If you’re thinking of going to Amsterdam and are looking for advice as to where to eat gluten free – well, then lucky you! I bloomin’ love Amsterdam, and writing this post was such a pleasure, both in terms of reliving the great gluten-free food I had there, and just as a reminder of how much I enjoy Amsterdam as a city. The lovely canals, pretty flowers, the culture, the great shopping – even the proliferation of bicycles!
I started a new job and moved down to Devon just over a month ago and, now that the stress of it has started to recede a little, I find that my mind is turning repeatedly to the idea of a holiday. There have been frequent and involved Google searches as to where I might go – Copenhagen, Barcelona, Prague, Vienna, Budapest – long weekend city-breaks have been my absolute fixation over the past couple of weeks! As part and parcel of my holiday cravings, I’ve been day-dreaming about trips abroad in years past and I started pouring over last year’s summer holiday pics in Amsterdam. I’ll be honest – they’re mostly of the food I enjoyed there. And there was a lot of it!
Consequently I decided to put together a little guide to eating gluten free in Amsterdam, based on the time we’ve spent there!
For a coeliac, the question of ‘what will I be able to eat?’ always looms large when you’re thinking about booking something. Well, when it comes to Amsterdam, you absolutely do not need to worry. We’d actually been the year before, in 2015, but loved it so much that we went back again last year. The city is beautiful; there’s so much going on in terms of local culture and colour; and there’s lots for the hungry coeliac to eat! In fact, there was a lot that we could have tried but just didn’t have time for, and so I’ll link some comprehensive guides at the end as follow-up reading, too.
1e van der Helststraat 76-hs, 1072NZ
Much like my post on gluten-free Brighton, I’m listing all the places I went in alphabetical order, which brings us first to the rather trendy COTTONCAKE. This is a very fashionable establishment that combines a high-end clothing boutique with an adorable little cafe that’s hot on its gluten-free options.
In terms of the atmosphere, I think the best way to describe it is that it’s eminently Instagrammable. It’s all very clean-looking inside, with endless white surfaces, minimalistic and carefully chosen decor, and artfully arranged clothing and trinkets. They have a variety of gluten-free breakfast and lunch options, including granola, smoothie bowls, fresh spring rolls, and some sandwiches that can be made with gluten-free buckwheat bread for a euro extra. However, it was around mid-morning both times we went and so we just popped in for coffee and cake.
The COTTONCAKE ‘classic’ is their excellent banana bread, which comes served warm with a generous knob of butter and some chunky sliced banana. It was melt-in-the-mouth yummy, and managed to feel both incredibly comforting and homely, even amongst all the clean, white spaces of the cafe and those pretty, delicate clothes – it was warm, filling, comfort food, and even better when spread with a little of the butter. I still think fondly, from time to time, of that excellent banana bread I had in Amsterdam.
Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have any of the pictures from my 2015 visit to COTTONCAKE (we went both years), but I had the flourless chocolate cake that first time and that was delicious, too, if not quite as strikingly delightful as my buttered banana bread. I don’t day dream about that one in the same way. 😉
As you might have guessed from this restaurant’s name, this is your stop to get gluten-free Italian food! At de Italiaan, all the pizzas on their menu are available on a gluten-free base for an extra €1.75 and you can get a gluten-free beer for €4.75 (prices correct at time of publication). There are a few coeliac-friendly pudding options, too, including ice cream, chocolate cake or panna cotta.
This is possibly the most ordinary of my gluten-free finds in Amsterdam, by which I mean that I ate some truly amazing gluten-free food while I was there – however, de Italiaan offers a very enjoyable gluten-free pizza, but wasn’t revelatory. We had a pleasant and relaxed evening there; you can sit outside, which would be great in the sunshine as Amsterdam is just so beautiful, but we sat inside when we went as the night proved quite chilly!
I wasn’t actually vegetarian back last August (I stopped eating meat for good around mid-October), so I went for a meat pizza (they did have vegetarian options, though!). I didn’t realise when I ordered the ‘Crudo’ pizza, however, that it would literally come smothered in ham! It was very tasty, though, and I did eat the whole thing. ☺️
Prinsengracht 277, 1016GW
Prins Hendrikkade 48, 1012AC
Berenstraat 38, 1016 GH
Dutch pancakes: an absolute must if you’re visiting Amsterdam. If you’re coeliac or gluten intolerant, then that means a visit to the absolutely delightful Pancakes Amsterdam. They offer both gluten-free and dairy-free pancakes, sweet and savoury; gluten-free pancakes take a little longer to prepare as they have to put their cross-contamination procedures in place but, as they themselves say, this just gives you longer to enjoy yourself and your company in the restaurant!
When we first went in 2015, they just had the one small cafe in Berenstraat, which would often get very busy, but they had opened another lovely branch near Centraal station when we back in 2016 and now have yet another at Westermarkt, near the Anne Frank House, which is brand new for 2017. Clearly people are catching on! The one near the station is much bigger than the original cafe on Prinsengraacht and less cramped when it’s busy, but either will serve you a truly top-notch gluten-free pancake – the most important thing, of course.
You can enjoy a sweet or a savoury pancake – either one from the menu or from a selection of toppings to create your own. They are very clued-up on their gluten-free offerings, too, as evidenced by this recent blog post writing all about it on their website. 😀 The gluten-free pancake is light and a perfect texture, and to my eyes it didn’t look very much different to Greg’s gluten versions each time.
As testament to just how revelatory these pancakes were to my little coeliac life back in 2015, I think that first year we were in Amsterdam that we might have actually been to Pancakes Amsterdam no fewer than three times in one week! I can remember just being in an absolute food coma the first time I went, having dunked my pancake in both ice cream and whipped cream; pure coeliac happiness! The second time, in 2016, we did go twice – once at the start of our holiday, in their original smaller cafe, and once at the end at Centraal. I always have fresh strawberries, with either cream or ice cream. It’s a dream. Greg changes his up, but has never had a disappointing pancake! <3
Lindengracht 59 hs, 1015 KC
This little cafe, a fifteen minute walk or so from the centre, specialises, as you might guess, in picnic food – you choose two or three smaller items from the menu to put together your meal – for example, you might choose two sandwiches and a soup. Just like a picnic! It’s a very quirky little place, with tremendous character, and one of the eateries on this list that truly felt ‘Dutch’, individualistic, you wouldn’t find anywhere quite like it somewhere else. And the food, oh my gosh. Who knew a sandwich and a little bowl of soup could taste so good? So, so good!
The menu changes reasonably frequently, so permanent gluten-free options aren’t marked up on there; however, very good wholemeal gluten-free bread rolls are always available for all their sandwiches and the serving staff are happy to talk you through what’s available gluten-free on the menu that day (and it was a lot, when we went!). They guarantee a gluten-free soup, salad and cake every day! The first year we went to Amsterdam, all we could talk about afterwards was Pancakes Amsterdam; however, last year when we came back, Piqniq was what we were raving about. ^^
Again I didn’t go for veggie options as I was still eating meat at the time, but I did see a mozzarella and tomato sandwich that looked equally delicious on someone else’s table, and a yummy-looking roast tomato soup. Pictured below are my mozzarella and prosciutto salad sandwich (so light and beautiful) and my Thai chicken soup, which is honestly one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, ever. Gluten or no.
We did try and go back for another go, we loved it so much, but it does get busy and there was a queue for tables, so we gave it up – albeit very regretfully. Another little quirk of the place is the resident cat, who likes to sit in the window (or, at least, he did when we went there last year!). I was so thrilled to get a seat right by him, which was just by sheer luck as the cafe was super busy when we went.
Speaking of Amsterdam and cats (and why wouldn’t you), if you are ever near the little island street Prinseneiland, do pay a visit to see this rather handsome ginger gentleman if you can. When we went in 2015, we stayed in an apartment here and would always see him lazing in the sun on the corner by the bridge connecting the island to the main city. When we went back the next year, we stayed in a flat in the city centre, but made sure to go back to Prinseneiland on a sunny day, as it was so pretty. Lo and behold, he was there still, enjoying the summer weather, and was very courteous in response to our delight at seeing him again (although I think he struggled to place us).
Other blogs recommend a city’s cultural gems and beautiful sights; I tell you where to find the best cake, and the best cats. You are welcome. 😎
Supermarkets and cooking at home
As a coeliac, I always find that my best bet for eating abroad is to rent an apartment with cooking facilities for my time away. This gives me the option of eating out as much as I’d like, but also gives me the reassurance that I will be able to cook my own food whenever I need to and that I won’t ever go hungry.
In Amsterdam, you’re lucky in that the regular supermarkets, such as Albert Heijn, are usually pretty well-stocked in terms of their free-from section. The watch word for coeliacs is ‘gluten-vrij’ (‘gluten-free’) and, if you’re scanning packets, ‘tarwe’ means ‘wheat’. You can get gluten-free bread, pasta, biscuits, the works, without any problems. They also, amazingly, have a lovely Marks and Spencer in the city centre, next to some of the best shopping, too! M&S is well-stocked with GF porridge (a breakfast staple, wherever I go!), delicious wholegrain GF bread, GF pasta and plenty of cakes and sweet treats, too, should you be so inclined. (*NB: The M&S Amsterdam branch is apparently closing this October! Such a shame 😩)
To conclude: Amsterdam, so good that we did it twice…
…in fact, it’s tempting just to make Pancakes Amsterdam an annual pilgrimage and to truck up to Amsterdam for a third summer in a row, but I’m (kind of reluctantly) aiming to go and try something different for this year’s holiday. ^^ But, yes, in short – there are lots of truly foodie experiences that would be amazing whether you ate gluten or not. We didn’t go to as many places as we might have done, as Greg and I really enjoy cooking together and we did make a lot of meals at home. There was a lot that we missed, and you can take a look at some of them at the following links:
In amongst all the food, there’s also lovely Amsterdam itself. I won’t talk too much about it, but there are all the usual culture spots to go and visit – the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum and, if you can bear it, the Anne Frank House – and lighter things, such as the zoo, the shopping, all of that. We spent one day just walking around all the pretty streets and canals in the sunshine, ducking into kitschy shops and just taking everything in. If you have good weather, it’s wonderful to just skip the trams and to simply go exploring.
I hope this was useful and that it might inspire you to pay a visit some time in the future! 🤗