Everyone has heard of Haggis, but Glasgow isn’t just about this ubiquitous Scottish food. Haggis have been banned in the United States since 1971, so most people visiting Glasgow immediately head to a pub and order it. But Glasgow’s food scene is so much more than that and we recommend a tasting tour of Glasgow’s best restaurants. As the largest city in Scotland with over half a million residents in the city center and another 2 million living on the outskirts, Glasgow is without a doubt a city of fun. The city is located on the west bank of the River Clyde and has historically been one of the UK’s most important economic centers outside of London. The area has been home to several communities for centuries, as the River Clyde has been a fishing hub. The area was first established as part of Roman Britain and in the 6th century Glasgow became an important religious center established by Saint Mungo, where he built a church where Glasgow Cathedral now stands. Towards the 1700s, the city grew exponentially and with it came a great deal of wealth, where finally in the Victorian era gained much prominence aesthetic associated with the city.
Although the city experienced a small economic downturn between the 1960s and 1980s, since then the city has grown and expanded with several ethnic communities settling here and migrating here, contributing their culinary traditions. . In fact, Glasgow was named the “capital of Britain’s curry” and, while that’s enough, Glasgow doesn’t shy away from dishes with great flavor. If you want to have a bite to eat in Glasgow, check out these great places to eat and drink.
The ubiquitous chip
Known colloquially by locals as “The Chip”, The Ubiquitous Chip is regularly touted as Glasgow’s best restaurant. The site was opened by Ronnie Clydesdale in 1971 and is still owned and operated by the same family that serves some of the best rates in town. But what makes The Chip the legendary site that has been open for over 40 years? On the one hand, the place is quite large with several floors dedicated to different things. So The Ubiquitous Chip not only serves amazing food, but also hosts some of the coolest bars in town. The Big Pub upstairs is a casual place to paint and chat, while the ground floor and terrace dining area allow for dinner among fountains, ponds and green areas. The Corner has a selection of award-winning wines, while the Wee Whiskey Bar has the most Scotch whiskeys per square meter.
The menu itself consists of classic Scottish dishes influenced by the country. But that doesn’t mean everything is fish and chips or haggis. Decadent dishes like Tweed Valley Lamb, Argyll Venison and halibut on Gigha Island will make you question everything you know about Scottish haute cuisine.
Known as Scotland’s largest bar and restaurant, this place is an interesting interior spot in the heart of the city and located just below Glasgow Central Station. The arched brick walls and ceilings make you feel like you’re eating in a sort of secret underground bunker, while the large tables and communal spaces allow for friendly conversations throughout a few combs and dishes. The dining room has its own microbrewery and guests can even order food and drinks at their table from the app or the restaurant’s website directly at their table.
The Shish Mahal
According to legend, the first known recipe for meat in a spicy sauce with naan bread appears in a cuneiform text from ancient Babylon dating from 1700 BC. Although The Shish Mahal has not been in Glasgow for so long, the restaurant is an icon of Glasgow reasons one. Founder Ali Ahmed Aslam known to locals as simply “Mr. Ali” came to Glasgow in the 1960s and brought with him the flavors of India.The restaurant was a novelty at the time as the waiters wore jackets and dishes with flavors that most Glaswegians would never have known at the time.
The concept of “Indian food” is broad. India is big and the food from the north does not look like the south. The food found around the Himalayas does not resemble the dishes of the fiery plains of Madras, but something that many Westerners consider an “Indian” dish par excellence: the Tikka Masala chicken was invented here in the Glasgow Shish Mahal. From Indian restaurants in New York to Sydney, it would almost seem strange to go to an Indian restaurant and not see Chicken Tikka Masala on the menu, but it was here, in the 60s, when the dish was invented. The story goes that Mr. Ali invented the dish after a customer came in and complained about the dryness of his chicken. Then the chef took some tomato soup, added spices and the rest is history. A campaign for legal recognition of the origin of the dish is under construction by a Glasgow MP.
While The Shish Mahal is home to the Tikka Masala chicken, there are absolutely other amazing dishes to try here, after all, there is a reason it has been open for over 50 years. Try a tasting menu or stop for lunch and check out the special.
What started out as a discreet food stop at a London street market has become one of the most popular Korean hot spots around. The original location started in 2011 and in 2015 Kimchi Cult opened its first brick and mortar store in Glasgow’s West End. For more than a decade, Kimchi Cult has introduced delicious Korean-inspired dishes with unique food options, decent prices and bold flavors.
Of course, with a name like Kimchi Cult, you can bet your kimchi is homemade and fantastic with a special regional jeonju recipe passed down through the generations. Kimchi is the inspiration for many meals, such as kimchi burgers, kimchi cheese fries, among other specialties such as gochujang fried chicken and tofu with soy garlic.
The Howlin wolf
Taking a page from places that are most often found in places like Austin or Nashville, The Howlin ‘Wolf is a blues bar with an American twist. This is the kind of place where you go to spend a night with friends. The bar offers live music seven nights a week with an intense focus on blues and jazz, but music isn’t the only thing on offer here. The bar serves a wide variety of local whiskeys, as well as American bourbons and whiskey cocktails, while the food service is more eclectic with options such as pizza haggis, winged sauces and cheesy nachos. The kitchen closes at 2 in the morning, so if you come from other places and need a snack or have spent all the live music and need something to drink alcohol, you won’t go hungry in the wee hours of the morning.
Bou and Finch
Opened in 2014 by chef Jonathan MacDonald (who was the head chef of the McLaren F1 team), Ox and Finch brings a lot of casual Glasgow vibe with high-end meals and small dishes centered on the plates. The nearby Argyll Street is a hot spot for the food scene in Glasgow and since Ox and Finch is on Sauchiehall Street but has the same business, you know they have something special. In fact, if you plan to eat here, you may want to book in advance. Behind the olive green facade in an interior with bare brick walls, black leather cabins, stone pillars and floor-to-ceiling shelves provided with wine.
The food here is a cross between the Mediterranean tone and Scotland, which makes for some interesting dishes. Dishes such as harissa mackerel, ribeye carpaccio with peaches and pine nuts and zucchini and feta fritters make beef and brush a unique choice for eating out. The attraction here are the small dishes that can be shared that give up the usual method of appetizer-starter-dessert for a more tapas-style activity. Despite the high taste of some of the dishes, being complete and satisfied shouldn’t cost you more than £ 20 per person.
In the West End of the city, in the magnificent and opulent building built for a bank, comes the favorite, Paesano. The lavish, well-kept Art Deco restaurant is almost a direct juxtaposition to the rest of the restaurant, but that’s by no means a bad thing. Upon entering, you’ll notice the Italian marble pillars, the high vaulted ceiling, and the dark wood accents that add a touch of class.
The place is noisy, it is popular with students because it is cheap, and despite what the art-deco elements of the building will have, you think it is not elegant. The house’s white wine is served in a glass of water, but all that doesn’t matter because Paesano has some of the best pizzas in town. There is an unreserved booking policy, but there is a bar with a lounge while you wait for your table. Finally, once you get the seat, you’ll have a full view of the open kitchen along with the 500 degree C wood oven that cooks pizzas in a matter of seconds. The rind is fluffy and chewy at the same time and its charred edges are thanks to the 48-hour hard pasta fermentation process, while the sauce is bold with its tomato flavor and fresh basil aromas. The service is fast, not always attentive, but with cakes under 10 GBP you can’t go wrong.
Founded in 1979 on Albion Street, the former site belonged to a cheesemaker. Gandolfi coffee soon became a trend setter in the area and by the time the city was a little less lucky and the concept of “hipster coffee” would not enter the popular lexicon for another weird 30 years. Today Gandolfi Coffee is still the original hot spot with other branches opening under the name Gandolfi (Bar Gandolfi, Gandolfi Fish and Gandolfi Fish, in case you were wondering).
With a rustic interior, pine wood chairs and tables and whitewashed walls, the place offers a homely feel and the food is full and comforting. Gandolfi Café is the most popular for breakfast and lunch and offers quintessential dishes in Scotland, such as Hebrew eggs or smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. But if you prefer something more stuffed than brioche toast with walnuts, maple syrup and candied banana you won’t be disappointed. While breakfast is popular, you won’t miss a visit during lunch or dinner hours with dishes such as smoked haddock risotto or a stuffed lasagna and cheese.
Our final word
Glasgow is home to many people and cultures. It is one of the largest economic centers in the country and the UK and as such is an absolute gem when it comes to food. Incredible affordable options with palates and tastes that not only cover the country of Scotland and its generosities, but there is also an international twist on every corner. Definitely no shortage of great places to eat in Glasgow. And, if necessary, head to the pub and try Haggis, but don’t stop here on your gastronomic tour.