With SAAS and Student Loans conveniently loading up your bank account, you may be financially stable and curious enough to want to explore what the West End’s food and drink scene has to offer. To give you a little helping hand, here’s a helpful little guide to steer you towards some of the best establishments near the University.
Upon stepping into this legendary Otago Lane establishment, you might feel as if you’ve just entered your friend’s living room. Dim lights and quirky furniture make Tchai-Ovna the perfect place to relax and escape from the outside world for a few hours while sipping on some of the best chai found in Glasgow. The tea rooms boast an impressive menu featuring just about every type of brew you could imagine, as well as some nice vegan options. Tchai-Ovna also provides a space for local artists to showcase their work by regularly hosting small music gigs, poetry readings and other such events in the shop.
It’s not hard to see how this pizzeria has acquired a kind of celebrity status in Glasgow. Paesano uses traditional Italian ingredients and preparation methods to create something that might as well be straight out of Naples. Even a standard Margherita there is an experience, largely owing to the dough used (a hybrid yeast and sourdough mixture) and to the quality and flavour of even the most basic of toppings (tomato sauce actually tastes likes tomatoes). Try their pizza and you’ll know what I mean. It’s also quite likely that even your hard-to-please Italian friends will agree too.
This small coffee shop on Kersland Street just off Great Western Road is a great place to check out for anyone who might have seen enough of the Fraser Building but still wants something affordable for lunch. Naked Soup offer a variety of daily soups – shock, right? – as well as freshly made sandwiches, including classics like mozzarella and pesto and a deliciously tasty Thai-inspired chicken. If you also feel like idling away with a coffee for an hour or two between lectures, then this is a lovely place to do so.
A famously nice spot for vegans and vegetarians in Glasgow, this Finnieston bar and kitchen won’t disappoint no matter your diet. Expect anything from hummus, soups and salads to seitan patty burgers and burritos. There’s no meat but plenty of flavour, and you won’t have to splurge either. Small plates are mostly less than a fiver and big plates will never cost you more than £10. If that’s not enough, The 78 doesn’t just serve delicious food - they host DJ gigs every week on Friday and Saturday nights as well as a live Jazz night on Sundays, making it a weekend favourite for many in the West End.
Just a short walk from the Botanic Gardens, a true gem among Glasgow coffee shops awaits. William Café makes a scrumptious range of great breakfast and lunch dishes from ingredients sourced locally or provided by Scottish purveyors. Their coffee, which comes from the grand Glasgow roastery Dear Green, is no exception to this local approach either. So, whether you pop in for some “Eggs Cumberbatch”, for one of their (seriously) famous sausage rolls, or simply for a flat white, William Café is always worth a visit.
Just off Byres Road, Kimchi Cult! combines fast food and Korean cuisine – two very satisfying things if you ask me – so it is no wonder that the result makes your knees go weak. Personal favourites include the Gochujang Hot Sauce Fried Chicken and Bibimbap Rice Bowls, though the whole menu is pretty beautiful. Lunch deals at Kimchi Cult! are £6.50 for either a bao bun with fries and a drink or one of the aforementioned – very filling - bibimbap bowls. Beware though, its popularity means that seating in the restaurant is quite limited so you might have to do take-out.
The Hanoi Bike Shop
The food at this little Vietnamese canteen is flavourful and nuanced in a way that is likely to take your palate by surprise and leave your soul audibly sighing with pleasure. (No less poetic description will do here.) There’s a wide variety of freshly made dishes that includes anything from sweetcorn and coconut fritters to caramel pork belly and sea bream served with cucumber kimchi. You’ll also find the classic Pho and a few different types of wonderful homemade tofu. Prices at Hanoi Bike Shop are moderate but not a total bargain, so eating there might be more of an occasional treat. Still, I’d argue that this place actually deserves your money - so please go and make your taste buds happy.
Most standard doughnuts taste okay when you eat them and then make you collapse into a greasy pile of regret. I won’t lie, having one at Tantrum Doughnuts might unleash the inner sloth as well. But at least when it’s madagascar vanilla bean custard with a crunchy torched sugar, your lethargy will actually be worth every bite. Tantrum’s selection includes airy brioche as well as “old fashioned” cake-like dough, and ranges from permanent favourites like PB&J to changing specials such as Mexican hot chocolate. They also do good coffee and, apparently, butterbeer.