Rotterdam is renowned for its progressive approach – be it through post-war reconstruction, where skyscrapers and eye-catching architecture set it apart from other Dutch cities, or its approach to art, culture and festivals. This forward-thinking view has also inspired a new generation of chefs and restaurateurs to undertake some interesting culinary innovations of their own. Discover the best food and other surprises Rotterdam has to offer during your own food safari.
- Be spoiled for choice with Rotterdam’s vast culinary offering.
- Find out how local eateries are implementing sustainable ideas.
- Taste gourmet delights from all over the world at Rotterdam’s famous food markets.
Rotterdam’s diverse dining culture
Rotterdam’s food scene is as diverse as the city itself and always has something to satisfy the toughest food critic. Many restaurant owners have taken an interest in supporting local suppliers, reducing food miles and inspiring diners with delicious dishes that make the most of seasonal ingredients. These bold restaurants range from hip cafés and gastro pubs through to Michelin-starred decadence and experiments in molecular gastronomy.
Where to eat in Rotterdam
Rotterdam has established a dynamic food scene that caters to every taste, trend and price range. The former sailors’ settlement of Katendrecht has re-emerged as one of the city’s most vibrant dining districts. The nearby Deliplein is a small square devoted to all things delicious: classic French cuisine at Bistrot du Bac, surprise seasonal menus at De Matroos en het Meisje and succulent seafood at Vislokaal Kaap.
At FG Food Labs * in the formerly industrial Lloydkwartier, chef François Geurds puts his creativity (and two Michelin stars) to the test of creating unfathomable flavor combinations for adventurous diners. A unique style of hospitality is also present at Restaurant de Jong, where diners choose between two ever-changing four- course menus and leave the rest to the experts.
For a taste of the exotic, those in the know flock to the West-Kruiskade where Asian, Moroccan, Surinamese and Caribbean eateries reflect Rotterdam’s multicultural population.
Sustainable innovations in Rotterdam
Locally-sourced, sustainable and organic produce is championed by the hospitality industry in Rotterdam. RotterZwam is a local enterprise that grows mushrooms using waste coffee grounds from the city’s cafés, supplying the mushrooms back to bars and restaurants. Although RotterZwam’s growhouse is not open to the public, you can sample the fruits of its labor at restaurants throughout the city – or even order a home kit to take direct inspiration from them. One such restaurant that has RotterZwam ‘bitterballen’ on the menu is Aloha. Aside from being architecturally stunning – its glass dome roof resembles a Victorian palm house – Aloha is similarly innovative in its concept and even has its own bee colony that produces honey for the food and wax for the furniture.
Support local suppliers at food markets
Experience sensory overload at Rotterdam’s famous Markthal, situated by Rotterdam Blaak, opposite the city’s iconic Cube Houses. This expansive food hall contains more than 100 artisanal food stalls and a great many restaurants, including Jamie’s Italian by Jamie Oliver. This horseshoe-shaped building even has a wall/ceiling mural designed by artist Arno Coenen, which is the largest artwork in the Netherlands measuring 11,000 square meters (almost two football fields).
Following the recent revival of farmers’ markets, Fenix Food Factory in Katendrecht celebrates the efforts of local producers of vegetables, cheese, cider, craft beer and more. Tip for the indecisive: the Planken stall serves platters featuring a selection of the market’s most popular products.
Editor's tip: No exploration of Rotterdam’s food scene would be complete without a visit to Witte de Withstraat, the city’s artistic hub, stretching from Museumpark to the Maritime Museum. The galleries, theatres and are interspersed with stylish cafés, including Café De Witte Aap, voted by Lonely Planet readers as best bar in the world, and Bazar, a long-standing favorite lit up in the exotic colors of a Middle Eastern souk.