Rotterdam is known as a pioneer for modern architecture, but the city is becoming a hub for mouth-watering international cuisine. Here’s a guide to some of the best restaurants in Rotterdam.
Over the years, Rotterdam has gradually transformed into a happening place for your taste buds, with culinary newcomers joining its growing gastronomic scene of tasty street food, tantalizing ethnic bites, up to Michelin-star dining and molecular discoveries monthly.
Just as Rotterdam devoted its past to pioneering modernity, the city is now also a great place for culinary development.
As a reflection of the city’s dynamic mix of professionals, artists, and working-class families, Rotterdam’s food scene offers something for everyone. The aim to boost the city’s vitality has brought about exciting developments such as the Markthal, giving visitors a smorgasbord of easy dining options on top of its long-renowned international food scene.
Today, visitors can quickly see why Rotterdam earned a place on Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016; its top restaurants were just one reason.
Where to eat in Rotterdam
If you’re looking for dinner in town, Rotterdam offers an array of exciting culinary destinations.
The old sailors’ stomping ground of Katendrecht gentrified into a trendy gastronomic area hosting stylish eateries and lively bars. Along the peninsula, Deliplein is a gathering point on weekends, where you can choose from fresh lobster at Vislokaal Kaap, Thai dishes at Delibird, classic French cuisine at Bistrot du Bac, or crispy-thin pizza at Bleij, to name just a few. Bistro du Bac and De Matroos en het Meisie are celebrated restaurants. Ceviche y Maas, a Peruvian restaurant and pisco bar, is an upcoming addition. But if fresh meat is what you’re looking for, restaurant CEO Baas van het Vlees won a local award for the best meat in the Netherlands in 2015.
For a mix of food and vintage design, head to the Oude Noorden. Renovated pre-war premises and historic facades make this a charming area to browse designer boutiques and then plunge into the nightlife. Oude Noorden hides a hoard of cozy restaurants.
It’s also in Oude Norden where you can check out FG Food Lab, run by two-Michelin star chef François Geurds. Local French restaurant, Tosca, is another classic. And for great pastries, delight at the sweets from the mother-daughter team at Lof der Zoetheid.
The Witte de Withstraat, named the city’s coolest street by Lonely Planet, and surrounding areas also host numerous up-and-coming restaurants. Here, you’ll find produce specialist Dertien, hipster Fritèz, and burger joints Hamburg and Ter Marsch en Co. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, opt for a dish at Ballroom, which also serves over 50 gins.
Rotterdam’s unique dining experiences
Rotterdam is filled with quirky, trendy and fun dining options, where elaborate decor or one-of-a-kind locations offer unique dinner experiences.
With the Maas River running through the city, waterfront views are easily found. Dining aboard the SS Rotterdam steamship offers authentic 50s décor at Lido Restaurant, a fish-scale inspired ceiling at Ocean Bar, and coffee in the Captain’s Lounge. For sailing on the Maas, the Beren Boat’s buffet will sate your appetite during the boat tour. For those seeking intimate dining, the views of Rotterdam’s canal at De Harmonie from the buffet also add a romantic touch.
Hotel New York offers a historical trip of the previous building of the Holland-America Line, which transported thousands of Europeans to New York. It is also known to have some of the city’s best bitterballen.
For amazing cityscape views, head up Rotterdam’s tallest building to the restaurant Brasserie Euromast, which sits 100m above ground. To see even more impressive architecture, go to the heart of the city where Dudok lies, a lively dining spot that is famous for its apple pie and its intricate design by Dutch architect WM Dudok.
Stroom is similarly trendy with its location in a former power plant on Lloydstraat; here, watch chefs prepare your meal and even spend the night. Brazzo ups the ante of its industrial style with it being in a former slaughterhouse filled with quirky artifacts and art from local artists. For more glamor, Joelia on the ground floor of the Hilton is decked with a ceiling of reflective gold sculptures.
Beer lovers can enjoy Pelgrim, which offers beer-infused stews alongside house-brewed beers and homemade cheeses. Then, head next door to admire the Pilgrim Father’s church, in Delftshaven. You can also find brewers Kaapse Brouwers (at the Fenix Food Factory) and Brouwerij Noordt.
Ethnic food to rouse the senses
Those who love new cuisines are in foodie heaven among Rotterdam’s vibrant ethnic food scene. Lining the road of West-Kruiskade are Chinese takeaways, Moroccan eateries, and Surinamese snack bars, offering exotic nibbles and spicy surprises for the most discerning taste buds.
The city center is bursting with international delights, too. Interesting restaurants can be found in the Maritime District, Oude Haven, the Laurenskwartier, along Nieuwe Binnenweg and on and around Witte de Withstraat. On the Witte de Withstraat sits the popular Bazar, where the colorful interior and glitzy lights match the restaurant’s North African as well as Middle Eastern-inspired dishes.
Market hotspots in Rotterdam
Rotterdam now caters to all foodie desires with the arrival of two hotspot marketplaces. The arrival of the Markthal brings 100 market stands, 15 food-themed shops and eight restaurants under a single roof. Covering an entire block, the market allows you to sample a number of local Dutch dishes — sugared poffertjes (tiny pastries), broodje haring (raw herring sandwiches), fresh stroopwafels (thin waffles with a toffee filling), as well as Chinese dumplings, spring rolls, Surinamese breads, and other baked goods from a range of countries. For sit-down dining, try Jamie Oliver’s Italian, Obba, Le Souq, or Basq.
If you’re looking for a smaller, more intimate market, the Fenix Food Factory carries fresh artisanal foods and is located in one of the old Fenixloodsen quayside warehouses in Katendrecht. Its waterfront cafe is also an ideal place to watch the sunset over the River Maas.
Michelin-starred restaurants and fine dining in Rotterdam
Rotterdam is no stranger to fine dining, with eight local restaurants having won the prestigious Michelin star approval. However, as these restaurants are popular, you need to book in advance.
Parkheuvel (two stars, French) is on the harbor and its sweeping windows offer stunning views of the Maas. Fred (French, 2 stars) offers classic French dishes with modern twists created by chef Fred Mustert, while FG Restaurant (French, 2 stars) and FG Food Labs’ (French, 1 stars) molecular gastronomic menu is prepared under the guidance of chef François Geurds.
A fireplace and open-plan kitchen make Amarone (French, 1 star) a welcoming place to sample the honest French cooking style of chef Gert Blom, while the rising Restaurant Wereldmuseum (International, 1 star) won an award for the best wine list in the Netherlands in 2015. Perceel and Niven also join the one-star Michelin roster.
Other restaurants listed for outstanding cuisine with menu items under €35 include the following:
- Restaurant Huson (international), located on Scheepstimmermanslaan;
- Restaurant Asian Glories (Chinese), with a popular dim sum tasting menu;
- In den Rustwat (French), housed in a 16th-century building with a thatched roof.
Chef Jim de Jong also caused a stir when he opened a restaurant at age 21, and he continues to put his food expertise into practice at his ‘bistronomy’ Restaurant De Jong, which specialises in herbs and vegetables. Seaweed, flowers and local leaves can sometimes be featured on the menu.
Food festivals in Rotterdam
Rotterdam’s food focus extends beyond restaurant kitchens to festivals that fuse food, entertainment and culinary education. Rotterdamse Kost is a festival that combines the best of music and food, while Rrrrollend Rotterdam celebrates a newer food trend with the congregation of more than 30 food trucks alongside music performances.
To sample the best of the latest top chefs, Rauwkost brings them together in a raw-food festival to prepare their signature dishes, in addition to food workshops and culinary lectures.
In a true celebration of Rotterdam’s diversity, the Djemaa el Fnaa festival turns the Museumpark into a gigantic open-air restaurant wafting with spicy and exotic smells of eastern cuisines, and where visitors can sample couscous and tagine dishes, ride camels as well as attend workshops or performances.
The top places to eat at in Rotterdam
- Deliplein: Kwiezien, CEO Baas van het Vlees, Delibird De Matroos en het Meisje, Bistro du Bac
- Witte de Withstraat and surroundings: Bazar, Oliva, Ballroom, Dertien, Ter Marsch en Co, Hamburg, Fritèz, and Yama.
- Scheepvaartkwartier: Loos, La Pizza, The Harbour Club
- Parkheuvel: French, 2 stars
- Fred: French, 2 stars
- FG Restaurant/FG Food Labs: French, 2 stars
- Amarone: French, 1 star
- Restaurant Wereldmuseum: French, 1 star