Food in Rotterdam: Diverse Netherlands Food Tour!

Welcome to Rotterdam, the Netherlands! I’ve been exploring the culture and cuisine of this amazing city for days, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. In this adventure, I’m diving into the diversity of Rotterdam’s cuisine! From Surinamese to Turkish to Moroccan to Cape Verde, you can try a ton of unique global food in Rotterdam!

Rotterdam is a vibrant and modern city is known for its avant-garde architecture and bustling port, which is one of the largest in the world. It offers a rich cultural tapestry, not only with its museums and galleries, but it also has a lively and incredibly diverse culinary scene. That makes it a fantastic city for cultural enthusiasts and foodies alike. And I’m exploring it with my good friends Melissa and Mike!

Cape Verde Food at Cafe Patricia

A bowl of hearty cachupa, a Cape Verde stew containing hominy, beans, cabbage, and meat | Davidsbeenhere

In this tiny restaurant that’s been open since 1997, I got my first taste of Cabo Verde (or Cape Verde) food, which comes from the Cape Verde Islands, a Portuguese-speaking island nation off the coast of West Africa. I spoke to the cook in their tiny kitchen in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian while she prepared a stew called cachupa. It takes 3 hours to make and contains hominy, beans, cabbage, cassava, chicken, pork, beef, morcilla, and chorizo. It’s the national dish of Cape Verde!

Cachupa is a thick, hearty stew with a beautiful color and an amazing contrast in textures. I loved the flavor and heartiness of the different meats, especially the iron-rich morcilla. The beef was very tender and the cabbage was nice, too. I loved adding some spicy sauce to it! It was some of the best food in Rotterdam I’d had so far. I enjoyed it with a refreshing Super Bock beer.

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We also had some small veggie pasteles filled with hearty carrots, onions, and other diced vegetables. They also brought us some pasteles containing tuna, bacalao, and shrimp. The tuna one was flaky, light, and salty with a crispy, buttery crust. The bacalao pastel was more like a croquette and full of a delicious, creamy cod filling. I also loved the shrimp, which was also soft and creamy inside, with hearty pieces of shrimp inside. It went well with my David’s Been Here Hot Sauce!

The Best Syrian Food in Rotterdam?

A cook slices chicken shawarma, a popular food in Rotterdam, off a rotating spit | Davidsbeenhere

We then visited Pistache Halab Restaurant, a Syrian restaurant that sells shawarma, falafel, kebabs, and more Middle Eastern favorites. The cooks fed me a bit of fresh, juicy chicken shawarma. It was so tasty! Then, they let me try cutting some off the spit, and made me a chicken shawarma wrap. 

It was crispy, juicy, buttery, and creamy. I liked adding a sweet and spicy sauce, as well as a sweet and tart pomegranate syrup. 

Then, we headed to Yummie Restaurant next door, which is owned by the same family. They offered lots of baked goods, including some green pistachio baklava. Baklava is my favorite Middle Eastern sweet. This one was dripping with sweet sugar syrup. It was full of pistachio flavor and melted in my mouth! This place is a reminder that the food in Rotterdam is wildly diverse but extremely delicious!

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El Aviva Restaurant: The Birthplace of Kapsalon

Kapsalon, a popular food in Rotterdam that blends Dutch, Turkish, and Indonesian ingredients | Davidsbeenhere

El Aviva Restaurant is an iconic spot in Rotterdam that’s known as the birthplace of Kapsalon, a dish inspired by multiple cultures. It was first created by Turkish immigrants and consists of a layer of French fries topped with doner or gyro meat, melted Gouda, shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, garlic sauce, and Indonesian sambal. It’s served in a metal takeaway tray.

The flavor and texture combination blew me away. The gouda and garlic sauce on top of the fries with the tender meat was unreal. It was so unique. I’d never had anything like it in my life. It’s definitely a top food in Rotterdam for me!

Decadent Syrian Food in Rotterdam: Luxurious Cakes at The Cakery

David Hoffmann takes a bite of a scrumptious carrot cake in Rotterdam | Davidsbeenhere

At our next stop, Bram Ladage, I watched the man there slice potatoes and fry them. But then, we headed to Kapsalon Ben, a local barbershop run by Moroccan immigrants. The guys there were so nice! 

From there, we explored more food in Rotterdam. We stopped by The Cakery, which is run by a baker from Turkey and his wife, who cooks in the back. The other guy working there is from Turkey and Egypt. They sold lots of delicious-looking cakes and ice creams, including Brownie crème brulee, pecan caramel bars, red velvet cake bars, carrot cake, chocolate fudge cakes, Snickers cheesecakes, and more! They even had baklava cakes and lotus cheesecakes on their menu!

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I went with a slice of their carrot cake, which looked incredible. It was creamy, crumbly, and delicious. It was so good, I wanted to take another slice to go! In the kitchen, I met the owner’s wife, and I learned that they just opened the shop just months earlier in 2023. 

They let me try their brownie in the kitchen. It was dense and fudgey, but had a nice white chocolate cream in the middle that reminded me of an Oreo. They were also making lots of red velvet cakes as well. They told me the best thing to do is get their brownie and get some vanilla ice cream on top!

Hand-Pulled Chinese Noodles at Xian Delicious Foods

A bowl of hand-pulled Chinese noodles with beef, vegetables, and broth | Davidsbeenhere

Our next stop was Xian Delicious Foods, a Chinese restaurant that specializes in hand-pulled noodles and other Chinese favorites. I watched them pull the noodles and add tofu, onions, and broth to a bowl. I also got a second bowl with beef. 

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The noodles were fresh and perfectly cooked, and the herbal broth was very tasty. The addition of the cabbage and soft, tender pieces of beef tied it all together. It took me back to my weeks of eating authentic Chinese food in China! Of course, I had to add some chili sauce! It was another excellent food in Rotterdam!

Moroccan Food in Rotterdam at Restaurant Safir

Tagine, a Moroccan dish that's an exceptionally popular food in Rotterdam due to its high Moroccan population | Davidsbeenhere

Finally, I ended my diverse food in Rotterdam tour at a Moroccan restaurant called Restaurant Safir. Moroccans are the second-largest ethnicity in the Netherlands. I couldn’t wait to have some Moroccan food for the first time in a long time! I’d been to Morocco twice and love their cuisine, especially tagine!

I started with some mint tea. Then, we went into the kitchen and watched them prepare the tagine, which contained a huge piece of lamb, sesame seeds, apricots, almonds, and prunes caramelized with honey and cinnamon. The lamb and the gravy was unbelievable, and I loved the sweetness of the fruits combined with the savory, tender meat!

They also made us a soup called harira, which contains chickpeas, vermicelli noodles, turmeric, cumin, parsley, cilantro, and harissa. It was incredibly hearty and tasty. I followed that with some Ksar Bahia 2021 wine, a very bold, earthy and oaky wine. It was the best way to end my food in Rotterdam tour!

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