· Cafe de Jaren
We can't do fancy meals at white tablecloth restaurants every night (or indeed most nights), so much time is spent in a new city figuring out a cool place to chill, eat something, drink something and hang out. We found that ideal combination at the Cafe de Jaren at Nieuwe Doelenstraat 20, tucked into the bottom of Amsterdam's De Wallen neighborhood, along the Amstel. The interior is spare and vintage, with an art deco, yet cozy, feel. We suppose the wicker chairs help the coziness, but the reading tables and bulletin-papered center column aren't without their charm.
Service isn't so snappy, but it's a trade we'll take for the awesome canal views. We went right before closing to snap these photos (though we'd been during busier, earlier evening hours), but it's great at almost any time of the day and especially for a pleasant coffee. Bonus: there's a salad bar upstairs! Vegetarians rejoice!
Inside Cafe de Jaren
· 't Blauwe Theehuis
It's really a damn shame that we didn't snap any photos of this place owing to an impromptu bike ride through the Vondelpark sans camera, but trust us. This is a magical place hidden away in the center of Amsterdam's Vondelpark, their answer to NYC's Central Park. Translated, it's simply "the blue teahouse," but it's so much more. Two stories and a massive alfresco patio make this a top choice, so long as you're willing to walk or bike to it.
Their mint tea is large and packs much spearmint, plus a little biscuit to help your appetite. Really though, it's all about the completely unpretentious scene. People and bike-watching is tops, there are picnic tables, and no need for a waiter if you pop in and order your beverages and bites yourself. Stay through sunset on a temperate eve and you'll either end up with a bevy of new Dutch friends or a journal full of philosophic reflections. Heyit's got its own Wikipedia entry!
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher for Jaunted]