A Tale of Two Cities: The best cafes in Edinburgh and Glasgow

We stir things up a bit to take a look at this year’s Best Cafe winners

Feature by Peter Simpson | 07 Jan 2015

Rivalries of any size are exciting, but it’s the lasting ones, like light versus darkness, or dogs versus cats, that provide the best entertainment. Add to that list of eternal struggles the rivalry between Edinburgh and Glasgow – the tweedy, touristy capital city up against its gritty, edgy bigger brother, the two locked in a constant battle to be considered ‘the cool one.’ We like them both, and so do you – but which is better, eh? Let’s find out, as we look at your favourite cafes in this year’s voting.

Let’s face it, Glasgow’s great, isn’t it? It’s a city that does the nebulous very well, in that almost every venue seems to have multiple uses. The Glad Cafe in Shawlands is a great example – one of your favourite cafes for the second year in a row, it provides a hub for the artistic community in the Southside, while also making a splash with its great menu and locally-sourced ingredients. It’s a cafe-slash-venue-slash-bar-slash-gallery, and should the need arise it can probably fill in for any other type of venue you require.

Even Glasgow’s out-and-out coffee shops have a number of different functions – Papercup on Great Western Road is a great little cafe, with a whole host of blends and varieties on the go at any one time, and a pretty interesting food menu as well. But more than that, Papercup is also a coffee wholesaler, with their beans spread far and wide across the city and beyond. Papercup roast those beans themselves, you see, as well as selling them to other cafes, plus finding the time to actually make coffees themselves.

Having said all that, Edinburgh’s great too, isn’t it? And far from being an architectural theme park with a couple of pandas thrown in, it actually houses a bunch of exciting and interesting venues that don’t involve waiting for a glimpse of nature’s stupidest animal. You named Lovecrumbs as one of your Edinburgh favourites this year, and with good reason – anyone who fills an antique wardrobe with cakes is getting off to a good start, and when those cakes take in flavour combinations like sweet potato and toasted marshmallow, almond and bramble and white chocolate and pink peppercorn then you’re on to a winner. Oh, and fans of the aforementioned history will be pleased to hear that the castle is just round the corner.

In fact, even the tweedier suburbs of Edinburgh have plenty going for them cafe-wise, a statement that The Blue Bear in Canonmills attests to with some style. The Blue Bear combines its leafy location with a laid-back vibe, straightforward aesthetic and a frankly ludicrous breakfast and brunch menu that features the dish you always want, the one you would order if they didn’t have the first one, and then loads more options you hadn’t previously considered.

Of course there are some things that we can all agree on, with the brilliance of Artisan Roast being one of them. Readers at both ends of the M8 voted in their droves for the coffee supremos, who source and roast their own beans, adorn the walls of their three cafes with complex coffee-related diagrams, and make a flat white that’ll get your day off to a flying start in that you’ll feel like you might actually fly out the door. Edinburghers like their Broughton Street den and their spot in Bruntsfield, Glaswegians get to smell the magic happening at the roaster in the Gibson Street cafe, and we all get something to agree on for once.

The Skinny Food and Drink Survey 2015:

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