Gary's Muffins 53 Reguliersdwarsstraat; 31-20/420-2406. Unless you love french fries with mayonnaise (most Dutch do), when it comes to food Amsterdam is slim pickings after midnight—in fact, most restaurants close at 10 p.m. Thank goodness for Gary's, which serves bagels, brownies, muffins, and strong coffee until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 3 a.m. other nights.
Pata Negra 142 Utrechtsestraat; 31-20/422-6250. A dash of Spain in the heart of Holland, this tapas bar is like a vacation within a vacation. The kitchen stays open until midnight, seven days. Sample the sublime patatas bravas, pan-fried potatoes in a zesty sauce.
CULTURE AND COCKTAILS
Café Welling 32 Jan Willem Brouwersstraat; 31-20/662-0155. In the building behind the Concertgebouw, with an atmosphere reminiscent of a grandmotherly piano teacher's living room, Welling is where musicians gather to conduct post-concert appraisals. Curiously, there's no music.
Café Cox 427 Marnixstraat; 31-20/620-7222. Chances are you won't recognize any of the Dutch actors around you, but the air is still charged with drama after performances at the adjacent Stadsschouwburg.
Dantzig 15 Zwanenburgwal; 31-20/620-9039. Housed in the building nicknamed the "Stopera"—it contains both the city hall (Stadhuis) and the national opera—Dantzig is a favorite watering hole for audience members. Sit by a window so you can admire the 17th-century canal houses and the Blauwbrug (Blue Bridge).
Tuschinski Theater 26 Reguliersbreestraat; 31-20/626-2633. The Tuschinski has changed little since it was built in 1921. Given the neighboring peep shows, it's a poignant reminder of glamour days gone by. Step inside, and the only trace of the outside world is the Grolsch sign glowing behind the bar. (Pulp Fiction got it right: the Dutch do serve beer at the movies.) American films are screened with Dutch subtitles, which partly explains why everyone in Amsterdam speaks such good English.
GIN, STRAIGHT UP
The smooth-tasting Dutch gin called jenever comes in two basic varieties, jong (young) and oud (old), with jong being sharper in taste and oud being smoother and of a more golden hue. It's stored in the freezer and served either in delicate thimble-size glasses or on the rocks, never mixed. As with vodka, there are many variations in taste achieved by adding pepper, lemon, and so on. Jenever is available at any café or bar, but if you really want to immerse yourself, head for a proeferij (tasting house) such as Wijnandt Fockink (31 Pijlsteeg; 31-20/639-2695; open 3-9 p.m.).
WHERE TO GET TICKETS
AUB 26 Leidseplein; 31-20/621-1211. Tickets for performances at all the city's cultural centers are on sale at the local visitors' bureau, or AUB—the abbreviation of alstublieft, which means "if you please"—as well as at the individual box offices.
JOHANNA STOYVA, a former editor of Time Out Amsterdam, contributes to London's Radio 963 Liberty and is an organizer of Amsterdam's annual Dance Valley Festival.