Where to eat in Leiden – a previous “local’s” recommendations

I posted a Leiden Travel Recommendation on my blog a while back and to follow up on the post (in case you decide to take my recommendation and actually visit Leiden) a restaurant/coffee shop guide is a necessity! 😊 Whenever I visit someplace new, I’m always exited to check out all the restaurants and coffee shops – it’s a mission to locate all the hidden local gems. We all need food & drinks to fuel out bodies and in order to avoid bad dining experiences, I always try to do a little research before traveling. However, when moving to Leiden I was determined to just try out different places and it turned out it was the best thing ever – I came across so many great places! Even though it’s a fairly small city compared to Amsterdam, Leiden still offers a great selection of restaurants and coffee shops!

So without further ado, here are my favorite places to eat & drink in Leiden;

Belgisch Biercafé Olivier

This is the place for anyone that appreciates a good beer (of any kind!), wine, a good drink, and delicious Dutch bar food! As an upscale bar with a wide selection of over 200 types of beer, you’re guaranteed to find something you like. If going out for a drunken night, order the fries and mayonnaise from the bar food menu! The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable so if in doubt, don’t hesitate asking for recommendations. This place also offers a food menu (which I unfortunately haven’t tried) and have a big backyard/outdoor patio for warmer days. I actually lived above this place in the Netherlands and it’s very popular, especially during the weekends.

Anne & Max

Anne & Max is located on the Fanfetje, right next to the canal and close to the shopping street De Breestraat. It’s the perfect place for coffee, lunch and people’s watching. This all organic place has an inviting contemporary vibe, often filled with locals having lunch and catching up with friends. They have a great menu including delicious coffee/tea, sweet treats, and nutritious breakfast and lunch options. For drinks, I recommend their delicious homemade ice tea with mint and cappuccino. To satisfy your sweet tooth for breakfast, I recommend sweet morning on the menu (freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee or tea, a croissant, a warm flax-seed scone, clotted cream, strawberry jam and yogurt topped with a fruit salad). For a warmer breakfast try the oven-baked eggs with salmon/ham/bacon, sourdough bread and avocado on the side. For lunch, try their avocado toast or super club sandwich (chicken, bacon, avocado and a side of vegetable chips).

Happi Tosti

If you like a good grilled cheese sandwich, this is the place for you! Located in the heart of Leiden, this place offers the best grilled cheese sandwiches you have ever tried. They have a wide menu of sandwiches including chicken tex-mex. spicy choritzo, goat cheese, tropical, choco-banana, and the classical ham and cheese. I recommend the sandwich with multigrain bread, smoked ham and organic cheese with a side of pesto mayonnaise – it’s so good! This place is often filled with families or hungry students, but offers a cozy vibe. Try to get one of the spots outside if you can!

Coffee Company

When I was living in Leiden, this was my go-to-spot. If you would ask anyone where to find me, the answer would always be coffee company (of coffee co as we called it). It’s located across the street from Anne & Max and on the corner of De Breestraat. I recommend their iced latte with caramel and their au natural homemade ice tea – they’re both winners! You can also grab a delicious cookie or a muffin with your coffee. This place is a typical student coffee shop where the tables are set up for studying. Being a fairly small place, you can almost expect a fully packed place all the time. If the weather cooperates, you might be able to get a spot outside if you’re lucky!

De Waag

De Waag is more of a “high end place” compared to many places in Leiden and even though it’s a little pricey, it’s definitely worth a visit! This restaurant offers great food, delicious drinks and a great atmosphere in a monumental building in the center of Leiden – it’s a culinary hotspot!
I recommend their Mexican burger (with an ice cold corona on the side of course!) and the Portuguese chicken. If you’re lucky try to get a spot outside by the canal. This place is very popular among the Dutch population and especially after-work events/drinks, so a reservation is recommended.

City Hall Italian Bar & Bistro

As indicated in the name, this restaurant is located inside the City Hall of Leiden. The great combination of a beautiful location (right next to the canal!) and a characteristic building, makes this restaurant unique. I highly recommend the pizzas and pastas, which both are amazing. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday every week from 17.00-19.00 is “pizza pasta mania” where you get all pizzas and pastas for only €10! My favorites include pizza margarita, pizza with parma ham & zucchini, and penne pasta with chicken and pesto. For starters I recommend
the focaccia with Parma ham, buffalo mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes. This place also have a large outdoor seating area, but a reservation is definitely recommended as this place is very popular.

Roos Cafe

This charming cafe probably has the most perfect location in the city of Leiden; located right next to the canal, the cafe also has a small outdoor area and a deck to sit on outside (if the weather cooperates). I recommend their ice coffee (that are served in cute mason jars), smoothie bowls and a sandwich of any kind.. they’re all delicious! They also have a great variety of cakes to satisfy your sweet tooth. This place is fairly small so it fills up quickly inside, so you better be early to make sure you get an table!

Very Italian Pizza

This was my go-to-place for having pizza when I was living in Leiden for two reasons; it’s very cheap (their most expensive pizza is €11!) and the pizza is the best – thin Italian crust loaded with any toppings you want! I recommend the pizza Hawaii (Ham and pineapple), Pollo (Smoked chicken, sweet peppers, red onion and pesto) and Italian (Pancetta (Italian bacon), fresh mozzarella and spinach). In addition to pizza, they also soups, salads, and a great selection of pastas. If heading to Amsterdam Schipol airport, this is an ideal place to grab lunch/dinner as it’s located only 5 minutes from Leiden Central Station and the food usually comes pretty quick. On a sunny day, try to get a seat outside on the deck!

Have you ever been to Leiden before? If not, please go and eat & drink yourself through town! 😊

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