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 – plus a wide range of top restaurants servicing the ever-growing demand. Inventive use of produce sourced from the rich Scottish larder, friendly informality and excellent value for money are all hallmarks of contemporary Glaswegian dining. And these days you’ll find upscale bistros and brasseries, hip vegan cafés, first-rate steakhouses and a constellation of excellent Indian, Italian and Chinese restaurants offering sophisticated, vibrant, impressive variety – so much so, you could spend weeks here and your taste buds would never get bored. Looking for inspiration? 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
Why go? The food tastes every bit as good as Glasgow’s coolest restaurant looks.
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.
Why go? For comfort food done right.
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 new 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). Try the hakka ground pork with fish sauce, greens, peanuts and snow-white rice, and thank us later for the tip.
Why go? Small plates, big flavours.
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.
Why go? For a five- or even eight-course fine-dining odyssey, go east.
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. Choose from à la carte, five- or even eight-course tasting menus, and be dazzled by dishes such as cured trout with verdita sauce or orange tart, rye, treacle and ginger ice cream.
Why go? Get nothing but the best here, where a trim tasting menu rises to the perfect crescendo.
Following a major renovation in 2017, Cail Bruich has elevated itself from 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.
Why go? For a fresh, casual, canteen-style setup at Glasgow’s first Vietnamese restaurant.
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 goi cuan summer rolls, daikon and soya bean cakes 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.
Why go? For a slice of Brooklyn-esque cool on the Finnieston ‘strip’.
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.
Why go? On a good day, still the best restaurant in Glasgow.
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.
Why go? A six-course set menu at a price that will, well, knock you for six.
This is the gem in Scots-Italian restaurateur Nico Simeone’s growing Glasgow dining empire, which also includes 111 by Nico and Public House by Nico. The concept is refreshingly simple and appealing: an adventurous and playful six-course fine-dining set tasting menu for a mere £28, with wine pairings only an additional £25. Better still, the theme of the tasting menu changes every six weeks – meaning you can, in theory, eat a different meal every visit. Themes to date have ranged from ‘childhood’ and ‘picnic’ to ‘the ’70s’, ‘New York’ and ‘forest’.
Why go? For five-star brunch, dinner or drinks in a stylish setting.
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.
Why go? For proudly sourced Scottish seafood and gins at a suitably rustic Argyll Street location.
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 Isle of Gigha oysters, Shetland mussels, Barra scallops and Peterhead cod make for a foodie tour of coastal Scotland.
Why go? For superior pub staples at an up-and-coming West End café-restaurant.
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 served on the ground floor and mezzanine takes pub-grub classics to a whole new level, while options from the basement restaurant menu may include mains of za’atar-spiced mackerel, ras el hanout lamb neck and pan-seared cod.
Why go? For excellent brews and a big beer garden to enjoy them in – alongside the requisite bratwurst.
This Bavarian-style microbrewery and beer hall/restaurant located in one of Glasgow’s most beautiful buildings prides itself on a ‘Glaswegian heart’ and ‘German head’ – and it’s a marriage that clearly works. The food, drawing on both traditional Bavarian and Scottish cuisine, is great, from gherkin salads to schnitzel to, yes, bratwurst. As it gets more lively in the evenings to the sound of clinking steins, it really does have the atmosphere of a Munich beer hall.
Why go? For super-affordable vegan plates and buzzing weekend nights.
This Finnieston haunt does vegan not only deliciously but affordably, too. Big plates cost between £7 and £9, and students can get a 20 percent discount every Tuesday. Standouts include jackfruit shawarma and spaghetti carbonara with sgaia crispy bacon, and there’s a sizeable list of beers on offer, too (all vegan, naturally). It’s open until 1am Thursday through Saturday. DJs offer a soundtrack until late on the weekends and there’s live jazz every Sunday.
Why go? For India-meets-Scotland creations, like oven-spiced haddock.
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.
Why go? For 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.
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. They do a particularly decent range of bento boxes, which offer a great cross-section of the menu: miso soup, chicken teriyaki, tempura, sashimi, steamed rice and more.
Why go? Cheap and cheerful pizzas just like mamma used to make them.
Having quickly established itself as Glasgow’s go-to for great pizza with outlets in both the city centre and the West End, 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.
Why go? For a laid-back vegetarian meal among an artsy local crowd.
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.
Why go? The grande dame of Merchant City dining.
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, Bar Gandolfi and Gandolfi Fish to Go). 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.
Why go? For a seat at one of the city’s best seafood restaurants and a daily specials board that’s always worth a gander.
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. You simply can’t go wrong with the monkfish cheek scampi and fries.
Why go? For all-day vegan treats, and maybe a gig.
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. You can get a burrito loaded with black bean and clementine salsa with a pint of Moretti for just £11. The basement gig venue hosts gigs and club nights, and the bar is open until late seven days a week.
Why go? For fresh Mediterranean flavours from the chef who brought us Alchemilla.
For many years home to the well-liked Firebird, 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.
Why go? For good-value contemporary Scottish cuisine (and the ideal pre-theatre bite).
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.
Why go? For top-notch breakfasts and brunches to evening meals and drinks, this all-purpose Partick diner does the lot.
From its slap-up breakfasts to fresh quiches and salads, from cakes and bakes to good wines and beers, this neighbourhood café with bright, inviting floor-to-ceiling windows is one of few places in Glasgow that has every meal of the day absolutely covered. Morning, noon or night, you’ll be sorted at Cafezique.
Why go? For proper sleeves-rolled-up plates and (of course) a formidable drinks selection at a US-style dive.
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.
Why go? For creative contemporary vegan dining to wolf down with friends before a gig.
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.
Why go? For oysters and cocktails in one of Glasgow’s most historic areas.
The Barras Art and Design Centre – or BAAD – is the face of a transformed part of Glasgow’s East End around the Barrowlands Ballroom venue and Barras Market. Its mezzanine restaurant A’Challtainn has set new standards for Scottish fish and seafood fine-dining in the city – from smoked mussels to pan-seared scallops to grilled octopus and a posh haddock supper of the highest order. Oysters are just £1 each during Oyster Happy Hour every Friday evening, when cocktails also flow.
Why go? For killer steaks and some of the best views in town.
Window booths at this superior Sauchiehall Street steakhouse and cocktail bar with an old-timey Manhattan feel offer uninterrupted views of Kelvingrove Museum and the Glasgow University tower (particularly dramatic when lit up at night). That’s if you’re able to take your eyes off some seriously impressive cuts of meat, of course – all of them from 100 percent grass-fed Scottish beef, and dry-aged for up to 45 days. The beautifully marbled 1.2kg tomahawk steak is cooked on its half-metre of bone for maximum flavour.
Why go? For elegant dishes from a seasoned chef in an upscale West Regent Street location.
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 – with just the right touch of decadence applied to Scottish haute cuisine plates such as assiette of pork, creamed potatoes and truffle jus or duck fillet with cumin-slathered chickpeas and roast Jerusalem artichokes.
Why go? Enjoy an intimate meal that won’t cost too much at this Byres Road bolthole.
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.
Why go? For all the duck you can eat.
How many different ways can you cook duck? A lot more than you might think, as this quirky Partick corner diner 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 Cumberland pork and apple burger to Barra monkfish scampi, they do serve things other than duck, we promise.
Why go? For sleek and modern plates at a destination restaurant.
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 a flavoursome à la carte dishes with fresh ingredients sourced locally and hand-picked wines, all in elegant, old-school surroundings.
Discover Time Out Market: the best of the city under one roof
After more solid recommendations?
That inimitable Weegie patter? The vibrant music and clubbing scene? Its internationally-renowned, Turner Prize-winning visual artists? Whatever you first think of first when someone says ‘Glasgow’, we can all agree Scotland’s biggest city brims with culture, history and charm.