This blog post contains the information I learned while researching & emailing safe restaurants before going to Amsterdam, including the language details, and what I learned while traveling there. I had a great experience in the city eating out and getting around. I did safely eat out, but please remember to contact any place for yourself because things are always changing, and always bring your epi-pens and Benadryl, as everyone’s allergy is different. This is meant to act as a guide to help you begin your own research.
Reminder, the EU has much better and more transparent labeling laws and allergen labeling practices than the U.S. & FDA, so when checking food labels and inquiring in restaurants, it’s much easier to communicate about allergies and get information regarding may contain/cross-contact. The lack of transparency and requirements around food conglomerates in the United States is a huge passion of one that I want to get changed to support the public and the 32 million+ food-allergic individuals risking their lives daily.
I have to say, Amsterdam reminded me a lot of one of my favorite cities- Copenhagen, Denmark! So, in short, I absolutely loved it. I definitely want to return to explore it again and also see rural Holland in the Spring when the tulips are in bloom!
The Avocado Show
I contacted a number of restaurants in advance, trying to cast a wide net and have a few options, but we only actually ate at one: The Avocado Show. I was prepared here with the Dutch and French chef translation cards I made, but everyone spoke English that we encountered. I had a safe meal, albeit it was slightly underwhelming in terms of taste! They definitely hype it up with the décor and the meal wasn’t bad by any means, but was average. However, I did not have an allergic reaction of any type and they were understanding and knowledgeable about allergies.
Vapiano & Vapiano People
I also emailed Vapiano & Vapiano People, which is an Italian chain restaurant with multiple locations around Amsterdam, and they let me know that no peanuts or peanut oil were used. When we got there I felt uncomfortable eating because it was buffet style, so there is no server to talk to. We were in a hurry to catch a bus, but if we had more time, I would’ve talked to the hostess more about my peanut allergy and likely felt comfortable eating there. These are situations when it’s important to bring safe snacks for yourself because that snack was my “dinner” for the night to hold me over until we got back to our hotel room where I could heat up a meal in the microwave.
Two additional places I contacted that I heard back from that DO use peanut products were:
- Pancakehouse Upstairs – a popular local spot in a home dating back to 1539, at the time in 2018 they let me know they do cook the pancakes in peanut oil.
- Brouwerij ‘t IJ – a brewery with one of the last remaining windmills in Amsterdam. They have peanuts on their menu and were very upfront about it and warned me to not come in for a beer tasting.
Amsterdam Grocery Stores
Marqt and AH Grocery both were nice stores with big selections! I did wear my N95 face mask on the train in and out of Amsterdam from Belgium when we were nearby other passengers, but luckily it wasn’t a super packed ride, so I was able to take it off some of the time. I did wipe down the seats with wet wipes before sitting down and was careful to not touch my hands to my face during travel.
At the Van Gogh Museum, I had no issues with peanut products out & about, it didn’t seem like people were snacking or eating there, so that was a nice surprise! When I did see food for sale, I did not see any peanuts or peanut items. We also took advantage of the canals and rented a pedal boat (which I wiped down with a wet wipe) to sight-see a different way on our own- I highly recommend it! We also walked around exploring the Red Light District, Jordaan Neighborhood. and the floating flower market with no issues either- Amsterdam was super walkable and if you’re brave enough, bikeable.
Months before we even traveled abroad, I reached out to places inquiring about peanuts, and also contacted some other surrounding areas in the Netherlands I was interested in going to if we had the time. We did not, but I liked being prepared so I didn’t have to spend my vacation time looking for peanut-free places. Check out my blog post on managing food allergies in hotel settings if it is of interest to you.
General Netherlands Travel Research:
- If you’re into classic cars, 1hr -1 ½ hr away by train is the Lowman Museum.
- Haarlem is only 15 minutes outside of the city by public transit, it has a Dutch windmill, lots of shops, and monuments dating back 800 years, it was once a major North Sea trading port.
- Haarlem to Bloemendaal aan Zee beach is only a 30 min bike ride, or 15 min bus ride! Bike through Zuid-Kennemerland National Park which is much less crowded than Zaandvort beach.
- Zaanse Schans is a 15 min train ride followed by a 10 min walk – In its 18th and 19th-century heyday, the Zaan region was an important industrial area dotted by hundreds of windmills producing linseed oil, paint, snuff, mustard, paper, and other products. Many choose to visit the Zaanse Schans as part of a guided tour or excursion, but the village is also easy to reach on your own by car or public transport – just catch the train from Amsterdam’s Central Station. A 15-minute train ride will take you to Koog-Zaandijk and it’s a 10-minute walk from the station. Just look for the windmills!
Spokin The Food Allergy App
Luckily, now Spokin the food allergy app exists and is a great resource to find places to eat while traveling. It wasn’t around back when I went to Amsterdam. They even have a travel guide for Amsterdam & link to another Amsterdam, London, & Paris guide! I hope this is helpful as you prepare to travel- for what it’s worth, I highly recommend Amsterdam to anyone even remotely interested in visiting. The museums are incredible, the public transit is great, people were friendly, it’s beautiful, there’s a ton of history, and it didn’t feel as touristy as I thought it would. Amsterdam was very clean and quaint, and it was a perk that there wasn’t a language barrier if you are traveling from the U.S.!
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My daughter is ANA to PN and TN. We loved Amsterdam as well, but it was definitely not an easy place to eat out. We found a wonderful restaurant, albeit not cheap, associated to the Rijks Museum called RIJKS (http://www.rijksrestaurant.nl/en/menu/lunch-dinner/). They didn’t really use nuts when we visited in 2016 (but the menu does change seasonally), but they were excellent at accommodating to our allergies (from bread to main course to desserts). We ended up eating there 3 times!
Hi Kitty! I’m sure with both PN and TN it’s even more tough. That’s wonderful, and so good to know!! Did you have good luck finding safe & labeled products in stores there, or was that difficult?