in a peanut sauce); satehs (chicken, pork, goat); beef in a coconut and coriander cream sauce; and lobster in black bean sauce. Dishes run from mild to spicy; if you order the spiciest (terlaloe pedis), hang on for the ride of your life. End with cinnamon multilayered "Indonesian" cake, pineapple ice cream with jackfruit, or fried banana flambé with Grand Marnier for dessert.
Open daily 6 to 11 pm.
The Dylan Hotel
Netherlands 1016 GB
Tel: 31 20 530 2010
After going through several incarnations, this splurge restaurant at the Dylan Hotel was renamed Vinkeles in 2008, finally settled into an assured groove, and earned a well-deserved Michelin star in 2009. The historic dining room, thankfully, has been left largely untouched; the ebony and ivory palette is still in place, as is the black beamed ceiling and the 18th-century brick ovens, where bread once was baked for a queue of Amsterdam's poor. Now it's a dressier crowd, and a smattering of visiting celebrities, who line up for chef Dennis Kuipers's luxe, but never overly formal, signature dishes. Roasted langoustines paired with veal and complemented by green apple jelly, sweetbreads sautéed in crushed almonds, and a pistachio sponge cake layered with stewed bananas all make a convincing case for a second star.—Raphael Kadushin
Open Mondays through Saturdays 7 to 10:30 pm.
Netherlands 1078 GR
Tel: 31 20 675 1583
Don't let the run-on name intimidate you. It means "fish on the Schelde" (and sounds like it, too), as in the Netherlands' Schelde River or the restaurant's address on Scheldeplein—streets here in the Rivierenbuurt district of town are named for Dutch rivers. So, it's fitting that this place serves some of the city's most imaginatively prepared fish and seafood. The menu changes seasonally, but you might start with Fines de Claires oysters, a Dutch shrimp cocktail with tomato-cognac sauce, or sashimi (tuna, mackerel, sea bass, etc.) with wasabi and ginger, then move on to sea bream on chanterelle ravioli or lobster fresh from the tank. The location, practically across from the RAI convention center, means that Visaandeschelde receives its share of business guests, but the upscale, unfussy service allows even casual visitors to make the most of a meal here.
Open Mondays through Fridays noon to 12:30 pm and 5:30 to 11 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 5:30 to 11 pm.
Netherlands 1012 XK
Tel: 31 20 624 6075
What the corner pizza shop is to New York, the meat pie cart to Sydney, and the falafel stand to Tel Aviv, so are Belgian-style French fry joints to Amsterdam. This takeout storefront, sandwiched between lovely Spui Square and the shopping districts of Leidseplein and Kalverstraat, has served love in a paper cone since the 1880s. Bonus: The accompanying sauces have gotten more adventurous over the years (curry, mayo with green peppercorns, etc.). Don't dally; it's only open until 6 p.m.
333 Ferdinand Bolstraat
Netherlands 1072 LH
Tel: 31 20 678 8351
Forget boutique sushi houses and overstuffed snowballs of designer maki—Yamazato comes by its Michelin star the old-fashioned way. Situated in the south-side's Okura Hotel (the favorite home-away-from-home of Japanese tourists and businessmen), Yamazato's dining room establishes its traditional values upfront, with long picture windows framed by rice-paper screens looking out on a tranquil Japanese garden. Don't even think of placing an à la carte order with your kimono-dressed waitress, as the kitchen clearly considers printed menus a disposable, Western invention. Executive chef Akira Oshima and his lineup of 25 Japanese cooks prepare multi-course kaiseki menus—the most lavish being a nine-course option for 95 euros—that present the freshest seafood in a fluid succession of elegant dishes. (Unagi, sitting beside a carved radish, never looked so pretty.) The result is a form of dinner theater as stylized as Kabuki.
Open daily for lunch noon to 2 pm, for dinner 6:00 to 9:30 pm.