My 5 favorite restaurants to enjoy authentic Dutch cuisine in Holland
I have been a resident of Holland, Michigan for over 17 years. I didn’t know much about the history of the Netherlands until I moved to this beloved city with Dutch roots. In the years that I have lived here, I have learned that the Dutch know how to eat! I made it a point to scour the city for the best restaurants that serve Dutch culinary delights, and here are the top five. So the next time you’re in town, whether it’s for the Tulip Time Festival or a summer visit to the beach on beautiful Lake Michigan, add these restaurants to your must-visit list!
1. Hungry Dutchman Cafe
The Hungry Dutchman Café is located in the Dutch village of Nelis, along 31 North in Holland. This cafe is small and unassuming but packs a mighty punch when it comes to Dutch food. The first thing you will notice upon entering are the ceiling beams decorated with well-known Dutch phrases that you would probably hear in the Netherlands. Look for “Na regen komt zonneschijn”, which roughly translates to “After the rain comes the sun” and “Wi zoekt vindt, wie waagt wint”, which means “He who seeks finds, he who dares wins”.
If you like the outdoors while you dine, take a look at the terrace, which overlooks a beautiful pond.
What to order
Whether you eat indoors or out, you’ll love the many Dutch dishes on the menu:
- Banquethomemade almond paste
- Erwtensoeptraditional Dutch pea soup
- Frikandela Dutch-style hot dog, pan-fried and served with chopped onions, curry ketchup and mayonnaise
- Croquettea fried beef croquette, served with large-grain Dutch mustard
- metworstpork sausage from a traditional Dutch recipe, usually served with a warm potato salad
- SaucijzenbroodjesPigs in a blanket
You can also order American food from the Hungry Dutchman, so if you’re not an adventurous eater or traveling with someone who prefers something non-Dutch, you can order burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches , salads and other items.
Pro tip: Plan to accompany your Dutch meal with a regional Dutch draft beer at the nearby Thirsty Dutchman Pub. You can choose from local beers, and if you can’t narrow it down, treat yourself to a flight served in a klompen (wooden shoe).
2. Dutch Brothers Restaurant
The Dutch Brothers Restaurant is owned and operated by three brothers, the first generation sons born to Dutch immigrants. These boys grew up eating classic Dutch dishes such as pea soup and croquette (fried beef croquettes). They now share these delicious dishes with the community at the Dutch Brothers restaurant.
What to order
Be sure to look for the ‘Dutch stuff’ section of the menu, which includes ham and pea soup, saucijzenbroodjes (pigs in a blanket), almond coffee cake and even a sampler plate to treat yourself to. experience. With a “Taste of the Old Country” you can taste all the Dutch delicacies, including a piece of soft Gouda cheese.
Pro tip: Once seated in the dining room, look for the black and white family photos on the wall showing the three brothers dressed in Dutch costumes as children.
3. DeBoer Bakkerij
The deBoer Bakkerij (meaning “bakery” in English) is connected to the Dutch Brothers restaurant and is delightfully decorated in Dutch decor, including a bakfiet (Dutch bike), a variety of baked goods and a small cooler with Dutch cheeses for purchase.
What to order
If you haven’t had a krakelingen, it’s time to try one! Once you’ve tasted it, you’ll want to stock up on these sweet and crunchy little treats! Shaped like pretzels, these cookies are made from puff pastry and sprinkled with sugar. The magic is in how the sugar glaze dries to a crispy finish. Yum! You won’t be able to stop at just one!
Other delicious offerings from deBoer’s bakery include handmade Dutch banket (sweet dough rolled into a long, narrow log shape filled with a mixture of sweet almond paste), currant and almonds and Dutch rusks.
Pro tip: DeBoer offers a fantastic Maple Bacon Donut, filled with a delicious cream filling and topped with a slice of bacon. It’s the perfect sweet and savory treat!
4. Wooden shoe restaurant
The Wooden Shoe restaurant is steeped in the history of the Dutch community. The building was built in 1958 and was used as a tourist favourite, the Wooden Shoe Factory, where visitors came to see authentic Dutch carvers creating real wooden shoes like those worn in the Netherlands. However, in the 1990s the owners changed their business focus and the building was sold and became the Wooden Shoe Restaurant, Tap House and Wooden Shoe Antique Mall, all as a tribute to the original purpose of the structure. The entrance to the Wooden Shoe restaurant is accessible without stairs and provides easy access throughout the building.
When you stop at the Wooden Shoe, you may have to wait as it is a popular breakfast and lunch destination in Holland. Don’t worry, you can walk around the connected antiques mall and enjoy looking at and even buying all kinds of beautiful relics from the past.
What to order
Once seated, go on an adventure and treat yourself to a few slices of Balkenbrij. This traditional Dutch cuisine is similar to what we call scrapple in the United States. The Baulkenbrij is prepared in-house from a special recipe including a burger, pork butt roast and liver, then seasoned with alum and allspice. The meat is then mixed with buckwheat flour to bind it. This dish is a local favorite and a conversation piece!
The people of Holland, Michigan are very friendly, and when I stopped to sample my first Balkenbrij, a few people dining at nearby tables were eager to join in and share their knowledge of this unusual dish. One of them even regaled me with the entire manufacturing process from the original cuts of meat through boiling, grinding, mixing, cooking, cooling, slicing and frying.
She has fond memories of it with her grandmother, no doubt an immigrant straight from the Netherlands. A gentleman at another nearby table remarked, “The Dutch know how to use every bit of the animal and not let anything go to waste.” Baulkenbrij is the perfect example.
Pro tip: If you prefer Baulkenbrij, enjoy it on a slice of white bread buttered and drizzled with syrup, as recommended by our new table companions. Some people prefer a touch of salt and pepper to the syrup, but the sweet topping was welcome on the odd meat. If Baulkenbrij isn’t your cup of tea, you can pick up another Dutch favorite here at The Wooden Shoe, the pig in a blanket. The pigs are also made from scratch and you will see them served at the tables around you. Finally, for a sweet treat, don’t miss a giant (and I mean giant) cinnamon roll while you’re here!
5. Russian Restaurant
Russ’ Restaurant was founded in 1934 and continues to serve the local community over 85 years later. Everything you will find in this restaurant is homemade with an extra dose of Dutch love! Of course, Russ’ also serves many Dutch classics like split pea soup and pigs in a blanket.
After your main course, have a slice of pie or a famous Dutch apple dumpling served with vanilla ice cream. Russ’ Restaurant is locally known for its pies made from scratch, and you can even take an entire pie home!
Plan for essential dishes and home service when you go to Russ’ Restaurant. Parking is always sufficient, the food is always good and all their locations are easily accessible without stairs!
What to order
My favorite is the thin gem sandwich, a classic Dutch dish. My husband notes that his family still serves this type of sandwich at family gatherings and funeral lunches. He calls it “ham on a bun”. Consisting of thin slices of ham and Swiss cheese placed on a buttered white bun, you can add condiments as you wish, but the thin jewel sandwich at Russ’ comes with lettuce, tomato and mayo, then served with fries.
Pro tip: I recommend a half order of Russ’ hand beaten onion rings instead of fries. They may not be real Dutch food, but they are delicious and regular customers love them!
More Dutch Restaurants
After spending a day or a weekend in Charming Holland, Michigan, you might want a taste of Holland, Michigan at home after your visit. No problem! Several stores in Holland offer Dutch treats that you can take with you. Check out the Dutch Village Downtown store on 8th Street to sample delicious Dutch cheeses such as Gouda and Edam, both mild in taste and color, but oh so delicious! You can also find a variety of other great Dutch snacks like stroopwafels (wafer cookies sandwiched around a thin layer of caramel), speculoos (windmill cookies), and beschuit (round toast baked twice).
Stroll through the shops in the gardens of Windmill Island and take home a bag of Windmill Flour, whole-wheat flour made from wheat grown in western Michigan and ground in the Windmill on site, the last authentic Dutch windmill exported from the Netherlands.
You can also choose a bag of Dutch licorice, available at Veldheer Tulip Gardens at the northern end of town. The Dutch love their licorice. You can choose from salty, sweet, hard, soft and all different colors and shapes flavors and textures.
No matter where you choose to eat in Holland, Michigan, you won’t leave hungry!
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