Best restaurants in Glasgow
Why go? The food tastes every bit as good as Glasgow’s coolest restaurant looks.
Former Ottolenghi chef Rosie Healey left the London operation of the world-renowned culinary brand to head up the open kitchen at this Finnieston venture in partnership with local restaurateur Fergus McVicar, and the results speak for themselves. 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. Situated 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 given its popularity. 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? A six-course set menu at a price that will, well, knock you for six.
This is still 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? 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 the exuberant advice of 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 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 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? 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 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 uber-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, wet burrito 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 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 (if you’ll forgive the sea pun). 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, and each taste as fresh as the day.
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 situated in one of Glasgow’s most stunning 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 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? 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, but 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? 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 Neopolitan 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 top-notch breakfasts and brunches to evening meals and drinks, this all-purpose Partick diner does the lot.
From its slap-up cooked breakfasts to fresh quiches and salads, from cakes and bakes to good wines and beers, this local 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 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 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 good beers, single malts and other drinks to take your pick from if you aren’t a fan of bourbon.
Why go? For sleek and modern plates at a destination restaurant.
A slew of different 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 allure of old may have seeped away, it remains popular with locals and visitors alike, drawing those in search of a moreish meal and a sense of class. We’re talking a flavoursome à la carte with fresh ingredients sourced locally and hand-picked wines, all in elegant, old-school surroundings.
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 elegant dishes in an upscale West Regent Street location from a seasoned chef.
An upscale 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 the Scottish haute cuisine plates such as assiette of pork, creamed potatoes and truffle jus or duck fillet with cumin flavoured chickpeas and roast Jerusalem artichokes.