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June 23, 2014

At the heart of the West End, Byres Road has long been a great place to eat out and drink in Glasgow. The large student population keeps it lively but the scholars are by no means the only influence on the area’s restaurant scene. Byres Road and the surrounding streets have also hosted some significant and influential restaurants which have had an effect on the rest of the city’s, and arguably, the nation’s eating habits.

Innovative Scottish cooking

Number 16

Few would argue that the Ubiquitous Chip was a pioneer in championing Scottish food when Ronnie Clydesdale first opened the doors some 40 odd years ago. These days, restaurants like Cail Bruich and Number 16 continue to fly the flag for innovative Scottish cooking and locally sourced ingredients in Glasgow’s West End. The Ubiquitous Chip got its name because chips were an almost ubiquitous item on every menu in every restaurant forty odd years ago. Now, a good chip can be a thing of beauty but you can also have too much of a good thing – a lesson that the restaurateurs of Byres Road have taken to heart. Of course, there is still no shortage of Byres Road establishments with chips on the menu but, among other cuisines, diners can also choose to eat Indian, Italian, French, Thai and even Burmese dishes on and around Byres Road.

Byres Road Indian restaurants

Indian food in particular has always been a hit in Glasgow and there have been many theories as to why the city has taken to Indian food with quite such gusto in the last 50 years. We don’t know if it was the then exoticism of Punjabi spices or simply because much Indian food offered an inner glow to counter the often less then welcoming weather.

Glasgow Curry Shop

Whatever the reason, the Byres Road area hosts great Indian restaurants such as the busy, well established Ashoka Ashton Lane and the more recent Masala Twist which incorporates the tapas format into Indian cooking. Many people also swear by the cosy atmosphere and vibrant cooking of The Wee Curry Shop on Byres Road or it sister operation the Glasgow Curry Shop on Ashton Lane. The latter’s walls are covered with memorabilia of Glasgow’s curry heritage.

Italian food fan?

La Vita Spuntini

If Indian food has many fans in Glasgow then so does Italian food. From the wooden beams, lion-shaped ovens and sharing bowls of pasta at La Vita Spuntini to the intimate bistro surrounds of Una Storia on Ashton Lane, there are several different styles of Italian restaurant around Byres Road. Obviously, talking about Italian food in Glasgow without mentioning Di Maggio’s is like eating cheese without pickle – you can do it but it’s a lot less fun. The Di Maggio’s West End branch, on Ruthven Lane, is the oldest Di Maggio restaurant of them all, having opened its doors in 1985 as an Italian-American pizzeria. Nearly thirty years on, it is still going strong and remains as family-friendly as ever.

More extensively travelled kitchens

Looking to more extensively travelled kitchens, Bar Soba on Byres Road is a relative newcomer to the area but one which has quickly won fans. ‘Eat, drink, dance and get lucky’ is the motto here, same as the Mitchell Lane sister operation. The 5pm Dining blog dances like a clown and has no comment to make on getting lucky but we can recommend the pan-Asian dining at Bar Soba and their wide range of stunning cocktails. The Burmese style pork belly curry is a particular favourite.

[Bar Soba Byres Road][13]
Bar Soba Byres Road

Carnivorous delights

Byres Road also has plenty to offer those whose tastes lie closer to home. To sample la belle France, you could head to La Vallée Blanche on Byres Road. Modelled on an Alpine ski chalet, it serves classic French dishes like the cassoulet of confit duck, pork belly and Toulouse sausage.


Further carnivorous delights are to the fore at Bo’Vine, located almost directly across Byres Road from La Vallée Blanche. With a name that plays on the Gaelic for cow and the French for handsome, this steakhouse serves a grill menu of grass-fed Perthshire beef alongside a selection of main courses that draw on French and Mediterranean cuisines.

US style & cocktails

Taking its cue from the other side of the Atlantic, Charlie Rocks is an all-out American diner. Should you ever be on Byres Road and suddenly overcome with burning desire for a paprika-breaded chicken burger fried in chorizo butter then you know in which direction to point your Cadillac.

Booly Mardy’s food

Sticking with the more lively end of the dining scene, Booly Mardy’s on Vinicombe Street is well known for its skill with a Boston shaker. They are also handy in the kitchen and produce a range of burgers and pizza along with gourmet sandwiches – often made with prime Scottish ingredients such as Robertson’s bacon from Ayrshire.

Hyde Bar & Grill

While Booly Mardy’s is a relative veteran of the West End bar dining scene, Hyde Bar and Grill, located by the bottom of Byres Road, opened at the end of 2013. Another dab hand on the cocktail front, Hyde offers a slinky bar and grill, mezzanine and south-facing terrace for guests. The menu sweeps from the house burger to dishes like the pan-fried sea bream with crab crush potatoes, sauce vierge and spring greens. If Byres Road is always buzzing with new ventures, it also boasts some golden oldies. The Curler’s Rest claims to have roots stretching back 600 years. This pub with an upstairs dining area offers classic bar meals and an interesting menu of bar snacks – think Gloucester Old Spot sausage rolls and salt ‘n’ pepper squid.

Ruthven, Cresswell & Ashton Lanes

Nipping around the corner to Ashton Lane, The Grosvenor’s many attraction include a cinema and many family-friendly features such as arts and crafts afternoons. We like the globe-trotting, modern menu which covers everything from chicken noodle broth to pigeon pie via Arbroath smokie fish cakes and confit duck legs.

[Ashton Lane][21]
Ashton Lane

Jump across Great George Street to Cresswell Lane, Ashton Lane’s more laid back sister and you’ll find Cafe Andaluz West End tucked below the cobbles. Serving an Andalucian tapas feast, meat lovers, fish lovers and good old vegetarians won’t be stuck for choice with 46 tapas to choose from. For a firmer Scottish emphasis on your plate, The Bothy on Ruthven Lane is just the tartan ticket. With staff in kilts and dining spaces modelled on granny’s kitchen crossed with a Highland hunting lodge, The Bothy has created its own, unique space in the West End. Naturally, there are haggis, neeps and tatties; bowls of Cullen skink and Ayrshire lamb on the menu as well as more cosmopolitan dishes such as moules marinieres and seared sea bass fillets served with coconut rice and a pineapple salsa.

Cuppa, anyone?

Cup Byres Road

We realise that simply the thought of eating in twenty odd restaurants dotted in and around Byres Road may put you in need of a sit down and a nice cup of tea. Happily, they don’t come nicer than those served at Cup. Hugely popular with 5pm customers, this bustling tearoom serves delicious breakfasts and brunches; soups, sandwiches and exquisite afternoon teas, cupcakes and, of course, a huge variety of the finest loose leaf teas as well as fine coffees. To get offers for all the restaurants featured here and more in the West End, check our Glasgow West End Dining hub