On The Road With RL Reeves Jr: Burger Zaken in Amsterdam, Noord Holland

Burger Zaken in Amsterdam, Noord Holland

The hookers are slowly being driven from their ancestral grounds of Amsterdam’s Red Light District.

A recent evening ramble across the old district found the storied window girls to be in short supply; replaced by high end, chichi boutiques, coffee shops sans weed but with plenty lattes, and of course sidewalks teeming with mad lads out for their endless stag parties.

Blame it on the Albanians? How about the Groenlinks? Of course the destruction of the old neighborhood is being done under the guise of “urban regeneration” vernacular heritage be damned.

We’ll leave this conversation to the urban anthropologist and prim maiden aunts who suddenly find themselves on Amsterdam’s city council as we’re only in it for the burgers. Specifically the bacon cheeseburger at Burger Zaken located on the eastern flank of Amsterdam’s Red Light District.

I’ve rented a canal house on Oudeschans a loud holler away from the original Bimhuis, the legendary jazz hall that decamped to greener pastures a short boat ride north. The old Bimhuis building is now simply called “Luxury Hotel” part and parcel of the urban regeneration I mentioned earlier.

Late night dining in Amsterdam can be tricky. There are a few restaurants open after 1am but they’re few and far between. After a long night of drinking and smoking you may find yourself at loose ends when it comes time to break bread.

Burger Zaken in Amsterdam, Noord Holland

Burger Zaken stays open til 3am and during my ramp up to the trip the concern recurred in my studies.

Time for a visit.

The cheeseburger at Burger Zaken is turbocharged with speck which I suspect is the diminutive of bauchspeck from next door neighbor Germany. It’s cured, cold-smoked pork belly much like its American cousin bacon.

I like that the cook doesn’t reach into a trough of pork that was cooked 15 hours ago; instead each strip is cooked a la minute alongside the plump d’Aquitaine beef patty on the hot plancha.

Burger Zaken has the feel of an old brown bar in spite of the business only being six years old. It’s lodged in a new-ish (by Amsterdam standards) building that was designed in 1901-1902 by the Dutch firm J. Stuyt and Jos Th.J. Cuypers on behalf of JB van Dijk through JHH Rademaker.

Architecture geeks will note the building is in the Neo-Dutch Renaissance-style.

Old buildings like this one have “monument numbers” in Amsterdam; in Burger Zaken’s case it’s 518443.

Years back Oude Hoogestraat 2 hosted Coffeeshop Extase but when the ritual cleansing of de Wallen began many of the old cannabis stores were forced out and Extase was one of them.

In this particular case, Burger Zaken is a worthy replacement as the sandwich is appropriately juicy and the old flattop upon which it was cooked has given it a good tawny char. Accoutrement includes a bewilderingly flavorful tomato and a sauce that is vaguely reminiscent of Mississippi’s famed Kum-Bak sauce.

Mrs Bertha Williams of Jackson would be proud of Burger Zaken’s efforts.

“Cocaine…ecstasy?” breathed a young man in a colorful tracksuit who appeared out of the shadows as I stepped into the night. I’m not in the market but still thankful that de Wallen still has some of the old flavor that made it a little rififi.

Burger Zaken
Oude Hoogstraat 2
1012 CE

Burger Zaken
Oude Hoogstraat 2
1012 CE
Amsterdam, Netherlands

+31 20 330 7417

hours of operation
always call ahead

Zaken is the Dutch word for “affairs”

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About RL Reeves Jr

I'm a writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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