Food For Thoughts: The Skinny's Student Food Guide
As students return and the weather gets a bit shitty, we look at some of Scotland's best shops, cafes and booze spots
With the swing into autumn and the sweeping up of the last of the summer comes a fresh batch of Cool Guys eager to make the most of all of that culture that’s going down. Students, is who we’re talking about… students are coming back.
To help those students acclimatise to the realities of sorting their own food (and throw some handy tips to the rest of you while we’re at it), we’ve highlighted some of our favourite foodie places in some of the key food areas for the student population. Going to the shops, grabbing Some Cans, getting a pizza, and finding a coffee that doesn’t taste like mud.
SHOPS THAT ARE NICE
Obviously, Lidl’s great – where else can you buy a pair of garden shears, an extra-large jar of stuffed olives and a dressing gown in the same aisle? But Lidl is both a) an enormous, all-swamping corporate behemoth and b) doesn’t actually sell everything you need, presumably in order to make room for budget chainsaws and weird pairs of hillwalking shoes.
Many of the student-heavy parts of Edinburgh and Glasgow are home to nice, ethical and well-stocked grocers, from The New Leaf Co-op in Marchmont to Locavore in the Southside of Glasgow. Get your fruit and veg from your local greengrocer, whether it’s the fancy but fab Roots, Fruits and Flowers in Glasgow’s West End or somewhere more utilitarian like Global Fruits in Bruntsfield in Edinburgh. If nothing else, you’ll be able to buy just the one potato you need rather than purchasing them in increments of 10kg.
Head to places like SeeWoo, Maqbool’s and Matthew’s Foods for your spices, pulses and noodles – you’ll find a huge range of options, cheap prices, and plenty of advice. Impress your friends and confuse your new flatmates with all the different types of noodles you’ve found!
BEER THAT TASTES OF SOMETHING
If you fancy a big bag of cans, you might be tempted to just find a supermarket, head for the fridges blindfolded and grab whatever’s coldest. Don’t rush to judgement, we say; there’s so much more to beer than what’s on offer in the Tesco fridge (although those are good can tactics, you’ll go far).
To fully enjoy the always-interesting Scottish beer scene, you’ll need people to guide you. These people can be found in beer shops like Valhalla’s Goat or the Grunting Growler in Glasgow, or Cork and Cask in Edinburgh. Beer experts whose shops are right around the corner from your flat, and are filled with super-interesting beers for you to get to know.
Same goes for bars – put your faith in people like Inn Deep, Koelschip Yard, Salt Horse and the Hanging Bat, and they’ll be able to talk you through the myriad styles and variations that the beer world has to offer. This is valuable information that will help you when you do find yourself in an enormous Tesco before a music festival; the person who’s been paying attention will know which beers will still be palatable after two days in the back of a tent.
COFFEE THAT TASTES GOOD
You’re working on an essay, or trying to get your head around a big old piece of maths. One of your flatmates is playing their bugle with extreme intensity, while the other has commandeered the entire living room with a combination of notepads and extremely loud reggae (presumably to drown out the bugling). You’re going to need to go out, so you’d better head to Starbucks, right?
WRONG. Chain-shop coffee is bad and usually pretty expensive, and frankly if you wanted to sit in a cold, sterile environment you’d do your studying in a toilet cubicle. But no, you’re a cool urbane adult – hit up your local indy coffee shop instead. Edinburgh students; Machina are right around the corner from Appleton Tower, Fieldwork is two minutes from the Napier flats at Fountain Park, and Williams and Johnson’s place at Custom House by the Shore will make you feel less like a student and more like a genuinely cool grown-up (it’s why we go there, anyway).
In Glasgow, the uni is flanked on all sides by great coffee from Artisan Roast, Papercup, Kember & Jones and Kaf. Glasgow Caley and Strathclyde students can fight for custody of Laboratorio Espresso back in town.
PIZZA THAT ISN’T DOMINOS
From the military-style flyering campaigns to the weird cheese-esque aroma, chain pizza is a weirdly ubiquitous part of student life. It is, unfortunately, not good pizza. Luckily, your city is loaded with great, inexpensive and fuckin’ top-notch pizza for you to try then smugly recommend to your friends.
If you’re in Edinburgh, the Civerinos guys are a good place to start – they have three spots (their original on Hunter Square, a slice place opposite Potterrow, and their High Dive pizza bar just up from the Pleasance). There’s also Dough (brilliant, cheap takeaway pizza in the Southside), Razzo (Neapolitan realness in Leith, plus it’s BYOB), and Pizzeria 1926 (great pizzeria in Dalry).
Over in Glasgow, Paesano do an absolutely excellent pizza at their places in town and the West End, and they’ll ask for less than half of what Pizza Hut would want for a far-inferior pizza. Just east of the city centre, Baked Pizza Al Taglio serve up rectangular wedges of Roman-style pizza with amazingly inventive toppings, plus they’re rectangular so they stack up extremely easily. Fill your tote bag with pizza, grab some extremely challenging beers on the way home, and you’ll be cycling into the foodie life before you know it.