Edinburgh & Glasgow's Best Restaurants

Peter Simpson | 04 Jan 2017

Your favourite restaurants as voted for in our 2017 Food and Drink Survey, from fine dining to delicious pho...

We squashed together a few categories from previous food and drink surveys in order to get a list of your favourite restaurants in Edinburgh and Glasgow. You responded with a varied and exciting list featuring a host of styles, cuisines and price brackets; best go through them all one-by-one (although in no particular order) and see how they compare...

Hanoi Bike Shop

8 Ruthven Ln, Glasgow; hanoibikeshop.co.uk

Reportedly a favourite of 2016's second-best Knowles sister, the first thing that hits you when you enter the West End snug of Hanoi Bike Shop is the aroma. Yes, the atmosphere is cosy, and the decor remiscent of a South Asian street market stall, but the savoury whiff of fish sauce and simmering broth is incredible.

We recommend picking up a pho bo – an incredibly clean and fragrant noodle soup served with sliced beef and a garden's worth of herbs and aromatics – and pairing it with some of the Bike Shop's homemade tofu. The quality's great, the prices won't break the bank, and the dishes are light as a feather. No wonder Beyoncé's a fan.

El Cartel

64 Thistle St, Edinburgh; elcartelmexicana.co.uk

Tacos reach their apex at this small but perfectly-formed spot parellel to Queen Street in the centre of Edinburgh. The attention to detail in El Cartel's dishes is what sets it apart – each of their tacos is nicely balanced and packed with textures and tastes, and the handmade style of their dips and side dishes means they're both charming and rammed full of exciting ingredients. 

The tequila and agave menu nears the three-figure mark, the beer selection features some absolute crackers, and the Margarita machine is always on hand to tempt you into turning the night into a big one. There aren't many tables, so you may need to wait – we suggest you set off now.

Mother India's Cafe

3 Infirmary St, Edinburgh; motherindia.co.uk

Curry tapas – a simple concept that's seen a slew of imitators in recent years, but none have quite mastered the formula like the OGs at Mother India's Cafe. The menu is a treasure trove of options, from expertly-prepared standards to spectacular delicacies, and because the portions are smaller it's a chance to bring together a host of different flavours in one meal. Round up some friends, settle in, and prepare for the kind of feast that's only ever interrupted by recriminations over who had the last of the saag.

Paesano

94 Miller St, Glasgow; paesanopizza.co.uk

Paesano is the best pizzeria in Scotland. Controversial, we know, but hear us out; we have reasons. The dough, cooked up in 500-degree Italian-built ovens, is fluffy and remarkably light with just the right amount of char. The toppings are expertly-chosen, with quality ingredients at the fore and a menu that's long enough to give you plenty to think about but without leaving you paralysed by choice. 

Service is lightning quick (everyone's having pizza, which cuts down on the faff), while the space itself is cool, fun, and bloody enormous, so there's never that much of a wait for a table. Oh, and you can grab an amazing pizza and a cold beer for under a tenner, in the middle of Glasgow, in 2017. We rest our case, and expect to see you in the queue.

Ox and Finch

920 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow; oxandfinch.com

More tapas-style dining, with Ox and Finch taking contemporary European cuisine and serving it up in handy shareable chunks. We say they're handy, because one look at the menu will bring your basest 'one of everything please' instincts to the fore before you can say 'Pavlovian'. You're lucky they're designed for sharing, so take advantage of that luck, we say.

An extensive seafood selection, multiple kinds of confit poultry, a good selection of vegetarian dishes and incredibly inventive desserts await in a cool environment – take a friend with a kind heart and a large bank balance, then try to fit as many dishes on the table as possible.

The Gannet

1155 Argyle St, Glasgow; thegannetgla.com

One of the leading lights in the ongoing Finnieston revival, The Gannet's aesthetic is a trendy mix of wood, exposed brick and exposed bulbs, which makes it all the more remarkable that it was a disused tenement just a few years ago.

As for the food, there's a heavy emphasis on making the best of seasonal Scottish produce on both the main menu and the selection of small plates, and their Champagne Sunday lunch of three courses for £30 is a great way to try out what The Gannet has to offer and fill a lazy weekend at the same time.

Timberyard

10 Lady Lawson St, Edinburgh; timberyard.co

A flash of Nordic style and substance in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, Timberyard's stripped-back look and focus on foraged, local and homegrown ingredients makes it a truly intriguing proposition. The main event is the tasting menu – coming in six and eight course varieties, expect to be presented with an outrageous array of beautifully presented dishes each packed with intrigue.

That said, if you're short on time or not entirely comfortable with diving headlong into the world of Scandi-inspired fine dining, Timberyard's lunch and pre-theatre menu is a great way in. The exciting flourishes and avant-garde ingredients are still there (shout out to all the sea buckthorn fans) but a main and pudding will only set you back around £20. Next time your friend comes up with a terrible lunch suggestion, you know what to do.