The Amsterdam Cafe

The Amsterdam is comfortable, informal, and friendly in the laid-back way that has always been Austin's hallmark

Restaurant Review
Photo by John Anderson

The Amsterdam Cafe

121 W. Eighth, 236-1606, www.theamscafe.com
Monday-Tuesday, 7:30am-9pm; Wednesday-Friday, 7:30am-2am; Saturday, 6pm-2am
Kitchen closes at 9pm daily and is closed Saturdays

On a fine June day in 1838, Mirabeau B. Lamar shot a buffalo, and where it fell, a settlement was founded. That settlement, in time, became known at the city of Austin. When you look out the front windows of the Amster­dam Cafe, at Eighth and Colorado, you are looking directly at this hallowed piece of ground where the buffalo fell; no doubt the exact spot would have been forgotten, had early settlers not had the brainwave of building our first City Hall on the very spot.

Perhaps because of this magical location, the Amsterdam Cafe has a curiously strong Austin vibe: It is comfortable, informal, and friendly in the laid-back way that has always been Austin's hallmark. When you walk in the door, you get an immediate feeling of leisure and camaraderie. The storefront-style windows let in natural light, but the interior is so spotlessly clean that it stands up to scrutiny. In addition to table and counter seating, there are large, comfortable armchairs to relax in, and light glitters off the chevron of bottles that proclaims a full bar.

The Amsterdam's bar has been the focus of much positive comment, most of it spreading the word that the Amsterdam does a really nice pour. In addition to well-made cocktails, there are dozens of imported beers and two draft beers that are frequently rotated. When I went in, the draft beers were Leinenkugel, from Madison, Wis., and Firemans 4 Blonde Ale, by the Real Ale Brew­ing Co. of Blanco, Texas. The same thoughtful good taste that selected the draft beers is evident throughout.

The Amsterdam is a European-style cafe, opening early with pastry and espresso service, then serving lunch, and ultimately providing a sociable after-work drinking spot. The convivial atmosphere is the Amsterdam's foremost charm; most Austin watering holes that sport a full bar are too noisy for conversation to flourish. This is a perfect place to meet up with an old friend and catch up over drinks, without having to raise your voice to make yourself heard. Manager Chris Rutledge plans to add live acoustic music to the mix occasionally, beginning in August; I can only hope that the addition of music doesn't interfere with the publike ambience.

The menu is geared toward lunch, which is the busiest time for the kitchen. Though the menu isn't large, it is focused on popular favorites, and all are executed well. Individual pizzas made to order are $8-9 and include house-made marinara, fresh basil, Italian cheeses, and a variety of toppings. Grilled panini sandwiches are $7-8 and include turkey and Gouda, roast beef and Gruyere, and grilled vegetables and cheese. Baguette sandwiches (known elsewhere as subs) are also $7-8 and come to the table absolutely loaded with cold cuts. The Amsterdam also offers four different lunch salads, ranging in price from $3 to $7, and the house-made Dijon vinaigrette is outstanding. The ingredients of all the salads and sandwiches are marvelously fresh, and just like the cocktails, you get your money's worth.

Happy hour at the Amsterdam is a particularly fortuitous time to go: It lasts from 4:30 until 7pm, and all appetizers are $4, pizzas are $5, and the aforementioned draft beers and highballs are only $3.

Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

If you want to submit a recipe, send it to food@austinchronicle.com

  • More in This Issue

  • Roy's

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Food Reviews
A Trio of Mediterranean Dining
A Trio of Mediterranean Dining
Just when you thought you couldn't possibly get any shawarma, right?

Wayne Alan Brenner, Sept. 4, 2020

Hot Sauce: Your Lifestyle Is the Target
Hot Sauce: Your Lifestyle Is the Target
What does your favorite condiment reveal about who you are?

Wayne Alan Brenner, Aug. 28, 2020

More by Kate Thornberry
The Year in Food
Top 10 Austin Food Blogs
The 2014 tastes we just couldn't stop thinking about

Jan. 2, 2015

Season's Eatings
Season's Eatings
Our guide to finally shutting up your in-laws

Dec. 5, 2014

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

The Amsterdam Cafe, Chris Rutledge

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle