Kimberly Ray, of Portland, Oregon, visited Amsterdam on a European vacation a few years back: "I allowed myself to wander the streets with complete abandon. One day I happened upon a chocolate store with an unusual name: Unlimited Delicious. I had stumbled upon what is by far the best chocolate store I’ve ever visited. Their bonbon flavors were so unique (caramel cayenne amarins, tomato balsamic pimento, and cardamom), I had to bring some home to the States. I hauled those boxes across four more countries, and it was worth it."
Mia MacDonald, of Brooklyn, New York, has some dining recommendations for the vegetarians among us: "A great place to grab a tasty bite is Maoz. The menu is simple and vegetarian: falafel, fries, and soft drinks.
The falafel is excellent, as is the salad bar with pickled eggplant, olive paste, hot peppers, tabouleh, and other garnishes you can top it off with. For more elegant vegetarian fare, try de Waaghals ("Daredevil"). The menu changes biweekly and features world cuisine. I enjoyed the Japanese-inspired entrée—lots of root vegetables and shiitake mushrooms—and an eggplant curry that combined just the right smokiness and spice. Also good is Green Planet, where most of the ingredients are organic and the atmosphere is crunchy-chic. The vegan crostini—grilled bread with olive oil, humus and roasted vegetables antipasti—was hearty but not heavy. Main courses, like teriyaki wok stir-fry, are reimagined with paprika peppers, lots of fresh vegetables, and cashews. If you’re in the mood for desert, the tofu lemon ‘cheesecake,’ served with a fruit sauce, is light and sweet with just the right amount of sour. Finally, don’t miss out on De Bolhoed ("Bowler Hat"), one of Amsterdam’s oldest vegetarian restaurants and a great place for a long, languid lunch or dinner. Bolhoed’s orange and green dining room resembles an eclectic living room, with mock Tiffany lamps, a large, friendly cat, big windows looking onto the cobbled street and canal, and a statue of Buddha. The Bolhoed salad is a vast mix of greens, sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, avocado, nuts, and pumpkin seeds. Mediterranean paté is chunky, multicolored, and served with crusty fresh bread. The quiche is popular, as are Bolhoed’s filling croissants, made from unusual and delicious combinations like leek, seaweed, and tofu."
Doug Kimball, of Everett, Washington, recommends La Romanca Mea, a Romanian deli: "I had several samples of wonderful Romanian cuisine (homemade sausage and superb salads), but the most fabulous item in this place is a small cookie that looks exactly like a walnut. They are baked in halves and stuffed with chocolate walnut paste—not overly sweet, but with a taste that stays in your mouth well over a minute after the last swallow."
Mike Flatch, of Royal Oak, Michigan, told us about two favorite haunts: "Café Gollem is a tiny gem of a bar on a pedestrian street. It’s small on space (total occupancy is a couple dozen people) but big on beer, carrying over 200 beers from breweries in the Netherlands, Belgium, and other European countries. The atmosphere will remind you of your favorite dive back home. At the Koffiehuis de Hoek I had one of the best cups of coffee ever, matched with a delicious and very large pancake topped with cheese. The two-person staff was very friendly."
To conclude our roundup, former Amsterdam resident Margie Uttormark sent us an eclectic roundup of her own: "At de Bijenkorf, the giant department store on Dam Square, there is a restaurant, La Ruche, with views of the square. They serve amazing dessert waffles with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Try their koffie verkeerd. Restaurant De Belhamel is a beautiful canal-side restaurant in the Jordaan—a very romantic place for a special date. The Odeon is a fun place for drinks and dancing right on the Singel Canal. Akbar Indian Restaurant serves great Indian food right off Leidseplein." She also offers up nonedible suggestions: "Take a day trip to Haarlem and visit the Corrie ten Boom Museum and the Frans Hals Museum. Go to the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague, where you can see Vermeer‘s ‘Girl With a Pearl Earring.’"