THE SKINNY: AMSTERDAM FOOD & SHOPPING
MUST DO FOOD:
Mystique: Located on Dtraugunt street, the Mystique came highly recommended from several different, unrelated people AKA you know it's the bomb.com. On the main floor is a cozy space with large velvet green booths, and wooden tables: definitely a cozy but equally hip ambiance. This place is known (not just in Amsterdam but throughout the entire Netherlands) for their spare ribs. I know, random. I'm not a big "meat" person, if I was in the U.S that would probably be my last choice in entree... but as as the saying goes "when in rome.." As it turn out, there is merit in this saying as this meal was fucking fabulous- the spareribs were super lean, not the fatty mess you're most likely accustomed to, with the meat falling right off the bone. This was served with a pile of waffle fries and jalapeño sour cream. I'm definitely not someone you would describe as a "foodie", the person above using the phrase "meat falling off the bone" is a complete stranger to me. But you could put me on any food network show and I'd go into full Guy Fieri mode deconstructing this dish. Meat lover or not (unless you're a vegetarian, bless up, more power to you), this place is definitely worth hitting up. Side-Note: Mystique also has a intimate bar on the lower level, and if that was the origin of the Moscow Mule I had it's definitely worth checking out.
Herengracht: Located on Dtraugunt street, Herengracht is a casual Pub right on the canal. With outdoor seating its a prime location for people-watching and a great spot for lunch or dinner on a nice afternoon. This is a favorite hangout for locals so you'll find yourself sitting among very lively, interesting people. For food the feta, cucumber, and snap pea salad starter was SO GOOD; I may have been starving from walking all day but I swear I remember feeling a wave of sadness when I had the last bite. The truffle Ravioli was also delicious, if you're a truffle connoisseur it was about a 7/ Tuscany, Italy. Side-Note: Most Amsterdam restaurants don't serve dinner until 7:30pm so be prepared to eat on the later-side. However, this provides a valid excuse to crack open a mini cheese crackers and wine picnic around 5pm to "tie you over", no complaints there.
Rembrandt Square: This space is electric. There is about 25 different bars and restaurants along a singular rectangle strip; the main place to bar hop. No two bars are the same, and it's literally 2 steps to the next one so exploring upwards of 4 while you're in the square is anything but abnormal. Side-Note: Amsterdam is definitely not a concrete jungle, but if you need some green in your life the center of the square is made up of a spacious grassy area perfect for relaxing or pitching a mini picnic.
MUST DO SHOPPING:
Episode: The thrift and vintage scene is fairly large here. There was an Episode store every couple blocks that was filled to the brim with vintage levi jeans, colorful berets, detailed studded belts, and cut up american college shirts. It's clear that every twenty-something walking around is screams reused/vintage... and my guess is they all hit up Episode.
T.I.T.S: T.I.T.S stands for This is the Shit, and there stuff literally was the shit. This store sells eclectic clothing, handbags, jewelry, gifts and most importantly.. BOOB gear! MY FAVORITE! If you're someone like me who appreciates a nice book shirt or boob mug this place is for you. If boob shirts aren't your thing still go for the adorable pastel leather backpacks and quaint gold rings & earrings.
We Are Labels: Good store for some unique items of clothing. They has some cute metallic dresses, soft graphic t-shirts and maxi patterns dresses. Not worth going out of your way to get to as they have a website you could always shop on, but if you're out for an afternoon of shopping definitely add it to the list!
Scotch and Soda: This store is uber expensive, but if you're like me and appreciate browsing really cool, well made, clothing take a peak in Scott and Soda. But if you're also like me and get beyond despressed at the fact you can't afford anything you're looking at then maybe keep walking #knowyourself. The Dutch brand really is the epitome of killer style and they have bomber jackets unlike I've ever seen. If you've saved enough money to blow on a signature item while traveling, you may find what you're looking for here.