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A good – if slightly pricey – West End café that’s open until 11pm. Sushi, salads and sandwiches come from external suppliers, but are all decent
If Tinderbox still feels on-trend today, after the best part of two decades, it must have felt positively futuristic when it opened in 1998. Two further branches have been added since – one on Ingram Street in the Merchant City in 2006 and another in Princes Square in 2009. But the original West End outlet remains the quintessential flagship of this Glasgow café institution, a day-round hangout for people of all ages, persuasions and occupations.
Boasting surely one of the best locations for a coffee shop anywhere in the city – on the corner of the crossing where Byres Road meets University Avenue, maximising footfall of students, suits, shoppers, pram-pushers and hipsters alike – the place buzzes from the early morning until 11pm at night (it’s one of the only dedicated cafés in the city to stay open so late). The soundtrack is discerningly selected, featuring plenty of songs by certain local heroes (expect Belle & Sebastian, basically).
The deceptively spacious interior comprises a large counter and service area at the front adjacent to rows of high benches and stools lining big windows, and at the back, a variety of tables and booths squeezed into almost every available little corner. The outdoor seating area has been improved in recent years with canopy-covered benches and a service hatch.
The coffee is good, if – like much else at Tinderbox – perhaps a little overpriced. They do a decent selection of externally supplied foods, mainly from local producers. Savoury options include wraps, salad boxes, bagels, French toast sandwiches, bento boxes and sushi, while sweets range from cakes and pastries to muffins, waffles and cookies. There’s no free wifi, but this aside Tinderbox remains a café with its finger on the pulse and thriving for it.