If you are looking for a nice place to eat or to buy souvenirs, Damrak may be one of your first adresses. Anyway, most prices are expensive. And don't even think to buy a soft drink at one of the souvenir shops. You can pay for a can 2 € or even more.
Fun Alternatives: Try Leidsestraat and Leidesplein, there are also souvenir shops and cafés and the prices are less expensive. There's also an Albert Heijn supermarket where you can buy your drinks and groceries. A nice area for cafés is also Prinsengracht near Westerkerk. You can find even better and cheaper restaurants at the Jordaan district.
When we arrived in Amsterdam, tired and hungry and ready for a sit-down, Leidesplein was the first place we came to that seemed to have what we wanted. We sat outside in the sunshine, then realised we were in an Irish bar, being served by an Australian waitress, and being entertained by American buskers - hardly what we'd expected of our first visit to the Netherlands! If you're looking for a taste of authentic Amsterdam, you won't find it in Leidesplein.
Unique Suggestions: Look out for the keepy-uppy man who does his thing in front of the Bulldog cafe. His football skills were brilliant. Try and avoid the singing buskers though, they were pretty tuneless!
Fun Alternatives: Some of the streets off the main square have some decent-looking restaurants and cafes. Otherwise, walk around the canals areas - Prinsengracht is nearby - there are much nicer bars and cafes there, and you will actually feel as though you are in Amsterdam!
Well yeah ok all the numerous cafes on the squares look nice and inviting, and I'm not saying, don't go at all.... but be careful, cos most of them are tourist traps!! The food and yes, even drinks/coffees are reaallly expensive! It's like that wherever you go, so you probably already know all this crap........ :)
Unique Suggestions: Just have maybe one drink, to enjoy just sitting down and 'people watch' and if you're lucky, an entertainer will pop by and keep you amused for a good half hour!! You'll be surprised at what some people would get up to!! hehe.. but after he's done, he'll expect a tip.
Fun Alternatives: An alternative would be to just simply have a meal in one of the side streets, which serve just as good food and at a cheaper price!!
All with set tourist menu's.
Three streets filled with pizzeria's, greek, steakhouses and other extremely mediocre grub. Don't waste your time or money here.
The bulldog palace on the leidseplein claims to be a good coffeeshop. Bollocks!
Unique Suggestions: Well, the square itself is nice for people watching..
Fun Alternatives: If you want to smoke go to the dampkring at the handboogstraat.
The only good restaurant here is the indonesian Bojo.
The bars at Leidseplein and Rembrandtsplein can be a bit of a tourist trap (although the terraces are great for people-watching). They're not all bad (Hoopman on Leidseplein and L'Opera on Rembrandts I like), but some really are and if you look a bit further, you will find many nicer bars, especially in the Jordaan area and on Prinsengracht. Also, the bars on these two main squares are generally very expensive.
The Leidseplein was just a bunch of overpriced restaurants, cafe's and shops. I would search the side streets for better restaurants. This is one of those places that's just too congested. The only restaurant I disliked was here, near the Leidseplein.
Unique Suggestions: Walk around and enjoy all the artists who are trying to make a buck by entertaining you with their antics.
Fun Alternatives: Try to visit the less touristy places or the places that are of more historical signifcance.
The Kalverstraat, avoid this street! this is a shopping street you see in every city arround the world, and it is a waste of time to spend your time there. Better go to the Leidsestraat, One of the 'negen straatjes' (nine streets), Het Spiegelkwartier (Spiegelquarter) or to the Jordaan if you want to shop for really special and original things.
Two streets crossing Leidsestraat, full of different kind of restaurants. Can't miss seeing them as the streets are full of signs and lights. Not enough quality for your money and the service if just horrible. (They know you only visit them once, and don't bother) Food's not autenthic, but modified to the Dutch/foreign taste. If you love spending your time in Amsterdam listerning the stories of other tourists and paying much for nothing, go ahead.
Unique Suggestions: Sometimes you just don't have any idea where to go and as these places are close by, so you push aside the negative points and wish for a delightful meal. You're hungry, so you would eat anything and the service's pretty bad in Amsterdam in general, so you don't really notice anything too bad. You feel happy to hear some of your own language after hearing too much Dutch. "At least I'm not hungry anymore", you repeat to yourself and leave the place with a half a smile on your face.
Fun Alternatives: Leave the central Adam and head towards De Pijp, Jordaan or West. What ever restaurant here will most probably be a better experience. If you're not where to go, check out the link for possible choices: