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The Old Hairdresser's, Bars, Glasgow
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The 18 best pubs in Glasgow

Looking for the perfect place to grab a quick pint or three? Here’s our pick of the best pubs in Glasgow

Arusa Qureshi
Written by
malcolm jack
&
Arusa Qureshi
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Whether you’re after for a cosy spot to spend an evening with your nearest and dearest, or more in the market for somewhere big and boisterous to celebrate with a big group, Glasgow has plenty of pubs to pick from. Whether it’s the traditional joints or the trendy, up-and-coming hotspots, there’s something to suit all tastes and dispositions. Here’s our list of the top-rated pubs in town – and then if you’re up for it, why not treat yourself at one of the best cocktail bars in Glasgow?

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in Glasgow

Best pubs in Glasgow

  • Bars and pubs

One of the West End’s cosiest wee pubs. Once a spit-and-sawdust boozer called The Western, this Great Western Road establishment now attracts a mixed clientele that includes suits, fashionistas, students (admittedly closer to the postgraduate end of the spectrum) and dogs – there always seems to be at least one dog in here – all rubbing shoulders in living room-sized confines, by the heat of an open fire in wintertime. 

Located directly opposite the famous Barrowland Ballroom, The Gate is one of Glasgow’s newer pubs but has already become the talk around town. Described itself as ‘modern Scottish’, it has everything from high-quality craft beers and an expanding selection of gin to over 160 whiskies and unbelievably good toasties. The Gate also regularly hosts kitchen takeovers featuring some of the best chefs around Scotland, so it’s well worth keeping an eye out for news of the latest foodie delights. 

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No other recent bar opening captures Glasgow at its coolest and most contemporary than Bananamoon, a joint venture between West End restaurant mogul Fergus McVicar and DJ institution Optimo (whose responsibilities have included installing a top-notch sound system). Occupying a corner location on Great Western Road adjacent to St Mary’s Cathedral, it’s impossible to miss the bright green frontage, neon lighting and long outdoor bench seats. Inside, it feels more Berlin than Glasgow, with retro wood-panelling and vintage tables, and a bar that looks like it belongs in a cool ’60s home. The cocktails are superb. Beers range from Norwegian blondes to heavy-hitting Belgians, IPAs, stouts and porters. Bananamoon’s also a great place to hang out by day, when you can indulge in coffee by Papercup and pasties from Freedom Bakery.

  • Bars and pubs

From its bunker-like structure to the font on its signage, The Laurieston is precisely the kind of place that looked modern in the 1960s; and here’s hoping that this cult institution, regularly ranked among Glasgow’s best pubs, never changes. Not far from the Sub Club or the O2 Academy, the venue’s crowd is much more diverse in age than the look of the place might suggest. The same goes for the beer: alongside your basic lagers and stouts, you’ll get the likes of Fyne Ales from Argyll and Jaw Brew ales from Renfrewshire. Plus, a convivial atmosphere and stylistic time travel thrown in for free!

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5. The Duke's Umbrella

The team responsible for Glasgow institution Glaschu have transformed a site on Argyle Street into this fine gastropub. There’s a big focus on food at The Duke’s Umbrella: expect dishes like charcoal spiced cod and slow-braised smoked ox cheek, plus bar snacks ranging from duck crackling to Cumbrae oysters. Wash it all down with your choice from a selection of cocktails, wines or cask ales. 

  • Bars and pubs

The Doublet prides itself on being a rock of friendly tradition in the West End’s ever-shifting pub scene. It’s one of the last of the traditional West End boozers, a sadly dying breed. Describing itself as a ‘pub for conversation’, it’s been run by the Don family since 1961 and has a faithful clientele of all ages from students to silver-haired gents. Generally speaking, you’ll find most of the former in the upstairs lounge and the latter downstairs in the main bar but, as the night winds on, the two crowds tend to merge, with interesting results.

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The Sparkle Horse
  • Bars and pubs

Previously the dowdy old Dowanhill, this pub’s transformation since December 2012 could hardly have been more complete, nor more warmly welcomed. It’s now the much cooler, worldlier, more relaxed and welcoming bar-restaurant The Sparkle Horse. Named after the late Mark Linkous’s venerated American indie rock band, this is a family-friendly, community-spirited hangout with music at its heart (owners include members of cult Glasgow band Bis). The Monday-night pub quiz is legendary and always hotly contested.

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  • Coffeeshops

A bar more synonymous with Glasgow is hard to imagine. Steadfastly doing its thing at the Charing Cross end of Sauchiehall Street since 1991, in recent years the famous Nice’n’Sleazy has transcended its status as indie dive and musicians’ haunt to become many things to all kinds of people: a place for great food, drinks, DJs, live music, dancing and just general hanging out from noon until 3am seven days a week. New beers and deals appear all the time, super-cheap white and black Russians remain a permanent fixture and, yes, they still sell Buckfast.

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  • Bars and pubs

Open since 1884 and showing its age in its ancient frontage, The Allison Arms – or the Ally, as it is affectionately known – could easily be mistaken for the sort of roughspun pub nobody below retirement age ever frequents. But in truth it’s a much-loved neighbourhood haunt for people of all ages. There are around 100 independent distillery gins to work through and fridges full of craft and German beers. The U-shaped bar makes for a good atmosphere. Whether for a quick pint after a walk in Queen’s Park (dogs always welcome) or pre-show drinks before heading round to the nearby Tramway, or even to take part in the notoriously tricky pub quiz, the Ally’s always worth a visit.

10. The Bell Jar

This south-side sister venue to the Sparkle Horse has recently arrived in Govanhill, doing just as its older sibling did and reviving an old neighbourhood corner bar that was on its way out. The formula is much the same: a contemporary (but thankfully not heavy-handed) refit, a welcoming, more youthful (but by no means exclusive) atmosphere, quality beer and great, inexpensive food. And, perhaps most importantly, a fiercely competitive Monday night pub quiz. Why do other pubs have to make things so complicated?

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Òran Mór
  • Bars and pubs

Òran Mór could barely have any more strings to its bow: pub-restaurant, brasserie, music venue, theatre, nightclub – there seems to be no containing this hugely successful venue. It’s one of the few places in the West End with a proper late licence – until 2am weekdays and 3am on the weekend – and so it can get especially busy after midnight. The Whisky Bar is the main boozer, where you’ll find a good range of beers and spirits, as well as a menu of hearty pub-grub classics.

Lismore
  • Bars and pubs

Named after a small Hebridean island, this self-styled ‘Highland pub in the middle of Glasgow’ resists the trend of gentrification in West End watering holes by keeping it old-school: good beer and whisky, good atmosphere and a little traditional music. Opened in 1996, well before Partick Cross started to experience a resurgence following its post-shipbuilding industry slump, the Lismore has built up a mixed and faithful clientele – from students enjoying better-than-average prices to hardy silver-haired drinkers getting in a cheeky hauf an’ a hauf (a whisky with a half-pint of beer chaser).

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  • Bars and pubs

Stereo has become one of the most happening alternative café-bars and gig/club venues in the city since moving into town from the West End in 2007. A very central location, great food and drink offerings, and a diverse programme of entertainment keeps the place buzzing from noon until 1am (except Fridays and Saturdays, when the venue closes at 3am). The style is bright, colourful, shabby-chic, between mismatched old tables and chairs, and gig and club posters lining the walls down the deep winding stairwell to the basement venue. The cuisine is all vegan and full of flavour and freshness. The beer range is broad, with plenty of local brews on tap and in bottles – all vegan, naturally.

  • Bars and pubs

Immediately opposite Stereo and owned by the same people, The Old Hairdresser’s started life in 2011 almost as a sort of overspill for its sister venue. Since then, it’s steadily been building its own identity, both as a laid-back café-bar and as a leftfield gallery and music venue.  The DIY events space upstairs is a spacious and cheap blank canvas for art exhibitions, club nights, gigs and theatre productions. It all adds to the trendy, relaxed feel.

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The Ubiquitous Chip
  • Restaurants

There’s so much more than fine dining to be experienced within this Glasgow institution, which boasts several excellent bars. The Big Pub, with its open fire and great drinks selection, marries a village ambiance with cosmopolitan cool. Elsewhere in the warren-like building, you’ll find the smaller Corner Bar and the smaller still Wee Pub – the smallest pub in Scotland, in fact. There’s also a rooftop terrace hidden away atop the stairs, which is lovely on balmy summers evenings. With its 1am licence – a little later than many of its neighbours – the Chip can get particularly lively in the last hour before closing.

  • Bars and pubs

The proposition here is simple: a traditional bar with truly great beer, an excellent whisky selection and good food. The location, close to the Mitchell Library but overlooking the M8 motorway, may slightly work against it, but we imagine that it does a good job deterring more fickle punters. Once inside, just rejoice at the ever-changing selection of well-kept cask ale and ask yourself if you can justify clootie dumpling and custard to follow the chilli con carne.

Worked up an appetite?

  • Restaurants

Glasgow’s food scene hasn’t always had the best reputation – we’re talking about the home of the deep-fried Mars Bar, after all. But anyone who truly knows it will tell you Scotland’s biggest city boasts a thriving (and vastly underappreciated) culinary culture.

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