Wondering where to eat in Rotterdam? Looking for a trendy hipster place? A gourmet experience? Or just want to enjoy some fine bbq-food in Rotterdam? Well, buckle up (or better, buckles off) and join us on our foodie trip to eight delicious spots to go for dinner in Rotterdam.
From Afghan cuisine to vegetarian paradise, Rotterdam has it all. We started our journey of eating out in Rotterdam at the trendy Restaurant KITE, which took us on a culinary journey to Afghanistan.
1. Restaurant KITE
We were eager to try something out of our comfort zone and this was just the thing. Being a fussy eater, I was intrigued about trying Afghan food and it did not disappoint. We rocked up and found restaurant KITE near Witte de With, the life and soul of Rotterdam.
Cosy, trendy and modern, KITE is just the place to go to if you’re looking for some delicious meals.
What to eat:
When we arrived we had a set menu, which was perfect for two people who were completely new to the cuisine (but don’t worry, on the menu you can pick whatever you want!) As a starter, we had the most delicious crispy samosa, along with a steamed dumpling that had an onion-minced filling and covered with a sauce of tomatoes and split peas. Yeah… it really did taste as good as it sounds and looks.
Next came lots of different dishes to try, which included curries, meatballs ‘kofta’, fried eggplant ‘banjan’, potatoes in a tomato and garlic sauce, all with white and brown rice.
The food was so good that despite being full we tried our hardest to try and eat it all. But of course, you’re never too full for a dessert…
We both went for the cremeroll and lava cake and they were delicious. It was so well presented that we almost felt guilty tucking into it.
Just when you thought the food was enough to sway you, the cocktails are also something bringing people to restaurant KITE. They are all made from trained cocktail makers who really know their stuff. We tried a variety of cocktails including ‘on the leash’ and ‘pink is the new black.’ Honestly, hand on heart they were some of the best cocktails I’ve ever tried (and I love my cocktails).
‘On the leash’ even came top eight in a cocktail competition in the Netherlands and you can see why.
If you’re looking for an authentic and trendy restaurant, with amazing cocktails, the most lekker food and friendly staff, all in a great location in Rotterdam, then THIS is the place to try next.
2. The Social Club — Surf and Turf in Rotterdam’s old harbour
So you can’t decide if you want that modern Rotterdam or those last cherished bits of the old Rotterdam. Or if you want fish or meat? The Social Club and its sublime terrace is located at the famous cubic houses (modern!) but when seated there offers views of the small but cute old harbour of Rotterdam and the first old-timey skyscraper of Europe — the White House!
People who play Battlefield 5 will know this structure from the Rotterdam map! With views like this, you would want to sit outside, and since there are plenty of tables available and terrace heaters that’s the way to go and what we ended up doing.
So what to eat? The menu of The Social Club is dominated by fish, if you’re a sucker for lobster, crab and gamba’s then you’re totally going to love this place.
We couldn’t choose, so we went for the Chef’s menu. We started with a nice plate of sashimi, tasted as good as it looks pretty:
Then proceeded with the Gamba’s, very nicely flavoured:
And then, we didn’t expect it — we got steaks! Sirloin steaks even! And what we also didn’t expect was that it was friggin great! Yeah, a bit of accidental homerun, a fishy place getting meat so right.
The night then nicely progressed with the sunset and the beautiful lighting on the ‘Willemsbrug’. The dessert was good and pretty, and a cocktail is definitely in order at such a moment. The atmosphere there is nice and buzzing, the old harbour in Rotterdam is always good at these things.
So no, probably not the best place for veggies. Or if you really want to sit inside. But for having a great meal on a terrace with great views? Can’t go wrong with The Social Club!
📍 Address: Slepersvest 1, 3011MK Rotterdam
👍 Socials: Facebook
Next, we headed to another trendy area of Rotterdam, the Pannenkoekenstraat, to Aji, which offers fusion in the truest sense. Influences from Asia and Europe dominated, along with a healthy dose of seafood.
3. Aji — funky fusion in Rotterdam with fabulous food
Aji is located in the ‘Pannekoekenstraat’ which is on the verge of being the new ‘Witte de Wit’ when it comes to its offerings of restaurants. We didn’t know what to expect when we entered Aji, except that the chef Pelle Swinkels, young and talented, teamed up with Mario Ridder, who is something of a celebrity in the restaurant world of Rotterdam.
As you can see, we started outside on their nice terrace. It was a joy to watch the street life pass by and enjoy those oysters, of course.
The interior of Aji suits its name: it’s decidedly jungle-trendy (we may or may not have just made that word up, fight us) and is filled with (faux) trees, leaves and flowers, which we loved! it also has a nice open kitchen to look at. The staff were young, polite and helpful.
When it comes to the food, Aji refuses to fit neatly into one box. There are Asian influences, European gourmet food and Latin American touches. I guess you could call it ‘fusion’, with no shortage of seafood on the menu too.
But we can say that the level of food and cooking is absolutely great when you compare it to the modest prices. All dishes were meticulously crafted and had many combined flavours, it’s the kind of stuff you don’t expect for these kinds of prices (roughly from €10 to €25, share or not — your choice).
The menu changes every now and then, so I’m not going to talk you through every dish. Instead, I’m just going to tickle your tastebuds with these pics.
If you’re looking for a place to eat in Rotterdam that is trendy and relaxed, and at the same time serves up some delicious and refined dishes, then you can’t go wrong with Aji.
Next up, it’s time for some good old fashioned Rotterdam street food: BBQ smoked meat.
4. Roffa street food — just the best smoked BBQ meat in ‘Roffa’
This one was on my to-feast-at list for a long time. BBQ meat, smoked specialities and craft beers from Rotterdam? Sign me up! So together with a few friends, we went to Roffa.
Now there are three things you should know about this one. One: Roffa is slang for Rotterdam and it goes without saying that the Rotterdam-vibe is definitely there. Two: they’ve got two equally tasty locations in the ‘foodhallen Rotterdam‘ and in Rotterdam North. Three: this place does meat really really well.
Roffa is bringing the works. They’ve got an epic smoker, some serious bbq skills, all those great bbq-specialities such as brisket, some excellent spicy chicken wings, pork belly and some of the best smoked sausage I ever tasted.
They’ve got an epic mixed meat platter which is just the perfect thing to get stuck in at with friends. Mix it up with some of these crafted beers from Rotterdam and you get one happy Dutch-Reviewer as you can see.
The place and food look better than the pics, which is my fault because I forgot the DSLR that night. And now when writing this, I’m texting my friends to ‘meat’ up again because it was so awesome! (sorry for that pun)
So if you’re looking for a place to eat some great bbq-meat (don’t worry veggies, they’ve got some options for you too) then we can definitely recommend the Roffa streetfoodbar.
Because vegetarians are people too, we decided we had to go to Bertmans. This iconic Rotterdam restaurant is not a “vegetarian restaurant”, but boy, does it have some absolutely delicious options for those of us who have seen a vegetable before.
5. Bertmans (veggie deluxe at the Schouwburgplein)
Not in the market for all that meat? Well, this one is for you then. Bertmans was already loved and popular in Rotterdam-Noord, and for a while now they’ve got a massive second location in downtown Rotterdam at the Schouwburgplein (near the Pathe cinema and just a few minutes walk from Central Station).
The ‘Schouwburgplein’ (douze points if you can pronounce that one as a non-native speaker) is enjoying something of a revival in which Bertmans is also playing a role. Out go stuffy establishments and in come the funky and delicious hotspots of Rotterdam. So sit down on their nice (and heated) terrace and watch the colourful people walk by. Or sit inside, their interior is also done with taste as you can tell:
Bertmans is not a vegetarian restaurant by definition, but if you’re a veggie or just into healthy and organic food then you definitely came to the right place. They boast an awesome selection of healthy dishes and make them look good too, plenty of choice!
They change the menu every now and then so there’s bound to be something new there for you. Portions were pretty big, which is great, considering prices were fairly modest too. So if you’re searching for a hip and healthy hotspot in Rotterdam with good portions and affordable prices; Bertmans is a solid choice!
Keeping to the veggie-full theme, we went to By Ami next. This restaurant boasts both colourful interiors and food.
6. By Ami: Urban Bistro
By Ami is the brainchild of Ahmed Baglari. Even though he’s a young guy, he already has 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry under his belt. So when this much-wanted spot opened up at the Kop van Zuid he jumped on it.
We were there for lunch, so it’s not the 12-courses you might be used from us this time, but if you want that much then it’s totally possible. By Ami has a diverse menu with tons of things to choose from, most of it is pretty affordable too (for those new in the Netherlands, Rotterdam is generally more affordable than Amsterdam). The menu also includes cocktails and high-wine and high-gin arrangements — in case you want to get your booze on (guilty!)
We saw some insanely coloured dishes being served left and right, how could we resist? So we had the ‘chicken with an injection of smashed avocado’ and ‘Naan bread Melted Tuna’. Here’s the explosion of colours and tastes you clicked for on this article:
Obviously with creations like these we had to have a little sweetness afterwards as well, just to see what it looked like. Honestly, cheesecake never disappoints — and again we got to see a little wonder of colours on a plate:
What can I say? Whether you’re after a chill spot to work during the day, looking for pre-show dinner or after-theatre drinks, creative colourful dishes, that Instagram-winning foodie spot or just a good meal — it’s not very often that you come across a place like By Ami: Urban Bistro that checks all these boxes. Eet smakelijk!
If the bright blue of By Ami’s bowls made you think of the sea, you’ll be thrilled with our next pick: Vessel 11, a refurbished red boat.
7. Vessel 11 — the red ship has a new menu
DutchReview made it to Vessel 11 in Rotterdam to try out their new spring and summer menu! The restaurant is hard to miss because it’s a refurbished red boat, fully equipped with a deck that overlooks the water. They have an assortment of beers, great choices in meals, and delicious desserts. They are a British gastro-pub, so you can expect traditional British dishes and alcohol.
We were given a table which had the ideal view to look over the deck. They have different seating places, and we were seated right on the terrace!
Look at that stunning view!
Of course, we had to try some of their home-brewed beer, which is reputed to be really good. We had their V11 Indian Pale Ale and V11 Golden Blonde. Having beers here after a long day at work was idyllic. The atmosphere is relaxed but lively with everyone happily chatting away with each other over a few pints.
We knew we were going to be in for a big meal, so we kept the appetizer small with their simple bread and butter to loosen those stomach muscles. We didn’t have to wait too long before our main courses arrived: their Vegan Hot Pot and their Herefordshire Hamburger.
The Vegan Hot Pot came in a small dish but I was positively stuffed! It came with a side of sourdough toast, with lentils, some good ol’ veggies and topped with chives. It was perfect for one person, and it ticked all my boxes for nutrition, deliciousness, and of course the presentation.
The hamburger was equally delicious with a generous portion of fries (chips, as the British call them). They get their meat from the local butchers Beter Leven, who are known for their ethical practices.
Of course, no meal is complete without a dessert to end it with. On recommendation from the staff, we tried their cheesecake and it was great! It was the perfect way to end the meal, with its biscuit base and sweet top.
All-in-all it was a positively enjoyable experience for us! They also play host to many live musical acts. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one scheduled for the evening we were there, but their agenda for the coming months looks promising! Check out the Vessel 11 website, so you can reserve a table for dinner, and then maybe go enjoy some music after!
8. Koffiebar Namasté
Founded by the friendly Dutchie Jordy, Koffiebar Namasté opened its doors in May 2020. Located in the hip area of Katendrecht, it’s the perfect place for a weekend brunch.
Next to delicious coffee from a local coffee roaster, Namasté offers a wide selection of teas and homemade beverages. Their menu boasts dishes from all across the world — from Rotterdam toasties to Middle Eastern foods.
Our personal recommendation is the delicious shakshuka. You can either go for the classic one with tomatoes and roasted paprika, or the green one with spinach, lentils and dill — with some feta cheese on top. 😍
To satisfy your sweet tooth, there’s a generous selection of homemade cinnamon buns, muffins, brownies and cheesecake.
The café has a spacious outside terrace, perfect for warm sunny days. Come with your family or friends for lovely moments spent together or by yourself for a little study session.
Know any other great places to eat in Rotterdam? Hotspots that opened up in 2021? Trendy places in Rotterdam? Let us know in the comments!
Editor’s Note: Emma Brown, Abuzer van Leeuwen, Kavana Desai, Veronika Licheva, and Jana Vondráčková from DutchReview all went to various places 🙂
Feature image: Emma Brown/Supplied
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2020, and was fully updated in October 2021 for your reading pleasure.