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Best bets for dining in Amsterdam

Best bets for dining in Amsterdam:  Frommer's picks the right bites around town
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Best for Opulence: Royalty eat at La Rive, in the Amstel InterContinental Amstel Hotel, Professor Tulpplein 1 (tel. 020/520-3264), as do movie stars, rock stars, opera stars, tennis stars, and even ordinary folks with well-padded pocketbooks. It's luxuriously opulent, the location is great, and the food is outstanding.

Best Value: It breaks my heart to write this, because I know it will only make it harder to find a seat at De Prins, Prinsengracht 124 (tel. 020/624-9382). But duty calls. When you eat in this handsome, friendly, cozy, warm -- in a Dutch word, gezellig -- brown cafe-restaurant, you'll wonder why you paid twice as much for food half as good in that other place the evening before.

Best Decor: Café Américain, in the Crowne Plaza Amsterdam-American Hotel, Leidsekade 97 (tel. 020/556-3232), really ought to be on UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage list. We're talking Américain the beautiful; the Dutch Art Nouveau and Art Deco elegance includes magnificent chandeliers and velvet upholstery.

Best Alfresco Dining: Vertigo, Vondelpark 3 (tel. 020/612-3021), is tucked behind the trees of Vondelpark, which lends a touch of the country to this busy and convivial venue that is backed up by some fine food.

Best Romantic Meal: Ignore all those whose lips curl into a sneer at such a suggestion -- "Why, the very idea!" -- and clamber aboard an Amsterdam Dinner Cruise, run by Holland International (tel. 020/622-7788). I won't go so far as to say you'll never eat better, but you have the music, the candlelight, the canals, and maybe the moon over the water, too.

Best Ambience: Short of smuggling french fries into a performance, you can't eat closer to the Concertgebouw than at Bodega Keyzer, Van Baerlestraat 96 (tel. 020/671-1441). Keyzer has some great stories, some great customers, some great looks, and some great food.

Best Grand Cafe: The reviewer from The New York Times went so far as to call Café Luxembourg "one of the world's great cafes." But Luxembourg is great on an Amsterdam scale and in an Amsterdam style. That is to say cozy and kind of intimate, with little, if any, of the pretension that would normally go along with such world-class status.

Best Traditional Dutch: It sounds contradictory to say that D'Vijff Vlieghen ("The Five Flies"), Spuistraat 294-302 (tel. 020/530-4060), is a tad touristy and still traditional Dutch, but somehow it manages to be both.

Best American: Well, Tex-Mex. Rose's Cantina, Reguliersdwarsstraat 38-40 (tel. 020/625-9797), is more of a popular institution than a truly great eatery, though the food can be quite good. You'll probably have to wait a while for a table, during which time Rose's deploys its secret weapon -- marvelous margaritas.

Best Steak: They've been selling and counting steaks at De Poort, Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 176-180 (tel. 020/622-6429), for well over a century. Maybe you'll be the lucky one who gets number 7,000,000.

Best Vegetarian: Bolhoed, Prinsengracht 60-62 (tel. 020/626-1803), takes this title for its joie de vivre, romantic atmosphere, and excellent and imaginative vegetarian cooking.

Best Fast Getaway: You wouldn't expect a restaurant on a train station platform to be a good place to eat, but 1e Klas, Platform 2, Centraal Station (tel. 020/625-0131), is just about worth missing your train for. It offers plenty of high quality choices.

Best Sandwich: The only problem with Sal Meijer, Scheldestraat 45 (tel. 020/673-1313), is that it's a bit removed from the action. You can have them deliver, but their delicious authentic kosher sandwiches are well worth a tram ride.

Best Indonesian: Amsterdammers seem to think they own Indonesian food (though not as much as denizens of The Hague do), and everyone has his or her own favorite place. With so many Indonesian restaurants in the city, it's hard to pick just one. Still, Kantjil & de Tijger, Spuistraat 291-293 (tel. 020/620-0994), has a restrained, refined character and consistently good food.

Best Brunch: At Café Luxembourg, Spuistraat 22-24 (tel. 020/620-6264), you can read the international newspapers provided for you while drinking coffee that actually tastes like coffee and munching your way through an extensive range of breakfast plates, sandwiches, and snacks.

Best Business Lunch: If it's a casual affair, many Amsterdam businesspeople will be perfectly happy with a snack from a seafood stall, but if you aim to impress, try the Mangerie de Kersentuin, in the Garden Hotel, Dijsselhofplantsoen 7 (tel. 020/570-5600). The cuisine is the perfect counterpart to the elegant, refined, yet unstuffy surroundings.

Best View: The big picture windows at the Excelsior, in the Hôtel de l'Europe, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 2-8 (tel. 020/531-1777), provide an unsurpassed view of the Amstel River and Muntplein.

Best Kids' Spot: For small diners with big appetites, there can be no better experience than the Kinderkookkafé, Oudezijds Achterburgwal 193 (tel. 020/625-3527), where kids even get to cook their own meals (carefully supervised).

Best Pretheater Dinner: A lot depends on what theater you're going to, of course. If you are bound for opera or dance at the Muziektheater, make it Breitner, Amstel 212 (tel. 020/627-7879), which has lots of practice at getting theatergoers fed and watered in style without adding to the stress factor.

Best Late-Night Dinner: You can't help feeling a little sorry for the staff at De Knijp, Van Baerlestraat 134 (tel. 020/671-4248), when you saunter in round about midnight. They've been going hard for hours, but are ready, willing, and just about able to do it one more time.

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For a complete listing of Frommer's-reviewed restaurants, visit our online dining index.