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When I visited Amsterdam, it was my first solo trip abroad. For solo trips, I tend to stay in hotels rather than homestays or an AirBNB. I get a little travel anxiety, and I like the added safety of a deadbolt and a front desk. While I had the traveling alone aspect down, it was the dining alone that gave me the most pause. While some people are very comfortable with solo dining and dining alone in general, the idea of doing so abroad gave me some anxiety. Anxiety from someone who has a travel blog for the anxious traveler, you say? Quite shocking, I know. Breakfast was less of an issue, but lunch and dinner I did not love the idea of dining alone. I was in Amsterdam over Thanksgiving, but the last thing I wanted was anything turkey based. So you know what I began looking up before I left? A nice Thanksgiving dinner at a, “Japanese restaurant Amsterdam.” I put it in my search engine and scoured the list. I found a perfect restaurant for solo dining on Thanksgiving, but I wondered about the rest of my meals in Amsterdam. Where was a good place for solo dining in Amsterdam?
Dining Alone at Bleu Bistro Brasserie
Average Lunch Menu Item: 8€
I stumbled into this café when I was so hungry, I thought I might pass out. Because I landed at just before 7 AM, I got to my hotel before check-in. I promptly drank three cups of coffee and began my day exploring Amsterdam with the I Amsterdam card. Just as that wore off, I found myself in front of this cute, two level bistro. With a bustling downstairs and a quieter upstairs, this restaurant was the perfect place for solo dining. Groups of diners laughed and shared stories on the lower level while I found myself completely alone on the upper level, overlooking the groups of friends. The restaurant was cheerfully decorated for Christmas with with garland and twinkling lights on every railing and light fixture.
Most of the menu items were under 15€, and I chose something that I had never heard of before: the 12 O’Clock plate. With a boiled egg, hot potato soup, belgian preparé, which is a beef tartare of sorts, and bread with melted brie, it was all the fat and protein goodness that I needed to power through a few more hours of sightseeing.
Solo Dining at Michelin Starred Yamazato
Neighborhood: Nieuwe Pijp, inside the luxury Hotel Okura Amsterdam
Average Dinner Menu Item: 50€
As I mentioned earlier, my first search for a Thanksgiving meal was a, “Japanese restaurant Amsterdam.” Yamazoto, a one Michelin starred restaurant in the luxury Okura Hotel Amsterdam, is the only kaiseki restaurant in Amsterdam, and the first in Europe. As I eat more when I’m tired, which is the case with most of us as proven in a 2006 study by Prof. Michael Sivak at the University of Michigan, I opted for the seven course tasting menu. While it was pricey at 115€, it was a splurge that was definitely worth it. I opted to skip the wine pairing since I was alone and exhausted, and drank mostly water and green tea with my meal. Because this restaurant is so minimalist and zen inside, I opted not to take photos of my meal. At nighttime, it is a great place for dining solo. It is relatively dark and quiet inside, and the feng shui open flow of the restaurant was not an issue. Instead of facing out toward the restaurant, I faced the all glass walls, looking out on the zen garden. While during the day it may be a bit too open for a solo meal, under the cover of night, it was perfect.
Mid-Afternoon Pick Me Up at Café George
Average Lunch Item: 10€
Café George is an instagrammers dream. It is minimalist, gezellig, and full of white subway tile. What that also means is that it will be popular with “the popular girls.” I would certainly avoid this café on a weekend brunch time, but for a mid-afternoon pick me up, it was the best! The café was full of people sitting and dining alone, most with a book or computer in front of them.
This beverage tub of Veuve Cliquot, Dom Perignon, and Ruinart was a clear indicator that this place can get rowdy. Mid-afternoon, it was ideal for solo dining, but I’d steer clear at brunch or dinner time.
Solo Dining on the Best Dutch Apple Pie in Amsterdam at Winkel 43
Average Menu Item: 13,50€
A place known for having the best dutch apple pie in Amsterdam is going to be popular. At nighttime, it is a local hangout and very busy. The service isn’t great and you can keep to yourself. At midday however, this is a lovely spot to grab some hot mint tea, a warm sandwich, and some damn tasty pie. As a courtesy to the many people trying to try the world famous pie, I’d recommend this as a quick stop while dining solo. If you plan to hunker down for a while, perhaps another restaurant would be more appropriate.
Dinner Dining Alone at The Seafood Bar
Neighborhoods: Spui, Oud-Zuid, and De Pijp
Average Dinner Menu Item: 17,50€
I couldn’t go to a city on the water without getting some seafood. Because Amsterdam is on a cold water sea, I began dreaming of oysters upon touchdown at the airport. Since you can get really, really sick from eating bad oysters, I wasn’t going to take my chances on somewhere that may be a little cheaper. Instead, I went for the gold standard and ate at the Spui, or city center location, of The Seafood Bar.
I have a feeling that any location of The Seafood Bar can get crowded. Because I like to eat early and get to bed early when traveling, I made a dinner reservation for 5:30 pm. It was an ideal time to visit The Seafood Bar since I could get a seat right by the window and look out onto the busy street. Pedestrians and bicyclists flooded the street while I quietly looked on. I got my fill of oysters, fish and chips, and, with such an accessible wine list, rosé. I read my book and people watched without feeling rushed and without feeling that the waitstaff was hovering. Even at a table meant for six people, I was comfortable dining alone. While later in the evening The Seafood Bar may be too busy for solo dining, it is a great place for an early dinner alone.
General Tips for Dining Alone in Amsterdam (or Anywhere!)
You may notice that a good portion of the places where I recommend dining alone are quite popular. Including these in this list was deliberate; anyplace is great for dining alone! The point is that anywhere can be ideal for dining alone, you just have to go at the right time and have the right mindset. Popular restaurants are best visited at off-peak times, like an early dinner or a very late lunch. Keep your selfies to a minimum. Bring a book, your Kindle Paperwhite E-reader, or a notebook and allow yourself to escape any anxiety dining alone may bring you.
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