Is it really true? The first December since 2019 that we’re not in lockdown? In that case, it’s time to celebrate some of my absolute favourite meals this year! Many of these Amsterdam restaurants were new to me in 2022 (whether they’ve been around for a while or opened recently). Others are old favourites that I rediscovered after months or even years away. All are terrific. Eet smakelijk!
Top 10 Amsterdam Restaurants 2022
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Best Asian restaurant in Amsterdam: A-Fusion
As a restaurant critic, I rarely tend to go back to places more than once or twice. I make an exception for A-Fusion, which I’ve been regularly frequenting since 2008 and which became the first restaurant I’d visit after every lockdown we had during the pandemic. An always bustling Asian fusion restaurant in Amsterdam’s Chinatown, I leave my dining choices in the hands of the kitchen and order the Bib Gourmand menu. Whatever they bring is a delight, but I’d recommend adding some steamed oysters and truffle-beef sushi – because you’re worth it.
Best fine dining experience: Mont Blanc
Inside, restaurant Mont Blanc is like a Swiss chalet (albeit a very fancy one): everything smells of pine wood, there’s a roaring log fire, leather sofa, sheepskins on the lounge chairs by the entrance… It’s the perfect spot to decompress after a hard day’s skiing (or rather, working) with a glass of bubbles and some amuse-bouches before making your way to the table. We plumped for the five-course fixed menu, the first of which involved the humble leek – elevated to new heights with trout roe and smoked hay. Next up came a take on oeuf en meurette: a rich bowl of slow-cooked egg yolk with an onion purée and a decadent reduction of Persan – a Savoie red wine that paired perfectly with the pinot noir we drank with it. But perhaps my favourite course was the fish: a medley of crisp-skinned perch, tiny sweet crayfish, creamy bisque and Swiss chard. The cheese trolley was also a huge hit. Dinner at Mont Blanc comes at fine-dining prices, but every detail is taken care of – from the crockery to the wine pairings. A perfect night out.
Best for a romantic dinner: Sinne
Mr Foodie and I went to Sinne for our fifth wedding anniversary last summer. It’s one of those restaurants that’s been around forever (and has had a Michelin star for a while too) but for some reason I’d never been. I’m glad I rectified that because it was a stellar experience all round. We opted for five courses with paired wines, of which the first two were my favourites: BBQ leek with marinated seaweed and ponzu caviar was zingy, smoky and citrusy. Meanwhile, sepia and chorizo came roasted with courgette, black olives, yoghurt and a smoky grilled-pepper sauce – a nod to the Middle East. You can’t visit Sinne without trying their signature egg/celeriac/truffle dish – it’s highly accomplished, albeit the black truffle was a little potent for my anti-mushroom palate. When I posted about Sinne on Instagram, one follower described it as “understated romance”. I couldn’t agree more.
Best vegetarian restaurant in Amsterdam: Betty’s
I first went to Betty’s five years ago, during Vegetarian January, when I lived in the Spaarndammerbuurt. Despite biking for what felt like forever in the freezing cold, I absolutely loved it. Global flavours, elegantly rendered, using no meat, fish or eggs. Now, I’m lucky enough to live five minutes away from the Rijnstraat, and last autumn I headed back for another fantastic meal. Wherever you’re coming from, you’ll be greeted by the friendly couple who run the place – the woman is the chef, her other half is front of house. There’s no menu – you simply let them know if there’s anything you don’t eat and wait to be surprised. On both occasions, the food I ate was a shareable feast made up of many different styles of cuisine, but all vegetarian and mostly vegan too. Think Middle Eastern mezze, spicy Indian dal, warm Italian 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.
Best wine bar in Amsterdam (with good food too!): Clos
On perhaps my favourite square in Oost, Beukenplein, you’ll find Clos – a wine bar with a covered, heated terrace and plenty to make you happy in the wine and food department. The wines by the glass are arranged to make it easy to select one you’re bound to like, and there are plenty of top-notch snacks and larger dishes to nibble while you tipple. I particularly enjoyed the charcuterie board, mackerel rillettes, homemade pâté and lotus root tempura. But there’s also a three- or four-course chef’s menu if you’d rather not have to make decisions.
Best Italian restaurant for cicchetti: TOZI
Located in the Park Plaza Hotel next to Vondelpark, TOZI is tucked away in one of those huge bay windows that characterises the architecture in Amsterdam’s grand Oud-Zuid neighbourhood. The evening I visited, it was a rare 32-degree summer’s day, so I was grateful to sit in the calm interior and enjoy the aircon and a cold glass of Prosecco. TOZI’s concept centres around cicchetti – the Venetian answer to tapas – which means lots of small, shareable dishes. I’d recommend ordering the “Best of TOZI” menu so you get the chance to try as many dishes as possible. We ate everything from soft-shell crab to San Daniele ham (the prosciutto was excellent), and from cod croquettes with aioli to ricotta ravioli with freshly shaved truffle. Not to mention the tiramisu and Italian cheeses (not on the same plate!) for dessert. TOZI offers a wine pairing arrangement as well, which means three glasses of wine – one with each “round” of cicchetti. Again, highly recommended.
Best Italian restaurant for pizza: Pazzi Oost
I only discovered Pazzi last summer, having walked past their location on Steve Bikoplein in Oost several times while walking my dog around the neighbourhood. They have an east-facing terrace, which was particularly handy during the now-common heatwaves hitting Amsterdam, as it’s almost entirely in the shade. There’s a brick oven inside (which means it’s also very cosy in winter) turning out classics like the cappriciosa (with prosciutto, artichokes and mushrooms), the tarfufo (with truffle sauce, fontina cheese and ham) and the salsiccia (with fennel sausage, rocket and parmesan). I’ve also never been disappointed by their daily changing pizza van de dag, mixed antipasti or sgroppino. At the time of writing, Pazzi has four locations: in the Jordaan, Oud-West, Oost and Noord respectively.
Best Peruvian restaurant in Amsterdam: NAZKA
NAZKA’s big, bold flavours start in Peru but take many global twists and turns along the way. And in 2022, they welcomed a new head chef – Koosh Kothari – who has arguably taken NAZKA’s menu up another notch. The evening I visited, we were treated to the six-course chef’s menu, which started with two takes on ceviche followed by an innovative dish of stuffed courgette flowers with tahini and huacatay oil. Next came perhaps my favourite fusion of flavours: an octopus tentacle cooked “carbonara style” with guanciale, pecorino cheese and macho sauce. If the outstanding food isn’t enough to convince you, the authentic pisco sours and excellent drinks pairings should be. Not limiting themselves to wine, NAZKA pairs its dishes with everything from ponzu sake to cider to port. Distinctly different – in the best possible way.
Best Israeli restaurant in Amsterdam: Bar Bachrach
Located in the spot once occupied by Eetbar Wilde Zwijnen, Bar Bachrach opened in autumn 2021 to critical acclaim. I waited a few months before I visited, but was not disappointed when I did. This is some next-level Israeli food, featuring flavours I’ve not tasted before in Amsterdam. Especially impressive were the beef tartare that was singing with preserved lemons, silky-smoky aubergine from a kamado-style BBQ in the kitchen, and a stunning dish of raw langoustine, pickled cabbage, crispy bulgur and sweet-sour pomelo. These were all small, shareable dishes, but there are larger dishes like whole grilled fish and sticky ribs as well. To taste the full gamut of Bar Bachrach’s impressive kitchen skills, order the chef’s menu for a little bit of everything. I loved the Alsatian pinot blanc and the Valencian tempranillo that we ordered, too. Food this good is matched by the price tag (we paid over €80 each) but it’s well worth every cent. Simply stunning.
Best Portuguese restaurant in Amsterdam: ARCA
Located in the rather swanky art’otel, ARCA offers a combination of Portuguese classics on one side of the menu and dishes with an Asian-fusion twist on the other. You can plump for a menu that showcases one or the other, or you can choose your own mixture of both (which is what we did). The wine list also leans heavily Portuguese, which is nice to see. On the traditional side of the menu, bacalhau a bras is an authentic Portuguese salt cod dish with potatoes and egg that’s prepared at the table, seasoned with diced olives and chopped parsley. It’s not much to look at, but the flavour is pure Portugal. Duck rice is deconstructed into a perfectly cooked magret (duck breast) with a hearty rice dish laced with vegetables and more duck. While bife a Portuguesa comprises slices of medium-rare sirloin steak topped with a fried egg and served with a mustard-white wine sauce. On the modern-fusion side of the menu, we tried the tuna tataki with an escabeche of julienned carrots, peppers and tomatoes with coriander oil and a mild chilli oil. The jury was out on which side of the menu we liked the best!