When I started Vegetarian January, I promised I’d write a complete guide to vegetarian Amsterdam at the end of the month. Of course, that didn’t happen – but there are good reasons why. I discovered so many veggie restaurants during my research that it took me far longer than a month to get around to eating at them all. Still now, I keep hearing about new restaurants popping up, but I’ve got to stop somewhere and write this thing, so here goes. Let’s call it a working document – I’ll keep adding to it as and when I find new vegetarian gems.
Best Vegetarian Amsterdam Restaurants
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There are very few restaurants I’ll bike 7 km to get to in the freezing cold, and Betty’s is one of them. It’s on the Rijnstraat, which isn’t so far out of town if you live in the south, but if you’re coming from my area (Westerpark) it’s a bit of a trek. Once you get there, however, you’ll be greeted by the friendly couple who run the place – the woman is the chef, her other half is front of house. As far as I recall, there’s no menu – you simply let them know if there’s anything you don’t eat and wait to be surprised. The food I ate there was a fusion of many different styles of cuisine, but all vegetarian and mostly vegan too. Think shareable antipasti, spicy dal and rice, pickled root salads, and the most indulgent (non-vegan) desserts. It’s the kind of place where you want to order a bottle of wine, get comfy, and stick around all evening.
Read my full review of Betty’s.
I’d biked past Golden Temple on the Utrechtsestraat dozens of times before I went in. It looks like a hippie kinda place, and I guess in a way it is – you could well be eating your dinner on a sheepskin rug with a small dog curled up next to you. But the food is something even us meat-eating folk can get on board with. I really liked their Mexican tacos, filled with beans, sweet potato, guacamole and salsa – they were fresh, citrusy and brimming with flavour. The Indian thali wasn’t bad either, although if you’re after authentic vegetarian Indian cuisine in Amsterdam you should probably go to Saravana Bhavan…
Read my full review of Golden Temple.
Which brings us onto some of the best Indian food in Amsterdam. Saravana Bhavan is a global chain of Indian restaurants, although I think there’s only one in Holland. The décor is bright and spartan, which means the ambience isn’t great. But the dosas make up for it. If you’ve never had a dosa before (or even if you have), this is the place to try one: enormous crepe-like discs are filled with everything from cheese to potatoes to lentils. One of those to yourself would probably fill you up till your next meal for just a few euros. But if you do have room left (I suggest sharing), order one of the thalis for a full gamut of Indian flavours.
Another veggie spot worth the bike ride is Marits Eetkamer in Amsterdam Oost, which is just what it sounds like it should be: the living/dining room in the ground floor of someone’s house – Marit’s house, that is. Which is why it’s not open every day – just a couple of evenings a week. Much like at Betty’s, there are very few menu options: your starter might be a choice of salad or soup (both excellent, when I was there); the main might be a bean cassoulet, and the dessert might be a cheesecake. She has a small but decent wine list and an intimate atmosphere. If I wanted to impress a vegetarian date, I’d take them here.
Read my full review of Marits Eetkamer.
De Culinaire Werkplaats
Blurring the boundaries between food and art is De Culinaire Werkplaats – a creative culinary space just south of the Westerpark that aims to define “the dinner plate of the future”. Again only open a few nights a week, the restaurant bases its dishes around a theme that changes every couple of months. When we were there, the theme was Dutch Flower Power, and co-owners Marjolein and Eric had put their creativity to work coming up with dishes that were either made of flowers or represented flowers in some way. I loved the black risotto that was made with as many dark-coloured ingredients as possible (although not squid ink, for obvious reasons) and represented the famous black tulip. De Culinaire Werkplaats is not cheap, but it’s a fascinating experience worth paying for.
Read my full review of De Culinaire Werkplaats.
Olive & Cookie
Three words: chocolate mascarpone torte. And this from the woman without a sweet tooth. Yes, their chocolate dessert is to die for, but their savoury food is pretty good too. In an unassuming but colourful little spot in de Pijp, Olive & Cookie serves up fabulous salads and hot meals inspired by the owners’ southeast European roots: they’re from Croatia and Serbia originally. I cannot get enough of their polenta cakes with roasted sweet peppers, mascarpone and parmesan.
Other vegetarian food in Amsterdam that deserves a mention
These aren’t exactly restaurants – they’re products, services, cafés or pop-ups. But they’ll all make your vegetarian day a tastier one!
A café that’s part of a yoga studio that’s in a park (Amsterdam multi-tasking at its best), Café Sage serves healthy, homemade, vegetarian breakfasts and light lunch dishes all week long, opening in the evenings Thursday – Sunday as well. Their avocado on sourdough with spinach, ricotta, and hummus was just what my hangover ordered one sunny Sunday last month. They make good freshly pressed juices, too. Sit outside on Café Sage’s terrace, just inside the Westerpark, for an almost rural experience.
Read my full review of Café Sage.
Juice by Nature
Along similar lines, Juice by Nature on the Warmoesstraat is a juice-bar-cum-health-food-café that’s presumably seeking to turn the Red Light tourists away from the snack bars to something a little more wholesome. The food is pre-made (but on the premises) not cooked to order, so it doesn’t look quite as appetising as the Instagrammable plates you see elsewhere. However, it’s no less flavoursome for it: I tried the courgette noodles with fresh pesto, spinach and seeds. It was delicious, although I’d have liked twice as much again. Disclaimer: I did spot chicken in one or two of their dishes, but their offering is 80% vegetarian.
Morris & Bella
A newcomer to the Spaarndammerbuurt, Morris & Bella has an interesting concept: all dishes are vegetarian to start with, but you can add a meat or fish “supplement” for an additional fee. Of course, the meat and fish options have been especially chosen to work with that particular dish, but because you know that the veggie version stands alone (and also because you know you’re paying extra to be a carnivore) you think twice about ordering the supplements. The evening I dined there, I loved the starter of fresh peas and root vegetables with butter-bean purée and pea juice – it felt very clean, while still hitting the spot. My tussengerecht was cabbage rolls stuffed with carrot and leeks, and served with a curried lentil and mustard seed dressing – delicious even without the addition of braised beef. The only supplement I did pick was for the main: red mullet with crushed potatoes, roasted onions and leeks, and a jus made from kohlrabi. Despite (or perhaps because of?) the fish addition, it was my least favourite dish – it seemed somehow blander than the others. Although I still very much enjoyed the meal and wines overall.
Not a permanent venue but a delivery service, Cropbox delivers healthy vegan lunch boxes Tuesday through Thursday straight to your door (or, more realistically, to your office). Owner Dominique is not only inspired by what’s in season – she also takes her inspiration from interesting Amsterdammers she meets. You can read her “Edible Stories” online before having a taste of whoever’s being interviewed that week (including yours truly!). I’ve tried a few of Cropbox’s lunches, and every time they’ve been packed with interesting ingredients, original dressings, and excellent alternatives to the usual kaas broodjes that are a staple on so many Dutch office workers’ desks.
Read more about Amsterdam delivery services.
We’re venturing back into sticky territory here, because Fento isn’t technically vegetarian. But owner Hilary offers so many plant-based dishes that I feel it essentially qualifies. With a stand in the Foodhallen, Fento is the place to stop by for Mexican-inspired veggie street-food: think tostadas, nachos and so on – but all using impeccably fresh, healthy ingredients, and rarely with any meat in sight.
Read more about Foodhallen Amsterdam.
CRAVE Good Food
Again, CRAVE isn’t technically all-veggie, but so many of its salads are vegetarian that I think it’s worth a mention. CRAVE originally made its debut at the Neighbourfood Market (like many other successful food brands in Amsterdam), and now sells its signature hearty, nutrient-packed, grain-based salads at Marqt. At lunchtime, they’re great by themselves; at dinnertime, you can easily turn them into a bigger meal by adding some meat or fish (sorry, I realise that’s not really the point of this article) or some goat’s cheese and roasted veggies (which is what I did during Vegetarian January).
Vegetarian places I’ve been that didn’t make the cut…
Just for the record, I’ve eaten at all these but decided not to include them in my list for various reasons: Café de Ceuvel (nice atmosphere but their veggie burger was nothing special), Spirit (good food but it’s buffet-style and the atmosphere is rather cold), Meatless District (not worth your time or money, in my opinion), Roots (the most overpriced, under-flavoured sandwiches and smoothies in town), Waaghals (the plates just seemed… confused), Bolhoed (hit-and-miss food, very hippie vibe), Dophert (fine for salads and sandwiches, just don’t try the vegan breakfast), and Lavinia Good Food (brunch dishes were quite nice but overpriced for the portion size). You can find detailed write-ups of all but the last of these in my restaurant reviews.