While the Dutch were mostly eating bread with hagelslag for breakfast until fairly recently, the last decade has seen a trend in international brunch culture. Spearheaded by the Australian and New Zealand immigrants, there are now a plethora of great places offering breakfast and brunch dishes from the world over. Below are my top picks of the places serving the best brunch in Amsterdam…
But first: coffee
You can’t have breakfast (or brunch, for that matter) without coffee. And while Amsterdam’s caffeine scene has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, it’s still worth doing your research when it comes to finding a proper cuppa. My favourite coffee spots in Amsterdam include 4850, Coffee & Coconuts and Back to Black. But I also have an excellent coffee machine at home, where I grind my own beans, froth my barista oat milk and generally get all pretentious about coffee. If you’re a fellow coffee snob, you might like the Koffiestore.nl, where you can buy beans, machines and accessories to perfect your home brewing technique.
10 of the Best Brunches and Breakfasts in Amsterdam
I first discovered Little Collins’ excellent line in international brunch dishes, from kedgeree to waffles, at their original location in de Pijp. But I later discovered they do dinner as well – and they now have a location in West, too. The menu is very international, which I would usually avoid, but they do so many things well. The chef is Australian, and of course Australian cuisine is a melting pot of influences from Europe, Asia, America… you name it. I usually order a rhubarb bellini and/or a coffee while I’m waiting for brunch. You can’t go wrong with one of their Asian dishes, like smoked tofu or pork belly with kimchi, or one of their Middle Eastern brunch classics like cilbir or shakshuka. Little Collins was the first to bring Antipodean brunch culture to Amsterdam, and a few other copycats have sprung up since – but none are as good as the original.
As well as serving up an excellent brunch, Dignita is excellently set up for families with kids at their Vondelpark location. But they’ve subsequently opened up branches along the Amstel and in the Spaarndammerbuurt, too – my favourite being the restaurant/terrace that’s tucked into the leafy garden behind the Hermitage Museum. I’ve loved pretty much everything I’ve eaten at Dignita, but my number-one pick has to be their chickpea and courgette fritters with fried halloumi, poached egg, avocado, dukkah and a mint-yoghurt dressing. The fritters are moist, the egg perfectly poached, the textures well balanced – all in all, a lovely dish. Their coffees and breakfast cocktails are also good, and even the service is quick – although you might have to wait for a table at busy periods.
Despite the fact that Gartine is sandwiched between the Kalverstraat and the Rokin in the centre of town, it has its own moestuin (allotment) in which they grow much of the produce you’ll eat at the restaurant. I should more properly call it a “tearoom”, as it’s open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, but not dinner. The location is delicate and classy, but in an old-fashioned way – as if your grandma had taken a degree in interior design. The food is likewise: eggs benedict with salmon for breakfast, crayfish rillettes for lunch, and a plethora of tarts and cupcakes at tea time.
Run by Antipodeans, Box Sociaal is known for its brunch but (much like Little Collins, above) is worth visiting for dinner as well. They do a good line in the usual brunch suspects from eggs Benedict (pictured below) to breakfast sandwiches, but they also had some more creative-looking menu items when I went, like the yum cha waffle or what looks like a pimped-up PBJ sandwich. Their coffee and juices are very good, and their service impeccable. Box Sociaal has been going strong in the Plantage neighbourhood for several years now, but they recently opened a second location in the Jordaan, too.
Greenwoods is the quintessential English tearoom, and with two very central canal-side locations, they’re perfect for taking visitors. Their soda bread is to die for – moist and cakey, slathered with butter. You also can’t go wrong with either of their takes on eggs Benedict: the classic comes with ham on English muffins, but the “Emperor’s Eggs Royale” comes with salmon on hash browns with beetroot Hollandaise. Don’t let the strawberry-sauce visual effect put you off – the flavour is pure Hollandaise!
One of the few truly British restaurants in Amsterdam (other than Greenwoods!), The Cottage is a lovely spot for breakfast, afternoon tea or Sunday roast in the Watergraafsmeer neighbourhood. But it’s their brunch we’re here to talk about. I generally order one of the egg-based dishes: scrambled eggs with hot-smoked salmon, horseradish and watercress, for instance. Or Bombay eggs with Indian spices, coriander and pickled red onion. But The Cottage also serves a full English breakfast for those with a hearty appetite in the morning. If you’re not too full, be sure to order their scones with proper English clotted cream and homemade jam for dessert. A taste of my childhood.
Feed Amsterdam re-opened in its current incarnation in summer 2020. But before that, it was a branch of the highly popular Aussie mini-chain Drovers Dog. While they’ve added a radio studio and a focus on music and community, much of the rest remains the same: the décor is not much changed, you’ll see several familiar faces among the staff members, and their brunch menu is still killer. It changes fairly regularly, but my favourite brunch dish at the time of writing was the huevos rancheros: a huge tortilla laden with lamb merguez sausages, black beans, chipotle, avocado, spinach, cheese, tomato and – of course – fried eggs. But you also can’t go wrong with Feed’s breakfast rolls, range of burgers, top-notch coffee and breakfast cocktails.
It’s one of my biggest pet peeves, not being able to get a decent omelette in Amsterdam. I frequently seem to be served up thin, dry egg pancakes rolled up with cold stuff in the middle. Omelegg is one of the rare exceptions: whether you’re hungover or just hungry, a huge mound of eggs stuffed with everything from sausage to cheese to veggies is sure to set you right. Their original branch is in de Pijp, but they’ve since opened up a second location near Centraal Station.
You can’t come to Amsterdam without experiencing the gluttony that is Dutch pancakes – especially if you have a hangover. These bad boys are the size of dinner plates and as thick as pizzas, with both sweet and savoury toppings. My favourite pancake house is Pannenkoekenhuis Upstairs, which is (unsurprisingly) up an extraordinarily steep and narrow flights of stairs – even by Dutch standards. It’s a tiny place, and easy to miss, but worth it once you get inside. Teapots hang from the ceiling in every size and shape, and the pancakes are buttery and satisfying.