I live for almost 5 years in Utrecht now and I absolutely fell in love with this beautiful city. I feel incredibly at home here and I enjoy it a lot to take a walk through the old city center, passing also through the little hidden streets (which are gorgeous, they can really make you dream big). And – of course – you will discover so many new places during your tour. Bars and cafes change a lot and I am always very tempted to try them. So here is a short list of spots that are undoubtly worth a visit.
Coffee and small bites
I am very much into good coffees and pies, which is why I often treat myself with an espresso or a coconut macchiato with some sweet surprise for breakfast on a Saturday morning – after a little walk of course. And I can tell you that in Utrecht you find lots lots lots of those places. But these three do have my preferences.
The name already says a lot: original and vintage (but also a touch of modernity). Well, both are very dedicated to this peculiar, but very cute place. It is located in tuinwijk and used to be a bank – you can still admire the old safes – which already is a good reason to pop by. And the fact that you are then already there… why not take a seat and enjoy a drink: the atmosphere is very open, the owners very kind and some seats incredibly comfy. So great enough for a nice break in your day, right? Oh… and I would definitely suggest to order the special ‘sticky lemon poppyseed cake’, which is a big party in your mouth.
Willem van Noortstraat 88 – open daily from 8:00 (in the weekend it opens at 9:00) till 17:30
The perfect place for a good cup of coffee and a stunning piece of pie is Carla’s conditorie. This cozy and relaxing place offers a great big amount of Swedish inspired pastries and the terrace in front of the shops looks incredibly inviting, which is located just behind the Dom: so lucky you with the sun on your skin and a stunning view! But also the living room inside is very comforting if the weather is rainy and cold. And… besides all the sweet pies, you can also try one of the Smörgåstårta (a Scandinavian quiche) or a smushi (a little hearty pastry): ideal for a High Tea!
Achter de Dom 6 – daily open from 8:00 till 17:00, Saturday from 9:00 till 17:00 and on Sunday from 10:00 till 17:00.
Anne & Max
A bar I visit a lot – which feels very cozy, just like a living room – is Anne & Max at ‘t Wed, located very close to the Oude Gracht. I can really enjoy a big sweet cup of macchiato with caramel, nuts and whipped cream. Sometimes you just need to treat yourself with this after a week of working. And Anne & Max offers you really good ones, even with coconut milk (which is perfect for me, cause I am lactose intolerant). And what is a party coffee without a pie? Well, to me not perfect yet. Luckily let they have a great amount of pies/cakes at their menu: I am in love with the carrot cake and the shortcakes (all kinds of flavors). Besides this very good aspect, you can also have a very good breakfast or lunch here. They make special sandwiches, homemade soups and big original salads. Worth a try! And their atmosphere is really good, comfort chairs, very friendly people and cute background music.
Donkere gaard 4 – open daily from 8:00 (on Sunday it opens at 9:00) till 18:00 (Friday, Saturday and Sunday till 19:00)
Look. I ADORE Asian food. Probably it is the second best thing I like to eat the most (yes yes, a tiny bit below Italian). And I am very lucky to be treated with great dishes when I was travelling through Asia as I was younger, but it also makes you kind of spoiled… Because when people say they like a particular Asian cuisine but haven’t actually ever been there, I can’t help but thinking; “ooh you, you never experienced the real one”. And yes, my trip has been like seven years ago and I can tell you that I miss those amazing dishes every single day. Luckily some places here in Utrecht come so very close, but you have to know where they are, cause most of them are very small and hidden. So here is my list of Asian fav’s in Utrecht:
Boemjaa Vietnamese food! The Vietnamese cuisine uses the principle of yin and yang in their meals: it provides a balance that is benificial for you body: cold/warm, fresh/fermented and sweet, sour, salty – which makes it one of the healthiest cuisines in the world. The fresh ingredients are all very carefully selected and matched with on another to reach the finest taste. And let Kimmade be an amazing place to discover this special and delicious cuisine in Utrecht. Kimmade consists of two places: a little Street Food and a Food village restaurant. The Street Food place is a pretty small take out place in Mariastraat that offers you a small amount of their traditional dishes. It does not seat a lot of people and does not look super fancy, but please… don’t be fooled by that! It really gives it a very authentic and cozy vibe and the food is very affordable and incredibly tasty. I can’t have enough of their spring rolls and Bành Xèo (a crispy pancake). And for those who want to eat more fancy, the food village restaurant at Oudegracht is perfect. They have a bigger menu and many tables.
Kimmade Street Food, Maria straat 2 – Monday till Saturday from 12:00 – 22:00, Sunday: 13:00 – 20:00
Kimmade Food Village, Oudegracht aan de Werf 61 – open every day for lunch (12:00 – 16:00) or dinner (17:00 – 22:00)
It is hard to make a decision, but to me Thai beats all the other Asian cuisines. It is so aromatic and so divine. It always leaves me very satisfied. I was graving for a good Thai, and oh my god… yesterday I found a place that makes me so nostalgic: SAOWAPA! This very very cute Thai close to Ledig Erf is always incredibly busy (luckily you can also take-away), but my friend and me were so lucky to conquer a spot on the street (with help of the kindest owner I have ever met). Saowapa prepares 5 different dishes per day and I was so happy they had something I ordered over and over again when I was in Thailand: Massaman Kai (the best curry in the world!). It really felt like I was in Thailand again and the Massaman was just as good as I remembered: sweet, very tender, soft chicken with sticky rice. And the fact they make every day different dishes, makes me also super enthusiastic: it means they put all of their passionate efforts in those special meals that night and want to overwhelm you with what their cooking arts. And it works so good, I really want to return there as soon as possible to get surprised with other flavors.
Nicolaasstraat 1, Utrecht – opening hours: daily from 16:00 – 21:0, closed on Monday and Tuesday
Food and the City
A hidden spot that you do not notice so quickly is a very small dining room at the Biltstraat (there’s also one a corner of the Voorstraat). This peculiar tiny place offers you a permanent menu with a couple of Mediterranean dishes, which are all simply good! But they also have a variety of different recipes that change by the season, so this makes you able to try new flavors every time you take a visit (great!). You can really taste the food is freshly made and of a very good quality. The lady behind the counter is very welcomming and loves to explain all the dishes in order to help you choose. They make everything fresh and you can really taste this: I very much liked the filled puff pastry with meat. There is not a lot of place, but you can even eat there if you feel like – watching people passing by. So yes, I can really suggest to go here if you do not feel like making something yourself for dinner.
Biltstraat 467 – daily open from 11:00 till 21:30, Saturday and Sunday from 13:00 – 21.30 and closed on Monday
Always save the best for last: I can honestly admit that I am kind of addicted to one single place in Utrecht and yes it is definitely my favorite: tuttigusti! This cozy little takeaway restaurant offers you the real authentic Italian food and it is SO GOOD, that you would wish it was also a restaurant. Unfortunately you’re not able to eat here, but very welcome to take-away some of their finest dishes, having an espresso while you’re waiting while chatting with the owners – who are particularly kind! Giamoco and Gionata – both obviously Italian – offers you a real traditional Italian menu, inspired by the food that they had enjoyed in their homes growing up. To give you an impression: cannelloni, rotolo, filled ravioli, amazing pizzas (never had a better one in the Netherlands) and some really special antipasti. Sounds already good huh? Well, I can tell you: there is really nothing that would hold me back to come here over and over again.
The first time I went here, I came there only to pick up some lunch for a pick nick and I was already unable to choose from the menu: too many things I wanted to try. So I asked Claudio to suggest me something: a filled focaccia with ‘nduja (a particularly spicy pork salami from Calabria) and I haven’t tried anything else for lunch ever since: wooh! (nothing more to add). Yes, I am very enthusiastic about this place. Also the little time you spent here, waiting for your food, is very welcoming: the place smells delicious and it’s very cozy with the owners singing along with their Italian playlist. And don’t hesitate to talk, their very friendly and want to tell you everything about Italy – which is also very good to catch up with your Italian. Gosh, it makes me so hyper to return!
I can really only name up good things about this gastronomia, but it is a bit pricy. For me this is totally worth it, because you can really taste it has been made with so much passion and all the recipes are very original. So I would still certainly suggest you to pass by and let them overwhelm you and then decide whether it is too expensive for you or not. 😉 And if I do have anything to say: I would go for something with ‘nduja (it’s almost a crime if you do not try that ingredient) or the ravioli filled with pumpkin and for dessert definitely the tiramisu al pistacchio: incredibly good!
Hamburgerstraat 18, Utrecht – opening hours: daily from 16:00 – 20:30, Sunday: 12:30 till 20:30, closed on Monday