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Glasgow Eat List
Photograph: The Gannet

The 30 best restaurants in Glasgow you need to try

With a Michelin star finally coming back to the city, we’ve ranked all the very best restaurants in Glasgow right now

Arusa Qureshi
Written by
malcolm jack
&
Arusa Qureshi
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Edinburgh may be the Scottish city known for its Michelin-starred restaurant, but Glasgow undoubtedly punches above its weight with each new swanky opening. Earlier this year, long-standing institution Cail Bruich became the first in the city to land a star in 18 years – hinting at exactly where contemporary Glaswegian dining is headed.

From top-notch locally sourced ingredients and produce to innovative and inspiring international menus, Glasgow offers something that will suit every taste, diet and culinary craving. So, ready for some top tips to eat your way through Scotland’s biggest city? Here’s our pick of the best restaurants in Glasgow right now.

Eaten somewhere on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutEatList. You can find out more about how Time Out makes recommendations and reviews restaurants here.

Best restaurants in Glasgow

What is it? Seasonal Mediterranean plates and natural wine. 

Why go? With its preponderance of pale wood and whitewashed stripped stone walls, Alchemilla is a feast for eyes and taste buds alike. Plates come in small to medium sizes for sharing and are served as and when they’re ready. The Mediterranean-inspired menu is ever-changing, subject to what’s fresh and available, while a small but well-formed wine list encourages pairing with robust pours.

What is it? Comfort food done right.

Why go? A tiny Malaysian restaurant owned by a bright young ‘MasterChef’ contestant schooled in the art of cooking by her mother, Julie’s Kopitiam has been widely hailed as one of Glasgow’s best restaurants since opening in 2017. Located on a juicy chunk of Pollokshaws Road where bars, cafés and boutiques jostle for space, it’s small but perfectly formed. Service is brisk and friendly and tables are turned over fast, especially as they don’t serve any alcohol (nor even offer BYOB)

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What is it? Korean-style fast food in Glasgow’s West End.

Why go? Starting life as a food stall in London, Kimchi Cult eventually found a permanent home in Glasgow, from which they continue to initiate locals in bold Korean flavours and unique menu options. Their food is all reasonably priced, with delights like soy garlic fried chicken, bibimbap, kimchi burgers and kimchi cheese fries all popular with regulars.

  • Restaurants

What is it? The small plates trend is done very well at this slick Sauchiehall Street restaurant.

Why go? Opened in 2014, when it fast established itself as one of the city’s most exciting new restaurants, Ox and Finch is a rare thing on Glasgow’s generally casual dining scene: one of those places you need to book well in advance. Its location on Sauchiehall Street, slightly removed from the increasingly restaurant-dense bustle of the Argyle Street Finnieston ‘strip’, makes for a handy geographical analogy of how confidently it sits apart from the crowd. It looks hip without feeling try-hard. The smart small-plates menu of mainly Scottish provenance packs a punch and never fails to satisfy.

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What is it? A five- or even eight-course fine-dining odyssey.

Why go? The suburb of Dennistoun just east of Glasgow city centre is fast casting off its roughspun reputation, in part thanks to the likes of Bilson Eleven. Housed in one of the oldest and most iconic tenement buildings in the area, the setting is as relaxed and informal as dining at a friend’s house. The cuisine raises the best of Scottish produce to a new level with boundless passion and respect for the ingredients. 

What is it? Très bon Franco-Scottish cooking. 

Why go? Following a major renovation in 2017, Cail Bruich has elevated itself from a fairly run-of-the-mill Scottish bistro to one of the trendiest and very best restaurants in the city. The attention to detail is exemplary, from the consideration given to dietary requirements to the cooking and some exuberant advice from the sommelier. The trim seasonal or tasting menu strives for flawlessness as it works its way up through the gears using the finest of Scottish fish, meat, game and vegetables, some of which come from the restaurant’s own garden.

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What is it? A fresh, casual, canteen-style Vietnamese restaurant.

Why go? This canteen-style establishment opened in 2012 to a chorus of buzz. And it really is irresistible: wooden benches, bright plastic stools and a decidedly informal vibe. Food comes out when it’s ready, so make sure you order to share – the table can go from empty to a banquet in a matter of moments. Menu staples such as spring rolls, okara cakes and glass noodle salad and classic beef, chicken or tofu pho make for as dependably good a meal as you’ll find anywhere in the city. You’ll be back again and again.

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What is it? A slice of Brooklyn-esque cool on the Finnieston ‘strip’.

Why go? Recognised as one of the standouts in Finnieston – an area transformed from scruffy to hip over the past decade – The Gannet should be on every Glaswegian foodie’s bucket list. Less than a year after it opened its doors, it bagged a Bib Gourmand award for quality dining at moderate prices. The owner-chefs, Peter McKenna and Ivan Stein, preside over slick contemporary Scottish plates.

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What is it? South Asian cuisine in the centre of Glasgow’s Merchant City.

Why go? Dakhin has been catering to Glasgow’s foodie community since 2004, with its flavourful and entirely gluten-free menu overflowing with speciality dishes from India’s southern regions. Dishes like the rasum (a tangy soup) and uttapam (thick pancakes) come highly recommended, but with classics like homemade paneer, dosas and biryani on the menu, you’ll be spoilt for choice. 

Time Out tip: Order the spicy mysore chutney to add an extra heat kick.

What is it? On a good day, still the best restaurant in Glasgow.

Why go? Opened by Ronnie Clydesdale way back in 1971 and still run by the same family, this warren-like destination with several bars, upstairs bistro and downstairs fine-dining restaurant remains a perennial go-to for indulgent contemporary Scottish cuisine. Championing dishes of local provenance, the menu is rich and, at times, unashamedly lavish, but well worth splashing out on. From venison haggis to Isle of Gigha halibut and its famous Caledonian ice cream, the Ubiquitous Chip raids the Scottish larder with style.

Time Out tip: Try and grab a table in the ground floor restaurant with ponds, fountains and plenty of hanging greenery. 

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What is it? Five-star brunch, dinner and drinks in a stylish setting.

Why go? It’s tucked down a quiet side street between Finnieston, Woodlands and Charing Cross, and close to the entrance of Kelvingrove Park – and that’s not the only sense in which Five March sits apart from the crowd. Whether you’re starting early with a Mediterranean-inspired brunch, heading here later for a sprawling small-plates dinner with cocktails, or just lounging in the beer garden on a warm day, this fun and stylish all-rounder defies easy categorisation.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood

What is it? Proudly sourced Scottish seafood and gins at a suitably rustic Argyll Street location.

Why go? Having opened in 2011 in what used to be Café Bayan, this seafood restaurant-cum-cocktail bar crested a wave of new openings in these parts. With its wooden beams, cosy booths and general weather-worn feel, this place does have the essence of a salty seafront boozer, where gin is the tipple of choice. And the menu duly follows suit: the Shetland mussels, Pittenweem lobster and Peterhead cod make for a foodie tour of coastal Scotland.

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  • Burgers

What is it? Pub grub staples done very well at a hip West End restaurant.

Why go? Taken from an old Gaelic word that means ‘to wander aimlessly with intent’, Stravaigin’s vibe is stylishly rustic: exposed stone walls, timber roof beams and an iron staircase. The café-bar menu takes pub-grub classics to a whole new level, with options including salmon ceviche, caramel beef featherblade and spicy cod barrel.

Time Out tip: The weekend brunch menu – featuring everything from full Scottish breakfasts to Szechuan bacon and maple syrup drenched French toast – is a great way to while away a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

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  • Indian

What is it? India-meets-Scotland creations, like oven-spiced haddock.

Why go? Not only is Mother India – as the name suggests – the ruling matriarch of all Glaswegian curry houses, it also ranks among the best in Britain. This is chiefly because it eschews all the usual suspects in favour of more leftfield dishes: look out for fiendish plates of chilli garlic chicken dosas or a lamb raan sharer for two.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese

What is it? What’s still a relative rarity in Glasgow: a genuinely good Japanese food spot, albeit one with plenty of oh-so-Glasgow deep-fried treats.

Why go? You’ll find Nanakusa behind an unassuming, slightly odd-looking wood-panelled frontage. The ethos here is a curious blend of traditional Japanese and Scottish cooking techniques. 

Time Out tip: Try a bento box, for a great cross-section of the menu: miso soup, chicken teriyaki, tempura, sashimi, steamed rice and more.

What is it? Swoon-worthy Neapolitan pizza joints in a beautiful former art deco bank and in the heart of the West End.

Why go? Having quickly established itself as Glasgow’s go-to for great pizza, Paesano’s huge artisan-built wood-fire ovens from Naples churn out authentic, traditional Neapolitan pies like nobody’s business. Hand-prepared dough cooked at an intense 500-degree heat produces a moist, soft crust complemented by simple toppings such as tomato sugo with garlic, oregano and evoo or spicy salami from Calabria. Wash it down with a refreshing schooner of Birra Moretti.

Time Out tip: Get a table with views of the open kitchen, where you can watch the skilled pizzaioli craft their wares. 

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What is it? A laid-back vegetarian meal with an artsy local crowd.

Why go? Set in the bright, buzzy glass-roofed courtyard atrium of Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts, Café Saramago serves shareable and inexpensive Mediterranean-inspired vegetarian food (much of it vegan, too). They bake all of their bread in-house every morning using only organic flour. Small plates can either be ordered for tapas-style sharing or as starters. Come evening, Saramago packs out with a hip pre-pub, concert and club crowd.

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What is it? A multi-venue mini-empire in the Merchant City, where you can feed on everything from oysters to pizzas.

Why go? For more than 40 years now, the battle-scarred revolving doors – salvaged from the Grand Hotel at Charing Cross – have been turning at this flagship of the Gandolfi dining empire on Albion Street (see also nearby Gandolfi Fish and Bar Gandolfi). It’s most popular at brunch and lunch, when diners perch at chunky chairs made out of what looks like sanded driftwood and tuck into stacks of pancakes and French toast, alongside classics like cullen skink and finnan smoke haddie. But they do an exceptional three-course evening meal, too. Expect Scottish dishes with a flourish.

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What is it? One of the city’s best seafood restaurants with a daily specials board that’s always worth a gander.

Why go? This being Scotland, you’ll never struggle to find somewhere in Glasgow that sells seafood. But the Finnieston-based Crabshakk is probably the best known for serving excellent Scottish-sourced catches. It often gets quite cheek-by-jowl in here on a busy night, but that all adds to the informal buzz. 

Time Out tip: You simply can’t go wrong with the monkfish cheek scampi and fries.

  • Bars and pubs

What is it? Bar and gig venue with gig posters for wallpaper, a vegan menu and a leftfield events calendar.

Why go? A sister establishment to The 78, Mono, The Flying Duck and The Old Hairdresser’s, Stereo is a Glasgow institution which – like much of the rest of the family – proffers winning vegan food and drinks in edgy music bar surrounds (and at minimal fuss and expense). Their superior lunchtime sandwiches are well worth stopping in for even just for a workday lunch. The basement gig venue hosts gigs and club nights, and the bar is open until late seven days a week.

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What is it? For fresh Mediterranean flavours from the chef who brought us Alchemilla.

Why go? Home to the well-liked Firebird for many years, this bright corner-venue on Argyle Street has been transformed into the latest venture from Rosie Healey, the Ottolenghi-trained chef formerly in charge of Alchemilla. Happily, she takes her vibrant, veg-packed, Mediterranean-influenced food to a new level, with standouts here including globe artichoke with tahini and sunflower seeds and ox cheek ragù with tagliatelle. Much of the food is cooked using a huge pink wood-fired oven, while Healey sources olive oil, lemons and fresh herbs direct from Sicily. A punchy wine menu spotlights small independent European producers.

What is it? Good-value contemporary Scottish cuisine.

Why go? With its retro cocktail-bar booths and banquettes, parquet flooring and smart sea-green tiling, stylish Ardnamurchan spruces up a lesser-trodden stretch of Hope Street adjacent to the Theatre Royal. Their pre-show offerings are a carefully calibrated ratio of quality-to-cost, meaning there’s every reason to dine here even if you aren’t on your way to a play. Co-owner Julie Douglas’s family hail from the Ardnamurchan peninsula in Argyll, and the restaurant still sources produce such as venison from the estate.

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What is it? Proper sleeves-rolled-up plates and (of course) a formidable drinks selection at a US-style dive.

Why go? This upscale bourbon joint and restaurant – named after Charles Bukowski’s liquor-soaked literary alter-ego Hank Chinaski – is a damn sight classier than the kind of Los Angeles dives the grizzled old barfly would routinely haunt. Food is modelled on truckstop staples and Scottish classics, but executed with sophistication, while there’s a huge selection of decent beers, single malts and other drinks to choose from if you aren’t a bourbon fan.

Time Out tip: There’s a very cool little multi-tiered beer garden out the back.

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  • Music venues

What is it? Creative contemporary vegan dining to wolf down before a gig.

Why go? Glasgow’s renown as a city for great vegan eating almost surpasses its renown as a city for music lovers. The Hug and Pint – award-winning vegan bar-kitchen upstairs, snug basement music venue downstairs – has you covered on both counts. Unfussy and inexpensive, the East Asian-inspired menu changes daily and packs plenty of spice. You’ll find loads of vegan-friendly beers both bottled and on draught.

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What is it? Uber-stylish Chinese fine dining.

Why go? With chef Jimmy Lee at the helm, Lychee Oriental has been widely recognised for its innovative and high-quality modern cuisine. Diners can feast on staples like traditional Chinese curry, pak choi in oyster sauce and sweet ‘n’ sour king prawns, or go for one of many speciality options ranging from pulled aromatic duck to twice-cooked pork belly. 

Time Out tip: For something extra-special, choose the exceptionally prepared five-course banquet menu.

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What is it? An elegant fine-dining destination from chef Brian Maule.

Why go? An upmarket spot spearheaded by Brian Maule, a veteran of Michel Roux Jr’s Le Gavroche in London, this classy West Regent Street dining room strikes the perfect blend of style and substance. It has just the right touch of decadence applied to Scottish haute cuisine plates such as grilled sea bream and spiced cauliflower or corn fed chicken with jerusalem artichoke puree.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? Premium Spanish meat served in New York loft-style interiors. 

Why go? A visit to The Spanish Butcher is a must for the finest seafood, Galician beef and Iberican jamón around. The Merchant City restaurant offers up a pretty spectacular dining experience if you’re into your meat, with beef that is hung and dry-aged for a minimum of 28 days.

Time Out tip: Galician Sunday, where you get a two-course or three-course roast Sunday lunch, is well worth the extra pennies.

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What is it? A Euro-bistro in a Byres Road bolthole.

Why go? Split over two levels, Number 16 has been welcoming locals and travellers alike since 1999. The space isn’t huge (even calling it cosy would be generous), so be prepared to rub shoulders with your neighbours, while dining on a European-inspired menu, featuring items like braised ox cheek and pan-roasted halibut.

Time Out tip: Given the restaurant's size booking is advisable, especially at weekends.

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  • Gastropubs

What is it? A quirky diner proving you can cook duck in A LOT of different ways. 

Why go? How many different ways can you cook duck? A lot more than you might think, as this place proves with a menu filled with everything from duck fat fries to duck rillettes, spiced BBQ duck leg in a bun to 12-hour duck leg with crispy duck egg. But it’s far from a one-note affair, with a flexible menu that’s ideal for both a lazy hungover all-day brunch and a dressed-up three-course meal. From romano pepper schnitzel to Orkney crab, they do serve things other than duck, we promise.

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  • French

What is it? A destination restaurant serving sleek and modern plates.

Why go? A slew of joint food and hotel ventures have occupied the esteemed address of One Devonshire Gardens over the years – the Hotel du Vin chain being the latest. While some of its old-time allure may have seeped away, it remains popular with locals and visitors alike, drawing those in search of a moreish meal with a sense of class. We’re talking flavoursome à la carte dishes with fresh ingredients sourced locally and hand-picked wines, all in elegant, old-school surroundings.

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