Scotland's Best Food On-the-Go

Groundbreaking street food, top-drawer takeaways and tiny, tiny cafes; your on-the-go favourites are an eclectic and high-quality bunch

Feature by Peter Simpson | 05 Jan 2017

The great thing about our 'on-the-go' category is it's more than a little nebulous. Do we mean a straight-up hole-in-the-wall takeaway, or a fast casual dining spot that doesn't require cancelling your afternoon to get your lunch, or a street food stand to pick up something great as you pass through? Well, it means all of those things, so let's go through them, starting with the street food.

Glasgow street food aces Chompsky were one of your favourites this year for their ever-evolving menu of delights from all over the world as well as establishing the city's first legit street food truck, and you also liked Julie's Street Kitchen for its exciting take on southeast Asian cuisine. When we caught up with the Chompsky guys last autumn, they told a familiar tale of street food chefs and entrepreneurs fighting against local authority intransigence, while expressing cautious optimism for Scotland's street food scene. As they said: "New York went through all of the same growing pains and their street food scene is huge with trucks everywhere; it's just that the difficult stuff was all five or 10 years ago.”

There have been some interesting developments in the street food scene in the last 12 months – Edinburgh's Pitt food market has established itself as a must-visit location, and the Gordon Street Laneways project last summer offered Julie's and others an extended residency in the heart of Glasgow while keeping the street vibes intact. Meanwhile developments like the Taste Buchanan revamp of the Buchanan Galleries food court have brought both Chompsky and Julie's to a mainstream audience, so we might be able to speed up that timeline from earlier after all.

From street food to fast food, and a pair of incredible Asian spots that take the act of grabbing a quick bite to eat and turn it into an artform. In Glasgow, Kimchi Cult's 'punk riffs on Korean classics' range from Korean fried chicken and bibimbap (think sushi rolls, but better) to kimchi-inflected burgers and fusion dishes like bulgogi-topped fries. Chips, with K-marinated beef and kimchi hot sauce on top; no wonder you voted for these guys.

Over in Edinburgh, Ting Thai Caravan's continued brilliance gets the nod – the queue outside, come rain or shine, has been a permanent fixture since the doors opened back in 2013, and with good reason. The standard and scope of the menu is remarkable, from small plates packed with spice and flavour to outrageously good curries and noodle soups, and it's incredible value for money as well. Brilliant flavours, brilliant prices and a genuine buzz about the place – that queue isn't going anywhere any time soon.

And last but not least, the takeaways. Your Edinburgh favourite was Mexican spot Los Cardos on Leith Walk, home to some of the most outrageous burritos you'll ever see. Their haggis burrito is particularly well-renowned (it even comes in a veggie variant) but each of their burritos is packed full of tasty ingredients.

Speaking of things being packed, the scene behind the counter at Glasgow's Brew Box Coffee Company must be a sight to behold, with the cafe – in an old police box on Wilson St – turning out a remarkable range and quality of food and drinks. Breakfast pots, coffees, grilled cheeses and a spectacular array of sandwiches – Brew Box is a fitting selection as an on-the go favourite. Some people say you can't have a good meal if you're short on time, but then some people also say you can't run a top-drawer cafe from a box in the middle of the road. Anything's possible if you have the skills and enthusiasm – now put down that meal deal sandwich and get yourself a real lunch.