Amsterdam, I Just Can’t Get Enough!
Alright that title may be a bit dramatic, but it’s true. Let me tell you why. I’ve been there three times to date and will most likely go at least twice a year moving forward until I just move there permanently. Yes there is marijuana of all types to endure in various forms and the “infamous” Red Light District. BUT there is more to Amsterdam than that. Amsterdam has a chilled vibe to it that makes you feel all mushy inside. The locals are so friendly, happy, and helpful, which are important to me. The views are amazing, from the canals to the unique architecture of the leaning houses lined along the canals. You know what I’m describing. You have all seen the beautiful pics. It truly looks like that in person. If you haven’t been, get there! And the night life — there are so many options depending on your taste and what you want to get into. I totally recommend hiring a bicycle to really catch in the views of the city and blend in with the locals. Also, you’ll be able to check out the local markets spread throughout that have anything from poffertjes with powdered sugar and pickled herring with onions and pickles to handmade clothing and accessories. So while you are searching for a cheap plane ticket right this minute, take note of what I’ve nicely tried out for you on your behalf.
Lombardo’s: DAMN GOOD BURGERS! Yep, that sums it up! This is a must eat every time I come to Amsterdam. I admit I’ve even been twice over two days. There’s always a wait unless you get there when it opens at 11am. Granted the times I’ve been there at or before open, they were not ready to take orders until 10-15 minutes later. The wait isn’t too bad…probably around 15-20 minutes. Seating inside is limited, but there are benches outside beside the door and across the street. You can also opt for take-away. The succulent patties are handmade, fresh and locally-sourced, both beef and lamb. I really dig the menu due to its simplicity. Sadly they do not serve fries, but I quickly got over that when I bit into my first burger – the lamb burger. It was so moist and flavours blended so well together. I’ve also had the wagyu burger, silence of the lambs burger (it’s different from the lamb burger which I’ll describe soon), and the hangover burger. All tasted scrumptious, so I don’t really have a preference. It all depends on your preference for lamb or beef and your mood. The ground beef or lamb is cooked medium rare to medium AND sometimes closer to the rare side depending on who’s grilling (no joke on that barely dead meat, but don’t let that scare you away hahaha). Most of the burgers have red wine onion compote, lettuce, tomatoes, burger sauce (tastes like thousand island dressing), and mini pickles. The hangover has an addition of egg, pancetta, and cheddar cheese. The silence of the lambs has in addition goat’s cheese and grilled chorizo. To be honest, I don’t care for the buns, which are seeded. So if you like your breads, get over it before you go to Lombardo’s ( I did quickly). I’ll end with this — you MUST get a hold of one of these burgers or 2 as soon as you land!! Almost forgot, at any time you may be able to catch a very good looking male or female at the register with a beautiful smile on their face.
Cafe de Klos: Okay, so my sister swore this restaurant served the best ribs she’s eaten (whether in the US or overseas….that’s another question). Of course I had to challenge that and taste these ribs for myself. You walk into an overcrowded with decorating stuff bar with seating around the bar and along the wall and facing the street that accommodates feasting. There are a few tables inside and outside too. Luckily we nabbed the seats facing the front windows looking onto the street. We ordered the spare ribs, one rack, for each of us as a main course. Yeah yeah….no judging. The ribs were served with salad, french bread, and some sauces. These beautiful pieces of meat come out and I was quite hopeful. I bit into one and boy was I sold. They were fall off the bones soft. I honestly do not remember what the fries tasted like because I was so focused on that meat. And I freaking love fries. Now here’s the kicker — the cost — these spare ribs were priced at €21 including sides (in 2017). You get a healthy portion that could be shared by two, so I recommend ordering one to share. But who are we kidding, I’d order one for myself again because I’m just greedy like that. If you are craving bbq spare ribs that remind you of home (wherever that may be), then stop over at Cafe de Klos.
Van’t Spit: I rolled into the Amsterdam West location and ordered half a chicken with fries to-go. The restaurant has a rustic look with a hipster-like vibe or just a bunch of hungry folks after smoking weed all day…hahaha. The chicken was amazing — nicely rotisseried and juicy down to the lip-smacking bones. The chicken was well seasoned, which is a hard thing to come by with rotisserie. The french fries are hand-cut with the potato skin left on — the best way to eat fries in my opinion — and delicious. 100% dutch chicken is the claim with no growth hormones, antibiotics, and all the other goobly glob we shouldn’t be eating. I’m definitely eating this chicken again when I return. And you should when you visit!
Food Hallen: Located in De Hallen Amsterdam is the first indoor food market in the Netherlands — Food Hallen. There are a wide variety of food stalls that range from street food to Michelin star. There are three bars: the Main Bar in the middle, G&T Bar (& wine), and the Beer Bar. I had lovely cocktails from the main bar and G&T bar. We tried to taste a bit of everything, from a pork bao from Baowowow, Shanghai dumplings, pork gyoza, and steamed pork buns from Dim Sum Thing, pork (caramelized pork belly) banh mi from Viet View to pear treats from Petit Gâteau. The atmosphere is awesome and buzzing with people having a great time. It may be hard to find a table to sit and eat, but give it a few circles around and you’ll find a spot. The food was tasty but it’s really all about the ambience! Let me know what you think!!
J.D. William’s Whisky Bar: Sis and I were on the hunt for a whiskey bar and found this trendy little charm in the middle of the Jordaan neighborhood. Obviously their focus is whiskey and whiskey cocktails, but they also carry craft beers. Their whiskey range is vast with favourites like Nikka and Macallan. Most of their cocktails use Bulleit Rye or Bourbon. They do serve food that Asian-inspired. We didn’t order any but what we saw looked and smelled tantalizing. The bar service the first time we went was spectacular. The second time around it wasn’t so great as they were a bit unfriendly about communicating opening times and once we actually sat in, the service was so-so. This particular so-so day was on the day of the Gay Pride parade….meaning the streets were crazy busy and lots of great events going on. They seemed a bit unprepared and was running late in preparing to open. Regardless, the drinks were great as usual! I’ll be there again, for sure! On another note, this was my first gay pride parade and I had a blast. We just happened to be there…had no clue it was happening until we landed.
Kantjil & de Tijger: Kantjil specializes in Indonesian cuisine, which happens to be a thing in Amsterdam. The inside is very spacious with plenty of seating. We arrived around noon as it was fairly empty. Probably because most people were still sleeping from having so much fun the night before. Dang, what does that say about us…hahaha. But seriously it just opened at noon. Moving along, so they have a separate lunch and dinner menu. We ordered the Kantjil Bowl from the lunch menu obviously, which is a create your own bowl option. The mangkok (bowl) comes with a base dish (rice or noodles), one vegetarian dish, and one meat dish. Also, you get garnishes: pickled cucumber, egg in coconut sauce, and prawn crackers. At the table we had chicken and bamboo sprouts spring rolls with peanut sauce, steamed rice with green beans in black bean sauce, beef in mild spicy coconut bumbu, and stir fried chicken with peanut sauce. We washed our meals down with a crisp Hertog Jan. All in all, this place was just okay.
Bakers & Roasters (De Pijp location): B&R is another one of those hipster Kiwi spots with tasty brunch options. But there is a twist — Brazilian influence from one of the owners. There’s usually a wait obviously if you go during peak times. And they do not take reservations. Even with it busy, they managed to provide good friendly service. There are freshly baked cakes and treats lined up on the counter when you walk in to the right. We ordered the Vege Brekkie with two organic free-range poached eggs, avocado, grilled halloumi, mushrooms, breakfast potatoes, fresh chilli jam, and toast AND the B&R Special with two scrambled eggs on buttered toast with bacon and a mini stack of pancakes served with Canadian maple syrup. The buttered toast was so delicious, as well as the creamy eggs. The breakfast potatoes were yummy. In a nutshell, the food was really good and worth another visit. And they catered to ensuring my pancakes were brown in color. I hate lightly colored pancakes because 9 times out of 10 it’s not cooked all the way through. Oh yes, and the pancakes tasted pretty good. They didn’t taste gummy or mushy like most I’ve had on this side of the world.
Greenwoods English Tea Room & Restaurant at Keizersgracht 465: First let’s get the important stuff out of the way. Greenwoods does not take reservations on Saturday and Sunday. We did have to wait, but it was for about 20-25 minutes. That’s not too bad, although we did sit outside along the building at first until it started to rain. The decor is pretty interesting and there’s seating outside beside the canal. Now for the food. We went for brunch which is served all day along with the lunch items. They have plenty of options and oddly enough a posh Full English Breakfast. We ordered Eggs Royale (two poached eggs on smoked salmon and buttered muffins topped with Hollandaise sauce and chives) and Mega Club (grilled chicken with smoked bacon, rocket, avocado, cheddar cheese and homemade mayonnaise served on toasted soda bread served with a side of coleslaw). The staff were very friendly and accommodating when we wanted to move to inside seating after noticing tables were opening up. The dishes were tasty but nothing to write home about. If you’re looking for a decent breakfast or lunch, give this place a go. But don’t expect to walk out with amazement on your face and in your belly.
Van Stapele Koekmakerij: This is the BEST COOKIE on this side of the world hands down! Guess I need to tell you why. Luckily we stumbled upon this lovely little cookie shop that oozed smells of chocolate goodness. The inside of the shop has a cozy old-school feel and decor with very cool crystal chandeliers reflecting light on those beautiful cookies. They only sell one type of cookie — chocolate with white chocolate stuffed inside. The chocolate dough that encompasses the melted white chocolate is made with Valrhona cocoa, which is the best of the best in cocoa powders. The edges are crispy, not crunchy, but crispy and all the richness just melts in your mouth. THIS IS A MUST TRY….you’ll definitely regret it if you are a hard core cookie connoisseur. It’s baked fresh continuously, so you’ll get a warm cookie that’ll put a huge smile on your face.
Bocca Coffee Roasters: During my last trip to Amsterdam, my sister and I spent half of it in search of the best coffee. After trying a few, we landed right back at Bocca where we’ve been before. The barristers are knowledgeable and patient, which is good for someone like me who you already know takes awhile to decide. Yes and even when it comes to coffee. The ambience is hipster like and comfy, with a fresh aroma of coffee beans pouring through the air. The cost is pretty reasonable, I think. The other coffee shops (actual coffee not weed) we tried had bitter, almost unbearable coffee. Other coffee roasters visited were Screaming Beans Coffee Roasters, Monks Coffee Roasters, and another place that was so awful that I cannot even remember the name. Give this spot a try if you’re in the mood for a good cup of java.