Curry, curries and more curries
Glasgow’s choice of eateries has come a long way in recent years. Today, Scotland’s largest city has a truly world-class choice of places to eat out. From traditional chippies to fine dining restaurants, global street food vendors to eclectic cafes and contemporary dining to cosmopolitan bistros, there really is something for everyone on the banks of the Clyde. The best of Scotland’s own produce is to be found but, as a truly multi-cultural city and home to many immigrants over the centuries, most global cuisines, from Spanish to Szechuan, are also on offer.
Glaswegians, though, have a particular hunger for curries! Four times winner of the prestigious UK Curry Capital of the Year, Glasgow is home to some of the best Asian restaurants in Britain. And you won’t have to go far to find one – head down Sauchiehall Street, one of the city centre’s main thoroughfares, and savour the spices wafting from every second restaurant: Indian Gallery, Kama Sutra and Tuk Tuk Indian Street Food – this is definitely the curry mile! The lively, modern Akbar’s, to be found on the far west part of Sauchiehall Street, serves South Indian dishes and has become a particular favourite amongst Glaswegians.
Not far away you’ll also come across the dinky Wee Curry Shop in Buccleuch Street (handy if you’ve been visiting the must-see National Trust Tenement House), the Koh-i-Noor and Punjabi, both at Charing Cross, or the fantastic fresh Mother India in Westminster Terrace. Then there’s Usha on the corner of Byres Road and Dumbarton Road, offering the best in vegetarian Indian street foods. Directly across from Kelvingrove Art Galleries is Mother India’s little sister – the tapas-style Mother India Café. And there are two more Wee Curry Shops in the West End too, along with Masala Twist, Balbir’s and the famous Shish Mahal on Park Road to name just a few.
For pakora that’s out of this world – offering everything from chicken to varieties such as brie and spinach – call in to the Balti Club on Woodlands Road. Mr Singh’s on Elderslie Street is credited with coming up with the idea for the now iconic haggis pakora, with both meat and veggie options available. On the same street, for contemporary Indian cuisine visit the off beat Horn Please. If you have just disembarked from a train and can’t wait for something spicy, Bombay Blues Indian Restaurant in Hope Street and the Chaakoo Bombay Café are both within easy walking distance from Glasgow’s Central Station, despite offering very different styles of dining.
While the Bombay Blues Indian Restaurant offers contemporary Indian dining under a glass-roofed conservatory, the Chaakoo Bombay Café, which transports diners back in time to the classic Irani cafes to be found in Bombay in the 1920s and 30s, is a fairly new addition to the Glasgow scene but is quickly becoming a favourite especially for pre-theatre. The burgeoning Merchant City area, east of George Square, is also a contender for the curry crown, with both the Dhabba and Dahkin restaurants in Candleriggs offering a unique twist on north and southern Indian cooking respectively. Dahkin also offers a gluten-free Indian menu.
Another of Glasgow’s leading Indian restaurants, Café India, can be found nearby, offering an eclectic blend of Indian and global cuisine. Great Indian food can also be found slightly outside of the city centre as well, such as at the Nakodar Grill in Dennistoun, The Indian on Skirving Street just south of the river and The New Turban Tandoori in Giffnock.
Glaswegians, though, have a particular hunger for curries! Four times winner of the prestigious UK Curry Capital of the Year, Glasgow is home to some of the best Asian restaurants in Britain
Traditional Scottish flavours with a twist
The Merchant City, once home to the mansions and warehouses of the tobacco lords who established Glasgow as ‘The Second City’, is a good place to be for something other than curry. Now a chic cultural enclave, with artists’ studios, designer shops and converted markets, you can enjoy steakhouses, French cuisine and relaxed cosmopolitan dining. The old Candleriggs Market, now revamped into a Covent Garden-style arcade, is definitely worth a wander while one of the original Merchant City restaurants is Café Gandolfi. Decked in dark, sinuous wood, Gandolfi caters for healthy appetites with no-nonsense food like Cullen Skink and tangy Scottish cheeses. A sister restaurant, Gandolfi Fish, has opened nearby, and continues this reputation for excellence, but with an emphasis on all things scaly! There is now also a takeaway Gandolfi Fish offering the same high quality food in a paper wrapping.
While in the Merchant City, take your pick from several long-established Scottish restaurants. Babbity Bowster has a beer garden, restaurant and separate bar, where it has been known for impromptu evenings of folk music to take place. The City Merchant is another favourite venue, its beautiful wood panelling and piscine-themed stained glass reflecting the menu’s focus on fish. Rab Ha’s, named after a famous Glasgow glutton, boasts a Victorian exterior cloaking a boutique hotel, bar and restaurant, where you can enjoy dishes like haggis and neeps or steamed sea bream. There’s more Scottish fare, though this time with a twist, at the Ingram Wynd, serving up haggis, neeps and tatties in a Victorian-themed dining room, while Guy’s in Candleriggs offers fine European cuisine.
For something a bit different in the Merchant City, though, seek out the tiny Trans-Europe Cafe in Parnie Street. Old bus seats and city photos decorate this relaxed but hip cafe where a friendly welcome is always on the menu. For a legal theme, head west back towards the city centre and you’ll encounter first Citation Bar and Restaurant in the imposing former Sheriff Court building, then the splendid façade of The Corinthian Club in Ingram Street. Once a High Court, the courtrooms here have been transformed into a stunning complex of cocktail bar, chandelier-decked restaurant and private dining rooms for that special occasion.
For a real swell night out, where better to savour the high life than by going back in time to the art deco glamour of one of the city’s oldest restaurants, seafood specialist Rogano? Established for over 70 years, this special occasion destination provides impeccable service, outstanding food and an unmatched ambience in sleek surroundings. Tuxedos are not obligatory – but a dry martini probably is. Eagled-eyed TV fans may well have spotted it’s 1930s grandeur in Benedict Cumberbatch’s Patrick Melrose.
A further glimpse into the past can be found at Sloans, squirreled away within Argyll Arcade, but accessible off the alley running north from Argyle Street. Once a coaching inn, Sloans is billed as another of Glasgow’s oldest restaurants, with a circular bar and period ballroom. It’s mac’n’cheese, as well as its Eat Film evenings, when you can tuck into your food and drink while watching an iconic movie, have become famous city-wide.
The City Merchant is another favourite venue, its beautiful wood panelling and piscine-themed stained glass reflecting the menu’s focus on fish
Fine dining and local ingredients
Heading west from George Square, you’ll find more fine dining establishments, including two splendidly-refurbished Victorian hotels, namely The Principal Grand Central Hotel by Central Station, and the five-star Blythswood Square. If you’re up that way, check out award-winning Brian Maule at Chardon d’Or in West Regent Street for French-inspired cuisine, or Red Onion on West Campbell Street, a gourmet restaurant specialising in local produce. If you are looking for somewhere fresh, Mitchell Lane is now home to Tabac – all dark lights and polished wood, it has earned a reputation for taste and imagination.
In the last few years Glasgow has developed a passion for high-quality burgers which has seen several modern and stylish burger restaurants spring up in the city centre, including three on St Vincent Street alone – Bread Meats Bread, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Handmade Burger Co. Meat – which serves burgers amongst other things with British and American craft beers – is to be found just round the corner on West Regent Street, Juicy Lucy’s is on High Street promises to bring the American burger experience to Glasgow while BRGR can be found on Great Western Road, though many pubs, such as Lebowskis and Ad Lib, are hailed as having the best burgers in Glasgow.
The critically-acclaimed WEST Brewery, Bar & Restaurant can be found the Templeton Building, inspired by Venice’s Doge Palace, on Glasgow Green and offers up a range of burgers as well as schnitzels, bratwurstl and steak. Turn into nearby West George Street and you’ll find Gamba, another excellent seafood restaurant, with faultless service and Mediterranean décor. Go further west towards Charing Cross and seek out the charming Buttery, another of Glasgow’s oldest fine-dining establishments, located in one of the few remaining tenement buildings on the far side of Argyle Street. Now housing the Two Fat Ladies restaurant, along with modern Scottish basement restaurant Shandon Belles, the Arts and Crafts interior features oak panelling and a wonderful mahogany and marble bar, with a menu focusing on meat and seafood. Two Fat Ladies also has sister restaurants in Blythswood Street and at Dumbarton Road in the West End.
Talking of sisters, if you’ve spent an afternoon browsing the treasures at Kelvingrove Museum, why not stop off at The Sisters? Run, not surprisingly, by two sisters, the eponymous restaurants at both Kelvingrove and Jordanhill serve up modern Scottish cooking. The Drake gastropub on Lynedoch Street and Wee Lochan on Crow Road are also great for modern Scottish food. The bohemian West End has excellent restaurants, well worth the short hop on the ‘Clockwork Orange’ underground to get there – just hop off at Hillhead station.
Nestling in the shadow of Glasgow University, you’ll find Stravaigin, with the motto ‘think global, eat local’. Or pop down Ashton Lane, to the classic Glasgow eatery, Ubiquitous Chip, which opened in 1973. The menu showcases the best of Scottish ingredients and the covered courtyard dining room oozes atmosphere, with garlands of fairy lights and a gently splashing fountain. Also worth visiting is No16 Byres Road and Cail Bruich, serving French-inspired Scottish food, on Great Western Road. A little further out to Hyndland, Cafe Delizique offers relaxed dining – perfect for browsing the Sunday papers. The vegetarian breakfast is a particular must-have, complete with organic baked beans and halloumi cheese!
In the last few years Glasgow has developed a passion for high-quality burgers which has seen several modern and stylish burger restaurants spring up in the city centre, including three on St Vincent Street alone
Sushi, soba and Asian flavours
Vinicombe Street off Byers Road is home to Hillhead Bookclub, an old cinema filled with gramophones, video games and ping-pong, renowned for its home-cooked menu and Bloody Marys. Round the corner in Ruthven Lane is the Hanoi Bike Shop, which serves delicious Vietnamese street food like pancakes with prawns and pork. Chinaskis on North Street feels like an illicit drinking den – there’s no sign – but it offers up high-quality gastropub food in an enchanting environment. Journeying back along Dumbarton Road towards the city centre, you’ll come to Roastit Bubbly Jock’s. This cheerful, unassuming little joint, named after the Scots for roast turkey, has handwritten menus and top-notch food, including venison haunch and seafood chowder, and tasty vegetarian options.
Fanny Trollope’s, at the western end of Argyle Street in what is fast becoming the hippest area of Glasgow after undergoing vast regeneration in the last few years, is another quirky bistro, with slow-roast lamb and pan-seared pigeon, while Crabshakk is renowned for fantastic seafood, and the Kelvingrove Café serves up fine food behind a vintage façade. The highly-lauded Ox and Finch, perfect for relaxed, shared contemporary dining, and the much praised The Finnieston, great for seafood and cocktails, may be fairly new additions to the Glasgow dining scene but they have quickly become the places to be. Six by Nico, the Finnieston branch of the hugely popular with foodies 111 by Nico on Cleveden Road, with its new restaurant concept every six weeks, has also joined the list while The Gannet offers a European menu in a stripped-back urban bar.
At the far end of Argyle Street lies Shilla, a great little Korean restaurant, and Thai Siam for top-notch Thai food. The Ho Wong in York Street is another local favourite, while on Great Western Road, Wudon offers a delicious selection of tasting plates, as well as lunchtime Bento boxes. Alternatively, head for Chinatown with its super-fresh produce. Despite being tucked away on New City Road, it bustles with activity – with the added bonus of being attached to a huge oriental supermarket. If it is an authentic Asian street food vibe you are after the incredibly reasonable Dumpling Monkey on Dumbarton Road offers atmosphere and fantastic Chinese cooking.
Another hidden secret is Bar Soba in Mitchell Lane where you can enjoy great sushi and cocktails while on St Vincent Street you will also find Picked Ginger, another much talked about sushi and cocktail bar, which opened in 2015. The recently-opened Lotus, to be found very close to Bridge Street Underground Station, might be in an area not often ventured to by visitors to the city, but for vegetarians looking for tasty and traditional Chinese food, service and delicious free green tea with every meal, it is an absolute must. After a few drinks, you may feel like a bit of a sing-song – if so, make your way to Shanghai Shuffle opposite the King’s Theatre in Bath Street, for Chinese food served up with their famous karaoke nights!
For an Asian experience with a modern fusion twist, visit Dragon-i opposite the Theatre Royal in Hope Street. Close by, in Sauchiehall Street, is NanaKusa Japanese restaurant, while Sapporo Teppanyaki in Ingram Street serves up some fantastic flashing-blade theatrics along with the food. And, for a fabulous Thai feast in truly stunning surroundings, visit Chaophraya, with several floors of fine dining and cocktail bars in Nelson Mandela Place.
The Ho Wong in York Street is another local favourite, while on Great Western Road, Wudon offers a delicious selection of tasting plates, as well as lunchtime Bento boxes
A taste of the Mediterranean
Along with curry and Asian-influenced dishes, Italian food is one of the most popular cuisines in the city – and Glasgow is blessed with many excellent restaurants. A Little Taste of Italy – Ristorante Teatro is found close to King’s Theatre and is excellent for pizza and pasta, as is the deli-style Sarti’s, while Hope Street is home to La Lanterna, one of the city’s oldest Italian restaurants, serving delicious food in a wood-beamed basement. Another long-standing favourite is Piccolo Mondo in Argyle Street. Check out Don Constanzo in Woodside Crescent offers live music, a relaxed atmosphere and a pizza-free Italian menu, while Brutti Ma Buoni in the Merchant City serves Mediterranean tapas, plus thin pizzas with myriad toppings in a contemporary setting.
The Italian Kitchen in nearby Ingram Street is a bustling venue, serving delicious pasta, with the adjacent Qua Italia cooking up Tuscan and Roman influences in a modern setting. A more recent addition is Jamie’s Italian on George Square, while just over the south side of the Clyde is the quaint La Fiorentina. Even within the city centre, it’s worth venturing off the beaten track – many of Glasgow’s cultural venues, such as the Pipers’ Tryst in the Piping Centre at Cowcaddens and the recently-revamped bar and restaurant in the Tron Theatre, have lovely little bistros hidden away behind the scenes. Glasgow’s suburbs have excellent restaurants, too, including conservation village Eaglesham’s 150 year-old The Swan Inn, which served contemporary pub grub, while Bearsden’s Monadh Kitchen prides itself on traditional Scottish food with a contemporary twist.
Battlefield Rest is another little treasure, positioned right at the heart of 1568’s Battle of Langside battlefield, in which Mary, Queen of Scots, fought her brother. There are several Spanish tapas bars in town, including Cafe Andaluz on St Vincent Street and in the West End, and Mercado in Merchant Square. Located in South Street, La Bodega is something of a hidden gem, with tables set around a dance floor which comes alive with music and dancing at the weekend.
Yiamas in Bath Street and Elia on George Square both offer authentic Greek cuisine, as does the venerable Frosoulla’s on Sinclair Drive. While most restaurants offer some vegetarian dishes, there are three specifically veggie venues in the city – The 78 in Kelvinhaugh Street, Stereo in Renfield Lane and Mono in King Street, which caters for music lovers, too, with good food, live bands and Mono’s in-store indie record shop. Not far from Mono is the quirky Russian establishment Café Cossachok, where you can eat blinis and sour cream, and enjoy the in-house art.
Along with curry and Asian-influenced dishes, Italian food is one of the most popular cuisines in the city – and Glasgow is blessed with many excellent restaurants
Brunch and afternoon tea
The same street is also home to The 13th Note, a Glasgow institution offering up fantastic vegetarian and vegan in a relaxed atmosphere. If it’s a snack you’re after, you’ll find healthy fast food at Martha’s on St Vincent Street, great brunches in one of the city’s three TriBeCa cafes in Dumbarton Road, Park Road and Giffnock, and lovely pastries at Byres Road’s Kember and Jones, organic cakes at the Tapa Bakehouse in Dennistoun or delicious afternoon tea in the Mackintosh-themed Willow Tearooms in Buchanan Street or in Watt Brother’s department store.
For more teas and home baking, visit Tchai Ovna in the West End’s Otago Lane or the Hidden Lane Tearoom at Argyle Street, Finnieston. And in the south side’s Pollokshields, the quaint Moyra Jane’s has old-style wooden panelling and light-as-a-feather scones. However, for scones to beat all scones, visit the tearoom at Pollok House, where they still use the original Glasgow Dough School recipes. Milk Cafe on Victoria Road, set up as a social enterprise to help asylum-seeking women in Glasgow, is another recent addition to the city and well worth a visit if you are looking for somewhere authentic and packed with atmosphere, serving delicious rustic staples such as French toast and mushrooms on home-made walnut loaf from mismatched charity shop china.
If you are looking for brunch then Café Strange Brew on Pollockshaws Road has become renowned, although be warned there are often queues to get in the food is so good. If the weather’s warm, head to the West End’s University Café – number one for ice cream and brunch with generations of students. While you’re out that way, call in at Cup for some fabulous cup cakes – including adult-only liqueurs. And, from the sublime to, well, the sublime – join the queue at Greggs on George Square, to partake in a buttery bridie or Scotch pie.
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