Rotterdam is home to a rich culinary culture, thanks to the enormous cultural diversity of the city. Choosing from the wide range of bars, restaurants and cafés can be quite challenging. We asked Facebook groups from Rotterdam about their favourite spots and hidden gems in the city. Like De Ballentent, a cosy harbour pub on the Maas with the best meatballs in town. Or maybe you fancy a cup of coffee at Rotterdam’s very first cat café. Of course we haven’t forgotten about vegan-friendly options. Local Facebook communities have included hotspots with a city view – so don’t forget to take a selfie with the impressive Rotterdam skyline. Here’s a little taste of the city.
Traditional brown bars and cafés
When in Rotterdam, do as the Rotterdammers do and visit one of the city’s iconic brown bars.
Melief Bender is one of the oldest cafés in Rotterdam. Serving the locals since 1876, the bar was renamed Melief Bender in 1932, after the couple who ran the café. Melief Bender is still one of the most famous cafés in the city today.
Located at the entrance of the Park, better known as ‘the park near the Euromast’, you will find De Ballentent. This Rotterdam harbor pub, with views on the Maas, has an extensive menu with the very best meatballs in Rotterdam – and more!
This village pub in Rotterdam Overschie dates from 1627. In den Berkebrom is renowned for its cosy atmosphere and friendly staff. Recommended for a drink or a hearty pub meal.
Behind the weathered wooden entrance, you will find Restaurant Bierhandel De Pijp. The restaurant has a rich history and was a popular meeting spot for the resistance during World War II. Today, you will find long tables, a relaxed atmosphere and probably some peanut shells on the floor. Take a seat, have a beer and enjoy the eclectic mix of people.
Dining with a city view
Let’s be honest: the Rotterdam skyline is a stunner. You can enjoy the views from different spots in the city.
At the foot of the Willemsbrug you will find Kaandorp, a restaurant and café with beautiful views over the Maas and the Hefbrug. Enjoy a drink or dinner (and definitely have a traditional ‘advocaatje’ for dessert).
You might have spotted it already: the ss Rotterdam, former flagship of the Holland America Line. The cruise ship is now permanently docked and serves as a hotel and restaurant. The terrace offers fantastic views over Rotterdam and the Maas.
Rotterdam wouldn’t be Rotterdam without its alternative, quirky gems. The Facebook communities share their favourite spots off the beaten track.
Have a cup of coffee or an afternoon tea, read a book or play a board game – with a cat on your lap. Pebbles is the very first cat café in Rotterdam, offering home to eight rescue cats. Pebbles charges a small entrance fee (‘cat tax’). Your contribution is used to provide the best care for the feline residents.
Restaurant Look is located near the Museum Park. The name is derived from the Dutch ‘knoflook’, which means garlic; the restaurant uses garlic in all its dishes. Look’s menu is inspired by the rural Mediterranean cuisine, using organic produce only. If the sun’s out, definitely book a table in their garden!
Located in the forest, close to the city and with great views on Rotterdam: welcome to De Schone Lei. The restaurant is situated in the Kralingse Bos and is a great spot for lunch, dinner and drinks.
An emblem of Rotterdam’s cultural diversity: COCO is where Surinamese, Antillean, Cape Verdian and Asian cuisine meet – with a touch of Rotterdam. Their (vegan!) pom has been awarded the best in the country.
Peckish from exploring? No worries – the locals have got your back. We’ve collected their (vegan) recommendations to satisfy your sweet cravings.
For cupcakes, cake, biscuits and other pastries, pay a visit to the oldest vegan bakery in the Netherlands. Heavenly Cupcakes bakes all their products from scratch and uses only pure and plant based ingredients.
“Sweets without the crap”, as Tante Toos puts it. At Tante Toos you will find a range of all natural sweets, made from real fruit and free of additives. Now that’s a guilt free snack if there ever was one. Tip: Tante Toos also hosts workshops!
Rotterdam is full of trendy vegan hotspots. We proudly present the local Facebook groups’ favorites.
This stunning restaurant and café is high on the list – not least because of the stylish, green interior. According to owner Erol Cetinkaya, the restaurant is ‘the living room to his kitchen’. And that translates into a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The menu with a Turkish touch ensures there’s something for everyone. Happy Food & Health is not only vegan – all dishes are also gluten-free and prepped without refined sugar.
Enjoy vegetarian and vegan meals at this homely restaurant in Rotterdam Nieuw Crooswijk. Obst & Gemüse (German for ‘fruit and vegetables’) is inspired by an old Berlin lunchroom in a former greengrocer’s building. The atmosphere and service in this small and resourceful store have been translated into a Rotterdam version, offering a fresh daily menu and seasonal buffet. Open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Whether for breakfast, lunch or to satisfy your sweet tooth: Sharp Sharp Everyday has an extensive menu including 100% vegan options, from flatbread with locally produced vegetables to smoothie bowls and vegan cheeses. And don’t forget to have one of their colourful, homemade pastries for dessert. Sharp Sharp Everyday puts the party in plant-based food.
That’s right. Gare du Nord – in Rotterdam. This vegan bistro is located in Rotterdam Zoho, the area for pioneers in design, tech, media, art and culture. Gare du Nord is known for their plant-based, organic and sustainable food and to top it off, you can enjoy it all on a fantastic terrace.
Twenty-two years ago, I moved to Ireland and really missed my hometown. That’s why I created the first ever Rotterdam Facebook group, together with four other other admins. The rest is history!Annemarie
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