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Cafe ‘t Gasthuys

Of all the cafes and eateries in Amsterdam ‘t Gasthuys (The Guesthouse) is among those we visit most often — especially in summer, when we can sit at its canal-side terrace, watching the hustle and bustle both in the narrow street and in the narrow canal.

There’s not much of a view straight across the water; just the brick wall of an erstwhile hospital building that years ago was turned over the Universiteit van Amsterdam (Uva) — the University of Amsterdam, the campus of which is scattered across many buildings throughout the city’s center.

Cafe Gasthuys Amsterdam

The Gasthuys cafe’s terrace
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But as the water of the Grimburgwal connects the canals of the Oudezijds Achterburg and the Oudezijds Voorburgwal with that of the Rokin, the near constant parade of vessels — ranging from lengthy, glass-topped tourist tour boats to small dinghies (and just about everything in between), there’s always something interesting to see.

Some captains actually moor their boats alongside the terrace in order to allow his guests a quick drink or a bite to eat at ‘t Gasthuys.

The Gasthuys is a so-called ‘Brown Café.’ Go ahead and read the information at that link so you know what to expect and look forward to.

Before we talk about the food, let’s place the café in its historical context:

Historical location

During the 14th century, and up to the year 1425, the Grimburgwal (grim = muddy ditch, burg = castle, wal = wall) marked Amsterdam’s southern-most boundary. There was no castle, but a rampart had been built along the natural water way.

Until the 17th century this neighborhood was referred to as ‘the quiet side,’ since it was home to many monasteries. The name of the alley next to the café is a tongue-in-cheek reminder of this period. It is called ‘Het Gebed Zonder End’ (The Never-Ending Prayer).

Gasthuys brown cafe

Gasthuys brown cafe

Café The Gasthuys is named after the ‘Binnen Gasthuys’ hospital across the water.

The oldest part of the Gasthuys café is the front part at Grimburgwal number 7, which dates from 1870. Afterwards the middle part (AD 1900) at the Gebed Zonder End number 8, and the back of the house (AD 1930) were built.

In these days the tobacco industry had settled in the part of town surrounding the premises. Where in a distant past prayers were sent to heaven, the scent of tobacco circled towards the blue skies.

At the back of the present-day cafe the colour of tobacco leaves was checked. For this purpose the steady light that shines on the northern part of the premises was very useful. Nowadays, the tobacco industry has “gone up in smoke.”
– Source: ‘t Gasthuys, history

Good Food

The Gasthuys is visited by a wide range of people — from students to business men and women, and from patrons of the nearby theaters to tourists who just happen to spot the place.

Cafe Gasthuys Amsterdam

The Gasthuys cafe, Grimburgwal 7 in Amsterdam
© Copyright DutchAmsterdam.nl. Want to use this photo?

Most of them will agree that the café serves up good food for both lunch and dinner. The home-made 100% beef hamburgers is great, as is the Gyros Wrap. Rolls, a satisfying clubsandwich, and French bread with spinache-cheesecroquets are among the other choices.

For dinner, the main course includes such dishes as pork or chicken kebab, spare ribs, pangafillit with tagliatelle and cream Spinache. The menu of the day is a good choice at any time.

Mind you, we’re talking pub food, but usually it’s a cut or two above the rest and that at very decent prices for satisfying portions.

Service isn’t always as attentive as one would wish, but you’ll find eating at the Gasthuys a pleasant experience. You won’t be surprised that the place has many long time repeat-customers.

The Gasthuys also has a small selection of good wines and quality champagne on hand.

All in all, a highly recommended spot.

Our only complaint (re-iterated by many other coffee lovers): what is that stuff they serve when you ask for cappuccino?

Address and Information

‘t Gasthuys
Grimburgwal 7 [Google Map]
1012 GA Amsterdam

Tel:020 6248230 [Amsterdam phone info]

Website: www.gasthuys.nl/

Last updated CET (Central European Time)

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