Design thinking for food culture

A Gezellig Guide to Amsterdam's Quaint and Quirky 'Nine Streets'


‘Gezellig’ is a word we’d like to adopt. It’s Dutch, and without any direct English translation, it’s probably easier to describe visually than verbally, but we’ll give it a go... ‘Gezellig’ is basically everything that gives you the warm fuzzies. 

Candlelit cafes when it’s cold outside; your mum’s recipes; a picnic with friends; cosiness, comfort, curling up with a hot water bottle and a good book; your new shoes, simply because they make you happy; all of these things are ‘gezellig’ and there are a lot more besides.  Simple pleasures, we think, is the best way for us to put it, and it sums up the Dutch outlook on life.

We discovered it on a recent trip to Amsterdam and it was most prevalent in a funky little area called ‘The Nine Streets’ (De Negen Straatjes), just a short stroll from the bustle of Dam Square.  It’s bursting with a mix of unique boutiques, cafes, bars, speciality food and drink shops and was one of our favourite places to explore.

The streets are narrow and the shopfronts are tiny but behind each window lies a strong personality; here’s a whistlestop tour of just a few of the surprises you’ll see scattered among the much-loved Negen Straatjes.

Bakkerij Paul Année has an unassuming exterior with a small display of wares, but don’t let that fool you; it’s considered one of the best bakeries in Amsterdam – the perfect place to visit in preparation for De Kaaskamer, a cheese heaven down the same street with a glowing interior that draws you right in. Chocolaterie Pompadour is a patisserie and chocolaterie of great calibre just across the way and is packed with treats if you’d prefer something more decadent which can be enjoyed inside or taken away.

Brix is a stylish contemporary bar/eatery with a New York jazz-style ambience, and the very hip ‘bar-with-no-name’ just across the street at Wolvenstraat 23 comes complete with a sign prohibiting laptops as they are ‘neit zo gezellig’ (ie not very nice, unfriendly, unsociable).  Lunchcafe Neilsen, with its unusual and quaint frontage, is a great place for a hearty breakfast or interesting sandwiches at lunch – try the apple, fennel, aubergine, alfalfa, courgette and mango chutney sandwich, grilled on dark brown bread.

And if you need a pick-me-up after all the exploring, Screaming Beans café is well known for its slow-dripped coffee, locally-roasted, and knowledgeable baristas. Or take it home instead; Kaldi is a sophisticated little store with a wide selection of specialist coffees and teas and associated designer accoutrements.

This is a mere glance at several of the more than thirty bars/eateries/speciality stores to be discovered throughout the Nine Streets, all of which are pure ‘gezellig’ with their friendly staff, inviting interiors and warm glows. 

With Amsterdam’s diverse range of international influences (Indonesian is a national cuisine as well as Dutch), the fact that we haven’t even mentioned that many pubs brew their own beers (and they’re very, very good at it), and the excellent hotels which often have a designer feel whatever the budget; we defy you to tire of this city, of which we’ve only shared a tiny part.