Scotland's Best Cafes

Peter Simpson | 04 Jan 2017

From specialist coffee spots to neighbourhood hideaways, your favourite cafes in Edinburgh and Glasgow from our 2017 Food and Drink Survey

While pubs provide us all with somewhere to hunker down for an evening, cafes serve the same function during the daylight hours. Need to meet someone? Cafe. Need to hide from someone? Cafe (although probably not the same one from before). Run out of milk and can't be bothered going to the shops? Cafe.

As such, your favourite cafes are as diverse as the people who voted for them, with a host of different styles featuring in this year's list. Scotland's ever-expanding 'serious coffee' scene is represented by a pair of long-established faces in the coffee community. Artisan Roast were among the forerunners of a growing group of micro-roasteries springing up across the country, and AR's coffee can regularly be found behind the counter at venues across Scotland. Their Edinburgh cafes in the New Town, Bruntsfield and Stockbridge got your votes, and with good reason; they're cosy spaces where the coffee is key and each flat white comes with a side of attention and expertise.

Over in Glasgow, Papercup were a similar selection – small batch coffee roasted in-house, and served up in a West End cafe that's packed with neat visual flourishes and is just generally a nice place to be for an afternoon. The food and coffee changes with the seasons, but the careful approach to quality ingredients remains the same. Catch them on Great Western Road, or at their (comparatively) new second cafe on the High Street next to Strathclyde Uni.

When it comes to nice city centre cafes, places where you can escape the twin horrors of shopping and the general public with good food, coffee and ambience, you made a couple of good selections. Primal Roast may only have thrown open its doors last spring, but it's already made a sizeable impression in its St Vincent Street location. Managing to be both healthy and fun, Primal Roast offer up sweet treats to suit near-enough every dietary requirement, and a food menu that's packed with interesting combinations.

In Edinburgh, you plumped for perennial favourite Lovecrumbs. The West Port cafe has changed a bit in the past year, with its focus shifting towards a mixed menu with more savoury dishes rather than their previous 'cavalcade of cakes' approach. Or, as they wrote on the board outside, 'we serve LUNCH'. Whatever you go for, expect a calming atmosphere, lovely decor and brilliant coffee and loose leaf teas.

Your final two choices bear some striking similarities, so we'll tackle them together. They're both community-minded cafes located in one of the most exciting areas of their respective cities, they both pride themselves on brunch-tastic menus, and they're both big hits with the dog-having and dog-liking communities.

Ostara Cafe, located just off the waterfront in Leith, work with a host of Edinburgh foodie favourites including Leith roastery Williams & Johnson, bagel supremo The Bearded Baker and the non-profit Breadshare community baker. The result is a menu that's packed with locally sourced goodness, all served in a lovely, cosy environment.

It's a similar situation in Shawlands' Cafe Strange Brew, a neighbourhood spot that's captured the imagination of Southside foodies in its first year. A menu packed with visually amazing and wildly tasty riffs on brunch classics and lunch dishes, a focus on local ingredients and regular pop-up events from the likes of burger whizz El Perro Negro have all contributed to Strange Brew's success. If that sounds like your kind of place, head on down, but if it doesn't then don't be too despondent – as we've seen, there's truly a cafe for everyone.