The foodie travel guide to Groningen
We all have different approaches to traveling. When I’m planning a trip, one of the first things I research is the local food scene – what are the regional specialties? Where do the locals eat? What are the best restaurants? Where can I get authentic street food?
For me, there’s no better way to get to know a place than through its food. Plus, lunch and dinner make for excellent interruptions to a busy sightseeing/ exploring schedule – we all have to refuel sometimes!
So of course, when I was invited to Groningen for the bloggers meetup, I immediately hit up Google, Yelp, Tripadvisor, local and travel blogs to find out about the best spots the city has to offer. And it turns out, there are actually quite a few! Given that I only had 48 hours in Groningen, I didn’t manage to eat everywhere – though not for lack of trying! I guess I’ll just have to come back soon. For now, here are my favorites – and some extra tips from locals!
Breakfast, brunch and lunch options
If you’re going to Groningen for a weekend, one important piece of information to keep in mind is that most places don’t open until 10am or later – especially good to know for us early risers!
On Sunday, I had the most colorful breakfast ever at Feel Good on the popular Oude Kijk in ‘t Janstraat in the university quarter. The place is super cute, and everything was delicious. I had the French toast (made with almond milk) and an acai bowl, because I can’t restrain myself and must always over-order. Loads of fresh fruit and healthy ingredients make sure you get a good start to your day. Feel Good also has plenty of lunch options, like salads, sandwiches, and burgers.
Another yummy lunch option is newly opened Konbu Street Food on Oosterstraat – a great place to take a little break from your shopping adventures. I had their veggie ramen and found it really nice. They also have different types of pho and other Asian street food, including baos.
One place that was consistently recommended to me is Wadapartja – a relatively new, all-day café that offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Everything is organic and there are a boatload of options for vegetarians and vegans (though check out the section below for more tips).
Other places that were recommended to me, but that I didn’t manage to try (a girl can only eat so much in 48 hours) included Café Pernikkel, No. 25, and The Pool at the Student Hotel.
Vegetarian and vegan options
I learned that Groningen is quite the place for vegetarians and vegans – tons of new plant-based restaurants and eateries popping up all the time. Around lunchtime, check out Anat or De Herbivoor for totally meat-free, yummy sandwiches, wraps, and salads. For dinner, restaurant BlaBla goes fully vegetarian as well.
A local favorite is Wadapartja – though not fully vegetarian, they have a ton of great options to choose from, like this pulled mushroom sandwich with barbecue sauce (so good!). It’s a great place to sit and have a coffee or fresh mint tea – and get some interior shopping done, too, because you can buy most of what’s in the store!
Groningen even has a vegan supermarket, Vegansuper!
A great source of information on veggie and vegan food in Groningen is the blog Not So Stuffy – they have plenty of reviews and tips in English as well.
There are plenty, plenty of restaurants to choose from for dinner, which is both awesome and a little annoying, because I only had two nights in Groningen. Tough choices had to be made, but in the end I’m really happy with both of them.
The first place I visited was Brasserie Midi. Like the name suggests, the menu is French-inspired, but has a local twist. I selected their three-course seasonal menu, which consisted of cheek of wild boar “en croute” with balsamic shallots, red cabbage cream, and a jus of veal and rosemary; followed by baked pike with orange-marinated salsify and langoustine jus; and a dessert of apricot crème bavaroise with amarettini crumble and amaretto sabaion. Everything was delicious, especially the wild boar really hit the spot! Brasserie Midi also scores some bonus points for their flexibility in seating me without a reservation.
But my hands-down best food experience in Groningen was my dinner at Smaeck. I chose to dine late, around 9:30pm, so the place was empty except for one other couple for most of my dinner. That gave me the chance to talk in more depth to the owner, and even the kitchen staff as they were heading out after serving an absolutely amazing menu. I ordered the surprise tasting menu, which started with an amuse-bouche in the form of an edible joint (how very Dutch!) with Japanese mayo, followed by a tartar of local beef with oyster mayo, capers, and seaweed chips. Next was a pan-fried monkfish with cauliflower purée, salted vegetables, and an absolutely amazing green apple jelly.
Seasonally, the main course was venison with beet root cooked in port wine, red cabbage purée, hazelnut crumble and foam, soy-marinated Brussels sprouts, and mushroom paste – I was in total food heaven! I finished with a simple dessert of almond milk panna cotta with strawberry and blackberry sorbet and freeze-dried strawberries. This was an absolutely amazing dining experience that could easily rival some great restaurants here in Copenhagen – for about half the price! I highly recommend you try Smaeck if you visit Groningen.
Other dinner options that were on my short list, but will have to wait until another visit, were De Pijp Wine and Dine (casual), Pappa Joe’s (burgers), Proevens (local fine dining), Voilà (modern international cuisine), and Prinsenhof (even finer dining). Het Concerthuis, where we had a bloggers meetup for drinks, was also recommended as a casual dinner spot.
Coffee and sweets
Now everyone knows I don’t function without coffee, so naturally I had quite a few of those in Groningen as well. My extensive research revealed that the best coffee in town can be found at Black & Bloom in the university quarter. They also have the prettiest coffee machine with wooden handles. Swoon!
Just across the street is the cutest little cake shop called Bij Britta, which doubles as an interior design store – you can practically buy everything you see, sit on, and eat from!
BAQ Broodcafé on Folkingestraat is a cute little bakery-coffee shop, where you can enjoy a lovely cup of coffee with some fresh cake or other baked delicacies. They also have soups for lunch, if you’re so inclined.
It may have a touristy touch, but if you go to Groningen, there are a couple of things you should really try – at least once. One of them is caramel waffles – stroopwafels – which you may know from the little blue-and-white metal tins that someone may have brought to you from vacation before. But the best ones are the fresh, warm waffles at the market stands on Grote Markt (they are also much bigger than the tinned ones!).
Another must-try are the special spice cookies, pepernoten. We actually have them in Denmark, too (pebernødder), but only during Christmas time. Van Delft Pepernotenfabriek has countless flavor varieties, but my favorite were the chocolate-covered ones (I may even develop a copycat recipe for those!).
There you have it – my foodie guide to Groningen! I fully expect this post to be extended whenever I may get the chance to visit Groningen again and try some new places.
Have you been? What do you recommend I should eat next time around? Share in the comments below!