Good and interesting food is an essential part of any vacation and, whatever your preference, Scotland won’t disappoint. In the big cities there’s a diverse selection of eateries of all kinds and priced at all levels, from Michelin-starred delights to local restaurants. In general, it’s best to avoid eateries around the main tourist areas for reasons of price and taste.
Bars and Pubbing in Scotland
Nightlife in Scotland is all you want it to be, from nightclubs and bars to pubs offering pub grub as well as local color. Licensing hours in Scotland mean 23:00 closing times for pubs, although clubs stay open later. The center of Edinburgh is a good place to start, with traditional taverns a true Scottish experience, although those in Grassmarket are touristy in the extreme. The quintessential Scottish pub is the 14th century Sheep Heid Inn, (The Causewy, Duddingston, Edinburgh), reputed to have been a hangout for Mary, Queen of Scots, and James VI.
For cozy, open fires in winter, a choice of 50 single malts, friendly faces, and craft ales, the Blue Blazer (2, Spittal Street, Edinburgh) is the pub to head for. Leith’s jewel of a traditional pub, the King’s Wark (36, The Shore, Leith, Edinburgh), features rough stone walls and low ceilings, as well as great pub food and drink. For live Scottish music and Scottish dance in a party atmosphere, head for the Burly Ceilidh Club (Princes Street, Edinburgh). It’s the real thing, loved by locals and great for an evening out.
Glasgow has a huge choice of the watering holes in Scotland, with a favorite hangout the Horseshoe Bar (Drury Street, Glasgow), famed for the longest bar in the UK and attracting locals and tourists alike. The best traditional bar is the Pot Still (Hope Street, Glasgow) with its 300 varieties of malt whiskey. Aberdeen’s pub culture may be less lively than Glasgow’s, but on weekends the city center is packed with revelers. Ma Cameron’s (Little Belmont Street, Aberdeen) is the city’s oldest pub and well worth a visit.
Dining and Cuisine in Scotland
Chefs in Scotland have a huge range of the best ingredients for a delicious meal right on their doorsteps, with Scottish salmon and trout, Aberdeen Angus beef, local venison, and lamb at the top of the list. Gourmets will love eating here, and there’s plenty to choose from in the way of fine dining. Edinburgh is the hub for great food, with the recently Michelin-starred Castle Terrace Restaurant (33 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh) using only fresh local produce and serving seasonal dishes.
Just a step away in Leith is Restaurant Martin Wishart (54 The Shore, Leith), also Michelin-starred and a favorite for special occasion dining. The Witchery By The Castle (Castle Hill, Edinburgh) is known for its melt-in-the-mouth venison and romantic ambience, and Maison Bleue (Victoria Street, Edinburgh) is an exciting eatery serving a mouthwatering mix of Scottish, North African, and French food.
Glasgow’s dining scene offers a great selection of restaurants, with The Counting House (George Square, Glasgow) serving traditional pub grub in a historic setting. The Black Sheep Bistro (Clarendon Street, Glasgow) serves five-star food with five-star service in an unpretentious setting, and classy 78 St Vincent (St Vincent, Glasgow) is French with a Scottish flavor and highly regarded. Yatai (Skene Street, Aberdeen) is simply the best Japanese restaurant in the UK.