There are some “squares” that make you wonder why they are labeled that way. And Beukenplein (‘Beech square’) is one of them, not in the least because there’s a road running right through it. But look past that, and you’ll find a bunch of coffee shops, bars and restaurants. Among them is Coffee Bru, a cozy and colorful spot that doesn’t just serve excellent specialty coffee, but also has sandwiches and various fruity cereal bowls to get your day started.
BTW: If you’re coming from the other side of town, Trams 1 and 3 will take you right to Bru’s front door, so you can save your energy for a stroll in the nearby Oosterpark.
Coffee Bru, Beukenplein 14, 1092 KG Amsterdam
Modern without being pretentious, accessible without being plain, Bar Spek has become a popular spot for residents of neighborhood de Baarsjes, in the West. Breakfast, from yogurt to pancakes, is served until 4 p.m. This is a great place if you want to fuel up with coffee and a big, fat first meal of the day before heading into town. But Spek also has plenty to offer if you’re here for drinks or dinner. Its dishes include burgers and fish, but unlike its name implies (spek is Dutch for bacon), there are plenty of meatless options on the menu here.
BTW: From Spek, you’ll walk right into the lively de Clercqstraat. End your walk in Bilderdijkpark with a drink at cheerful cafe and restaurant Flora.
Bar Spek, Admiraal de Ruijterweg 1, 1057 JT Amsterdam
The location of the Uitvlugt, a drab, industrial terrain with box-shaped warehouses, is hardly a selling point, but this restaurant is a pearl. The dishes — from Suriname, a former Dutch colony in South America — are packed with taste. Among them are pom sandwiches (a type of casserole) and roti (flatbread). The warm interior at the Uitvlugt has the feel of tropical Suriname without being old-fashioned or kitschy. This is a great place to have a different kind of lunch after wandering the nearby Westergas factory terrain.
BTW: Check the calendar before you plan your visit; there’s live music every last Friday of the month.
Cafe Uitvlugt, Van Hogendorpstraat 923, 1051 CE Amsterdam
This “micro pizzeria” at the former NDSM shipyard up North barely has room for more than two tables, but it doesn’t matter. Kebec might just serve the best pizza in town. NDSM — now a cultural hub — has surely been discovered by the masses. But young Kebec remains a gem somewhat hidden, away from the main attractions just behind the ferry stop. Throughout the week, you can have your pizza here way before lunchtime; in the evening, it’s a perfect last stop if you’re on your way back to the Amsterdam “mainland.”
BTW: The pizza tonno comes with buffalo mozzarella, and it’s the best.
Kebec, Tt. Melaniaweg 12, 1033 ST Amsterdam
Botanique is on hallowed ground. The famed Ponteneur restaurant was located on this spot in the city’s eastern borough for some 25 years. Over the past few years, Botanique has proved a worthy successor, becoming a local favorite in the East’s Javastraat. Botanique serves pizza, burgers and fish in a tropical, oasis-like interior. But it’s also a great hangout to enjoy your morning coffee or late-night cocktails at the bar.
BTW: If you don’t eat meat or other animal products, there are plenty of vegan options here.
Bar Botanique, Eerste van Swindenstraat 581, 1093 LC Amsterdam
De School is Amsterdam’s best club, full stop. Think 24-hour techno in a poorly lit cellar. But if that’s not your thing, there’s also an industrial-chic restaurant in this former technical school. You’ll have the choice of a three-, five- or seven-course meal, with a different menu to choose from every month. The restaurant, a spacious and bright former workroom for auto mechanics in training, has within just a few years become known for great, affordable food and good service.
BTW: If you don’t have time for an extensive dinner, try the low-key Café DS next door, where they serve simple meals in a cozy atmosphere.
De School, Dr. Jan van Breemenstraat 1, 1056 AB Amsterdam
Located between Westerpark and the historic Spaarndammerbuurt neighborhood, this small and unremarkable place is easy to bypass, if only because it’s beside a busy intersection. But the food at Dumplings is not something you want to miss. The Chinese chef serves tasty dumplings, crepes, bao bao buns and spring rolls, but even if you have a bigger appetite, this is the right place. Dumplings also has noodle and rice dishes on the menu.
BTW: Don’t wait too late; the shop closes at 8:30 p.m.
Dumplings, Nassauplein 60, 1052 AH Amsterdam
A little slice of Berlin in Amsterdam, but not the cool kind. And that’s just the point. Named for German playwright Bertolt Brecht, this bar looks like your great-grandmother’s living room, complete with vintage fabric lampshades and armchairs. Consider it a subtle rebuke of strained efforts elsewhere in the city to be hip. At Brecht, you can enjoy a variety of German beers (naturally) and snacks like pretzels. But there’s room for other influences: The cheeses are local, and the coffee’s from Italy. Important soccer matches are shown on the big screen — and no, not just when Die Mannschaft (the German men’s national team) is playing.
BTW: Get there early if you want to sit outside; there are just a few seats available.
Brecht, Weteringschans 157, 1017 SE Amsterdam