Café Loetje - Amsterdam Restaurant Review

Cafe Loetje in Amsterdam
••• Marie Thérèse Hébert / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

An Oud Zuid neighborhood favorite for more than 20 years, Amsterdam's Café Loetje justifies the "don't mess with a good thing" philosophy. Sure, the paint's peeling in spots and a renovation might make the bar area roomier, but this eetcafé ("eat café") serves the tastiest steak I've ever had, and the local regulars agree. 

Pros

  • Best steak in the city.
  • Affordable prices.
  • Authentic Dutch atmosphere.
  • Large outdoor patio in summer.
  • Close to tram lines, museums.

Cons

  • No non-smoking section.
  • No reservations accepted; wait can be long.
  • Not vegetarian-friendly.
  • Service can be hit-or-miss.
  • Inside can be loud.

Description

  • Location: Museum Quarter neighborhood, at the corner of Ruysdaelstraat.
  • Tram lines: 16 or 24 to the Ruysdaelstraat stop.
    • One stop away (walking distance) from Museumplein.
  • Attire: A little of everything, from casual to business suits.
  • Scene: Laid-back local. Young and old professionals gather at lunch and after work. Family-friendly.
  • Décor: Typical Dutch eetcafé ("eat café") with dark wood, basic tables and chalkboard menus.
  • Payment: No credit cards, cash only.

Café Loetje Restaurant Review

Café Loetje (pronounced "LOOT-yuh") keeps it simple, both in attitude and food. No menus here, only chalkboards scrawled in Dutch. But the only words you need to know are ossenhaas biefstuk ("filet of beef steak"). Far more than the house specialty, Loetje enjoys local fame because of this thick, round cut, which comes solo on a basic, clear-glass plate, bathed in a sauce of butter and its own juices. Simple? Yes. Ordinary? Far from it. This is hands down the best steak I've ever put in my mouth.

Like everyone else in the place, order the frites (don't dare call them French fries) to soak up the rest of that sinful steak sauce (or try the traditional mayonnaise that puts the American spread to shame). The house salad -- fresh butter lettuce, tomato, egg, a mustard dressing and bacon pieces the size of croutons -- is the final must for a complete Loetje experience. There are other options on the menu, but like most people who eat here, I've only ever ordered the tried-and-true combo above!

Be warned: Inside can get crowded and smoky. Head to the end of the bar to get on the wait list, order a beer and watch the gravity-defying servers descend from the upstairs kitchen with up to 12 full plates on two arms. In summer, the large patio is ideal, with a shade tree in the middle and neighborhood kids scribbling chalk drawings on the sidewalk. See you there!