Best Restaurants in Amsterdam: 10 Modern Classics

The question I get asked more often than any other: what’s your favourite restaurant in Amsterdam? It’s like asking me which is my favourite child! (Or not, as I’m merrily child-free, but you know what I mean.) Of course, I have different favourites at brunchtime, or when I’m in the mood for Indonesian rijsttafel, or feel like splashing out on fine dining. But the list below is made up of the restaurants I find myself drawn to again and again when I just want good, honest food. A cosy atmosphere. Friendly service. Nothing too formal. Job done. In other words, what I call: modern classics.

Reservations at Amsterdam restaurants

Wherever you eat in Amsterdam, but at these modern classics in particular, you’ll need to make a reservation. Many of the restaurants below have their own reservation systems that use platforms like Formitable to book your table and take a deposit, which is deducted from your bill at the end. You can also sometimes find good deals on TripAdvisor. Whatever you do, however, please avoid websites like Appointment Trader that charge you to make reservations. They are the ticket touts/scalpers of the restaurant world, and are making eating out even less accessible and affordable for diners.

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Every six months, the aptly named restaurant Nomads in Oostpoort takes you on a culinary journey through a different country, serving you four, five or six courses. The first night I visited, that journey was to Jordan. The Nomads Experience started with three mezze-style dishes: sweet ‘n spicy muhammara (red pepper and walnut paste); fragrant falafel with yoghurt dip; and smooth but simple hummus – all excellent, and all served with fluffy, warm, whole-wheat pitas. The subsequent courses included razor clams spiked with preserved lemons; lamb tartar with onions and capers; and soft, smoky aubergine with a coriander and basil dressing. The main courses of cauliflower and labneh and grilled duck with beetroot were just as delightful, and the service was spectacular too. The experience has been equally marvellous when I’ve been back for the Portuguese and Vietnamese editions.

Nomads restaurant Oostpoort
Part of our Jordan journey at Nomads


Tucked behind OLVG Hospital in Oost is the minimalist, Scandi-chic, hipster-tastic 4850 – so called because it occupies numbers 48-50 on the Camperstraat. During the daytime, pop in for excellent coffee and the most pillowy-soft cinnamon buns you’ve ever tasted. Then, in the evening, duck inside for a glass or several of wine (they have an extensive wine list) and a few dishes from the shared-dining à la carte menu. Think Nordic-inspired cuisine made with local Dutch produce. Whatever the time of day or your reason for visiting, this place delivers.

4850 Amsterdam - coffee and cinnamon buns
Dreamy cinnamon buns during the daytime at 4850

Kop van Oost

I first discovered Kop van Oost’s fantastic takeaway meal packages during the covid lockdowns in 2020. I dined there in person as soon as restaurants were allowed to reopen and I’ve been back again several times since. Perched on the water overlooking the Brouwerij ‘t IJ windmill, it’s the perfect spot to take visitors. As for the food, it’s above average for its price point: creamy burrata came with a mix of courgettes and a mild harissa salsa topped with crunchy almonds. While bream was served atop bright summer vegetables and a lake of beurre blanc. Kop van Oost recently updated its wine list with a nicely curated selection. And of course you can’t beat the windmill view from the terrace.

Grilled bream at Kop van Oost

Café-Restaurant Amsterdam

When a city is four metres below sea level, water management is of paramount importance. So it’s no surprise that since the 1900s, the Westerpark area has had its own water pumping machine, water tower and engine room. While these have evolved in the intervening years, the disused engine room was converted into a café and restaurant in 1996. Unfortunately it seems they couldn’t think of a more creative name for it, but at least you know what you’re getting with Café-Restaurant Amsterdam. Nowadays, they serve a simple but well executed menu of classic dishes like steak-frites, Caesar salad or gambas with aioli. CRADAM (as it’s affectionately known) is a huge space – so it’s ideal for group dining or for families getting together. It’s where I meet my friends for Sunday lunch when all their kids are in tow.

Steak-frites at Café-Restaurant Amsterdam


With the unfortunate timing of opening right before first lockdown, Alba on the Wibautstraat has been making up for lost time ever since. The restaurant’s extensive, leafy terrace is perfect for summer evenings, and it’s even covered with vast umbrellas in case it rains (which it did – a lot – the first time I visited). There’s a varied menu of natural, organic wines by the glass, which the servers will let you taste before you decide if you ask nicely. But for those who fancy themselves as sommeliers, there’s an expansive list of wines by the bottle to select from. On the food front, Alba is hard to categorise. We tried a perfectly devilled egg, which felt classically French, but later had a Japanese-style slow-cooked egg with a sort of curried mousse – impossible to describe but trust me, it was good. Continuing the fusion theme, we ate ultra-fresh peas with tofu and crispy chilli oil, side by side with ricotta gnocchi and courgette. And finished up with hanger steak with spiced sweet potato puree and chipotle dressing. Even the bread and butter were delicious. It’s been just as good on every occasion since.

Ricotta gnocchi with courgette at Alba
Ricotta gnocchi with courgette at Alba

Hotel de Goudfazant

Located in a former auto garage in hipster, industrial Amsterdam Noord, Hotel de Goudfazant occupies a huge warehouse space that gives the restaurant a relaxed, no-frills feel. When I went back there very recently, I was pleased to see they still had a poultry and pistachio terrine on the menu – and I still loved it. As mains, we ordered the crispy pork belly with Hollandse garnalen and samphire, and cauliflower with epoisses cheese and hazelnuts. Both were classic and well-executed dishes. We skipped dessert in favour of a bottle of a red Loire valley blend, and came out spending not too far over €100 for two people. In Amsterdam in 2023, that’s good value.

Hotel de Goudfazant’s classic terrine

Lion’s Head

Touting itself as a South African-German mashup that also brews its own beer, Lion’s Head Restaurant & Brewery is the kind of place that offers something for everyone – whether you’re in de Pijp on a date or for after-work drinks with colleagues. The menu features Bavarian schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) and sauerkraut with a pint of kölsch on the one hand, and bunny chow or babootie with a fruity watermelon wheat beer on the other. Plus a smattering of American buffalo wings and Tex-Mex nachos thrown in for good measure. I’ve been back to Lion’s Head several times since I discovered it: the relaxed atmosphere and lovely service make it hard to resist.

Lion's Head Brew Bar Amsterdam - nachos
Stellar nachos at Lion’s Head Brew Bar, Amsterdam

Wijmpje Beukers

It might call itself an eetcafe, but Wijmpje Beukers is clearly a cut above what that name would imply. At this neighbourhood gem in de Pijp, you’ll find an elegant, creative, well-thought-out à la carte menu made up of five starters, five mains and five desserts. The evening I dined there, one highlight was the smoked carrot with goat’s yoghurt, fenugreek and pumpkin seeds, which was savoury-sweet, chewy-smooth and full of autumnal flavour. Next came perfectly tender bavette with confit red cabbage and a hearty hash brown; and gurnard with new potatoes, samphire, an apple and dill salad and a sauce of smoked eel and lardo. On the wine list, I worked my way through a Limoux chardonnay, a Pfalz pinot noir and a Rioja Crianza. They were generous pours and good examples of their grapes. The only downside is that Wijmpje Beukers doesn’t take reservations. So at popular times, you can expect to wait a little for your table. Don’t despair, though: I’ve heard they’ll mix you a mean espresso martini at the bar.

A cut above your average carrot! Wijmpje Beukers


Just behind Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, you’ll find restaurant Choux in a roomy, industrial space with a casual vibe. Chef Merijn van Berlo offers a five-course fixed menu that’s highly seasonal and veg-led, which means that vegetarians and vegans can be catered for no problem. The evening I ate there, a particular highlight was a starter of black rice, pork and squid sliced so thinly it resembled tagliatelle – delicate and salty-sweet. Choux offers an excellent pairing of dishes with its natural, organic wines – available by the glass and bottle from Zuiver Wijnen.

Choux restaurant
Choux: dishes like oil paintings


Located on the Marineterrein, Scheepskameel’s philosophy is to source outstanding produce that’s prepared as simply as possible to let the quality of those ingredients shine through. A few examples from the first evening I ate there: wilted andijvie was wrapped around fresh ricotta and topped with chunks of raw seasonal apples and slivers of meltingly fatty guanciale. It was essentially four ingredients assembled on a plate, but it was a winning combination. My main was equally simple and equally delicious: gelatinously soft calf’s tongue and cheek in their own stewing juices with a peppy gremolata on top. For dessert, we shared a selection of cheeses that were primarily from France and the Netherlands, plus a plate of Proustian-quality madeleines that were served with a little ramekin of sabayon in which to dip them. Again, very simple, but very good. Scheepskameel serves exclusively German wines, which are also excellent in quality.

Amsterdam restaurant Scheepskameel
A winning combination: andijvie, guanciale and ricotta

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all the info

4850 (International)

Alba (International)

Cafe-Restaurant Amsterdam (European)

Choux (European)

Hotel de Goudfazant (European)

Kop van Oost (International)

Lion's Head Brew Bar (International)

Nomads (International)

Scheepskameel (International)

Eetcafe Wijmpje Beukers (European)


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