Feeling Fancy: Christmas restaurants in Edinburgh & Glasgow

Organising ‘the Christmas night out’ can be tricky, but get it right and you’ll be a hero until mid-January – here are our top tips in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Feature by Peter Simpson | 25 Nov 2022
  • Five March

We’ll start with some classic restaurants – great dining rooms where everyone gets a nice meal and has a lovely time. Top of the list is te Seba (393 Great Western Rd, Glasgow), an excellent spot that’s focused pretty squarely on pasta and bellinis. The pasta is incredible, the drinks are brilliant, the staff are welcoming and the decor is pleasingly stripped-back.

It’s not as stripped back as The Outsider (16 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh), which balances a muted colour palette with some amazing views of Edinburgh’s Old Town out the back. Once you tear yourself away from the window, expect some crowd-pleasing bistro classics.

The Palmerston (1 Palmerston Pl, Edinburgh) operates in a similar vein – you’ll find an ever-changing menu of inventive dishes centred around great Scottish ingredients, all in a lovingly restored former bank. For something a bit cosier, head to Julie's Kopitiam (1109 Pollokshaws Rd, Glasgow) for excellent home-style Malaysian dishes in a wonderfully welcoming atmosphere. If you want to capture the vibe of a night in, but with excellent chefs in the kitchen, this is the place for you.  

Alternatively, turn away from the homely and embrace chaos by heading to Chez Jules (109 Hanover St, Edinburgh) or Pizzeria 1926 (85 Dalry Rd, Edinburgh). The former is a basement French bistro that’s all low lighting, low low prices and excellent steak; the latter is Edinburgh’s best pizzeria, a hive of activity lined with Napoli football shirts and innumerable references to Diego Maradona. If you can wedge yourself in, the Agacan (113 Perth Rd, Dundee) pairs excellent Turkish mezze and kebabs with an incredibly vibrant aesthetic. Worried you’ll be stuck for conversation? Let the walls and tabletops entertain you!

Exterior photo of Brett. A corner bar with black awnings covering an outside seating area, and a green tiled corner nearest the camera. The tenement flats above are visible at the edges of the image.
Brett, on Great Western Road in Glasgow's West End. Photo: Clair Irwin

If folk are willing to share, Mother India’s Cafe in Edinburgh (3 Infirmary St) and Glasgow (1355 Argyle St) offers great rewards. Delicious Indian dishes served tapas-style, the best strategy here is to pick a few things each, then spend your evening digging into a bit of everything.

Small plates are generally a good way to go as they’re ideal for sharing and keeping people from taking the hump because they’ve ordered the wrong thing. Ox and Finch (920 Sauchiehall St, Glasgow) and Five March (140 Elderslie St, Glasgow) both bring a pan-European approach to the sharing table, while Brett (321 Great Western Rd, Glasgow) focus on fire-cooked dishes and an excellent wine selection.

Gloriosa (1321 Argyle St, Glasgow) serves up an absolutely brilliant selection of dishes with Mediterranean influences throughout, and Noto (47a Thistle St, Edinburgh) offers a diverse but expertly-presented mix of small plates pulling influences from across Europe and Asia. Sol y Sombra (27 Gray St, Dundee) offers a classic tapas set-up which takes a lot of hassle out of a night out – the menu changes daily, so just state your dietary requirements, and before you know it you’ll be presented with a big ol’ platter of tapas with your name on it.

A top-down photograph of a collection of small plates of food from Eleanore.
Dishes at Eleanore, Leith. Photo: Murry Orr

If you can push the boat out, there’s a good batch of restaurants in the category we’ll call ‘cool fancy’. Places like Stravaigin (28 Gibson St, Glasgow), with its boundary-pushing takes on Scottish cuisine, or Celentano's (28-32 Cathedral Sq, Glasgow) and its elevated Italian-inspired menu. Crabshakk (1114 Argyle St, Glasgow) is ideal for fish fans with expertly-prepared and pleasingly simple dishes, while Eleanore (30 Albert Pl, Edinburgh) pulls together a whole load of influences and styles into brilliant plates of food.