Disclosure: Eating Europe hosted me on this tour in exchange for this review. As always, all opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links.
The first time I visited Amsterdam, I had no idea what to expect. It’s well-known for canals, biking, and smoking, but it doesn’t exactly have a reputation as a foodie city. Good cheese, yes. Good cuisine, not so much. However, I was pleasantly surprised by what I ate the first time I visited (aka lots and lots of Dutch snacks), so when Eating Europe invited me on one of their Amsterdam food tours during my most recent trip, I was more than a little excited. What yummy dishes would I be trying this time? I couldn’t wait! And spoiler alert: the food tour and the food were awesome.
Table of Contents
Who are Eating Europe?
Eating Europe started off as a one-man operation in Rome back in 2011. The founder, Kenny, lived there as an expat and would frequently take friends and visitors to his favorite spots. What started off as “Eating Italy” expanded into Eating Europe in later years as more cities were added. Now, Eating Europe operates in ten cities across the continent (and growing).
A Review of Eating Europe’s Taste of Amsterdam at Twilight Food Tour
Eating Europe offers four different tours in Amsterdam, all of which take place in different neighborhoods around the city and range between 3.5 – 4 hours. Although the most popular tour is the Jordaan Food Tour, I chose to do the Taste of Amsterdam at Twilight Food Tour because it was the only one that takes place in the evening. Be sure to check out all the different options and choose one that best fits into your schedule.
Highlights of the Amsterdam Food Tour
Food tours are never just about food. What makes them more than just a series of stops for good eats is the story behind the cuisine and the places where we eat them. What makes a specific dish popular? How did it come to be part of the national cuisine? Is it something that’s eaten in a particular region of the country? Our guide had the answer to all of these questions and more, making this food tour in Amsterdam one of my favorite experiences in the city.
But let’s get onto the tour part! At promptly 4:15 pm on a Tuesday, I met my guide and two American couples at the end of the Ten Kate Market. Our guide was an architecture professor and foodie who not only knew a ton of information about the food and vendors but who was also well-informed on the history of Amsterdam (and the architectural design in particular). It was definitely an eclectic group of people, but we all got along well and had a great time eating our way through Amsterdam.
So now without further ado: here’s what it was like to do a food tour in Amsterdam with Eating Europe plus what we ate along the way!
I’m not going to lie: I was a little surprised when our guide told us that our first stop on the tour would be to sample hummus at the Ten Kate Markt. Being Arab, I have incredibly high expectations for hummus and was skeptical that Amsterdam’s would match the quality I was used to. However, I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed.
Humus Kampioen is a farmer’s market stall run by an Iranian man by the name of Amir. He’s been perfecting his hummus recipes for over 20 years and it shows: they were delicious. Our guide explained that there’s a fairly large Iranian population in The Netherlands, many of whom fled Iran in the late 70s / early 80s during the Iranian revolution. I’d spotted a solid amount of Turkish and Iranian restaurants while I was in the city, so that made a lot of sense.
Back to the hummus: we didn’t just sample the original-style hummus and call it a day. Instead, we sampled three kinds of specialty ones: mango, smoked lemon, and one vaguely named “Persian spices” (which ended up being my favorite – I took some home to my friend). As a bonus, Amir also gave us a truly spectacular eggplant dip to try – I say this as someone who is so-so about eggplant in general. We started off the tour on the right foot!
Tropisch Winkel Rustem
Honestly, Rustem was my favorite stop on the tour just because it was so unexpected. This Surinamese grocery store is located on the same street as the hummus stand (Ten Kate Markt) but I would have never thought to go into it on my own.
Quick history lesson: Suriname is a small country located in South America, bordering Guyana and French Guiana. It’s a former Dutch colony that gained its independence in 1975 and at the time, the Surinamese were given the choice to either stay in Suriname and get citizenship or move to The Netherlands. Now there’s a significant Surinamese population (and consequently, Surinamese restaurants and grocery stores) in The Netherlands.
I’d had Surinamese food once when I visited Amsterdam back in 2015 but I was eager to sample more of the cuisine, which is an interesting mix of Caribbean ingredients and South / Southeast Asian flavors. It’s a bit hard to describe, but it’s delicious – and unlike anything I’ve eaten before.
At Rustem, you can purchase plenty of Surinamese spices and sauces, but the best part is the freshly cooked food they sell in the kitchen. We sampled two traditional Surinamese snacks: the first was Bara, a fluffy savory donut that is only deemed ready when the dough can float in water. It’s surprisingly light considering it’s fried and is served with a spicy mango chutney. The second snack we tried is called baka bana, which is a broiled plantain served with peanut sauce. It’s a seemingly simple snack but the sweet and spicy flavor combination was to die for.
For the next three stops on the tour, we headed to De Foodhallen, a hipster food hall located inside De Hallen. De Hallen is a renovated train station and is now home to some amazing independent businesses such as a “child-friendly” movie theater that stays bright until the movie starts, a gorgeous branch of the public library, a quirky shop with Dutch artisan goods, and so much more. Some of the business have awesome non-profit arms and get subsidized rent, which is a great initiative to keep a good mix of small and large businesses in the building.
Anyway, back to De Foodhallen, which translates to, you guessed it “the food hall.” Inside the food hall, there’s a huge collection of cuisine from around the world: everything from American barbecue to Peruvian ceviche. Our first stop here was at the beer bar, where the rest of my group sampled a local beer. Since I don’t drink, I had this herbal soda drink called Almdudler, which is apparently the national drink of Austria (thanks Google!).
De Ballen Bar
As our guide said, the best thing to pair with beer is bar food. Enter: bitterballen, my absolute favorite Dutch snack. Bitterballen or bitterballs consist of a mixture of beef/veal and gravy that are battered and deep-fried into balls. They aren’t actually bitter: they’re named after the alcoholic bitters drink they used to be served with. Nowadays, they’re the preferred bar food of the Dutch and are typically served with a side of mustard for dipping.
In 2014, Michelin-Star chef Peter Gast started De Ballen Bar to showcase a twist on the original Dutch snack. We sampled both the truffle flavor and the spinach and old cheese. Although I’m a huge fan of the original bitterballen, I was definitely impressed with these fusion ones and may or may not have gone back to sample some of the other flavors another day (read: that 100% happened). The truffle was my favorite of the five flavors I ended up trying.
To me, one of the best things about food tours is learning the story and history behind the different, foods, buildings, and restaurants we visit. Easily one of the best stories on this tour is the one behind Petit Gateau, a cute French bakery in De Foodhallen. Petit Gateau was started by a Dutch woman named Meike and her husband, Patrice. They met while Meike was in Paris for pastry training, and eventually started a successful bakery there (initially out of their apartment). Several years later, they moved back to Amsterdam and started Petit Gateau together to share their love of French dessert in Meike’s hometown.
We each selected our own dessert here which was awesome because everyone has different dessert tastes (although it was a difficult task to just choose one). I was happy with my dark chocolate tart though!
Meneer De Wit Heeft Honger
The name of this restaurant literally translates to Mr White is Hungry. Judging by the name of this place alone, I had a feeling I would like it. I wasn’t wrong. The chef here, Simo Bouabgha, learned to cook from his Moroccan grandmother then refined his skills in Barcelona and Amsterdam. This restaurant focuses on farm to table, quality food and the menu is the chef’s choice. When we arrived, we had no idea what we would be eating – neither did our guide. The suspense was kind of fun and as someone who often struggles to make food decisions, I’d definitely appreciate simply choosing one of the different chef’s menus and letting myself be surprised.
While here, we sampled two vegetarian dishes: a grilled onion with crisped parmesan on a bed of beet puree and an eggplant puree with potatoes and walnuts. I’d classify the dishes as Mediterranean fusion; I was really impressed by the the quirky combination of ingredients and textures. Seemingly simple but so tasty!
Bar Bistro Belleami
For our final stop, we made our way to Bar Belleami for some modern Dutch cuisine. Along the way, we stopped to admire some of the neighborhood architecture. Most notable was one of the first mosques in Amsterdam – although it was clearly inspired by Turkish mosques, the colors fit in quite well with the surrounding architecture.
The food here was great but what particularly stood out to me was the bright ambiance. There was a gorgeous terrace outside and plenty of large windows letting in natural light. Belleami has that outdoor summer vibe that I personally love. Here we sampled a couple of fusion farm-to-table dishes and some drinks. This is the one stop where pork was served so I had a substitute – the whole group tried the warm and flavorful red pepper soup which was genuinely outstanding: the perfect Autumn soup. My second dish was a vegetarian lasagna instead of the pork belly the others had; I loved that it was heavier on the vegetables and light on the cheese and pasta compared to a traditional lasagna.
It was at Belleami that our tour came to an end. But at that point, my stomach was thanking me that there weren’t any more stops.
What I loved about the tour
- We sampled a large variety of dishes and cuisines.
- I learned a ton about the history of Amsterdam, particularly focusing on architecture since our guide was an architecture professor.
- It was incredibly easy for Eating Europe to accommodate my dietary restrictions of no pork or alcohol. Based on what we ate, I think it would be easy for vegetarians to enjoy this tour as well.
- We got individual portions at the majority of the stops. I’ve been on food tours where some people tend to hog shared dishes, so I appreciated the individual portions (nobody hogged shared dishes on this tour either, yay!).
- The portions we got were excellent: I left full not overly stuffed. Skipping lunch that day probably helped.
- I really appreciated that the company emailed us a guide with all the places we went to in case we wanted to return – it saved me from having to take frantic notes or bookmark each place as we went along.
Note: The only con I could think of was that a lot of our stops were clustered on the same street (three in de Foodhallen and two at Ten Kate Markt. It would have been nice to walk around a bit more to try other places but overall, it didn’t affect the quality of the tour. Eating Europe really nailed “excellent food tour” down to a T!
Some tips for your Eating Europe food tour
- Come hungry (of course) and pace yourself if you have a small appetite. I’d unintentionally skipped lunch that day which worked in my favor.
- If you have any dietary restrictions or allergies, let Eating Europe know when you’re booking. They’re really accommodating but it’s always good for the guide to know in advance.
- If you enjoy your tour, write them a Tripadvisor review.
- Do the tour earlier in your trip so you can return to your favorite places.
If you’re looking for a delicious foodie activity in Amsterdam, I recommend checking out the Eating Europe tours in the city. It was an excellent mix of food history and eating and you’re guaranteed to leave the tour feeling full. The best way to explore a new city is through the cuisine (in my opinion) so check out all the great Amsterdam food tour options and book your tour now!
Tell me: Have you ever tried Dutch food? Share which dish you’d most like to try in the comments below!
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