The Jordaan Food Tour: A Movable Feast

At Papeneiland, gezelligheid comes with your apple pie.

Amsterdam may be better known for canals, world-class museums and its Red Light District than for its culinary heritage. Yet despite taking a back seat to other attractions and a bad rap for being bland comfort food—ironic when you consider Holland ruled the 17th-century spice trade—Dutch cuisine is fascinating in its diversity.

Taste the full range of flavors on the Jordaan Food Tour, on which you’ll sample more than a dozen Dutch delicacies at seven historic cafés, family-run shops and specialty food stores in a neighborhood known for its postcard-perfect views.

Apple Pie with a Side of Gezelligheid

Papeneiland manager Tiel Netel bears the same name as every previous male family member/manager.

My recent tour with fellow food and travel bloggers began at one of Amsterdam’s oldest brown cafés, historic Papeneiland, where Bill Clinton famously washed down a hunk of apple pie with cappuccino, then took a whole pie away with him.

Oozing with Old World gezelligheid, the place has been owned through many generations by the Netel family. Current manager Tiel Netel (who bears the same first name as all males in the family) was there to greet us as we sampled the famed dessert. It’s still made on the premises with a cake-like crust and crumbly topping full of fruit. Have yours with a dollop of whipped cream that cuts the tartness of the apples, just as we did.

Papienland has been serving up delicious apple pie since 1864.
Bill Clinton washed down a hunk of apple pie at Papeneiland.

Immigrant Influences

Our next stop was a hole-in-the-wall on posh Brouwersgracht, where Amsterdam’s connection with Surinamese/Indonesian cuisine revealed itself. At Henk van de Weerd and Juliet Chang’s tiny Swieti Sranang, we sampled savory Bakabana and Bakje Pom served with peanut sauce, all made by Chef Juliet, who was born in Indonesia and raised in Suriname.

An Homage to Meat

Find prime meat and sausages at Louman’s delicatessen.

Next up was Slagerij Louman, a local institution since 1890. Named after the family that started the business and still runs it today, the deli is known for top-quality meat and sausages made at Louman’s own sausage factory by the North Sea. While admiring displays of meat, sausages, salads and meatballs, we tried ossenworstsausage made with prime, raw beef that’s something of an acquired taste.

Something Fishy

It was time for something fishy at Meer dan Vis, known locally as the Jordaan’s best fish shop. Owned by a Dutchie and an American, Michel Witte and Donald Hitchings, the place offers premium herring purchased from small Dutch boats rather than industrial fishing boats, ensuring the freshest fish farmed by the highest sustainability standards.

Kibbeling is the Dutch version of British Fish ‘n’ Chips.

Our brined herring, served with a Dutch flag for spearing the silky morsels, tasted of the sea without being fishy, while the kibbeling (luscious chunks of fried cod) came hot but not greasy, ready for dunking into creamy tartar sauce.

Try drop at Het Oud-Hollandsch Snoepwinkeltje.

Shop Till You Drop

Shop till you drop took on new meaning at Het Oud-Hollandsch Snoepwinkeltje, an old-fashioned candy boutique that transports customers back to yesteryear. “I opened the candy shop because I really like Dutch old-fashioned shops; they have so much more atmosphere than the big chain stores,” says owner Mariska Schaefer. Today she stocks drop, the national sweet, in dozens of flavors in her small shop.

All Aboard!

On board a private salon boat, we cruised Amsterdam’s historic canals.

Drop in tow, we headed for our private canal boat, waiting on the Prinsengracht at the Pulitzer Hotel. Cruising along Amsterdam’s UNESCO-honored waterways, we picked up a selection of Dutch cheeses from De Kaaskamer, cold beer from local brewery Brouwerij ‘t IJ and bitterballen from renowned cookery Holtkamp. With our picnic and a bottle of bubbly, we celebrated what we’d learned while meandering through historic shops and sampling Dutch delicacies served with a side of culture and history.

Pancakes on Prinsengracht

The celebration continued at our final stop, Café de Prins, named after the canal on which it’s located. “With our view over two canals and a great mix of locals and internationals, we have one of the best spots in Amsterdam,” say owners Johan Verschueren and Daan Huisman. “We’re proud of our musical heritage, too; join us for classical music, DJs, you name it.” A typical brown café, this Amsterdam institution serves some of the best poffertjes in town. Ours came lightly dusted with powdered sugar—heaven on a plate!

View seven bridges on a cruise through Amsterdam’s UNESCO-honored canals.

The Jordaan Food Tour is offered Tuesday through Saturday at 11. In addition to seven tasty food stops that equate to an ample lunch, the four-hour guided adventure includes an hour-long cruise through the city’s historic canals on a private salon boat that’s hosted the likes of Winston Churchill and Queen Wilhelmina.

Disclaimer: Many thanks to Eating Amsterdam for hosting me on a Jordaan Food Tour. While the tour was complimentary, all opinions and photographs in this post are my own.







  1. Awesome, apple pie is one of my favorites, but being honest with you, my top priority will always be lemon pie !
    Will definitely pay a visit to the candy shop, it’s one of the little pleasures in life that makes me so happy.

  2. Hello Melissa! I don’t know much about Amsterdam but one thing is sure I’m really excited to get to know this city. Your blog highlights a very specific and unique atmosphere that I look forward to discover. I really enjoyed reading this article as one of the things that make me the happiest in life is eating 🙂 Not only because food can taste amazing but also because it’s a moment you share with others. Taking the time to discover the city through it’s food traditions is a wonderful way to get immersed in its culture. I paid particular attention to the part where you described Louman’s as this institution reminded me of a local business next to my village in the south of France focusing on tradition and quality. I am fascinated by those people that can make tradition thrive years after years.

    I’m also really curious about this Dutch apple pie that I never heard about before.

    It’s a really great blog and we will definitely refer back to it during our travels this summer! Thanks a lot

  3. Well…..probably not the post I should have chosen to read on an empty stomach. And when I won’t even be in Amsterdam during the times this Food Tour is offered. But, then again, maybe for the best for my wallet (and stomach) 🙂

    I’m a sucker for pies in particular, so of course I enjoyed hearing about the infamous apple pie. I’m also a firm believer in eating with a view, so this write up has gotten me excited about the options to eat on/overlooking the canals.

    I’ve already followed you a Twitter a few days ago, and I will try to read more of these posts on my way to Amsterdam tomorrow (provided I don’t sleep the entire time–a possibility, based on my body’s current clock!).

    Maybe see you this weekend. Regardless, thank you for this indulgent foodie post and all the rest. 🙂


  4. This looks delicious! I have a huge sweet tooth so I would be especially excited about the pie! Carolyn and I will definitely have to check out some of these food hotspots while we are in Amsterdam. I think its very interesting that Surinamese and Indonesian cuisines are included in the tour, great to see a vibrant international food culture!

  5. Yum! (Or should I say, “lekker!”) It’s nice to see there’s more to Dutch food than hagelslag haha. Great blog. I also love discovering (and blogging about) local cuisine. I’ll be visiting Amsterdam soon; maybe we can meet up for some poffertjes!

  6. This posting has got me hungry! Especially since I’m a pastry chef those poffertjes have my name all over them. I my friend Mary and I would also like to share a glass a bubbly with you and hopefully impart some wine knowledge from our studies with you. Really enjoyed this post as well as your post on the culturally diverse foods in the Netherlands. The city seems to be a melting pot of culture, and as a classified foodie I cannot wait to experience all these adventures!

  7. Hi Melissa, yes, definitely a try of the apple pie for me (if it’s good enough for Bill, it’s good enough for me!). Anyway, what a great blog to have discovered. I must admit, I am a bit of a foodie. Oh, the thought of all that cheese & bubbly. I think a guided good tour is a great idea as you are given all the local knowledge. I don’t think 2 days in Amsterdam is going to be anywhere near enough time to see & do all the wonderful thing that you tell about in your blog. I am even more excited at the thought of my big adventure to Amsterdam – can’t wait!!!!!

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