Culture vultures (us included) are forever banging on about Glasgow’s food revolution.
The city has gone from a few good burger bars to a thriving foodie scene – oh, and some decent watering holes too (well, we were always good at the drinking bit).
With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a few tips and tricks worth remembering when heading out to eat.
From places off the beaten track (down lanes, up lofty spires, in old elevators…you know, the usual) to great deals, seasonal menus and where to find a mythical off-menu Scottish delicacy, here are some foodie secrets you need to discover.
Go forth, eat and enjoy…and save us a bit.
1. Panther Milk Bar
An old 1940s lift-turned back bar serving only milk cocktails sounds like the stuff of hipster dreams – and it still is, since this place is still something of a hidden gem. The dive bar is accessible through the back of Tabac (already hidden away on Mitchell Lane) and serves up illicit cups of Leche de Pantera; a blend of condensed milk, rum, gin, Cointreau, peppermint and cinnamon.
(Inside Tabac), 10 Mitchell Lane, G1 3NU, facebook.com/panthermilkbar
Heard of it but never been? We get it – this Tardis-like coffee bar is tucked down a residential Hillhead lane and covered in astroturf (really). But stumble upon the board at the end of Eton Lane and you’re in for a treat; top toasties and coffee courtesy of Workshop, The Barn and a special house roast await.
5 Eton Lane, G12 8NB, penaglasgow.co.uk
3. Tchai Ovna
Speaking of Hillhead, here’s one for away crowds. Westenders know Otago Lane’s wares very well, having fought to save it from development for years. But this Bedouin tent-alike tea haven is still standing, looking a bit like a shack perched on the edge of the Kelvin and serving up brews, shisha and vegetarian fare to adoring students.
42 Otago Lane, G12 8PB, tchaiovna.com
4. The Balcony Cafe
A romantic balcony for two, perhaps? Not exactly. Chances are, you’re heading to the Glasgow Climbing Centre to strap on a harness and have a go, and not to feed your face. Mistake. Climb the winding staircase past Spiderman impersonators and you’re in for a treat, from delectable sandwiches to mains like pork cheek massaman and awesome haggis nachos.
534 Paisley Road West, G51 1RN, glasgowclimbingcentre.com/the-balcony-cafe
5. Black Sheep Bistro
More a hidden gem than outright hidden, this one is practically in plain sight…if you’re in Maryhill. And take right up a side street. Head north in search of the Black Sheep and you’ll find a firm Glasgow foodie favourite, serving up seasonal home cooking with comfort written all over it. Braised lamb shank with colcannon? Yes please.
10 Clarendon St, G20 7QD, blacksheepbistro.co.uk
6. The Hidden Lane Tearoom
It’s amazing how many people still haven’t heard about The Hidden Lane – and it’s not from lack of trying on our part. Tucked away in the trendiest corner of hip Finnieston, this shabby chic conservatory does the best afternoon tea in Glasgow, fact.
1103 Argyle St, G3 8ND, thehiddenlanetearoom.com
There’s no name above the door at Chinaskis – leading many a Glaswegian to call it ‘That pub…you know, the one at Charing Cross’. Clandestine mood lighting, one of the best bourbon selections in the city, a name evoking the great Charles Bukowski and an amazing beer garden – in short, it’s a rare find.
239 North St, G3 7DL, chinaskis.com
8. The Butchershop Bar & Grill
Tuesdays are a good day to eat out in Glasgow. As in, two steaks and a bottle of wine for £30 good. Don’t fancy a prime cut of rump with garlic butter? Then you’re free to opt for a Butchershop burger on brioche. Burger vs Steak Frites Tuesday – at that price, it’s catchy enough.
1055 Sauchiehall Street, G3 7UD. 0141 339 2999, butchershopglasgow.com
9. Bier Halle
Two-for-one pizzas, seven days a week. Need we say more? You need to buy a drink to get your free pizza, but order up a beer and we’re talking haggis, blue cheese, hoi sin duck, falafel…the toppings pizza pie dreams are made of.
7-9 Gordon St, G1 3PL, republicbierhalle.com
10. The Sparkle Horse
Partick’s hippest drinking den has a gastropub menu that’ll set you back just £6 for meaty mains and £5 for veggie options every weekday lunchtime, and all day Tuesday and Wednesday too. You’re welcome.
Dowanhill St, G11 5QR, thesparklehorse.com
11. The Horseshoe Bar
3 course lunch for £4.50 !!!!!! Available every day of the week. pic.twitter.com/HKaeSR72XC
— The Horseshoe Bar (@GlasgowShoe) February 6, 2014
A princely £4.50 for three courses. Need we say more? This pub is a Glasgow institution, as are its daily soup, pub grub favourites and apple charlotte offerings. It’s a must for a taste of good old Glasgow hospitality.
17-19 Drury St, G2 5AE, thehorseshoebarglasgow.co.uk
A little dirty food action for under a fiver – who could resist? Bloc does a roaring trade anyway, but every weeknight comes with a wallet-friendly special; Mac and Cheese Mondays for three quid, Burger Tuesdays, Steak Wednesdays (£5), Chicken Thursday (£4 and Hot Dog Friday (£4). Yes please.
117 Bath St, G2 2SZ, bloc.ru
13. Tinto Tapas Bar
A taste of Spain without the Ryanair add-ons price tag? We’ll have that. Branches of Tinto on the southside (Battlefield) and west end (Partick) serve up three tapas for £7.95 in the afternoon. Dishes like pulled ham hough with white bean and spinach or huevos Iberican – totally worth breaking siesta for.
138 Battlefield Road, G42 9JT and Hyndland St, G11 5QF, tintotapasbar.co.uk
— Topolabamba (@Topolabamba) February 18, 2015
Tacos for £1. We don’t need to tell you twice, right? This city centre cantina offers up stomach-lining treats for just a quid every weeknight between 4-6pm. Taco Happy Hour – only the best reason for after work drinks ever.
89 St Vincent St, G2 5TF, topolabamba.com
15. Max’s Bar
Glasgow and pizza; a marriage made in heaven. Here’s another great two for one deal for all you bread and cheese fans; £7.95 for a margherita with the chance to add your choice of cheeses (hello, Jarlsberg), meats and fruit and veg. Brought along a friend? Good, because whoever’s pizza works out cheapest is free, leaving you to split the bill/buy more beer.
73 Queen St, G1 3BZ, maxsbar.co.uk
Street food and pop ups
Who knows where they’ll pop up next? From pancakes at Pena to s’mores at Devils Deli and Korean street food at Booly Mardy’s, Chompsky are purveyors of all things tasty – and now that they have their own wheels in the form of a shiny food truck, we’re salivating all the more.
17. Section 33
Pop ups in weird places – probably always a winner. Add some tasty treats on top of the gimmick and we’re there, with bells/full costume/armbands on. Section 33’s temporary restaurants have included Govanhill Baths and the Panopticon Britannia so far – and we’re hungry for more.
18. The Streatery
Street food from vendors familiar (Firebird, Babu Bombay Street Kitchen) and new come together under the impressive Briggait ceiling for this regular showcase. The aim is to get this indoor food festival up to a monthly gig – and we’re sure Glasgow foodies are waiting, knives and forks at the ready, for it.
19. Audio Beef
Live cooking with a DJ to soundtrack – things could (and regularly do) get messy. Mad Chef Danny McLaren, of Furious Food fame, takes a break from the Bloc kitchen now and then for a music meets food pop up where the beats flow as much as the beer and the monitors show off all those moves going on in the kitchen. It’s the foodie version of a house party – but with better eats.
20. Number 16
Visiting this tiny restaurant is a bit like having dinner at a friend’s…if your friend happens to be an ace chef. An ever-changing menu means you’re unlikely to eat the same dish twice, and the very reasonable set lunch (2/3 courses for £14.95/£18.95) means you can enjoy the best of each season, from pumpkin gnocchi to Asian-inspired summer broths.
16 Byres Road, G11 5JY, number16.co.uk
Fast food has a new meaning at this city centre stop, and it’s a firm favourite with your #fitspo types. Salads and flatbreads might be the order of the day, but the menu changes to reflect what’s good now – and what’s likely to warm your cockles/cool your heels according to the weather outside. We’ll raise a Moregreen Smoothie to that.
142A St Vincent St, G2 5LQ, mymarthas.co.uk
We rejoiced when foodie favourite Singl-end appeared back on the scene in 2015 – and an ever-changing menu of bakehouse treats and home-style cooking keeps us coming back. The menu caters to veggies, vegans and gluten and lactose intolerant eaters, all dependent on what the kitchen has that day – and the baked egg breakfast is a sight to behold.
265 Renfrew St, G3 6TT, facebook.com/Singl-end
23. Cail Bruich
With varying weather (sometimes in one day), Scotland is well suited to seasonal eating. Enter Cail Bruich, where the market, a la carte and tasting menus are all tailored to what’s growing now. Add a reputation for foraging in the dear, green place (wild garlic, anyone?) and we’d say this Great Western Road spot tops the seasonal eating must-tries.
725 Great Western Road, G12 8QX, cailbruich.co.uk
24. The Gannet
This hotspot was one of a few riding the Finnieston cool wave when it opened in 2013 and seems to be going strong with Scottish cooking inspired by the ‘rhythms of the British seasons’. That means hand-dived scallops, game and whatever else us Glasgow gannets are likely to scoff while the going is good.
1155 Argyle St, G3 8TB, thegannetgla.com
Pick your own
One for the less squeamish among you, this barn of a restaurant and supermarket complex comes complete with a live seafood section…so you just know that your lobster/crab/eel/anything else likely to make it to plate is fresh. And if you opt for the DIY cook-at-the-table hotpot, it might even still be moving.
The Point, Hamiltonhill, 29 Saracen St, G22 5HT, seewoo.com
26. Porter & Rye
Enjoy eyeing up a well-hung, well-aged cut of beef? Then a table with the view of Porter and Rye’s massive fridge will allow you to work up an appetite. Cuts are labelled by date and farm, and they’re the ultimate in butchery #foodporn – assuming you like it rare.
1131 Argyle St, G3 8ND, porterandrye.com
27. Viva Brazil
It’s a trend gaining pace in Glasgow, a city in love with its meat. And what better way to first meet that meat than on a giant spit, sizzling away and ready for you to pick and choose your cuts? Viva Brazil’s servers circulate with eats like picanha rump, smoked gammon, chicken hearts and linguica, or Brazilian sausage. We’ll have everything, thanks.
87-91 Bothwell St, G2 7AA, vivabrazilrestaurants.com
28. Eusebi’s Deli
The family-run Italian emporium has made the WOW grade before, for some delicious doughnuts – but head to the bigger west end branch and you can have the full deli experience combined with a sit down evening meal. The counters are brimming with breads, meats, cheeses and hot dishes like a posh buffet – the trouble is settling on just one plateful.
152 Park Road, G4 9HB, eusebideli.com
29. Khublai Khans
It’s buffet style but not as you know it at this long-established Mongolian barbecue joint. Imagine picking from a choice of rice or noodles, vegetables, spices and sauces…oh and meats like zebra or kangaroo (chicken etc, also available)…and then watching as the chef whips it up, Mongol warrior style. The only question is: how adventurous an eater are you?
26 Candleriggs, G1 1LD, khublaikhan-glasgow.co.uk
30. The deep fried Mars Bar
You’re unlikely to see it on a menu (although handwritten signs appeared in a few shop windows during the 2014 Commonwealth Games – go figure). But this mythical mouthful is available at chip shops across Glasgow, if you’re brave enough to ask. Gallowgate takeaway Pia’s admits to battering a Galaxy Caramel as well, and there are rumours of Mars Bars, Creme Eggs and more hitting the fryers at the Merchant Chippie, at Hillhead’s University Cafe and city centre eateries Pizza Crolla and Blue Lagoon.
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Main image: Number 16 Glasgow on Facebook