From low-level street scran catering to students to high-end restaurants for oil execs looking to splash their hard-earned, you’ll find a pleasingly diverse mix of eating establishments in Aberdeen. Sure, there are plenty of popular chains here – your Topolabambas, your Wagamamas – and while we’ve nothing against those (sometimes you have a craving that only ginger chicken teppanyaki can satisfy), we’re generally more inclined to shine a light on the independent, locally-minded restaurants going it more-or-less alone in a crowded food scene.
So if you’re exhausted (and hungry) after a day out exploring this north-eastern city’s array of marvellous attractions and things to do, we recommend hotfooting it to one of the best restaurants in Aberdeen right now – these are our absolute faves.
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Best restaurants in Aberdeen
What is it? An Aberdeen institution selling delish Turkish cuisine.
Why go? Having celebrated 35 years of business in 2018, Nargile is a veteran of the Aberdeen food scene. Highlights include the slow-grazing meze platter, extremely moreish baklava and – perhaps surprisingly for a place with such an extensive kebab selection – a very decent vegetarian range. Just around the corner from Her Majesty’s Theatre, it’s also an incredibly popular pre-theatre spot, so bear that in mind when booking.
What is it? Lebanese food in unassuming surroundings.
Why go? A restaurant that lists its address as ‘Unit 3 Jesmond Drive’ may not sound all that promising, but you’re just going to have to trust us on this one. For a low-key Lebanese joint located in Aberdeen’s northerly Middleton Park suburb, Kamoon is the business. Try the mixed grill or the stuffed atayef pancakes – and don’t be put off by the fact you’re sandwiched between a Scotmid and an aquarium salesroom.
What is it? A socially conscious café.
Why go? Foodstory is one of those startups that’s so earnest it almost makes you cringe, with its predominantly veggie, locally sourced food, décor by in-house artists and attached wholefoods shop. Thankfully this all comes across as well-intentioned and community-focused rather than cloying or worthy. The menu’s really good, anyway – think things like sourdough with smoked salmon and avo for breakfast, and chilli/hot pot specials in the evening.
What is it? Reliable Scottish-inspired food at one of Aberdeen’s best mini-chains.
Why go? Having built up a reliable brand with Café Cognito and the Cognito Deli, Aberdeen restaurateur Nicky Turnbull branched out into evening meals with Cognito on the Corner, housed in a former bank. It’s a swish affair – all exposed brick, tasteful upholstery and gin bottle lampshades – but the menu is happily unpretentious, with smoked mussels and monkfish and prawn kebabs sharing menu space with chilli nachos and knickerbocker glories.
What is it? Well-executed Japanese and Korean cuisine.
Why go? Yorokobi may be a mission to book into (it’s closed for lunch Tuesday to Thursday, and all day on Sunday and Monday), but it’s totally worth it. Those with a soft spot for dolsot bibimbap (a hearty Korean rice dish served in an oven-hot stone bowl), freshly sliced sashimi or crispy tempura veg will welcome a visit to Yorokobi with open arms.
What is it? A highly decent fish and chip shop.
Why go? The best chipper in Aberdeen (insider tip: never say ‘chippie’) is the subject of hot debate – there’s no mass consensus on the absolute tops. Well actually, that’s not true – if you’ve got half an hour to spare, drive down to Stonehaven and visit The Bay, it’s the winner by far – but if not, Hass’s on Holburn Street promises fresh fish, crispy batter and chipper chips to die for. Or, y’know, eat.
What is it? A café and bookshop, duh.
Why go? Books and Beans isn’t the first place in the world to combine two of our favourite passions (coffee and literature), but by golly, it does the combo well. A cosy spot slap-bang in the middle of Belmont Street, it offers a decent selection of soups, paninis and sandwiches (complete with gluten-free options), great coffee and, yes, walls lined with books (particularly fruitful for the fantasy/sci-fi-inclined).
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Ready to explore the city?
This former fishing and farming settlement is well served for green spaces and perfectly situated for outdoorsy types heading to the Cairngorms National Park. Naturally, it can also hold its own when it comes to arts, culture, restaurants and entertainment.