With new restaurants opening every week, it’s not that hard to find a great place for dinner in Rotterdam. But if you are looking for the best hotspot right in the city centre, Ayla is the restaurant to go. Mediterranean food, cocktails and the best vibe: this is Rotterdam how you want to experience it!
I often get asked ‘where to go in Rotterdam?’ and usually I try to find out what people are looking for. But the brand new restaurant Ayla is definitely one of those places that I can always mention as a good place to go. I’ll try to explain why, but don’t blame me if your personal experience is better.
Ayla recently opened at Kruisplein, which is literally less than 1 minute walking from Rotterdam’s Central Station. Open from 8 am until midnight, it is one of the few places where you can eat all day, without making a reservation. Expect proper food with fabulous ingredients and flavors that will surprise you in the best possible way.
The city’s diversity is reflected in the crowd at Ayla
When you enter, you’ll immediately notice that the diversity of the city is reflected in the crowd: it’s a unique blend of people, all here to have a good time. And that good time is almost guaranteed: the staff is welcoming and friendly, the menu is extensive and the cocktails are unforgettable.
The food at Ayla could be described as Mediterranean, but I would rather say cosmopolitan. I was surprised by the combinations of flavors. Some I hadn’t tasted in my lifetime, others I never expected in certain combinations.
A true flavor ‘fiesta’
For instance: oysters with pomegranate and grapefruit. Or swordfish with sweet mango, sage and eggplant. Or try the couscous with lobster, mussels and prawns. Don’t worry if you don’t like fish, there’s a lot of meat, veggies and salads on the menu as well. Like chicken with pumpkin chutney, lamb with bulgur, nuts and mint or smoked feta cheese with tomato, basil and nuts, to name a few.
The dishes are more like tapas, so prepare yourself for a shared dining experience. Order a few things and try as many new flavors as you like, or pick from the classics you already know. The menu changes weekly, so make sure to try that one or two dishes you’re curious about.
Cocktails with their own blend of wodka and gin
The cocktails at Ayla are already the most discussed drinks in town. A unique blend of wodka and gin that is specially created for Ayla, is the basic ingredient for exclusive cocktails. Not the sweet or strong ones you get at most cocktail bars, but subtle flavors that dance on your taste buds. Bitter, spicy, fresh; you just want to have them all.
This possibly all sounds too good to be true, but to make it even better: the prices are not outrageous at all. If you order a few dishes to share and sip your cocktail, you will probably leave the place without even spending € 50,- per person.
More to discover in Rotterdam
The people behind Ayla also created Suicide Club and Biergarten; two of the most popular places in town, which you should not miss either. But if you want to make sure that you experience Rotterdam the right way, put Ayla on your list! If you are still looking for a place to sleep, check these Hotels in Rotterdam with a stunning view!
Ayla, Kruisplein 153, 3014 DD
Discover Rotterdam like a local
There are many ways to discover Rotterdam like a local. You can follow random people on the streets, but that’s rather awkward and you’re likely to follow just another tourist finding his or her way. A better way to explore the second largest city of The Netherlands, is to get your hands on a copy of Discover my City, Rotterdam. In this travel guide, locals like (and including) me guide you through their lists of favorite places.