It was no surprise to me to find out that Amsterdam, Netherlands ranks among the top ten “foodie” cities in Europe because when two friends and I took a trip there during our semester abroad — and I am not exaggerating —all we did was eat (and walk, but like, come on the Rijksmuseum was right there!). But really, during my semester abroad in France, I had about two or three of the best meals of my life in France, and at least five in Amsterdam.
Our life-changing food journey began at a sweet little brunch place called Ted’s (that I still follow on Instagram today). We had just completed an over-night bus trip to get into town at 6 am and realized that we couldn’t check into our hostel until 11 am. So naturally, we fueled up on some ‘Bucks (Starbucks) and trekked four miles from the bus stop towards our hostel and in search of breakfast.
Ted’s is about the same size as any of our Mass Street brunch spots with a minimalist, white and wooden design scheme. My friends and I were seated at a community table where – what are the odds – we met a K-State student who had been studying abroad in Germany. It was her last day in the city, so she shared some of her favorite restaurants and food boutiques (you’ll see) with us.
But back to the food! Ted’s Breakfast detoxified and purified my soul after hardly sleeping on an overnight bus and hauling my over-packed travel backpack across town. I ordered their avocado toast with smoked salmon and two poached eggs on whole-grain toast. It was the clean, energy-boosting meal I needed, but I was definitely tempted by their banana pancakes and eggs benny on a croissant.
You can find more mouth-watering photos of their menu items @teds_place on Instagram!
After Ted’s and checking into our hostel, we hit the streets (sidewalks) of Amsterdam to see what there was to see, and to find the cookie boutique that our Wildcat friend had told us about. Van Stapele is a hole-in-the wall-shop down an alley between the main road and the canals, but that didn’t stop the line from going out the door. Everyone seemed to be crazy about their cookie.
That’s right, singular cookie. Van Stapele, of course, does not make one cookie per day or something even more absurd like that. But they do make only one kind of cookie – a rich chocolate cookie with melty white chocolate center, which you can see packaged in the storefront window pictured below.
The Van Stapele cookie is a pretty darn good cookie at the end, but I still wonder about the one-cookie system.
On our walk into the city, we saw a couple things of interest: 1) probably one million bicycles piled up on the sides of apartment buildings as far at the eye can see, and 2) a sign that said “Eff it. Eat salads.”
I was intrigued, so I talked my two travel buddies as well as some other friends from our program who were arriving in Amsterdam that day into trying it out for dinner. Salad & the City is largely a take-out focused restaurant, but they did have a couple tables in a lofted space to seat us at. I don’t remember the name of my salad, and I think they have updated their menu since I was there in 2017, but I do remember that I was so excited to eat sweet potato after an involuntary hiatus from it (while a staple back home, I was hard pressed to find very much sweet potato around Angers). The bowl I ordered then was something like the Vitamin Bowl, which you can find on their website (link website).
My Salad & the City Bowl was probably the overall healthiest meal I ate during my semester abroad. I mean, come on, I was in France. I was quite literally living on bread and bread derivatives.
Which isn’t to say I didn’t have any bread derivatives in Amsterdam, home of the stroopwaffel. After dinner our troupe sought out a pub that served Dutch Apple Pie, and don’t worry, we weren’t searching too long.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the pub, but it was in a square towards center of town. And there are plenty of places to find Dutch Apple Pie in Amsterdam, trust me.
Number two of those best meals of my life? It happened at a little place called the Pancake Bakery a block or so away from the Anne Frank House. And it was pure luck too. My friends and I had been looking for G’s Brunch Boat (another recommendation from our Wildcat friend) which took probably 45 minutes to find and about 20 seconds to realize that it was closed that day. We were hungry. We were tired. I wanted pancakes. And Apple Maps had the quick fix for all of us.
If I remember correctly it was a fifteen-minute-or-so walk back towards pancakes and Anne Frank. When we made it to their door, we almost dismayed because the wait was over an hour. But luck struck again, and they offered to seat us with another woman desperate for pancakes at a larger table in the back. Of course, we accepted, and along with the best pancakes ever, we got to speak to a real live Norwegian city planner. She was studying the bike culture in Amsterdam in order to make Oslo more bike friendly. We were so in awe that we never got her name.
All my friends know me as the Queen of Indecision, especially in restaurants, so I had a time with the Pancake Bakery menu (they had a seasonal special pumpkin pancake with poached pears and dark chocolate ice cream – how could I not get the seasonal special??). Mostly, I wanted to try a savory pancake and a sweet one. My friend Carla and I decided to share: we got one chicken, cheese, and mushroom pancake and the Dutch Pancake, which sported stroopwaffels, caramel sauce, chocolate ice cream, chocolate flakes, and whipped cream.
I cannot overstate how good these pancakes were. Whenever reminiscing France, these pancakes come up. Even though they’re Dutch. Even though I ate them in Holland.
And of course, I follow the Pancake Bakery on Instagram (@thepancakebakery).
Last but not least, I dragged my friends to the Vegan Junk Food Bar. Vegan junk food? You mean, like Oreos?
Vegan Junk Food Bar is a magical place of vegan burgers, hot dogs, loaded tater tots, French fries, etc. We decided to try the Kapsalon Loaded French Fries with Shawarma, grated cheeze, jalapeños, carrots, and garlic and Vegan Junk Food Bar sauce.
Life – changed. French fries are one of my favorite foods, and paired with veggies and VJFB’s spicy house sauce, this made for a basket of fried potatoes I would never forget.
And yes, I follow them on Instagram (@veganjunkfoodbar).
So, Vegan Junk Food Bar is not the true last stop on this tour, but it is the last local one. You see, my dear friend Middi and I have an affinity and a sentimental attachment to Dunkin Donuts, her being from Boston and myself having spent a good amount of quality sister time in a Dunkin Donuts parking lot. So when I learned there was a Dunkin Donuts in Amsterdam, much to Carla’s dismay, it was added to the list of sites and attractions.
Once again, we trekked at least two and a half miles through town so that I could get a cute donut and a picture to send to my sister.
Totally worth it.