Discovering De Baarsjes

Our writer checks out one of Amsterdam’s emerging hot spots.

By Terry Ward

If any city gives the impression of being a web of distinct village-like neighborhoods, it’s Amsterdam. I zeroed in on a number of the laid-back and less visited quarters where your euros stretch furthest while reporting on the cozy Dutch capital for the winter 2015 issue of Endless Vacation® magazine. But there is one area I heartily recommend that I didn’t have room to include in my story: De Baarsjes. Consider visiting this up-and-coming locale for a look at where Amsterdam is going and growing.

The Basics

Right next to the Oud-West neighborhood and just a 10-minute bike ride from the city center, De Baarsjes is a traditionally Turkish and Moroccan district now home to a worldly citizenry that hails from more than 120 countries. And it’s become the place to live for the fashion-forward multi-culti set. Just don’t expect Mercatorplein (the area’s main square) or its surrounding streets to look anything like a typical Amsterdam postcard. H.P. Berlage, widely revered as Holland’s first modernist architect, designed the square. “The Amsterdam School architecture here feels a world away from the gables of the canal belt,” says Scott Harbeck, an American blogger living in the city.

On the Menu

You’ll find everything from Bulgarian grocers to Asian-Caribbean fast food restaurants in this foodie paradise, and fair-trade cupcakes are listed at corner shops as well as at trendier eateries. The canal-side Edel serves up affordable comfort foods, like croquet-monsieur sandwiches and rack of lamb, inside a former trade school for jewelers. Big wooden tables topped with globes and candles set the scene at Café Cook. Savory snacks, such as bitterballen (meat-based croquettes) and loempias (egg rolls), on the inexpensive bar menu make it a homey place for borrel (the Dutch version of happy hour).

Retail Therapy

Stylish boutiques are popping up between shops that sell more-traditional items, like lavish Indian wedding dresses and Moroccan djellabas (long, loose hooded garments). You can give your kid’s wardrobe some northern European flair at Knotsknetter, whose colorful inventory consists mostly of Scandinavian- and Dutch-made children’s clothes. Look for backpacks covered in Vikings, penguins and other fun motifs to set your little one apart from the classroom crowd. For vintage fashion finds as well as stylish new clothes, head to the women’s boutique Things I Like Things I Love on Friday morning, when fresh secondhand stock arrives (quickly followed by a slew of ravenous fashionistas). And near the Mercatorplein you can pop into the cute garden shop De Balkonie to find Dutch sheep’s-wool seat covers and cozy lanterns for your outdoor terrace. It’s a great place to pick up one more souvenir of your Dutch adventure.

THE DETAILS
Café Cook
2 James Cookstraat; 011-31-621-966-916; cafecook.nl; snacks for two, from $20*
De Balkonie
90 Jan Evertsenstraat; 011-31-6-287-10319; debalkonie.nl
Edel
1 Postjesweg; 011-31-20-799-5000; edelamsterdam.nl; dinner for two, from $70
Knotsknetter
100 Jan Evertsenstraat; 011-31-20-737-0600; knotsknetter.nl
Things I Like Things I Love
106 Jan Evertsenstraat; 011-31-20-789-4344; thingsilikethingsilove.com
  • *Prices have been converted to U.S. dollars. Estimated meal prices do not include drinks, tax or tip.
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: October 2015