There is this preconception that there’s no Dutch cuisine and the high amount of deep-fried food seems to support this idea completely. This article is about what you find in the ordinary Dutch cafes for lunch, if you want to take a break from fast-food.
Each city has the most important church located in the center, in the so called “Big Market” (Grote Markt) where you can find most of the cafes to have lunch or dinner. There’s a small probability to find a restaurant in a outlying neighborhood. So, in case you want to have lunch, make your day schedule in such a way that lunch time finds you in the city center. Also, take into account that lunch is usually served between 12 and 16, especially in the not so known towns.
You will probably be impressed by the number of Italian, Indian or Indonesian restaurants and you will be, maybe, hesitating to enter a Dutch cafe. But you should do it for 3 main reasons. You can try a Dutch lunch, you can see locals and the beer is better here (try the tap one). So what would you usually find on a lunch menu in a cafe?
Croquettes: no one knows what they contain and there’s a saying you shouldn’t ask. They are with meat, served in a pair of two, with two huge bread slices, salad and mustard. A fast-food option, in a cafe they are, usually, home-made and have a better taste with meat you can recognize.
Tuna salad sandwich: a home-made salad made with tuna, onion and capers, served with two huge bread slices and a small salad. My favorite one!
Humus sandwich: there are not many vegetarian options in cafes, but you are safe with this one.
Spicy chicken sandwich: most of the cafes will serve this sandwich as the only hot lunch item. It’s chicken with curry, directly from the oven on bread, salad and sauce.
Burgers: everyone is serving burgers nowadays and it will not be hard to find them. They are served with Belgian fries and mayo.
Carpaccio: if you like raw beef then a carpaccio dish can be a choice. Highly available in the cafes, seems to be the preferred option by locals for lunch.
Uitsmijters: nothing else but fried eggs served on bread with ham and cheese.
Kip Sate: the Indonesian chicken served with peanut sauce and fries. It’s something you should try for sure!
Maybe sandwiches will not be the best choice for you, but you will also find a small range of salads. I think eating at a Dutch cafe shouldn’t be missed and if you find yourself in Haarlem don’t forget to visit my favorite weekend cafe: Grand Cafe Brinkmann. Enjoy!