From meat-free junk food and delicious weed burgers (no, not that kind) to nourishing salad bowls and tempting plant-only tasting menus, vegetarian and vegan restaurants are sprouting up all across Amsterdam.
As one of the fastest growing food scenes in the Dutch capital, these new addresses are drawing in vegan and non-vegan diners alike. Here’s where to find the best meat-free meals.
Amsterdam has seen a explosion of new vegan restaurants and cafes © Claire Bissell / Lonely Planet
Mr and Mrs Watson
Located in the east of the city, Mr and Mrs Watson is a magnet for cheese lovers. Their awarding-winning vegan cheeses come in many different forms – from tangy homemade Roquefort to a creamy cashew fondue served with a giant bowl of bread. They also sell a cheese platter for the undecided. The welcoming interior of this small restaurant boasts a statement tiled bar with grand art deco-style shelving. Whole cheeses are also available to takeaway.
Amsterdam’s popular pizzeria Mastino has now opened Mastino V, a second branch that caters especially to vegans. Located in the west of the city, the snug space has a mezzanine seating area where patrons can chow down on plant-based and gluten-free pizzas, all served in cardboard takeaway boxes. Standout options include the aptly named Red Velvet, which is topped with beetroot, walnuts, lemon oil and avocado.
Vegan Junk Food Bar offers honest fast food © Claire Bissell / Lonely Planet
Vegan Junk Food Bar
Whether you’re hungover from a hedonistic all-nighter or simply craving some carbs, the Vegan Junk Food Bar is fast grub gone virtuous. With three locations across the city, this independent outfit tops plant-based patties with deep-fried onion rings, thick tomatoes, crunchy lettuce and a slathering of homemade sauce, all speared together with a cocktail stick as melted vegan cheese oozes over its side. Mouth-watering sides include vegan nuggets, black bean bitterballen (croquettes) and truffle fries.
Centred around a large black-tiled bar, the dining space at Meatless District is on the sparse side with industrial lighting and simple wooden furnishings punctuating the crisp white walls. Everything on the menu here is 100% vegan, from the BLT sandwiches with aubergine ‘bacon’ to the smoked salmon tartar made from tomatoes. The menu is seasonal and the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
SLA serves up big, healthy bowls of salad © Claire Bissell / Lonely Planet
A growing independent chain with outlets dotted throughout the city, SLA (which translates as ‘lettuce’) specialises in nutritious salad bowls. The cafes offer light, minimal interiors with a smattering of greenery, and all the dishes are made from organic ingredients. While you will find chicken and fish on the menu, the majority of their meals are plant-based like the generous homemade pea, spinach and falafel salad bowl.
Predominantly a vegan grocery store, Vegabond is ideal for those planning a picnic with a host of plant-based food on sale, including vegan meat and cheese substitutes, spreads, snack bars and egg alternatives. The small cafe area, located at the front of the shop, serves homemade lunches and snacks like tofu sausage rolls, raw carrot cake and fresh coffee. It also has charming canal views.
The Dutch Weed Burger Joint in Oud-West, Amsterdam © Claire Bissell / Lonely Planet
The Dutch Weed Burger Joint
Don’t be put off by the green buns at the Dutch Weed Burger Joint – sustainably cultivated seaweed is the key ingredient to what the owners claim is one of the healthiest burgers in the world. The burger’s unique elements (soy shreds, Royal Kombu seaweed and the superfood chlorella) provide a completely different flavour to your standard veggie burger, while the restaurant’s weed bites (an interpretation of fish and chips made with beans and microalgae) is equally as standout.
While DopHert sells a range of excellent plant-based burgers, fresh-filled bagels and colourful bowls of salads, what sets this Spaarndammerbuurt address apart is its impressive selection of homemade desserts. Everything is egg and lactose free, including their fantastic peanut butter brownie.
No cooking required: Amsterdam's Alchemist Garden specialises in raw food © Claire Bissell / Lonely Planet
While the food might be raw, the welcome is most definitely warm at the Alchemist Garden. Specialising in fresh organic meals, this friendly little eatery serves up everything from raw vegetable lasagne with spinach, mushroom and ricotta, to hotdogs made from beetroot, walnuts and chia seeds. It also sells fermented drinks, smoothies and lovingly-made cakes. Its small onsite shop sells natural products and its windows are filled with greenery. During the summer months, diners can enjoy their meal in the outdoor seating area.
Located inside the OT301 building on the Overtoom, the not-for-profit De Peper serves up a two-course vegan set menu four evenings per week. Reservations must be made by phone on the day, but meals are cheap, usually costing less than €10 euros for a starter and a main. Run by volunteers, expect a low-key atmosphere with no table service but a ‘we’ll shout your name when it’s ready’ system instead.
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