These are the places I enjoyed when I was visiting Rotterdam. Note that this list is nowhere near complete, as it focuses on the things that I like (coffee, tacos, books).
New Fork (lunchroom)
Very close to the main city center and the maritime museum, this lunchroom has the best sandwiches of Rotterdam. The bread is hands down the best I’ve ever tasted. They have a lot of veggie options on offer, which is nice for travel groups with vegetarians. Apparently frequented by students a lot, so the prices are very decent as well.
www.newfork.nl, Coolsingel 141, 3012 AG Rotterdam
Donner (bookstore, giftstore, coffeebar, lunchroom)
Wherever I go, I always get drawn to the local bookstore. Donner is situated in an old bank building, which gives it a peculiar atmosphere. They have everything you can think of in terms of books, and also sell sheet music, board games, vinyl and gifts. There’s a cute coffee corner in the back of the building, where you can have lunch or drink a nice cup of coffee with a slice of cake.
www.donner.nl, Coolsingel 119, 3012 AG Rotterdam
Rotterdam is split in two by the Nieuwe Maas river. If you need to go from the north side of Rotterdam to the south side (or vice versa), you can walk across one of the bridges, or… you can take a water taxi. These little speedboats will bring you from one side to the other in minutes, and it’s a lot more fun than walking. A ticket of EUR 4,50 will cover a transfer between any two stops within the city centre. On the website you can find an overview of prices and locations.
Fenix Food Factory
The Fenix Food Factory is a group of indie stores and restaurants in an old facory hall. It consists of a variety of small food businesses with a large food court in the middle. You can buy something from each of the stores – cheese shop, butcher, bakery, coffee-roastery, microbrewery – and sit in the middle and enjoy it all. Be sure to go here with enough appetite for one or two meals. ;)
When I was here, there was enough to see, try and taste to warrant a stay or a few hours. We started out with lunch at Meneer Tanger, a counter that sells spices and all kinds of morrocan tapas. We had a nice cup of coffee afterwards. I then bought 5kg worth of locally sources honey, home-made chutneys, fresh dairy and jams. We wrapped up our visit with a few beers and a tray of cold cuts at the Kaapse Brouwers, a local brewery.
www.fenixfoodfactory.nl, Veerlaan 19D, 3072 AN Rotterdam. Note that all shops except for the brewery are closed on Mondays.
The Stirr (cocktail bar)
A cocktail bar that only serves custom cocktails. Just tell the bartenders what you like and they’ll bring you a newly invented alcoholic beverage. The bar has a grungy vibe, with high windows and a bare brick wall. There’s no loud music or bright lights and the high windows have a beautiful view, so this is the perfect place for having a drink, relaxing and talking. I paid EUR 23,00 for two cocktails, so it’s on the expensive side, but the laid-back atmosphere made it money well-spent.
www.thestirr.nl, Eendrachtsweg 29B, Rotterdam
Xoco (taco bar)
This is a taco bar with the best tacos I ever had in the Netherlands! Although they call themselves as a grill restaurant, it has an informal atmosphere and no is more like a student cantina. The menu is simple but very tasty. You choose tacos, a burrito or a salad, choose between different meats or the veggie option, add toppings and sauces and you’re good to go. Be sure to try the home-made peppersauces!
www.xoco.nl, Scheepstimmermanslaan 17, 3016 AD Rotterdam
Burger Club (burger restaurant)
Tiny burger restaurant in the north-west of Rotterdam. Apparently they won a prize for their burgers a while back. The burgers are pretty good, there’s a lot of choice on the menu and eating here is not too expensive. Interesting is that they let you choose the kind of meat for your burger: local-produced beef, wagyu-beef or high quality pork. If you like your burger with a gin-and-tonic, they have about ten different gins and tonics on the menu.
www.burgerclub.nl, Nieuwe Binnenweg 139-a, 3014 GJ Rotterdam
Gys (organic restaurant)
I encountered this cute eaterie on my way back from the Burger Club. The design of the place was so great, I decided to go in and have a coffee as desert. I wish I was a freelancer in Rotterdam, so I could go here during the day and enjoy the coffee, beautiful design, the light and the view from the enormous windows. I will definitely return here and try the rest of the menu. They serve everything from breakfast to dinner, with great coffee to boot.
www.gysrotterdam.nl, Nieuwe Binnenweg 182, 3015 BJ Rotterdam