Edinburgh & Glasgow food and drink: what's hot and what's not

Edinburgh & Glasgow food and drink: what's hot and what's not

Bodega / credit: Caitlin Cooke

Our 22nd annual Eating and Drinking Guide is released on Wed 22 April; who steps up to the plate?

Breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, dinner, drinks, a full-on sesh or just a quick one after work: with around 140 new bars, restaurants and cafés opening in Glasgow and Edinburgh this year, it can be hard to decide where to spend your hard-earned. But fear not, the 22nd edition of The List Eating and Drinking Guide hits the shops on Wed 22 April. As a wee sneak preview, Jo Laidlaw brings us a round-up of what’s hot and what’s, well, not.

What’s that? You’d like to raise a glass to us? After countless courses and considerable cocktails, we’ll stick to the peppermint tea, but you feel free to go ahead.
And we’re guessing you’ll be on the gin: king of the back bar and definitely having a moment. Who’s complaining? Not us. Not at all. Not even when it takes half an hour to order one because the barperson has to read out a gin list as long as their arm.

Speaking of lists, our love for craft beer is still strong, but perhaps – just perhaps – it’s starting to take itself a teeny bit too seriously. See also beer lists, beer flights, speciality beer glasses and other beer brouhaha.

If you’re sticking to softs, cheers all round as innovative local alternatives to the ubiquitous brands are starting to become the driver’s choice. Look out for names like Cry Baby Soda and Roots Soda.

So what’s hot?
Mexican food is having a long overdue makeover in Edinburgh. El Cartel pops up regularly around town, Bodega focuses on fresh flavours, while old faithful The Basement’s reboot sees guacamole prepared at the table and there’s a cracking fish taco too.

Glasgow’s thriving vegan scene is going from strength to strength, with bar / restaurant Mono proving vegan food goes just fine with a side of beer and live music.

In fact, food with a conscience is a growing trend. The admirable Social Bite has caught the eye of a certain Mr Clooney, thanks to their policy of employing staff who were formerly homeless. And buying an excellent tiffin from Glasgow’s Babu Bombay equals a donation to a street child in India.

Small plates are everywhere. Thanks to the Indian mix and match at Vdeep (Hardeep Singh Kohli’s new partnership with The Vintage team) and The Gannet’s genius small-plates-instead-of-pre-theatre concept, we can’t move for saucers. ‘Mon the nibbles.

What’s not so hot?
Did you hear about the guy who went to Glasgow and couldn’t get a burger? Nope, us neither. Gourmet or dirty, Glasgow’s now positively saturated with burgers, so the focus naturally turns to Edinburgh. Canny operators Burger Meats Bun have packed up their patties and opened a new branch, while Burger also has two shiny branches in the city.

All’s not lost though: things get interesting when the burger vibe encompasses ‘dude food’, as seen in Edinburgh newcomer Reekie’s Smokehouse. No burgers, just well-sourced cuts like brisket, slow cooked on an American-built smoker, with specials like pulled pork stovies taking the whole thing up a notch. Thankfully.

Tempting though it may be to blame the burger brigade for the seemingly inexorable move to plate-free dining, it’s not all their bad. The Eating and Drinking Guide team reported food on slates, boards, wee tins, paper wrapping, and rocks – yes, rocks – while a cocktail is clearly not a cocktail unless it comes in a jam jar.

Help us out readers. Check out @WeWantPlates on Twitter, join the revolution and pray that the rumours of Edinburgh being about to see an opening where plates and cutlery are banned from the premises prove unfounded. They better be.

So. Not. Hot.
Exposed brick. Mismatched chairs. Beards.

Totally. Over. Them.

The List Eating and Drinking Guide 22nd Edition is out on Wed 22 Apr