Amsterdam
Photo Courtesy of Rene Mesman
Holland is known for hearty comfort food, not haute cuisine. Yet its capital competes with the best of Europe on the dining front with nearly 1,500 options, from Michelin-starred restaurants and historic watering holes to gay cafés and Irish pubs. Amsterdam’s culinary melting pot includes diverse fare encompassing Indonesian rijstaffel, Spanish tapas, and Dutch favorites such as stamppot, bitterballen, and pannekoeken. Sample Asian flavors in Chinatown, near Nieuwmarkt, or cruise Haarlemmerstraat, Utrechtsestraat, or Reguliersdwarsstraat for dining options. Avoid touristy Leidseplein unless you like being overcharged for an overcooked steak. On the street, try Vlaames frites—twice-fried potatoes smothered in mayo⎯or raw herring with pickles and onions. Turkish pizza is popular, as are gyros, reflecting Middle Eastern influences. In the wee hours, buy a kroquet or burger from coin-operated windows at FEBO (the Dutch fast-food automat chain), where you’ll see Dutchies trying to be inconspicuous as they grab a late-night snack. Heineken and Amstel are the local beers. For a stiffer drink, try Dutch jenever, which is juniper-flavored gin.