Inverness, Loch Ness and Nairn is home to some of the finest produce in the world – from hours-old shellfish and salmon to wild Highland venison and game – and here are some of the best places to dine. The stylish Café One sits opposite the imposing Inverness Castle. They take great pride in sourcing local ingredients and turn quality Scottish produce into appealing modern dishes. Also on the banks of the River Ness is the Torrish restaurant located in the luxury Ness Walk Hotel, providing creative and innovative food in a stylish, intimate setting. Sample some of the finest quality steaks and Scottish seafood at Prime, while enjoying impressive views of both the river and the castle. In terms of gastropubs MacGregor’s Bar is a welcome new addition to Inverness. This modern, relaxed bar serves up an appealing concoction of live traditional music, exciting local food and an evolving range of craft beers and spirits.
The area around Loch Ness is fairly unpopulated, but it still has plenty of gems. Loch Ness Country House Hotel is a stunning Georgian house with a luxurious modern interior, offering fine dining and stunning views. Afternoon tea is a popular treat here, or sample the incredible seafood platters from the evening menu. The Dores Inn on the banks of Loch Ness is a firm local favourite. With a cosy log fire for winter days and a sunny terrace overlooking the loch for the summer months, there’s also a large selection of malt whiskies, local gins, real ales and fine wines and if you find yourself in Drumnadrochit, Fiddler’s serves quality bistro food and an astonishing range of whiskies.
If you’re in the East Coast town of Nairn, you’ve plenty of choice for food at all ends of the scale, from fine-dining to cheap and cheerful. Cafe by day, wine bar by night, One One Two is a family-run venture in the centre of Nairn with an exciting menu of small and large plates, an extensive wine list and friendly service. Stop in for glass of wine and a meat or cheese board, visit during the day for coffee and a cake or enjoy a fine-dining experience at night – topped off with a cocktail or two.
5 Young St, Inverness IV3 5BL
Encore is a modern and quirky bar and grill where you can enjoy live music nights and traditional home-cooked Scottish food. You can’t visit the Highlands without having a wee dram and there’s nowhere better than Encore – there are over 50 of the finest whiskies in Scotland to choose from. Visit website
Black Isle Bar and Rooms
Market Close, 68 Church St, Inverness IV1 1EN
For delicious wood-fired pizzas (and other tasty choices) and a wide selection of craft beers, organic wine and whiskies, Black Isle Bar and Rooms is deservedly popular with locals and tourists alike. Dogs are welcome, too, as are children until 11pm – and there’s even a secret beer garden out the back. Visit website
La Tortilla Asesina
99 Castle St, Inverness IV2 3EA
The gorgeously decorated La Tortilla Asesina, one of Scotland’s oldest tapas bars, is a fantastic taste of Spain in the Highlands. Lined with traditional Spanish tiles and offering a wonderful range of paellas, tapas and wines, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a few hours with friends or family. Visit website
Auldearn, Nairn IV12 5TE
The Boath House offers visitors and locals to Nairn with a fine-dining experience based around seasonal, local and fresh food. The hotel’s kitchen gardens provide much of the organic fruit, herbs and vegetables for the restaurant. The menu changes daily depending on what’s in season, and they pride themselves on offering everything from delicious vegan options to the finest locally-reared meat. Visit website
1 Cawdor St, Nairn IV12 4QD
With a great menu of Scottish classics such as venison and Cullen skink as well as steaks, seafood and some good vegetarian options, The Classroom also serves fantastic cocktails and weekend evenings can see a buzzing atmosphere. Visit website
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