Birthdays, bachelor(ette) parties, business dinners – whatever the occasion, we all have reason to get groups of family, friends or colleagues together from time to time.
And when that occasion arises, one of Amsterdam’s cute gezellige cafés isn’t going to cut it. As lovely as Amsterdam’s narrow buildings are to look at, tiny two-person tables are not much help when you’re dining with a group of eight or more.
But fear not – there are a number of restaurant options that are suitable for group lunches or dinners in Amsterdam, whatever your budget and however large your group.
1 De Kas
Housed in an enormous greenhouse and surrounded by plentiful gardens in the Frankendael Park is restaurant De Kas – a long-loved favourite in Amsterdam. The chefs pluck much of their menu from the greenhouse and gardens themselves, and what isn’t grown in their own backyard comes from nearby farms. So this dining experience is about as local as you can get.
Dishes are small but you’ll eat five or six of them at dinnertime, and they change daily depending on what’s available. Expect Mediterranean flavours, impeccable service, and beautiful surroundings. De Kas caters for weddings as well, which means that groups of over 100 can easily be accommodated.
2 Lion Noir
Lion Noir is the kind of place you’d like to go for a high-class hen (bachelorette) party. Its dark decor features impressive hunting memorabilia, gothic chandeliers, and clientele wearing dresses and heels. This, as any Amsterdammer knows, is a rarity in the city of bikes and rainwear. The food at Lion Noir is accomplished, and the cocktails classy and well made. The last time I ate there it was the night I celebrated my friend’s engagement with the rest of our girlfriends – ideal.
3 Morgan & Mees
One of Morgan & Mees’s huge selling points is its large, covered, heated terrace. Of course, if it’s warm the cover comes off and you can sun yourself in the sheltered courtyard. But even in winter, you can make good use of the outside space. Inside, there are a couple of different rooms plus a separate bar, making it ideal for groups.
Lunches include hearty Caesar salads and variations on eggs Benedict, while dinners are a slightly fancier affair of international dishes that are generally shareable. Plus, Morgan & Mees is a hotel too, so if you have international guests in town you could kill two birds with one stone.
Particularly handy for pre-theatre dinner if you have tickets to the Carré, de Ysbreker serves up a broadly French menu very well. Think charcuterie or steak tartare to start, with lobster or tournedos to follow, and perhaps a crème brulée or chocolate truffle for dessert. Ysbreker takes groups of up to 160 people (according to their website) and it’s the right blend of smart and casual that means you could book it for a work dinner or a friend’s birthday party and it would do the job.
Set apart from the main restaurant downstairs, upstairs at Jacobsz is a huge space with its own bar that could be cordoned off into separate sections if needed. Their long table could easily be laid up for 25, but a casual walking dinner could accommodate 100 guests no problem.
Plus, catering for a large group needn’t mean compromising on food or service. The evening I went for a friend’s 40th birthday, the food was elegant and creative. Think perfectly rare duck breast and pork belly, with a fusion of seasonal flavours alongside. And very friendly service to boot.
Any restaurant in Amsterdam Noord is generally bigger than most other restaurants in the centre, because a lot of them have been built in converted shipyards or warehouses. And Stork is no exception: this fish restaurant used to be an industrial warehouse but now feeds up to 150 people – perhaps more in summer when the huge terrace is open. But of course, your group has to like fish!
7 Café-Restaurant Amsterdam
Café-Restaurant Amsterdam might not be doing the most creative things with food, but it has something for everyone and does most of it well. Think simple steaks with béarnaise sauce and fries, grilled fish, Caesar salad, vitello tonnato, and good affordable wines by the glass. Plus, the place is huge which gives you a high chance of getting a table for a large group, even if you’ve left it a little last-minute.
Dauphine is a veritable institution of a restaurant – a favourite among the business lunch crowd who come up from the Amstel business park every day.
It serves classic Caesar salads, crowd-pleasing steaks, smoked salmon with poached eggs, and desserts from Holtkamp. A great option for a corporate lunch or after-work dinner.
Bierfabriek serves just two things: beer and chicken. The beer, which is brewed in-house at their own micro-brewery, comes in four varieties: a simple but tasty unfiltered pilsner, a refreshing blonde, a richer red ale and a dark porter.
If you do book as a group of friends, be sure to request one of their self-serve beer taps. Depending on your friends, this could prove slightly dangerous, but a hearty portion of chicken and chips should help soak up the beer effect…
With two locations in Amsterdam (at roughly opposite ends of town), Boca’s is perfect for a casual birthday borrel. You can order huge platters of meat, fish or vegetarian snacks to share, and the standard is consistently of a much higher quality than your average deep-fried borrelhapjes.
11 Brouwerij Troost
Troost brewery has a few different locations in Amsterdam, but the Westergasfabriek one is the largest – complete with long wooden tables perfect for groups. Own-brewed beers, burgers, flammkuchen and other booze-suitable snacks are the order of the day here, and there’s always a festive atmosphere.
I’ve been to Bazar – an enormous converted church on the Albert Cuypstraat – for several group occasions, from hen parties to reunions. The restaurant’s food is a smorgasbord of Middle Eastern and North African dishes, with good-value mezze dishes, kebabs, falafel and more. For groups of 13+ people, some menu restrictions apply – take a look at the website.
Housed in the former Citroën garage at Stadionplein, NENI is big enough to cater to literally hundreds of guests. The restaurant alone can seat 240, or offer a walking dinner for 500 – and that’s without the other areas added on. So even if you’ve been tasked with organising your company’s next corporate event, you’ll be sorted.
The owners have Israeli, Romanian and Spanish roots, so you can expect an Eastern Mediterranean menu. Don’t miss the sabich – the Israeli answer to focaccia, studded with aubergine, eggs, tahini, a tangy mango sauce and a fresh, fragrant, herb-rich salsa.
14 Mata Hari
It’s not often that I recommend places to eat in the Red Light District, but Mata Hari is one I end up sending people to time and time again. They serve tasty beer and G&Ts, so it’s a good spot for an after-work borrel with colleagues. At dinner, they cook up an international menu that leans in favour of Middle Eastern mezze but also includes pasta, meat and fish.
At lunchtime, you can expect bread and salads, but with far more interesting fillings and toppings than the usual ham and cheese variations. The decor is like a giant, split-level living room; I wouldn’t recommend it for a posh client dinner, but for most casual events it’s a great spot in a fun location.
15 The Commons
On the ground floor of the Student Hotel on Wibautstraat, The Commons not only has plenty of space for eating, drinking and lounging – you can also play ping-pong and various other games in the lobby.
Plus, it caters to business events with meeting spaces and presentation facilities. Food-wise, it’s a simple but international menu with pizza, burgers, salads and more.
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