Where to Eat and Drink in Glasgow

From cozy tearooms and low-key cafés to modern restaurants and vibrant music clubs, Glasgow’s food-and-drink scene has something for everyone.

64 Albion St, Glasgow G1 1NY, UK
Having recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, Cafe Gandolfi is a bona fide dining landmark in the Merchant City district of central Glasgow. It’s aged remarkably well, thanks to its organic timber furniture by Tim Stead and simple but innovative cooking with mostly seasonal ingredients. Classics in the Gandolfi canon include the smoked haddock chowder known as Cullen skink and the Stornoway black pudding (from the Isle of Lewis), served with mushrooms and pancakes.
42 Otago Ln, Glasgow G12 8PB, UK
Any tea aficionado best sharpen their sleuthing abilities and set out to find Tchai-Ovna. Squirrelled away on a residential street in the Glasgow Uni ’hood, this cosy tea house is a welcome reprieve from the damp cold that seats itself into your bones after a day of traipsing about.

Once settled inside, you can’t help but imagine you’ve stepped back into a cafe in India’s north (Manali anyone?), though it’s actually an ode to the teahouses of the Czech Republic. I wondered why I wasn’t clod in my best boho gear, dripping with scarves and beads, but the patrons were welcoming nonetheless. Tchai-Ovna offers up over 80 types of tea hailing from far-flung locales like Japan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Afghanistan, to name a few. Just flipping through the detailed menu is like a lesson in itself. In addition to the teas, vegetarian dishes like red dahl and falafel are served. Overall, Tchai-Ovna is a great little spot to while away an afternoon.
12 Ashton Ln, Glasgow G12 8SJ, UK
If you wanted to trace Scotland’s modern culinary renaissance, you would begin here, on Ashton Lane in Glasgow’s West End, where the late Ronnie Clydesdale opened Ubiquitous Chip in 1971. Even then, Clydesdale recognized that Scottish produce could serve as the building blocks of standout cuisine, with nary a chip in sight. Now run by his son Colin, the Ubiquitous Chip is still one of the standard-bearers of Glasgow fine dining, though the space itself is elegantly casual. The venison haggis with champit tatties (mashed potatoes with parsley) has been on the menu since the beginning, but also worth trying is the Caledonian ice cream with poached plums and honey oats.
Killermont Street
“Let’s have a Greggs!” This refrain is certainly something you may overhear while roaming the rather handsome streets of Glasgow. Is Greggs a chain? Yes. Does Greggs have a rather ubiquitous presence? Certainly. Did somehow I find myself back there on a daily basis? I did. If you want to sample some Scottish goods without forking over plenty of dough, this is a great way to do a wee taster. Sample a sausage roll (not to be confused with roll sausage), a cheese and onion pasty, perhaps a chicken bake, and of course, a Scotch pie filled with beef mince and mutton. All are just the right size to take on the road and will cost a pound or so, which really isn’t bad considering.
Top of Byres Road, Glasgow G12 8QX, UK
Translating into ‘big song’ in Gaelic, Òran Mór is a linchpin of entertainment in Glasgow’s trendy west end. Located in the former Kelvinside Parish Church, this stunner of a venue is host to concerts (think FKA Twigs), plays (the irresistible play, pie and pint combo), and weddings (naturally) in addition to being a charming restaurant. While I tried my first haggis in Edinburgh, it really fell flat in comparison to this one. Though it’s easy to thistle-up at the idea of eating a sheep’s innards, it’s actually of little concern once you’re hungry and diving into a plate of it. Haggis is whipped up from a sheep’s pluck — aka their heart, liver and lungs — and comes hacked up with onion, oatmeal and plenty of spices. Following the makeover it’s pretty unrecognizable. Traditionally it comes served with neeps and tatties, a rather charming way of saying mashed turnips and potatoes. Here the goods arrive drenched in whiskey sauce and chances are, you’ll eat every bite.
244 Gallowgate, Glasgow G4 0TT, UK
Bob Dylan, David Bowie, The Clash, and U2 are just a few of the seminal acts to have performed at this vaunted music hall since it first opened in 1934. Occupying a massive city center building with street-level market stalls and an iconic neon sign above, it’s one of the favorite venues for seeing live bands in the city. Reportedly, the draws here for major performers—who could easily fill stadiums—are the Barrowlands’ excellent acoustics, and small (2,100-capacity) audiences of die-hard music lovers. Scheduled to appear in the next few months are indie superstars Haim, local Glasgow band Chvrches, and Neutral Milk Hotel. To find out more about why Glasgow is a UNESCO City of Music please visit peoplemakeglasgow.us
17 Vinicombe St, Glasgow G12 8SJ, UK
This west end bar is an absolute must for lovers of good drink and architecture alike. Situated in a former cinema, the awe-inspiring space spills out over a number of levels, with the central atrium visible from all regions so you can always keep an eye on your planned snog of the night. While owned by central Scotland’s biggest pub chain, you’d never guess this given it’s robust personality with quirks aplenty. Old school video games and a ping pong table will keep the antsy busy, while the cocktails selection should please most. Libations include Beer and Loathing (Four Roses bourbon with basil, honey and some IPA) and the Bookclub Punch, featuring a mix and mash of whatever’s good for the eve. When I was there, the couple next to me was getting completely sauced off a fancy cocktail served in — naturally — an ancient gramophone. When in Glasgow...
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