Tracey Taylor is a freelance writer who originally comes from the stunning south-west of Ireland. Now living in het mooie Maastricht, home is with boyfriend Dave and their fancy cat Tubbs.
How wonderful to find myself living in Maastricht. Not only the capital of South Limburg but also – some might argue – the culinary capital of the country!
It is certainly true that every taste and budget can be catered for amongst the considerable number of bistros, cafés and restaurants generously peppering this city.
In this piece for Life in Maastricht, I am delighted to get the chance to combine my love of writing with another passion: Food!
So allow me to indulge and share some of my top foodie picks – in all their scrummy splendour – from this corner of the Netherlands that I call home.
Appetites at the ready, folks!
Now I simply have to start with the much-loved Maastricht favourite that is Café Sjiek. Established in 1982, Sjiek offers an intoxicating laid-back feel with attentive staff and speedy service – even when busy… And it’s always busy! A cosy café with oodles of charm inside, there is also a (seasonal) terrace lazing under a grand sycamore tree offering a coveted dining spot beneath its leafy umbrella. For the atmosphere, think lovely and lively. For the food, think simple and scrumptious. You cannot go wrong with your choice but if you want to try their most famous dish, order the homemade Zoervleis met dikke Friete, Appelmoos & Mayonaise. Mighty good!
Sint Pieterstraat 13, 6211 JM Maastricht
Mo-We: 17:00-02:00 | Th-Su: 12:00-02:00 | Kitchen closes each day at 23:00 | http://cafesjiek.nl/
No visit to Maastricht is complete without passing by the equally prestigious Vrijthof Square and it is there you will find Gio’s Cucina Casalinga. Soft Italian music fills a pretty restaurant that has a very high ceiling and seductive tables crisply dressed in white. You will be offered a set menu (ravioli or pasta for starters & meat or fish for mains) with the courses served in a very unique way. The dishes are undeniably delicious – honest, and superbly prepared and presented. Perfect for a romantic dinner, or to just enjoy some fine Italian cuisine at its best…
Vrijthof 29a, 6211 LE Maastricht
We-Su: 17:00-22:30 | Tel: +31 (0) 43 325 6275
These days, it seems there are Irish Pubs in every corner of the world. So it is no surprise that a few can be found here in this proudly international city of Maastricht. My personal favourite is: Peter’s Irish Pub. This gem of a place is tucked into a quiet corner of the market square, and a friendly welcome and cheerful vibe is always to be had. The pub’s interior is warm & spacious and spick & span and comes with plenty of comfy seating. Peter’s Irish Pub screens various sporting fixtures (from both home & abroad), runs a popular Quiz Night on Mondays (free to enter) and has regular live music… Watch-out for their Karaoke nights too! Next to a decent selection of beers (which includes good Guinness on tap = two thumbs up from me!), they also offer a tempting menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Seriously yummy pub grub! Peter’s Irish Pub… For the beat of Ireland in the heart of Maastricht. Sláinte!
Kleine Gracht 40-42, 6211 CB Maastricht
Now Restaurant Witloof is brought to us from Belgium, with love. And this popular and funky little number is one you should try. The restaurant is split over two levels and the décor is… well, quirky! Is it homage to the 1970’s? Is it modelled on a Portuguese kitchen? Whatever it is, I like it! The staff is so nice. Beautifully presented (complete with vintage-style aprons), they are equipped to speak in Dutch (Vlaams), English, French and German. Witloof offers fixed menus plus à la carte choices and all of which are reasonably priced for what you get – and you get plenty! Belgium has a cuisine that it can be proud of and although the dishes served may be seen as “simple fare”, they are mighty tasty and you will savour every morsel. Promise! And all of that with a keen focus on quality and sustainable food. Veggie options and dietary restrictions can be catered for, but a heads-up is always welcome. Witloof carry an enormous selection of beers (it’s rather breath-taking) and each dish on the menu comes with a pairing suggestion which is a nice touch. But no need to worry, there is also wine for lovers of the grape Lastly, did you know that a small amount of the cost of every meal at Witloof goes to a local charity? A restaurant with a lot of heart in the heart of the city…
Sint Bernardusstraat 12, 6211 HL Maastricht
We-Th: 17:30-21:30 | Fr-Sa: 17:00-22:00 | Su: 17:00-21:30
If a lazy brunch is more your thing then look no further than Harry’s Restaurant at the Hotel Beaumont (Est. 1912). Harry’s radiates “old world charm” and is an utter delight. The Sunday Brunch menu is appetizing and is served in a splendid dining room by well-dressed servers who are professional without being intimidating. Some genial jazz adds to the Parisian Café ambience and it is apt that this area of Maastricht is known as “Petit Paris”. The Eggs Benedict are rather heavenly and if you fancy an extra treat, why not try a Bellini for the ultimate weekend indulgence!
Wycker Brugstraat 2, 6221 EC Maastricht
Sunday brunch: 11:00-16:00
For a trendy lunch spot, get thee to Coffee Lovers which is a bustling spot with a tasty lunch menu and equally tasty prices. If you are lucky, you might be able to nab one of the comfy sofas but failing that, set yourself up at the tall benches by the window for a bit of people watching, or grab a section of the large common table for the ultimate shared café experience. For eats I can recommend the Toasted Trammezzino Trio, any of the cheesecakes and – even though there is great coffee on offer – do try their amazing Chai Tea Latte.
Ruiterij 2, Maastricht
Mo-Fr: 08:00-18:00 | Sa-Su: 09:00-19:00
The Rechtstraat in Maastricht is a smorgasbord of restaurants with culinary options to suit all pockets. But my pick this time is: Restaurant Le Courage. Owner and Chef, Nigel Hitches hails from the United Kingdom and has a pretty impressive résumé that includes Michelin Star restaurants, Hilton Hotels worldwide and the prestigious Dorchester in London. Le Courage is an intimate dining space with a crisp and chic interior. With a keen focus on using seasonal produce, Hitches is a daily visitor to local food markets in search of the best quality and fresh ingredients. He and his team work to create some beautiful plates of food that are technically and visually superb, and taste pretty good too! Any dietary restrictions and allergies can be addressed. Also, be sure to consider the wine arrangement – it is reasonably priced and the pairings are spot-on. Le Courage is open for dinner and lunch but also offers some rather unique extras like onsite catering services, takeaway picnic hampers and the traditional English Afternoon Tea. I would (en)courage you to give this restaurant a try!
Rechtstraat 81, 6221 EH Maastricht
For some truly delicious Asian cuisine in Maastricht, I would have to say “Ni Hao” to Wen Chow! This place has the best Dim Sum around plus an impressive selection of Chinese, Cantonese and Indonesian dishes with which to satisfy your palate. Wen Chow has that certain something you would expect from a Chinese restaurant, with an unassuming frontage painted green with red lanterns adorning the windows. Plenty hustle & bustle awaits you inside with hard-working and attentive staff on hand. Meals are served piping hot and at lightning speed. All hail the wok! I just have to give a mention to my favourite dish: Calamari’s with chili & peppers, but if in doubt, do ask for a recommendation. Given that Wen Chow has been serving customers for over 20 years is a clear sign that they are doing something right in terms of their service and the quality of the meals they serve. This place is frequently fully booked so reserve a table, arm yourself with chopsticks and bring your appetite!
Spoorweglaan 5, 6221 BS Maastricht
Tel: +31 (0) 43 321 4540
Question: Does size matter? Well, certainly not in the case of a somewhat recent discovery. Did you know that we have the smallest café in the Netherlands right here in Maastricht? Presenting: Petit Cafe Moriaan! Although only 23 square metres in size, this place is big on character! Situated on the exclusive Stokstraat, these premises have a long history in the city. The interior is attractive yet snug, but the designteam has made clever use of the space. And the conservatory area at the back spills onto a leafy courtyard that adds extra seating. This location has the air of a traditional Dutch café but with a contemporary touch. With pleasant staff and a relaxed mood, it is possible to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner here.
Stokstraat 12, 6211 GD Maastricht
Tu-Th: 11:00-20:00 | Fr-Sa: 11:00-21:00 | Su: 11:00-20:00
Staying with the French theme, why not try Café Manger Le Fernand. Just off Sint Pieterstraat, this petit restaurant is located on the equally small Stenenbrug which links onto the Koestraat. The interior of Le Fernand is cozy with wooden flooring, white marble tabletops, a modest bar and open kitchen. There is also a terrace nestled outside. The menu itself is short and sweet and carries French classics (with a modern twist) alongside changing daily specials and the option of “tasting boards”. Now the starters and main courses are not huge – and that is also reflected in the price – but you will surely not go hungry. The focus of Le Fernand is on quality over quantity and for me, the balance was spot on. My only regret … That the dessert wasn’t bigger! Owned and run by the young and talented Fernand Rosier, I found myself rather charmed by this place. Its simplicity, authenticity and good food – punctuated by the melodious strains of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel – ensure that I will be making a return visit soon. Bon Appetit!
Stenenbrug 6, 6211 HP Maastricht
Mo: 17:00-00:00 | Tu-Th: 11.00-00.00 | Fr-Su: 11.00-02.00
Kitchen closes each day at 23:00
Let me finish this particular foodie foray with a tip on where to sip a good drinkie here in Maastricht. Hello Mr. Smith Midway down the chic Rechtstraat, you would be forgiven for not spotting the underground gem at number 55. Dark green doors next to a shiny golden plaque proclaiming “Press for Drinks” is the only clue that there is something rather special lurking below. Once you have pushed the bell, you will be greeted and escorted down winding stairs to the belly of the bar. Mr. Smith is modeled on a “speakeasy” with soft but deliberate lighting and laid-back music creating a warm and cozy vibe that certainly had this punter impressed. Mr. Smith prides itself on the quality of their cocktails, and rightly so. They are shaken and stirred with genuine care and passion. But if a cocktail is not your thing (for shame!), fear not as there is also an extensive selection of spirits plus a few wines and beers from which to choose. Attracting a hip crowd, this cellar bar hits high on the cool factor and is well worth a visit. Cheers!
Rechtstraat 55, 6221 EG Maastricht