Inside... The Food Department
While fluffy pancakes and piping-hot bitterballen certainly have their charms, there’s so much more to Amsterdam’s dining scene than classic comfort food. From truck food festivals such as Rolling Kitchens to pop-up market stalls, locals have fallen hard for the lures of street food. Food halls and communal dining are taking off across the city, thanks to a hunger for fast, flavour-packed and affordable fare. The converted tram depot of Foodhallen has been on foodies’ maps for a while, but plucky upstarts such as Market 33 and World of Food are making their mark, too. The newest kid on the block, the Food Department is the slick city-centre venue giving them all a run for their money. Let’s take a look inside.
Where to find it
A short walk from Dam Square, the neo-Gothic splendour of Magna Plaza is hard to miss, with its imposing façade and gabled turrets. Once the city’s main post office, the monumental building now houses a shopping centre packed with big-name brands, local concept stores and independent designers. For a culture hit, the basement houses full-size reproductions of Rembrandt’s entire oeuvre.
A pit stop with a view
When you’re all shopped out, refuel at the top-floor Food Department. Open from 11am to 10pm, it’s an airy and sprawling space with hard-to-beat views over the city centre. It’s helped to breathe new life into this historic building, too, bringing with it newer, cooler shop openings. Stop by hip chocolatier Hop & Stork for a sugar fix or a caffeine hit, and look out for monthly after-hours DJ nights.
Sample world cuisine
With 13 stalls to choose from, it pays to be a little strategic: start with a reconnaissance tour to see what catches your eye. New York-style pizza by the slice at Toni Loco or Sushito’s Japanese burritos might do the trick if you’re after light bite. For something more substantial, stop by Proper Ribs for barbecue hot off the Robata grill, or head to Lios for tempting Greek fare.
Lios Greek Street Food
Make a beeline for this Mediterranean eatery, inspired by founder Sotiris Evstratiades’s Greek heritage. Bored with old-school gyros and moussaka, the Amsterdam-born restaurateur created an inventive menu with authentic roots. Tribute is paid to glorious Mediterranean veg, paired with local meat and seafood. Try the slow-grilled souvla chicken with moreish courgette fries.
The star dish
It may focus on fast food, but Lios doesn’t skimp on flavour. Take the octopus, Sotiris’s signature dish. It’s first steamed in the oven for 35 minutes to keep it tender, then simply grilled with garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Savour it in a wrap or share it with flat breads and a healthy dollop of punchy beetroot sauce.
Image credits: © Sophia Van den Hoek; © Sophia Van den Hoek; © Sophia Van den Hoek; © Sophia Van den Hoek; © Sophia Van den Hoek; © Sophia Van den Hoek