Dutch people like love IKEA. And no, I’m not talking about the DIY, sleek, Scandinavian-designed furniture. That’s too obvious! You will, of course, find at least half a dozen IKEA items in any Dutch household (they do like a bargain, after all). However, the Dutch appreciate IKEA for an all together different reason: the food! Huh? The frozen Swedish meatballs? Nope, Dutch people head to their local IKEA as they would to their local family restaurant! Except, there’s a twist: the highly coveted 2 Euro meal-deal.

On Tuesdays, you can’t find a table to save your life. It is of course 50% korting (discount) night! And don’t forget the ever popular “whatever-you-spent-you-take-off-your-retail-bill” night –that draws the Dutch folk by the truck-load.

It certainly takes the Dutch dining experience to a whole new level. And here you were thinking that the Dutch’s biggest contribution to dining was the “Dutch Oven” or the “Going Dutch”.

If you ever happen to be at IKEA on a Tuesday night, I’ll be the one with the baseball cap and sunglasses in the corner, devouring my salmon special and grabbing a 1-euro hot-dog to go! Yes, I’m taking the inburgering courses to the real world!

51 Responses

  1. Mark Goossens

    Love your blog! I’m a Dutchman who has been living in San Francisco for ten years, and have to admit your observations are spot on. Because all Dutch people are opinionated (there’s a topic for you) I will not hesitate to give you some suggestions for future entries: Beer, Bicycles, Ice-Skating. Thanks. Keep blogging!

  2. desiree

    I too, love love your blog! Being first generation Dutch all this “stuff” is normal to me. My husband pokes fun at all the little quirks I have, and I try to explain to him thats the Dutch in me! I about cried laughing reading all your entries…they are great! Keep em comin’!

  3. Padrino Brian

    My father is Dutch and I find your blog to be quite funny, spot on, and a great read. Thank-you so much and keep on writing.

  4. Jos

    I have to disagree with this one. The nearest Ikea to where I live is close to the German border, and at any given time it’s flooded by people, at least 80% of which are German. So it’s not just typically Dutch.

  5. Lynda :-)

    I live in Australia and just love reading your blog, please keep the entries coming. Your stories are so interesting and like a breath of fresh air letting all us foreigners know what’s what in your part of the world. Thanks for many laughs and comments from Dutch folk and foreigners everywhere. Best Wishes, Lynda 🙂

  6. Marlies

    Love your blog but I have to disagree on this one! I live in Brisbane and on my first visit to IKEA (our company only allowed us to buy cheap furniture because we’ll only be staying for 2 years) there was literally a bus load of Aussies entering IKEA and hitting the restaurant. My colleagues told me this is a normal thing to do on the weekend for Aussies on a budget.

  7. B-sting

    Bit of irony for you: a party where you bring your own drinks and snacks (‘Going Dutch’) is called in Dutch …. wait for it …. an American Party!

    • Mark

      Yes, but that’s a misunderstanding of what Americans really do–hold a pot-luck party, which is quite organized and very different from the line in Frank Boeijen’s “Verjaardagfeest” (“Een krat bier en een zak met pinda’s. Drie, drie, drie flessen Coca Cola.)

  8. Sharon Huls

    Fact: IKEA might originate from Sweden, it is an official Dutch company now. It’s licenced in The Netherlands as Inter IKEA systems B.V. located in Delft. Another holding of them is located in Leiden. 😉 The Dutch own IKEA, have their headquarters and the swedes check if we’re good.

    • Mark

      Well, so is the band U2. I wouldn’t call those guys Dutch. In fact, they’ve been heavily criticized in Ireland for evading Irish taxes by basing themselves in the NL, while their original home country is in dire need of money. Corporations choose the NL for tax reasons, which are very low for corporations.

    • Bernjan

      Yes, thats a funny fact.
      My sister once visited an IKEA in Sweden and they were playing Dutch music there 🙂
      Nick&Simon if i’m not mistaken or otherwise Guus Meeuwis.

    • Daan Zengerink

      Disfact! Im dutch, working in Helsingborg Ikea IT headquarters. Yes I know that dutch people like to think everything is in a way dutch. But especially on this one I have to disagree. It is originated from Sweden and still is. And the headquarters is still in Älmhult. This dutch part you are talking about is tiny and just for economyical reasons and still Co founded by swedes. To be precise, almost no dutch are working there.

      The last part, the dutch own IKEA? Nope, and even the swedes dont own IKEA. Actually, noone does, since its a foundation structure.

      Sorry Sharon…

    • tony

      It’s still Swedish but because of tax-reasons it’s established in The Netherlands.

  9. Barbara Backer-Gray

    I always loved Ikea when I still lived in Holland. Not for the food, though. Then I lived in America for about 12 years before I went to my first Ikea here near Austin, Texas and it was wonderful. I could imagine I was at the Ikea in Amsterdam! It smelled the same, even most of the furniture is still the same. So now when I want a taste of Holland, I drive to Ikea.

  10. Carolien

    Hmm, I must say… quite a lot Dutchies don’t like the food at Ikea’s. I also think it’s terrible (yes, I’m Dutch). But I quite like the furniture(I’m a student, so I don’t earn an awful lot of money) and I like their candles and stuff. The Ikea in Groningen(north of the Netherlands) is practically my neighbour 🙂

    • draske

      Opinions in Netherlands about Ikea are mixed. You hate it or you love it. A reason about the popularity is however more disturbing. Some people use it as a free day care for their children. Dropping of their kids in the “Ballenbak” and go shopping to pick them up at the end of the day.

  11. lol

    I don’t think this is a typical Dutch thing to be honest. 😛

  12. SherryTomato

    I really LOVE your blog! I’m Dutch and it’s really funny to read, because it’s true and funny to know how non-Dutch people are thinking about us. 😛

  13. Lissa

    I think you would have given a better explanation for most Dutch people reading your blog if you had said that most Dutch people LOVE the Ikea because of the tradition of ‘een dagje Ikea doen’, which means you go to Ikea late in the morning or early in the afternoon, spend the day looking at furniture(and not only the ones you need, but you can also try out beds and stuff, it’s really nice to do with your friends or family), and go to dinner there also, just because of the opportunity to do so.
    But, you are right, a lot of people go to the Ikea because the food is cheap. It’s not at home, so it’s kind of like going out to eat, but it’s still as cheap as eating at home. A lot of students and elderly people living close to an Ikea go there to eat breakfast, lunch and/or dinner(the Ikeas are located in places where we have universities as well: Groningen, Delft etc.). It’s kind of like the Hema, where you can also eat breakfast for, like, a euro. It’s just easy and cheap.
    I agree with most of the commentators, though, i don’t think it’s just the Dutch doing it 😛

    • Bertine Centen

      Especially on Boxing Day, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, well every “long weekend” really, and preferably with 6 million other Dutchies…
      But then, not being able to get off the parking lot or having to wait in line at the restaurant is a reason to complain, and that’s something else Dutch people love: complaining! 😉

  14. Jen

    I am also a Canadian living in Holland and I have observed the same things as you have from the nosepicking to the Kanker words. They are different than Canadians in their thinking. I have a lot of good friends here, but there are alot of people in this little country!!!!

  15. Anneke Faber

    LOL, this is so true!
    You only forgot to mention the famous: ”Potloodjes jatten bij de IKEA”
    Translation: Stealing pencils from the IKEA.

    (Sorry if my English is bad)

    • D Ryan

      LOL – I’ve seen that one time too many! 😀

  16. Susan

    About the hagelslag, muisjes are called muisjes because of how they look, If you look closely, you’ll see a little ‘tail’ coming out 😉

  17. Bert

    Living in the Lowlands for over 45 years now, I think Ikea is not really the Dutch approach.
    Dutch people looking for discount prefer internetsites like marktplaats.nl where all kind of second-hand (Ikea-) stuff is offered for low prices. check it!

  18. D Ryan

    Bloody hell – I looouuueee it! This blog is f’riggin amazing! I’m from New York, and I come here quite a bit on work (well NL, Paris and Berlin), and all this is soo bloomin’ right.. What would we have done without the Dutch.. after all, the world does need entertainment!

  19. Chantal

    Some days I just wonder if they are giving everything away for free! The horror of all those lines in front of the parking lot sure make me suspect they do, haha!

    But I need to be honest, if you yell out Ikea in my house, over half of my furniture yells back, haha!

    Even my curtains do.. And my bed linnen..

  20. Femke

    YES! I especially love the fact that you can fill your icecream cone YOURSELF!

  21. lagatta à montréal

    I can assure you that even here in Montréal (where we have no shortage of good food) people partake happily in very cheap but relatively good IKEA food when they go there. However it is too far from the city centre and many neighbourhoods for us to go there as a destination – it would be cheaper to buy our own smoked salmon and such.

    I’d never compare cheap IKEA food with a real restaurant, but it is better than most “fastfood” places, and if you are careful, more nutritious.

  22. Kayla

    Mine too, mine too…pure echo…Ikea, Ikea…and I’m Canadian…Like them meatballs too…and there’s nothing wrong with their spinach crepes…almost typed the other word…but Ikea pencils?! …that’s really low 😀

  23. Tom -dutch guy living in spain-

    Well, let me comment not just on the IKEA food thing. It is the habit of dutchies spending an entire day at a furniture shopping ghetto that I’ve never understood.

    See, In the Netherlands we’ve got a lot of them so called ‘Meubelboulevards’. where the word meubel means furniture and ‘boulevard’ sounds just that bit more posh to the dutch then just ‘street’, ‘area’ or as I like to call it ‘ghetto’. Cause really thats all it is, you have a lot of furniture shops usually situated in an industrial area packed real close to eachother so furniture shoppers can wander from one place to the next, spending an entire day.

    Now, in the Netherlands warm, sunny and rain free days are few and far between. If weather conditions are good AND this happens on a day off -weekend-, dutchie is very lucky indeed.
    So.. You can imagine people would have better things to do on a day like that, maybe go swimming with the family, rent a boat, I dont know but the thing that absolutely doesn’t come to mind is wasting that ENTIRE day in a meubelboulevard.

    Seriously, you think the lines and traffic jams leading to the beaches are long but they still fade to nothing in comparison to the jams of people going to a meubelboulevard. A lot of dutchies prefer spending their day off browsing through sofa’s rather than going to a themepark.

    Why?? I don’t know. Perhaps there’s some weird sort of attraction to the dutch of being treated like a genuine customer when they have their dream kitchen drawn up by a sales guy which they’re never going to buy anyway. Or is it the cheap IKEA meals… Or those places where you can dump your whining kids and be off for a couple of hours? I don’t know. But it’s clear meubel boulevards attract dutch like sugarcubes attract flies.

  24. Gemma Jordan

    Love the blog. Please find more topics.
    Retired Aussie couple (wife dutch, emigrated at 10.) Thinking of staying in Holland for 3-5 months.
    This is a must read for the Aussie.

  25. Ruud Hartmann

    Nederlanders hou ook van een goed koop.

  26. Nicole Shamier

    On stuff Dutch people like… Sturdy brown shoes! Everyone is wearing them!

  27. Nienna

    Being Dutch I don’t enjoy a IKEA visit… Yes, I do have some furniture from IKEA. But I hate the restaurant! The Swedish meatballs are yukkie 😉
    The store is always awfully crowded so if i have to go (because there are also some nice items!) I prefer to go on a workday, or on a saturdaymorning with my husband so he can crawl me a way 😉

  28. Suzanne Bom

    At IKEA in Delft, they actually no longer serve breakfast for €1,- in weekends, because of the dangerous situatians that occur in traffic. There was a traffic jam, every weekend, on the highway A13, just because of dutchies going to IKEA.

  29. Frans Utt

    Well indeed. We Dutch own ikea and there is nothing Dutch about a Dutch oven. It comes from the Pennsylvanian Dutch which in fact should be named Deutsch.

  30. AG (@Banannikka)

    I grew up in Canada with a Dutch mom but going to Ikea for dinner was always pretty exciting. I’ve since moved to France and Ikea’s only open for dinner on weekends (shucks) but if I ever go I’m sure I’ll feel the same joy. I got myself a 75 euro cent hot dog for snack today!

  31. Pete

    I don’t know the ranking of IKEA’s owner but I bet he’s way up there without getting in the news.
    Discretion is “Mum’s word”.
    Ever heard of the world’s richest (and most discrete) people. Not Gates, Buffett, etc. though.

  32. Yogi Beer

    Don’t forget the IKEA family pass that gets you free coffee and tea. A student must-have!

  33. Baffledwaffle

    The Hotdogs are only 50 cents not one euro =)

  34. Sophia Keenesburg

    (Dutch people head to their local IKEA as they would to their local family restaurant! )

    Als je de keuze hebt tussen McDonalds of naar Ikea gaan …. dan kies ik ook Ikea vanwege het voedsel.
    Vroeger kozen mensen wellicht om naar McDonalds te gaan …. oa voor de ballenbak!

    Local family restaurant
    We do not have them I guess … might be a Pannenkoekenrestaurant where you go with the children.
    In the years McDonalds came to the Netherlands it might have been McD —- childrens menus and the famous BALLENBAK !
    And now yes I guess it is Ikea …. also I guess because of that children can be children over there …..

    We do not have iHops and restaurants like that ……

    And I guess Ikea food is seen as BETTER/Healthier dan McDonalds …. !

  35. TFLittlefoot

    I like your blog, but I have to disagree on this one. Personally I’m not all that keen on the food, and although this blog is meant to be a laugh, sometimes I just don’t like the fact that it tars everyone with the same brush, but hey ho, that’s just me…

    I think that the people, in all the countries that IKEA is situated in, generally love IKEA. I mean, who doesn’t love a bargain? Sure, you run the risk of other people having exactly the same furniture as yours, but when you’re on a tight budget then it’s a fab option.

  36. Laura

    You forgot to mention that IKEA in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe sell beer and wine in their restaurant! This does not happen in the US. Also, IKEA’s restaurant in Europe is much more classier in comparison with more food choices, healthier options and plates that look like a proper restaurant. IKEA’s restaurants in America are solely fast food slop that is limited in choices and unappealing to look at. It is surprising what a stark difference it is. I visited the IKEA in Heerlen often, and the restaurant was always full for dinner. Every night! It is no wonder as it is fresh food that is made well and is inexpensive. In America, the only inexpensive food is the unhealthy food.

  37. niki☺

    Also here in Greece you see the same thing,every saturdaymorning till 10 o’clock the coffee is for free,you can’t find a seat and this happened also before the crisis! I am Dutch but also believe this is not typically Dutch☺

  38. Sara Everaarts

    For real? I have tasted the Ikea food just once, when I wanted information on a kitchen and had to wait an hour before someone could help me. It was horrible. I would only eat there if there was nothing else, it was free and I was really hungry.


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