Beef Sha Bhakleb
guides you to the best local dishes & drinks in
125+ cities. See map now
EYW wants your food photos!
EYW wants your food stories!
What: Much like the humble kroketten, bitterballen are deep-fried breadcrumb-covered balls with creamy meat-ragout fillings, traditionally made with beef, beef broth, flour, and seasonings; the main differences between the two are that bitterballen are always round in shape and traditionally served at bruin (brown) cafes, so called for their tendency to have brown walls, stained by decades of cigarette smoking. Legend says that the bitterbal’s history here stretches back to the 17th-century Spanish occupation of the Netherlands, if not earlier, but it’s safe to say its name came about more recently from its traditional pairing with bittertjes, or Dutch bitters. Nowadays Dutch or Belgian bier—and mustard, of course—is the preferred accompaniment. Some people are turned off by the bitterbal’s weird textural mix, but we found these crunchy, gooey meatballs rather appealing with a cold brew.
Where: We biked just out of town for these, to Café Loetje (Amstelzijde 53, Ouderkerk aan de Amstel) about 12 km (7.5 miles) south of Amsterdam (the restaurant has a branch in the city too, at Johannes Vermeerstraat 52, map). The place is known for its Hollandse biefstuk, or Dutch-style steak, so it only follows that it would have good bitterballen.
When: Daily, 10am-10:30pm
Order: Bitterballen (€4,75), off the borrelhapjes menu (which refers, helpfully, to snacks to pair with drinks). The crispy little balls are stuck with toothpick flags and served with a generous serving of spicy mustard. They were particularly satisfying after our bike ride! Besides the popular steak, you might also sample a shrimp kroket or gehaktbal (meatball) here as well.
Alternatively: Try any good brown cafe or eetcafé (eating cafe), like Daalder (Lindengracht 90, map) or Café de Tuin (020-624-4559; Tweede Tuindwarsstraat 13, map), both in the Jordaan neighborhood, or Café Gent aan de Schinkel (Theophile de Bockstraat 1, map), just west of Vondelpark (bonus: it has a sweet terrace on a canal).
Kindle now on Amazon.com!
Download our new Amsterdam Food & Travel Guide to your Kindle, smartphone, or tablet and get the inside scoop on the best Dutch foods in Amsterdam, plus a bonus restaurant guide and 5-day EYW itinerary. $2.99
©2014 Eat Your World, LLC - All Rights Reserved