The Skinny Food & Drink Survey 2019: Best Lunch & Dinner

Your favourite restaurants from the last year, combining veggie cool, exciting flavour combinations, and huge bowls of noodles

Feature by Paris Karstedt | 07 Jan 2019

A good meal should be a little messy, and lunch is no exception. When it comes to this standard of satisfying dining, El Cartel (15-16 Teviot Pl and 64 Thistle St, Edinburgh) delivers. Their's is a sizzling Mexican menu featuring some of the icons of messy eating – achiote pork shoulder tacos, apricot tamarind sauce-smothered wings, and pineapple-glazed pork ribs. It’s all about the flavour, which will end up all over your fingers.

Also starring in the Breakfast/Brunch category, MalaCarne (1036 Cathcart Rd, Glasgow) shines as the gold standard for good vegetarian dishes. A favorite lunch dish is the marinated smoked tofu or halloumi sandwich served with red cabbage, mint, pistachio salad, and gherkin. Ideal for satisfy your mid-day hunger.

Nonya (10 Claremont St, Glasgow) is a sweet escape for your taste buds, infusing flavours from Thailand, Malaysia and China into any humdrum lunch routine. Their Chinese burger is no exception – it's an explosion of flavour in the form of braised pork belly, cumin lamb or marinated tofu covered in shredded lettuce, chicken fat mayonnaise (not with the tofu, obvs), coriander, chili, and spring onion. All of that fills one of Nonya's delightfully light homemade flatbreads.

If you are looking for a place that loves to play with food, Harmonium (60 Henderson St, Edinburgh) has got it down to a science, creating vegan dishes that resemble any meat lover's favorites. Perhaps the most iconic is Harmonium’s quarter pounder – a handmade beast topped with vegan bacon, garlic mayo, diced white onion, tomato and crispy lettuce in a toasted bun, served with side salad and chips. It’s worth paring with an unbelievably creamy (and yet still dairy-free) side dish of mac & cheese.

Some say dinner and a show, we prefer dinner as the show. In this case, it's lunch, and you can have both. The Rose Theatre Cafe (204 Rose St, Edinburgh), tucked within the Rose Theatre offers an ever-changing menu of cakes, salads, sandwiches and soups made from scratch by hand each day. 

You can’t beat the lunch offering at Five March (140 Elderslie St, Glasgow), with three dishes for just twelve of your pounds. That's especially true when the menu options are just so enticing – dishes like sticky pork, spring onions, beansprouts, ginger, chili, soy and mirin; or squid, chorizo, barley, tomato, cider and bread sauce.

Then there are a pair of venues to cater to the noodle soup fans out there who need warmed up at the end of a long day. The brainchild of Julie Lin MacLeod, Julie's Kopitiam (1109 Pollokshaws Rd, Glasgow) offers a stunning Malaysian menu. You’ll find a range of Malaysian dishes, including the bowl of goodness that is the Malaysian Laksa Kari with laksa sauce, egg noodles, beansprouts, boiled egg and shrimp. The menu at Tomillo (8 Speirs Wharf, Glasgow) offers a spread of delicious vegan options, including their staple, hearty Tofu Dandan Ramen with a smoky, spicy broth and charred tofu.