FEBO in Amsterdam The #1 Fast Food Phenomenon

Last Updated: April 11, 2024

Gerrit Vandenberg

Gerrit shares his love for the Netherlands from his home near Amsterdam, helping thousands plan unforgettable trips to the lowlands. Discover his inspiring journey "From a critical health scare to celebrating Holland's charms". If you want to send Gerrit a quick message, you can contact him here.

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If you want to feel absolutely Dutch, there is no better place to go than a FEBO in Amsterdam for an unhealthy but oh-so-tasty fried “Kroket,” which is a true local Dutch food and costs just a few euro. FEBO Locations can be found all over Amsterdam.

When you think about Amsterdam, iconic images such as canals, tulips, windmills, and, perhaps, the city’s museums come to mind.

But FEBO?

Today I’ll delve into an equally iconic yet not so internationally recognized aspect of Dutch culture — its “Snackbar” culture. They can be found in any city and town, no matter how small. 

Ask a Dutch person to name one in particular, and one name will pop up front and center: FEBO.

Once started as a full bakery in 1941, its success did not come until the 60s after introducing its snack wall full of hot snacks, the first FEBO automat in The Netherlands.

Every day their croquettes and other snacks are made fresh true to the authentic recipe from their grandfather.

The stores might have been upgraded over time, but the products still have their old-fashioned flavor, and that’s a good thing.

The iconic FEBO automat. Insert coins and pull your snack.
The iconic FEBO automat. Insert coins and pull your snack.

What Is A Snack Wall In The First Place?

Now I won’t blame you for not knowing what a snack wall is. Let me explain that first.

Think of it as a giant vending machine. It’s a simple concept and genius at the same time. You put coins into the slot (or today, you pay by card), then you pull the handle of the window of your choice and take out your snack.

I told you, ingenious. Waiting in line, what for? While other fast-food chains claim your burger is ready in a few minutes, here, they say instantly.

FEBO has become synonymous with quick, cheap, and delicious snacks that reflect the Dutch snack tradition—a true household name. The name is even used as a verb.

A Quick History

FEBO automat at night, for a late-night snack.
FEBO automat at night, for a late-night snack.

Confectioner Johan Izaäk de Borst, or just Johan de Borst, was an apprentice who then later opened, in 1941, a bakery called “Maison FEBO.” 

It specialized back then in pastries and sweets. Over time, their delicious “kroket,” a breaded fried snack, gained so much popularity that he shifted his focus towards this savory snack. 

In the 1960s, he implemented the revolutionary vending machine allowing his customers to buy their beloved kroketten instantly. And the automat restaurant was born, and a great success. It wasn’t long before they transformed into an Amsterdam fast-food restaurant.

In 1976 FEBO Amsterdam introduced their grill burger, a simple hamburger, now available in 10 different types of burgers, all with the distinct famous FEBO flavor.

The Dutch fast-food chain grew rapidly, where everything is made fresh, and their croquettes are never frozen. Today there are 31 restaurants in Amsterdam alone, and over 75 automats in the Netherlands and growing. They are now especially expanding along freeways with their “new” drive-through concept.

Signature Snacks

The FEBO menu is a smorgasbord of calorie-laden delicacies, with the show’s real star undoubtedly being the “kroket,” that is clear. If that is what you’re here for, come prepared. There is more than one kind, and you need to decide.

We, locals, take our croquette seriously.

Some swear (that would me, too) by the classic beef version. But others will fight me (us) over their beloved veal croquette, claiming that being the classic. While others swear by the satay version, or today even the chicken, or vegetarian one, called Vitaaltje. You might need to go for it and try them all.

Want to take it up a notch? Eat it as a sandwich topping. We love typical “roll your eyes” foods on our bread. Remember Hagelslag? Basically, a free pass to eat chocolate for breakfast. We also love to split open a kroket and spread it on a slice of fresh white bread or a bread roll, add some mustard, and eat it as a “broodje kroket,” a typical and socially accepted Dutch lunch.

You can also get it here, but you’d have to skip the snack wall and go to the counter where you can order one. Also, the place you need to be if you’d like fries, ice cream, or a drink. Oh, and we eat our fries with mayo. Please, don’t offend those poor fries with ketchup. It’s just not right 😉.

What Is A Croquette?

Broodje Kroket, a classic at FEBO.
Broodje Kroket, a classic at FEBO.

We’ve talked about this snack a lot up to now. But what actually is it?

Good question!

It’s a thick meat ragout, usually a mix of beef or veal, a signature broth, and fresh vegetables, then rolled in breadcrumbs before it’s fried. This crispy bad boy is a delightful combination of a crunchy exterior and a creamy interior. Comfort food to its core. Add some mustard, and it becomes bliss.

Then There Is Also The Frikandel

Frikandel Speciaal, here made with mayo, ketchup and onions.
Frikandel Speciaal, here made with mayo, ketchup, and onions.

FEBO also has a range of snacks that extends beyond just kroketten. The “grill burger” is just as iconic today. And then there is the Frikandel.

The “Frikandel,” a skinless, deep-fried sausage, is another favorite. Don’t ask me what’s in it. You don’t want to know. You really don’t. None of us wants to know. Just accept that it is really, and I mean REALLY good and unfit for vegetarians.

You can eat it plain from the snack wall, or locals will order a “Frikandel Speciaal” at the counter, which is a “Frikandel” sliced open and filled with mayo and ketchup, or mayo and curry (spicy ketchup). Again the locals are divided. The same about the following question: “With or without onions?”

In case you’re wondering: I’m in the mayo/curry with onions camp. Like my late mother-in-law, however, my boyfriend thinks entirely the opposite.

Oh, I want one now. I can’t believe on my recent trip to Amsterdam, I didn’t stop by.

If you couldn’t tell before, Dutch snack culture is a serious business. 

Top 5 Snacks

1. Rundvleeskroket (Beef Croquette): The classic snack, savory and crunchy. 
2. Frikandel: A favorite among the locals with a unique flavor.
3. Bami Schijf: A disc-shaped snack filled with Indonesian-style noodles (the Nasi Schijf is similar but with rice).
4. Kaassoufflé: A crispy, deep-fried cheese pastry, perfect for cheese lovers and another of my favorite snacks here.
5. Grill burger: Another FEBO classic since 1967.

For a full list of the FEBO Amsterdam menu, click on the link. Then change the option from simple to “alles” (all) to see all snacks and their names.

More Than Just A Snack Bar

They have become a phenomenon deeply ingrained in local culture. The brand has even made its way into the world of music and fashion. Musicians have written songs about FEBO, and the company has its company store (online) with a clothing line. It also didn’t hurt that the famous soccer player Johan Cruijff was a major fan. His favorite FEBO location: Stadionsplein.

The First FEBO Drive-Thru

Taking their innovative approach a step further, the first drive-thru locations in the Netherlands opened their doors recently. They are located along different freeways around the country. Adding a new level of convenience to the FEBO experience. They offer most of the same snacks as walk-in branches but with the added benefit of not needing to find a parking space in the busy city.

Ferdinand Bolstraat And Other FEBO in Amsterdam Locations

FEBO in Amsterdam location, in the red light district.
FEBO in Amsterdam location, in the red light district.

You might say, Gerrit. Stop talking about these mouth-watering snacks. Where do I find one?

I would almost say it’s difficult not to find one in Amsterdam. The most convenient FEBO location is on the Nieuwendijk 50. Just a stone’s throw away from Central Station, another favorite of the partying crowds is in the red light district.

Then there is also the FEBO De Pijp location on Ferdinand Bolstraat where it all began, also the street where the name FEBO comes from Fe – Bo. This location is in the Pijp.

This is a neighborhood I can highly recommend visiting, see day two of my perfect Amsterdam itinerary for first-time visitors. Here’s a full list of FEBO locations to find a location near you.

Schiphol Airport Location Since April 2024

Since April 2024, FEBO has opened a location also on Shiphol Airport. Accessible for all since it’s located before security on the arrivals level. It’s right next to Albert Heijn supermarket, where that plane stands. It’s near the train station and Burger King.

You try the snack wall at the Schiphol FEBO airport location too. They have all the favorites. The assortment is precisely the same as in the city, and prices are standard. Just the same as in the city. No inflated airport prices which is nice.

Are you going to try this new locations? Let me know in the comments below.

I was there on April 10 2024, and I loved it.

Gerrit at the new FEBO location at the airport in Amsterdam.
Me visiting the new FEBO location at the airport April 2024 – © Hidden Holland

Why Not in the US?

You might wonder why this is not available in the US or anywhere else in the world. Again, good question.

The answer is they tried. And the US was actually the first with the concept of an automat restaurant. In 1902 Horn & Hardart opened the first automat in the US.

Over time they had over 150 restaurants in both Philadelphia and New York. Sadly, in 1991 the last one closed its doors in New York City. So they were ahead of Mister de Borst. But what made him different was that he focussed on deep-fried snacks only.

Homemade Croquette

Not traveling to Amsterdam any time soon? Or are you now such a fan that you want to continue eating them at home? You can. Here is an English language Croquette Recipe explaining exactly how to do it. What I really like about this blog by Andrea Janssen, a fellow Dutch blogger, is that she has many other authentic Dutch recipes on her site, proving Dutch cuisine is far from boring.

Conclusion

FEBO has carved out a special place in the hearts and stomachs of locals and more and more tourists alike.

Next time you find yourself in Amsterdam and looking for a bite to eat, make sure to grab a kroket from a snack wall.

Because if you have not eaten from a wall, something did not go right on your Netherlands vacation.

And as soon as you have decided to ignore all common health recommendations to indulge in these wonderful snacks, then why not go to the original?

However, if you’re in a hurry and can not find a FEBO, don’t sweat it. More snack walls can be found around the country from other brands.

Smullers is the most common one. They can be found in pretty much any large and mid-sized train station, offering most of the same snacks.

Even at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, you can find one right next to the Albert Heijn supermarket at Schiphol Plaza. And it’s not there just for tourists. The people of The Netherlands crave their snacks more than anything else when they come back from afar. Unfortunately, it’s not a FEBO store, but at this point, do we care?

What FEBO Dish Are You Most Curious About?

I’d love to hear your thoughts: Which snack are you going to try? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s start a conversation 💬.

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Gerrit shares his love for the Netherlands from his home near Amsterdam, helping thousands plan unforgettable trips to the lowlands. Discover his inspiring journey "From a critical health scare to celebrating Holland's charms". If you want to send Gerrit a quick message, you can contact him here.

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