Glasgow foodie guide: where locals eat and drink
Whether you want a quick lunch, afternoon treat or blow-out meal, Glasgow's food scene has loads of top restaurants to choose from. Here is our pick of the best places to eat and drink in this vibrant Scottish city
Looking for restaurants in Glasgow? Want to know the best places to eat in Glasgow? We have found the top local neighbourhood restaurants, cafés and bars in the city for a foodie weekend in the Scottish city...
Best restaurants in Glasgow
An early hit by chef-owner Rosie Healey (ex Ottolenghi and Jago) on the ever-expanding Finnieston Argyle-Street strip (including Porter & Rye, Crabshakk, The Finnieston, The Gannet, new Mora…), Alchemilla hasn’t changed with success. It is not fancy but confident, with big-flavoured plates of Mediterranean-inspired food designed for sharing. Modern flavours are always a little bit surprising and leave you wanting more.
For a table of four, it’s possible to order everything on the menu (and you should). Dishes cost between about £5 and £10. Plates include shaved kohlrabi fennel and herbs; roast squash chilli-butter dukkah and herbs; octopus potato and paprika; lamb leg aubergine tomato yoghurt and dill. Simply labelled, unusual, and delicious. For lunch, a reduced menu offers any two plates for a tenner.
Specialising in fresh pasta, made by hand daily, Sugo is a little sister to Glasgow stalwart Paesano Pizza and serves regional Italian dishes inspired by kitchens from Lazio to Lombardy, Puglia to Piedmont. Take your pick from a choice of nine different plates (think comforting slow-cooked beef ragu clinging to silky pappardelle or sweet San Marzano tomato sauce atop rigatoni). There are always a couple of seasonal specials – bucatini with cacio e pepe, perhaps, or rigatoni with Tuscan fennel sausage and porcini. A succinct wine list offers exclusively Italian bottles, too.
Inspired by Tokyo’s izakaya bars, Mikaku brings neon late-night vibes to Glasgow’s Queen Street. Food-wise, portions are designed to share, so start off with miso broth – which can be ordered extra spicy – pepped up with pork, beansprouts and spring onion, before tucking into panko-coated lotus root skewers and lemon pepper chicken wings. If you like things hot, order your wings drizzled with ‘red demon’ hot sauce and black sesame seeds. As well as a selection of sakes (choose a sake flight if you fancy a few tipples), there are signature cocktails made using the Japanese rice wine. Try the Peach Sunrise, where sake mixes with grapefruit, peach liquor and lychee, or the Ginger Zen, a fiery mix of Roku gin, Ozeki sake, fresh ginger and a kick of Sriracha sauce.
This brilliantly named restaurant is also on The Finnieston Strip. Great staff, well-prepared and prettily presented seasonal Scottish ingredients (beef, sea trout, mutton…) put it a cut above many others. This is a place for a smart meal out in an unpretentious setting: think pared-down wooden-floor, wooden-chairs and brick walls.
The attention and care given to the veggie menu, in particular, is impressive. Vegetarians get their own six-course taster menu (think smoked, pickled and salted heritage carrot with horseradish creme fraîche, and cultivated and wild herbs).
For carnivores, a carefully sourced selection of Scottish fish and meat is on the cards. The owners set off on an exploratory tour of the Hebrides, to source produce, before the restaurant opened in 2013 and a wild Scottish edge still pervades the food. It’s also good value.
The Ubiquitous Chip
Tucked away behind its own pub in a cobbled alley just off Byres Road, The Chip is a Glasgow institution. It’s been feeding Glasgow since the Seventies (back then it was a pioneer of Scottish regionalism, a world away from the ‘ubiquitous chips and sausage' of the time) and it’s still doing pretty much the same thing in the prettiest room in town.
Under a canopy of indoor-grown greenery, the restaurant’s main room is a covered courtyard with an original cobbled floor and bare brick walls, and offers a fun tropical vibe.
It’s charming and the food is good, having stuck to its guns of serving smart Scottish dishes like crab and fennel salad, venison haggis, and guinea fowl, though it does now offer the odd chip in the brasserie. A meal here is a rite of passage for all Glasgow dwellers, and a happy occasion for any visitor.
While you’re in the area make sure you stop off at George Mewes on Byres Road (georgemewescheese.co.uk); along with I.J. Mellis on Great Western Road (mellischeese.net) it’s one of the city’s best cheese shops.
Partick Duck Club
Newish kid on the corner, Partick Duck Club offers plates of casual food made with love and skill. Ping pong ball-sized crab doughnuts are a light choux mix of white crabmeat and squishy dough, fried to just-golden. A roast duck and pistachio terrine is a meaty, homely starter of what tastes like confit duck served with toasted brioche and a lovely summer pea salad.
Mains include fried chicken with perfect homemade sriracha on a signature bun from local Freedom Bakery, which offers a comforting sweet, salty bite. The shredded sesame duck version with honey, soy and ginger, and crunchy slaw, is PDC’s big hit. A sublime summer pud sings with a pairing of white choc shavings, just-right rhubarb – still in shape but totally tender - honeycomb and a magical sprinkling of home-dried berry powder.
It’s casual, and open all day. On Friday lunch, other diners share an end-of-the-week bottle with nibbles, and the cocktail menu entices… someone else is having only soup.
If you lived near enough, you’d be in for lunch every other day, and always for a hangover brunch of shakshuka baked eggs, or just a proper Scots roll-and-sausage on Sundays. It’s chilled, friendly, and appealing, like the owners Greig Hutcheson and Ross McDonald (formerly of Delizique).
Porter & Rye
There are a lot of great places to eat steak and drink cocktails in Glasgow these days, so why choose Porter & Rye in Finnieston? Well, the steaks are excellent, including less obvious cuts like bavette and onglet.
The beef is sourced from one local farm: Gaindykehead of Airdrie, with breeds including Belted Galloway, Aberdeen Angus, Charolais and Limousin. It’s also given a final dry-age treatment in-house at Porter & Rye. Other fresh produce is delivered daily by Glasgow company Seasonal Produce or foraged locally by the chefs. They’re always striving to do better since they opened in 2014, and now cure their own meats and sausages.
In addition to the careful sourcing, the place has a great atmosphere and the cocktails are well made (try a Forager’s Martini or a Hendricks Orbium Gimlet Gin with lime, cucumber and ginger). There’s a lovely selection of starters, too, like Drumbeg beetroot risotto with goat’s cheese mousse, or pheasant rillette with charred pear relish.
There's stiff competition for who makes the best pizzas in Glasgow but Paesano is definitely up there among the contenders. Its pizza bases are made using a yeast and sourdough hybrid proofed for over 48 hours before being cooked at 500C in artisan-built, wood-fired ovens shipped over from Naples; the result is a moist, light, soft crust.
There are just eight toppings to choose from (none of which break the £10 mark). Our pick is the Tuscan fennel sausage with tomato sugo, mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil.
Ox & Finch
Another small-plate restaurant in Finnieston that’s more popular than ever, Ox and Finch is casual with timber and tiles décor, large windows, and a mix-and-match menu that’s cooked and prepared with care and imagination.
Local venison carpaccio is perfectly seared to bring out its juniper and pepper crust and served with a delightfully creamy Scottish crowdie with hazelnuts, while confit duck leg comes with an original flavour pairing of yellow curry, Thai basil and crispy rice. Gin and beetroot-cured sea trout is soft and delicate, seasoned with sesame and the gentle burn of wasabi nuts.
There are plenty of vegan choices, including orzo with courgette, pea, lemon and mint, and bulgur wheat with chermoula, apricots, almonds and harissa olives. Book ahead; this place gets busy.
111 By Nico
There’s a lot to love about this little restaurant up in Kelvinside, away from the trendy hubbub of Argyll Street. A simple brasserie-style interior with a wooden floor, bare-topped tables and lots of windows gives it a laidback feel, but the food is elegant and affordable. It’s the sort of place to have a poshish meal with your loved one without breaking the bank.
Dishes are a happy mix of modern British and Italian – maybe smoked ham hock with honey, ginger, pear and mooli radish, followed by potato risotto with smoked mozzarella, salsify and herb pesto.
Menus change frequently – always a good sign – and the chef-patron Nico Simeone has a warm heart. In the manner of Jamie’s Fifteen, he aims to give disadvantaged young people a chance to earn their stripes in the kitchen.
Cail Bruich means ‘eat well’ in Gaelic, and customers have been doing that here in Glasgow’s West End for 10 years now. Brothers Chris (chef-patron) and Paul (front of house) Charalambous offer Mastercheffy dishes of mostly Scottish produce.
With a market menu, more expensive seasonal menu and a tasting menu there’s plenty of choice. Mains might be hay-smoked pork with lettuce, apricot, girolle, and white turnip, or sea trout with summer vegetables and crab hollandaise. The menu descriptions bely the fanciness that comes out on the plates. But if this is your sort of thing, it’s well done and you’ll be excellently looked after in this cosy restaurant.
There’s not much left to say about this Glasgow institution (also on that Argyll St strip), buzzing since 2009. If you love fish and shellfish, go. With Scotland’s shores offering some of the best seafood in the world, this is where to enjoy it.
They say, ‘We continue to offer the best fish and shellfish available in Scotland, every day.’ And that’s about it. A straightforward core menu of the best just-caught seafood includes everything you’d expect: scallops, mussels, langoustine, deep-fried whitebait, salt and pepper squid, shellfish chowder, Crabshakk bisque, lobster and crab, of course.
There is a single steak dish for the awkward person in your party who doesn’t like fish, plus one veggie dish. Accompaniments are really just garlic or lemon mayo, chips, green salad, or bread and butter, as they should be. There’s also a daily changing specials menu.
- Prawn caldine
- Hot-smoked salmon cakes
- Grilled Portuguese sardines
- Smoked trout kedgeree
- Salmon tartare
Best cafés and bakeries in Glasgow
The brainchild of Iain Baillie (a former pastry chef at The Fat Duck) and his wife, Annika, Tantrum opened the doors to its permanent site in December 2015 and is a short walk from Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
Fried in rapeseed oil in small batches, the doughnuts are always super-fresh and either filled or topped with homemade custards, fondants and jams; choose from flavours like pistachio custard, chocolate and hazelnut, vanilla crème brûlée or classic raspberry. Grab one to take-away, or settle in with a milkshake or coffee.
Head to Cottonrake coffee bar and bakery on Great Western Road for freshly-baked cakes, muffins and pastries made daily on-site, or something more substantial like a smoked salmon and celeriac remoulade brioche bun, Stornaway black pudding and pork shoulder sausage roll, or cauliflower and comté quiche.
One of the first of a new wave of artisan bakeries to set up shop in a city not afraid to indulge its sweet tooth, this is one of the most inventive. Grab some coffee while you’re there, sourced from Dear Green Coffee, a speciality roaster based in the city dedicated to getting their hands on the very best beans they can (be warned, its Goosedubbs blend is addictively smooth).
Other restaurants to try in Glasgow
What started as an Italian grocer shop in Glasgow’s East End back in 1975 has grown and expanded with a restaurant/deli in the city’s West End showcasing regional, seasonal dishes, such as burrata, pea gazpacho and vignarola salad.
Eusebi goes to great lengths to source its ingredients – tomatoes and herbs from Calabria, flour from Rome, cured meats from Umbria. The pasta is made from scratch daily in the restaurant’s ‘pasta laboratory’ using different flours, including chickpea, chestnut and grano arso (burnt grain).
“We wanted to take the customer out of their comfort zone,” says Giovanna Eusebi. “Italy is more than carbonara and spag bol. Our food is inspired by our Italian grandparents who farmed from land to table.
Our concept was to slow things down and return to our heritage. Food made in factories and sold under the guise of ‘artisan’ just won’t wash anymore. People don’t want watered-down versions of authentic, they want the real deal.” Click here to try Eusebi Deli's salad recipe at home
Award-winning Glasgow café/bar and music venue Mono celebrated its 15th birthday at the end of 2017, and the team was humbled by the attention the anniversary attracted, according to general manager Ian Crawford, who’s also head honcho of the El Rancho record label.
With a menu including tofu ‘fish’ and chips, jerk-spiced jackfruit burritos and vegan mac ’n’ cheese, all food at Mono is free from animal produce, right down to the raw chocolate and avocado cheesecake.
“From day one, our ethos was, and still is, to promote an alternative choice to a meat and dairy diet without shouting about it or being exclusive,” says Ian. Click here to read about more plant-based restaurants in the UK
Words by Sophie Pither, Sarah Kingsbury, Mark Taylor and Ellie Edwards