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Visitor Guide to Haarlemmerstraat & Haarlemmerdijk

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Haarlemmerstraat (and its continuation, Haarlemmerdijk) is one of Amsterdam's most diverse, not to mention most convenient, streets for avid shoppers: its variety of fashion boutiques, interior decor shops, specialty food shops and more make it a prime street to browse or fulfill a specific retail mission. One Christmas season, for example, I didn't even make it off the street - I was able to scoop up presents for 20+ friends and relatives, each with their individual tastes, in just a few hours on Haarlemmerstraat. Here's a run-down of the top spots on Haarlemmerstraat. (All street numbers refer to Haarlemmerstraat unless otherwise indicated.)

Fashion on Haarlemmerstraat:

Haarlemmerstraat is full of fashions that are fair trade and environment-minded. Vibrant textiles characterize the accessories at Mono (no. 16), a boutique with a conscience, whose husband-and-wife team live in Thailand to supervise their fair-trade production while a friend mans the Amsterdam storefront. At no. 36, Nukuhiva curates its merchandise from labels that share its concern for fair, sustainable fashion, such as clothes and accessories that are "upcycled" from waste products.

Gourmet Food Stores on Haarlemmerstraat:

Gourmets will find much to write home about in the street's various specialty food stores. Banish blandness with condiments from Meeuwig & Zoon (no. 70), which carries an impressive selection of Mediterranean olive oils and other edible oils from truffle to beechnut. At no. 71, Hollandaluz - whose name is a portmanteau of Holland and Andalusia, the autonomous community in Spain - offers an assortment of Spanish delicacies, from savory (their delectable empanadas) to sweet (the addictive almond confection turrón, or quince paste to pair with their assertive Spanish cheeses), plus ceramic cookware, tiles, lamps and other Spanish wares. Further Iberian specialties can be found at Casa Bocage (no. 111a), where the essential flavors of Portugal are for sale, from bacalhau (salted cod) to pastéis de nata, the iconic custard tart from Belém, Lisbon.

Unlimited Delicious (no. 122) deserves special mention as one of the top chocolatiers in Amsterdam; "Unlimited" is the appropriate word for the approach this confectioner takes towards its inventive bonbon flavors, from tamarind sambal to rosemary sea salt. The Tea Bar (Haarlemmerdijk 71) proffers its own masterful flavor combinations in herbal form amid its chic interior, where tea lovers can select from dozens of blends - such as the irresistible Green Sweet Almond Tea, billed as a "marzipan substitute".

Where to Eat & Drink on Haarlemmerstraat:

Diners will be spoiled for choice on Haarlemmerstraat, which is dense with cafes, restaurants, and other eateries where shoppers and strollers can stop for a pick-me-up. Both health-conscious and indiscriminate eaters can relish the liquid concoctions at Jay's Juices (no. 14), a pint-sized juice bar with a massive menu. The sandwich shop Il Tramezzino (no. 79a) owes its claim to fame to the crustless white-bread sandwiches from Turin, which it fills with Italian meats, cheese and more. For a cup of joe, the street is also furnished with a CoffeeCompany (Haarlemmerdijk 62), one of the Netherlands' most respectable cafe franchises.

Coffeeshops on Haarlemmerstraat:

Haarlemmerstraat abounds with cannabis coffeeshops, some of which have a deserved reputation as the best of Amsterdam. First from east to west, Picasso (no. 6) has a standard weed selection for the competitive Haarlemmerstraat scene, but visitors who like to "wake and bake" can count on free juice and toast with purchases before 12 p.m. At Green House (no. 64), walk over built-in aquarium that adorns the floor and over to the cannabis bar for some of the best weed in Amsterdam. This particular Green House location is often crowded (which takes its toll on the table service), but their cannabis menu is top-notch nonetheless. Connoisseurs will want to walk the extra few minutes westward to Barney's, which sells its prized cannabis strains in a sleek but narrow coffeeshop at no. 102; sister restaurant Barney's Uptown (no. 105) awaits peckish smokers from just across the street.

Monuments on Haarlemmerstraat:

Haarlemmerstraat isn't all retail therapy - there are also several listed monuments to behold. The West-Indisch Huis (Herenmarkt 99) was the site of a pivotal moment in U.S. colonial history, as the place where the Dutch West India Company determined to build a fort on the island of Manhattan in 1625. The neo-Gothic Posthoornkerk (no. 124) is the product of prolific church architect P.J.H. Cuypers, the man behind the Rijksmuseum and Amsterdam Central Station in addition to over a hundred churches nationwide. The church is also the site of the PINT Meibockfestival, a seasonal bock beer festival held each April.

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