Ten quirky restaurants, bars and cafes across Scotland

But whether you’re planning a special celebration or just a little adventurous, sometimes it can pay to step out of your culinary comfort zone.

From fully themed events in scenic locations to hidden gems in the heart of the city center, here are ten places to eat and drink across Scotland that offer something very special.

The Sheep Heid Inn

43-45 The Causeway, Duddington

Aside from the cozy atmosphere and reputation for being one of the oldest pubs in the country, there’s one unique attraction in particular that makes a visit to the Sheep Heid Inn in Duddingston worthwhile.

Tucked away at the back of the venue is a traditional bowling alley, said to be the last of its kind in Scotland, which groups can book for “good old-fashioned fun”.


1 Argyll Road, Clydebank

Once a purpose-built seagoing vessel at a shipyard in Campbelltown, the McMonagles boat is now permanently moored in the Forth and Clyde Canal.

The takeaway and fully licensed restaurant in the heart of Clydebank is proud to offer the world’s first ‘Sail-Thru’ service, allowing passing boats to order a fish meal without ever having to set foot ashore.

There’s definitely a novelty factor involved, but as past winners of the Scottish Takeaway Awards and consistently raving TripAdvisor reviews, you’re also guaranteed a satisfying fodder.

The Dungeon Restaurant at Dalhousie Castle

Cockpen Road, Bonnyrigg

With over 700 years of history within its walls, Dalhousie Castle was once the seat of the Ramsay clan and now serves as a luxury hotel and spa.

Located in the country’s oldest inhabited castle, the double AA Rosette restaurant specializes in Scottish and French-influenced gourmet dishes.

More interesting, however, is the chance to dine by candlelight, surrounded by armor and thick stone walls in what was once a “dark and terrifying” dungeon.

Velocity Café and bike repair shop

1 Crown Avenue, Inverness

A cycling enthusiast’s dream stop, Velocity Café is a social enterprise with some truly eco-friendly credentials.

Not only do they serve a menu of hearty vegan and vegetarian dishes, but they also run a bike shop that offers repairs, fix-your-own-bikes, and regular “social cycling” events.

The absent ear

10 John Street, Glasgow

This speakeasy-style bar below the streets of Glasgow’s Merchant City has always managed to maintain a sense of mystery, despite earning a coveted spot on Scotland’s 50 Best Cocktail Bars list for the last two years.

Inspired by “the late great Vincent Van Gogh”, a trip to Absent Ear is a very special way to start an evening.

If you’re lucky, secure a seat.

Wilson’s Farm and Kitchen

Cowbog Farm, Kelso

Located on the Scottish Borders, Wilson’s Farm and Kitchen offers a range of farm tours and foodie experiences that showcase the region’s rich local produce.

Keep an eye out for summer events held in their quirky tin shacks, which can accommodate up to eight guests. Curry evenings in particular are very popular.

Glenfinnan Station Museum dining car

Station Road, Glenfinnan

The Dining Car at Glenfinnan Railway Station is run by a local team serving a range of breakfast, lunch, homemade pastries and drinks.

Overlooking Loch Schiel, the stationary coach has been fully restored and furnished to commemorate a time when dining on the go was an even more luxurious affair.

Guests are also entitled to a free tour of the museum exhibition where they can learn all about the rich history of the West Highland Railway.

The Ottoman coffee house

73 Berkley Street, Glasgow

Perhaps what is most intriguing about this Turkish coffeehouse, often referred to as one of Glasgow’s greatest ‘hidden gems’, is how unassuming it looks from its Berkley Street entrance.

Inside, however, caffeine lovers will find a cavernous space serving a selection of hot beverages unrivaled in the city.

Cheers to the Redeemer

7 Hanover Street Edinburgh

A pub with a ‘wonderful touch’ from the team behind Edinburgh’s hugely popular cocktail bar Panda & Sons.

Hoot the Redeemer is a 1950’s New Orleans carnival-themed venue complete with arcade games, a fortune telling machine and a choice of tarot-inspired cocktails or succulent ice cream.

The Purple Cat Cafe

2 Trongate, Glasgow

New furry friends can be made at this Glasgow cafe, where customers can reserve a meal or snack among a group of cats.

The cats, many of whom have been adopted or rescued, roam free in the cafe, making this a fun stop for any animal lover who can’t keep pets of their own.

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