Whenever I’m visiting a foreign country I always try to hunt for the culinary hotspots where locals like to eat. By doing so I’m guaranteed to experience a nice and authentic atmosphere and not an overcrowded restaurant packed with tourists that serves bad and overpriced food. One of the websites I mostly use for research is www.spottedbylocals.com. This website works with locals sharing their favorite (foodie) hotspots in their home town. Trip Advisor is another good option for finding the best rated restaurants and cafes in town.
Living in Rotterdam for almost 6 years now, I know the cities’ best kept secrets. Here’s a selection of favorite places in my neighborhood – Stadsdriekhoek and Blaak- which are close to the brand new Markthal. You might find my list to be a bit Asian oriented, that’s because there are plenty Asian eateries but also because I simply love Asian food!
DELI TASTY – Authentic Vietmanese eatery
Earlier this year, when we just came back from our trip to Vietnam, we stumbled upon this nice little Vietnamese eatery at the Meent street. It had just opened its doors. We didn’t had enough of Vietnamese food and when seeing the menu, we got nostalgic and ordered some nice Vietnamese spring rolls, pho soup and Ban Xeo (Vietnamese pancake stuffed with shrimps). This place is owned by a Vietnamese family who have decorated the eatery with beautiful pictures of Vietnam. Whenever I visit this place, I get the sense I’m back in Vietnam again. They also sell Vietnamese baguette (Banh Mi) which are very tasty! Also try their delicious Pho Soup.
Meent 40, Rotterdam
If you’d like to taste more of the Vietnamese cuisine, visit Little Vie next to the Laurens church (Laurenskerk) which has an excellent menu and nice cocktails/homemade ice teas. A place that sells Vietnamese baguette (Bánh mì) for take away is Vietnamese Boguette at the Botersloot. You can also order yourself a nice Bubble Tea.
De IJSSALON – heavenly ice creams
The best ice cream in town is sold at De IJssalon. This is a place where people gather when the sun starts shining and temperatures are rising. Young and old are eating their ice creams while sitting on the benches in front of the shop. It’s fun to watch people pass by at one of the most vivid streets in town.
Van Zanten and Café Poll which are located on the opposite side of the IJssalon are one of my favorite cafes to taste craft beers, have a bite and simply enjoy the sun on their large terraces at the Meent street!
There’s one street in my neighborhood that has it all when it comes to dining and having drinks.
Meet the Pannekoekstraat!
GAMASOT – Korean delight
My favorite spot for Korean food is Gamasot which is run by a Korean family. As soon as you step into this small and cozy restaurant, you are personally welcomed by a Korean couple who are busy preparing some delicious typical dishes in their small, open kitchen. I’d recommend you to taste the Korean pancake with fish which you dip in soy sauce and the Bibimbap.
Pannekoekstraat 103-A, Rotterdam
If you can’t get enough of Asian cuisine, try some authentic Chinese food at Beijing Bao which is only one block away from Gamasot at Pannekoekstraat 45A.
Quickly step into the furniture/interior studio Depot Rotterdam to admire local furniture design. This shop and design studio in one displays quirky objects and furniture to decorate your living room with.
BAR RESTAURANT LEVEL
One of my favorite cocktail bars in the neighborhood is Level with its excellent service, great variety of cocktails, nice interior and an attractive and affordable menu. This is the place to be if you’re in for a date or a night out with friends.
Pannekoekstraat 76-A, Rotterdam
Thai supermarket Siriporn at the Pannekoekstraat offers a nice variety of Thai products which are essential when cooking a delicious Thai meal at home. Besides curry paste, noodles and other pre-packed ingredients the shop sells fresh products such as fish products and fresh herbs. There’s also Siriporn restaurant which is one stop further.
DE PASTA KANTINE
I love to order myself two pasta dishes at Pasta Kantina at the Pannekoekstraat, since they have the option to order a small version of a pasta dish or salad. This means I taste two pasta’s for the price of one! At Pasta Kantina they use good quality products and the service and atmosphere is just excellent.
This cafe recently opened its doors and as a fanatic beer fan I’ve been here practically every week since the opening. I love the no nonsense atmosphere of the people who come here and the concept as such: taste world beer accompanied by a good palate of cheeses or hams.
Food hunting @ Hoogstraat
The Hoogstraat has an excellent variety of choices if you’re looking for places to enjoy some food, drinks and culture. Try some exotic Russian delicacies at Nika like Plov (chicken and rice pilaf) and the traditional beet soup Borsjtsj to take home. Memoray Lane has a nice little terrace during summer time and serves very nice tapas dishes for lunch and dinner. Try their home made lemonades, wines and organic drinks from their menu.
CAFÉ CULTURA – Hablas Español?
Cafe Cultura is the ultimate place in town to learn Spanish, interact with Spanish speaking people and taste of the Spanish and Latin American cuisine and culture. The shop sells Latin American and Spanish products to prepare yourself a lovely meal at home. Check their website for nice events like movie nights and paella tastings!
VALENTE – to have a lovely coffee break
On Sundays I love to read my newspaper while enjoying a Chai Latte with cake at Valente. This is a place where locals mostly hang out since it’s outside the crowded city center.
Don’t forget to make a pit stop at the Mariniersweg!
My breakfast spot nr 1! Not because it’s across the street from where I live, but simply because they have good bread, jams, cakes, cookies, coffee and all you need for a good start of the day. For lunch, Picknick has fine variety of sandwiches and the soup of the day is always good. The thing I also love about this place is its simple interior: all furniture is second hand and creatively transformed into cool objects. Even the decoration is made of cardboard or wood! The little garden in the back is just great.
Mariniersweg 259, Rotterdam
SUWANNAPHOM – Phom’s authentic Thai kitchen
If you’re mad about the Thai cuisine, this place should be on your bucket list! I visit this nice and cozy restaurant almost every month to taste some authentic Thai cuisine made by Phom and her staff. Phom, a very friendly lady who’s married to a Dutch told us she’s from Bangkok and cook’s according to traditional recipes of her grandmother’s. My favorite dish here is most certainly the Pad Cha, very spicy though!
Mariniersweg 74A, Rotterdam
FOOD DELICIOUS – an exquisite gift shop for foodies
Food Delicious is a great delicacy store in Rotterdam where you can buy a wide variety of olive oils, vinaigrettes, delicacies like cheeses and charcuterie. The shop sells cooking material as well and beautiful plates, tableware, bowls, cooking books and ingredients. It’s the perfect place to buy nice gifts for family and friends. You can even sign up for a workshop chocolate making.
Check out more Rotterdam hotspots for more awesome tips!