Best Grilled Ribs in an Old Brown Bar
If starting from Amsterdam’s popular Leidseplein square, it’s a short two-minute walk down Leidsestraat. Take a right down Kerkstraat and you’ll see this bright yellow sign sticking out above the entrance that reads Cafe de Klos, next door to a sex shop, because Amsterdam.
My parents first came here before I was born in 1982, although they only started bringing me when I was around 9 years old. I remember it well because it was also about the same time that I graduated to eating adult portions of steak. That’s right, I was done with the kid’s menu by the age of 9.
The funny thing about de Klos is that every time we went my parents would say to the waiters, “do you know, we’ve been coming here for 10 years,” which became 15, then 20, and so on. I don’t think I’ve ever gone to Amsterdam and not gone to de Klos. Now I’ve been coming for 20 years! If you listen closely, I’m sure you’ll hear the same thing too. From there it won’t be long before you start saying it yourself.
Cafe de Klos is a special place. It’s inside an old ‘brown bar’, which were traditional Dutch bars so called from years of tobacco stains. It’s not a fancy venue, which thank god never fell into the hands of an interior designer. It’s walls, tables and benches are all made out of wood, just like from before, arranged into booths, as they’ve always been. There is a large bar in the centre, with a kitchen and grill fired up in the back. Around the bar, lights hang low over your drinks, and unusual antiques adorn the walls. It’s loud, small, dark, cramped, and busy. They don’t take reservations, but I’ve always been seated within the hour.
The waiters are deliberately rude and I love it. Growing up they used to try winding up my dad about his pretty daughters, and what trouble he was going to have in a few years! One time in my twenties I came there on a date, and they started telling me that they had seen my boyfriend there with another woman just the other night! Impossible, since we had just arrived there together. But nice try, could have worked if we were local! Then when he left to go to the bathroom, they started telling me that I could do so much better and should write down my number. Turns out they were right about that!
Although I really love the casual atmosphere, and how you would never think it’s 2016 from the inside, that’s not why I come to Cafe de Klos. I come for one reason and one reason alone. Their world famous spare ribs. Tender, succulent pork meat, smoked or unsmoked (I always go for unsmoked, but both are great), cooked and then grilled to produce the softest fall-off-the-bone meat there is. No sticky sweet sauce or overpowering marinade on these babies. Just. Pure. Tender. Grilled. Meat. The ribs are served in either ladies or men’s portions, which means 2 or 3 racks. I’m a sucker for the ribs, but their whole menu is delicious. I always order a jacket potato on the side, dripping in indulgent garlic butter.
Kerkstraat 41, 1017 GB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Open daily 4 pm til midnight