I have a love-hate relationship with sandwiches.
I have a love-hate relationship with sandwiches.
Amsterdam sandwich shops and what to order from them
Broodje Popov: Philly cheese steak sandwich
I knew I’d been to Broodje Popov on Van Woustraat at some point during the covid years, but I could find no photos on my phone and no notes on my laptop. So it wasn’t until I went back very recently that I remembered just how much I liked it. Popov is know for its Philly cheesesteak sandwich (or Philly cheesecake as I keep accidentally calling it): thinly sliced hot beef in gravy with melty American cheese, caramelised onions and mayo. We added jalapenos for 50 cents extra, which was a good idea as they helped cut through all that richness. Amazingly, given the gravy situation, the bread held together. A triumphant sandwich, if ever there was one.
Zero Zero: mortadella sandwich
Serving real-deal Italian sandwiches, Zero Zero started in the centre but now has a branch in de Pijp too. I ordered the mortadella: sourdough bread stuffed with mortadella, stracciatella, pistachio and parmesan, and it took me straight back to Lucca where I ate huge Tuscan sandwiches a few months ago. But everything on the menu looked delicious – I saw other people coming out with several different sandwiches and I was jealous, even as I was eating my own. The Gerard Doustraat location doesn’t have any space to eat inside, but there are benches on the nearby square for an impromptu picnic if the weather’s ok.
Ranchi: Japanese sando
There’s something aesthetically delightful and also quite childlike about the Japanese sando, with its cut-off crusts and perfect symmetry. At the eastern end of the Albert Cuypmarkt, tucked behind the market stalls, you’ll find Ranchi – serving up Japanese classics like chicken katsu and ton katsu. But I was not in the mood for meat the day I visited, so I ordered the egg salad instead: a soft and comforting mix of egg mayo, spring onions, miso and wholegrain mustard. Like something you’d find in your school lunchbox – only nicer.
Le French Café: croque madame
Surely the queen of breakfast sandwiches, the croque madame is a thing of great French beauty: two thick, crusty slices of bread filled with ham, gruyere and mornay sauce, topped with a fried egg. So simple and yet remarkably hard to find in Amsterdam. Well, search no more: Le French Café is here to help! They also do a range of other French-inspired lunch sandwiches plus aperitif hour and dinner in the evening. The interior and terrace are pure French bistro – you can’t help but feel a bit like Emily in Paris.
Sardi: hot pastrami sandwich
Sandwiches from butcher’s shops are distinctly a thing in Amsterdam, and have been for decades. However, a lot of them just aren’t that good: cold filet Americain, anyone? Luckily, some have upped their game, among which Sardi – a block or so away from Oosterpark and with a few tables for those wanting to eat inside. I live in the neighbourhood so have tried several of their sarnies, but the best I’ve eaten so far is their Warme Pastrami: grilled pastrami meets cheddar cheese, pickled red cabbage, red onion and gherkins in a long white or brown pistolet. Think Dutch Reuben.
Flo’s Appetizing: lox bagel
For years, it was impossible to find real-deal New York-style bagels in Amsterdam (although old-time Amsterdammers like me will still have a soft spot for Tony’s New York City Bagels). But then along came Flo’s Appetizing, now with three locations in the city. Their chewy, tasty bagels come topped with smoked salmon and a schmear of scallion-chive cream cheese, but there’s also a carrot version for vegans.
Singel 404: brie and smoked chicken open sarnie
I’ve been going to Singel 404 ever since I was a student in Amsterdam over two decades ago. In fact, it’s where I met my oldest and best friend in the city for the first time. In all those years, the menu hasn’t changed much and I order the same thing every time I go: it’s an open sandwich on brown bread, topped with smoked chicken, guacamole and sun-dried tomatoes, then brie that’s been melted over the top, followed by a smattering of cress. This felt very exotic back in 2001. Now, it’s perhaps a little more pedestrian (and more expensive) but still just as delicious.
Chun Café: stuffed toast
You’ll want to arrive early to beat the queues at this Negen Straatjes favourite. Alongside bubble tea and other specialty drinks, Chun Café does a line in gourmet stuffed toast that’s not to be found anywhere else. I tried the egg with garlic shrimp, which came in its signature toasted brioche pocket – warm, garlicky and perfectly seasoned. Mr Foodie ordered a breakfast classic of egg, bacon and cheese, which was similarly good – but we’ll have to go back to try the rib-eye bulgogi as it sounds awesome.
Viên: banh mi
Banh mi are surely the very pinnacle of sandwich perfection: manageable bread in the form of a not-too-crispy baguette, some kind of protein, pickled veg, a touch of chilli spice, fragrant coriander and perhaps a lick of mayo. That’s exactly what you’ll get at West-side Vietnamese banh mi shop Viên, where there’s only two tables but plenty of scope for takeaway. I tried the marinated grilled pork version, with Viên’s signature mix of pickled daikon, carrot and cucumber. A hearty, zingy, meaty mouthful. And the Vietnamese lemon soda was pretty good, too.
De Tokoman: broodje pom
The Netherlands’ history with Suriname may be problematic, but it thankfully saved us all from a lifetime of bland food. Surinamese sandwiches stuffed with all sorts of spicy fillings make an excellent alternative to the ubiquitous broodje kaas. Popular favourites include broodje pom – a spiced chicken and pomtajer filling – and broodje bakkeljauw, a Surinamese preparation of salt cod. Try both at hole-in-the-wall De Tokoman (now with three locations in Amsterdam) for affordable, satisfying sandwiches at lunchtime.
De Hapjeshoek: roti roll
Continuing the Surinamese theme, the roti rolls at De Hapjeshoek – a diner-style eethuis that’s literally inside Waterlooplein metro station – are hearty to say the least. One flaky warm flatbread stuffed with a curried mix of chicken, potatoes, long beans and sambal will probably feed two people for lunch quite easily. But when they’re that good (and that good value) why not order the whole roll for yourself?
Sir Hummus: sabich wrap
I first visited Sir Hummus several years ago when they were at their old location and (perhaps unsurprisingly) only really serving hummus. Now, they’re on the Ruysdaelkade and make a mean sabich: a Jewish-Iraqi sandwich stuffed with creamy hummus (of course), crispy aubergine, slow-cooked egg, salad and spicy zhoug sauce. It’s definitely more wrap than sandwich (it’s housed in a rolled-up flatbread rather than two slices of bread) but it hits every sandwich-craving spot there is.
Tigris & Eufraat: sucuk and mozzarella flatbread
On the Javastraat, Tigris & Eufraat is a supermarket on one side, and a cooking station for takeaway on the other. Which means that there’s no place to sit, so heading here for lunch probably only makes sense if you live or work in the area. That said, I hope you do live or work in Oost because the “Middle Eastern sandwiches” (which are in fact more like wraps) are some of the best on offer in Amsterdam. My favourite was the sucuk version, stuffed with spiced minced meat, melted mozzarella and perfect pickles. The halloumi sandwich was also fresh and tasty, while the falafel and manouche (which I’ve sadly not tried yet) looked delicious, and the prices were extremely affordable.
Is the famous Turkse pizza a wrap or a pizza? The jury’s out, but for the purposes of this article, and given that it comes wrapped in tin foil and you eat it with your hands, I’m going with the former. This listing is a bit of a trick because the best Turkish pizza in Amsterdam is… inevitably the one closest to your house. Why? Because when you’re hungover enough to need one, you can’t walk more than about 250 metres. In my case, this means Pide BKRY on Eerste Oosterparkstraat. A thin and crispy base, generous toppings, salad to pretend you’re being healthy, and lashings of garlic and chilli sauces. Add dirty meat on a stick for extra guilty pleasure.
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