Amsterdam Pub Guide (Part Three)
De Jordaan

de Jordaan
De Jordaan
The neat concentric rings of the grachten are most people's idea of Amsterdam's 17th century expansion. Rich merchants lived in the stylish canal houses. The plebs lived in De Jordaan.

It's not difficult to identify De Jordaan: it's the streets coming off Prinsengracht at that weird angle. Now there's a reason for that. Whereas the grachten ignored the topography of the agricultural land they replaced, the streets of the Jordaan followed the polder layout.

According to popular legend, De Jordaan is the beating heart of Amsterdam, where the real Amsterdammers live. A bit like London's East End. And, just as, in reality, all the cockneys have upped it to Essex, the last of the Jordaan's indigenous population headed for Almere sometime in the 1990's.

While housing conditions were far from ideal, the zeal with which the council has cleared away two and three-hundred year old houses has not always had happy results. Recent developments (someone must have explained the importance of the colour and texture of brick) are much less obtrusive than some of the rubbish thrown up in 1980's and 90's.

That said, there are plenty of wonderful old brown cafés and unspoilt streets. When I noticed how badly my guide covered this fruitful territory, I asked myself why. The answer is simple - there's no public transport. Basically, Rozengracht excepted, all the tram and bus routes go around it. You'll just have to get used to walking.

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Amsterdam East
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Pub Index
De Jordaan map Index
  1. Laurierboom
  2. Reiger
  3. Jurriaans
  4. Smalle
  5. Vergulde Gaper
  6. II Prinsen
  7. Papeneiland
  8. Thijssen
  9. Chris

Amsterdam Pub Guide (Part Three)
De Jordaan

De Reiger
Nieuwe Leliestraat 34,
1015 ST Amsterdam.

Tel. 020 -624 7426
Café De Reiger
Opening hours: Sun - Thur 11:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 11:00-02:00
Number of draught beers: 5
Number of bottled beers: +-10
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals. Duvel €3.80
Café De Reiger interrorReiger is the archetypal Jordaan café. Small, venerable, idiosyncratic, stylish. And, unfortunately, expensive.

One reason I haven't frequented Reiger as often as I may have liked, is my inability to find it. My note-taking visit was no exception. Me and Will must have spent getting on for 10 minutes wandering about before we eventually stumbled upon it. Why don't I just remember the address? In case you've forgotten, it's Nieuwe Leliestraat.

Can you spot what's odd about the photo of the exterior above? I hadn't seen it myself: Only the sharp eyes of my son noticed the deliberate mistake..

A delightful corner pub with an umspoilt interior, delicious art-nouveau bar back and wide, ancient floorboards. That's the front room. To the rear is an extension which serves as an eetcafé. I will say no more on that topic.

Lovely pub, shame about the prices. Almost €4 for a strong bottled beer is just too much, man.
Rating: **** (I am tempted to deduct a star for the high prices) Public transport: Tram 13, 14 to Rozengracht

De Nieuwe Lelie
Nieuwe Leliestraat 83,
1015 SL Amsterdam.

Tel: 622 5493
De Nieuwe Lelie
Opening hours: Sun - Thur 14:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 14:00-03:00
Number of draught beers: 4
Number of bottled beers: 8
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks. Duvel €2.60.
De Nieuwe LelieAs well as my "Secret list" (pubs I'm keeping to myself) I also have a "Forgotten list" (pubs not yet in this guide due to my own sloth). Lelie has been on the latter for too long.

In one of the few 17th century buildings left on the street you'll find a typical Jordaan local. As is common in old shops/pubs the high-celinged room splits into two floors at the rear. The lower one houses a pool table, not that common in this part of Amsterdam.

It's interesting to compare Lelie with Reiger, just 100 metres down the street. The latter - as its much higher prices demonstarte - is aimed at the Jordaan's recent Yuppie immigrants. Lelie has remained true to the more proletarian indigenous population. I like both. Though Reiger's high prices have strained our relationship.

As you can see on the photo above, there is some outdoor seating.
Rating: *** Public transport: Tram 13, 14 to Rozengracht

Cafe 't Smalle
12 Egelantiersgracht,
1015 RL Amsterdam.

Tel. 020 - 344 4560
Cafe 't Smalle
Opening hours: Sun - Thur 10:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 10:00-02:00
Number of draught beers: 6
Number of bottled beers: +-15
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
Cafe 't Smalle interiorI would like to think that I'm a totally impartial chronicler of Amsterdam's pubs, yet I know that I can be swayed in my opinions by the simplest of things. In the case of Smalle, because everyone else always includes it in their guides. Pretty stupid, uh ?

Right, so now that I have admitted to being an idiot, let's get on with the fun. Going out doing research with Will is truly wonderful as a social experience, but the jolity comes at a price. My notes are a bit on the rubbish side of useless. Amsterdam - it's my home town. I can remember all the pubs. No need to take notes. I have in my mind a beautiful image of the archetypal brown café in the Jordaan. Sadly, it comes from the photo on another website. (Note to me: put a link on to said site).

Smalle is very nice. Smalle is very brown. (I'm trying to encourage my son to read English). Smalle has pretty windows. Do you have any spare change? Daddy has no job. I haven't eaten for three days.
Rating: **** Public transport:

Jurriaans (JUR)
Egelantiersgracht 72-76,
1015 RM Amsterdam.

Tel. 020 - 423 4287
Fax: 020 - 423 4288

Opening hours: Mon - Sun 12:00-23:00
Number of draught beers: 3
Number of bottled beers: +-6
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
What can I say, a fairly bog-standard Jordaan pub. You've guessed it - once again location (what is it estate agents say? Pay me five percent. No, the other thing they say....) is everything. Horseshoe bar. Simple. I'm a bit lost for words. For once.

Rating: ** Public transport:

De Vergulde Gaper
Prinsenstraat 30,
1015 DD Amsterdam.

Tel. 020 - 624 8975
Cafe de Vergulde Gaper
Opening hours: Sun - Thur 11:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 11:00-02:00
Number of draught beers: 4
Number of bottled beers: +-10
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
I'll begin by saying that Will hates this pub. I think it's fine, but Will hates it. There we are. That was all I had in my notes. It was the end of an exhaustive investigation. I seem to remember the bar was a bit funny. Or was that me? Sorry, nothing more there. I'll just have to run with Will's negative comments.
Rating: ** Public transport:

De II Prinsen
Prinsenstraat 27,
1015 DB Amsterdam.

Tel. 020 - 624 9722
De II Prinsen
Opening hours: Sun - Thur 10:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 10:00-02:00
Number of draught beers: 5
Number of bottled beers: +-10
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
Prices: Beer vaasje €2, La Chouffe €3.
De II Prinsen interiorThough I don't share Will's aversion to Gaper, I would advise visiting it before popping in here. After a while in Prinsen I might come to agree with Will. This one I like unequivocably.

Tiny would be the adjective in most cities. Corner we can all agree on. Nice - well, that's pretty subjective. I'm a practical sort of guy. I deal in facts. Hard facts. Facts hard like six inch nails, driven into a cheap plywood coffin.

Wood panelling and enamel adverts are not unusual. Brushed pine tops to the tables - common as muck in Germany - aren't seen that often here. There's something, somewhere not quite right about the furniture. But my powers of description are failing.

The only regular outlet I know for Venloosch Alt in Amsterdam. I know that I should have tried it, but . . . they have La Chouffe . . .
Rating: *** Public transport:

Prinsengracht 2,
1015 DV Amsterdam.

Tel. 020 - 624 1989
Opening hours: Sun - Thur 11:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 11:00-02:00
Number of draught beers: 4
Number of bottled beers: +-10
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks.
Papeneiland interiorAlmost as bitterly fought as the smallest pub contest, is the competition for Amsterdam's oldest pub. (Though neither can hold a candle to struggle between Prague's pubs for the filthiest toilets.) The date thrown at me (thankfully only figuratively) from several directions for Papeneiland is 1641.

I'm easily bored, so as I wander around the city I pass the time by taking a fairly close look at the buildings around me. That's why I get so depressed in much of Amsterdam East. Having earnestly studied my Observer's Book of Canal Houses, I would bet what's left of my lunch (a few brownish-looking leaves of lettuce) on the building being a decade or two older. Unless that's before they built this particular 17th century Vinex estate. In which case 1641 will do. All I can say, is if they put this house up then, the owners were about as fashionable as flared sideburns

My brother has a print of Papeneiland on his kitchen wall. I know, because I bought it for him one night in Café Belgique. But that's another story. Wandering off again. That's how I find all these great pubs for you, through my inclination to go walkabout. Here on the corner of Prinsengracht and Brouwersgracht is about as pretty as it gets in Amsterdam, town of a million postcard opportunities.

At the risk of being repetitive, now where the hell was I? Papeneilnad - brilliant place. As a pub, one of Amsterdam's finest - and you know what a compliment that is. Natural light floods in to create a scene from Vermeer. Blue and white tiles, a cast-iron stove. If you only know Holland from Golden Age paintings, you have to come here. See it as a living extension of the Rijksmuseum.

I was - positively - surprised by the Amsterdam character of many customers when I last popped in.
Papeneiland interior
Papeneiland interior
Rating: ***** Public transport:

Café Thijssen
Brouwersgracht 107,
1015 GD Amsterdam.

Tel. 020 - 623 8994
Fax: 020 -
Email: Homepage:

Cafe Thijssen
Opening hours: Sun - Thur 11:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 11:00-02:00
Number of draught beers: 5
Number of bottled beers: +-6
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
Cafe Thijssen bar
About as far from public transport as it's possible to get in the centre of Amsterdam. I was once caught here - on New Year's Eve - after a nasty fall of freezing rain.

That's how my notes for Thijssen read. That's my explanation for why I've so rarely set foot in such a great café. It's probably not so bad if you're an eager young tourist with a full English breakfast to work off. I'm just a lazy old git.

Now both my ankles are operating at around 100%, I can rediscover such places beyond the reach of trams. It's my usual definition of the limits of civilisation, along with draught dark beer (dark mild before I moved to the Continent) and professional Rugby League. I know. I've painted myself into a corner on this one. Surely the Dark Age that has lasted since 1959 will end soon?
Cafe Thijssen interior
My call on Thijssen was culmination of a very happy day spent in the Jordaan. I was thinking of my ex-boss, a vein throbbing crazily on his temple, after being told there was no more sugar, then doing the Bruce Banner bit and turning into a rampaging green monster. What was the name of that army guy with the tanks who was always chasing him?

So the surly, slow service from the Ruud van Nistelroy look-a-like couldn't take the shine off my day. I had that bundle of Private Eye issues (replacing the ones the useless Dutch post office didn't manage to deliver) to read while I waited for him to get his hair perfectly in position. Not to worry, mate. I've got all the time in the world. And for once - I had.
Cafe Thijssen interior
I think that I've got some pretty damn groovy snaps, so I'll let them do the thousand words bit and I'll get on with something else. Is that OK with you? Great.

I feel obliged to warn you about the two level bit. And it's triangular. The bar counter - and the floor for the staff behind it - is at one level, but the floor the customer side is at two different levels.

It's weirder than it sounds. Though perhaps not if you start your crawl here. Ending here is a crap idea. It's a long walk to the tram. After freezing rain, it's a death walk.
Rating: **** Public transport:

Laurierstraat 76,
1016 PN Amsterdam.

Tel. 020-626 6214
Opening hours: Sun - Thu 17:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 17:00-03:00
Number of draught beers: 5
Number of bottled beers: +-5
Regular draught beers:
Food: Snacks, meals.
The area which lies just to the East of Rozengracht is not the best preserved part of 17th century Amsterdam. Hidden away from the eyes of most tourists and probably most inhabitants, too, the bulldozers have been transforming the streets of little houses into streets of crappy modern flats. Tucked away amongst some of the ugliest buildings in the city is the Laurierboom, a traditional-looking corner pub in one of the few remaining old buildings.

The pub itself is mid-brown in style; that is, it's mostly fitted out in Laurierboom interior brown wood, but it hasn't quite reached the near-black effect of a couple of decades of nicotine abuse. The furniture is all on a wooden theme and is comfortable in an unobtrusive way. An apparently randomly chosen selection of arty prints brighten up the place a little and a more common touch is given by the billiard table and dartboard. There is also a small selection of board games. A little out of the way to have many tourists straying by, its customers look pretty local.

The beer range is OK, having recently changed from Heineken (in the form of Brand) to Leeuw. The Tongerlo is a welcome variation on the beers usually found on draught in the city.

The renovation is now complete and the layout has totally changed. Sadly, the billiard table has gone (its place is now taken by the bar counter). The larger counter does allow them to sell more draught beers, including the excellent La Chouffe at a very democratic price of €2.70.
Rating: *** Public transport: Tram 13, 14, 17 to Rozengracht.

Café Chris
Bloemstraat 42,
1016 LC Amsterdam.

Tel. 020-624 5942
Café Chris exterior
Opening hours: Sun - Thu 15:00-01:00
Fri - Sat 15:00-02:00
Number of draught beers: 2
Number of bottled beers: 3
Regular draught beers:
Food: none.
Café Chris interiorCafé Chris is a classic Jordaan corner pub. It supposedly first opened to refresh the workers building the Westerkerk. Oh no - yet another contender as Amsterdam's oldest pub. !624 is the date they claim. I don't know about that, but they have no chance in the smallest pub. It's positively spacious by Amsterdam standards.

The broken Amstel clock - did it stop when Heineken bought the brewery? (No, it would have to be a grandfather clock.) What does work is the billiard table, something a rarity now in the city centre. Other artifacts include a stein collection, a grandfather clock and an accordion. So, not much of a theme going (thank god).

Despite its location close to the Anna Frank Huis, Chris is very much a locals' pub. (On the subject of the Anna Frank Huis, whoever authorised the hideous new building that ruins the views of the Westerkerk and destroys the context of the museum itself should be publicly flogged.) In Amsterdam it's renowned for its weird gents toilet. The door looks as if it just leads onto the street. In fact, the bog is cleverly concealed underneath the external staircase. It's small, but I don't think they really needed to locate the cistern and chain in the bar itself. After making use of this facility, I realised that I had been sitting under the cistern. Slightly unsettling.

The beer selection is pretty rubbish, but does include Westmalle Tripel, so I'm OK, Jack. And it's only €2.95.

About factor 9 on the brown scale.
Rating: *** Public transport: Tram 13, 14, 17 to Westermarkt.

The Amsterdam Pub Guide Continues:
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part One Dam Square - Leidseplein
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Two Zeedijk/Nieuwmarkt
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Three De Jordaan
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Four De Pijp
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Five Amsterdam East
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Six Amsterdam South
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Seven Amsterdam West
Amsterdam Pub Guide Part Eight Utrechtsestraat

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