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9 foodie hacks for great dining in Scotland

Who doesn’t love delicious food? But if you can get it for less, enjoy it in a unique eatery, have a complete foodie experience or all three – then even better.

Here are our top food and drink hacks and tips so you get to experience the best of Scotland’s tasty homegrown produce.

1. Eat seasonally and try food when it’s at its best


Eating seasonally not only carries benefits to your health, but is also much cheaper because of the relative abundance of the crop. So get familiar with what’s in season and keep that in mind when you go out for dinner as ordering a dish made of seasonal ingredients is likely to be slightly less expensive. Same rule applies when planning meals at home.

Scotland is lucky enough to have a whole year of foodie goodness. Look out for tender lamb and delicious rhubarb in spring, juicy berries in summer, succulent game meats and sweet pears in autumn and seafood in winter.

2. Buy delicious local produce at farmers’ markets and cook your own

Locally grown kohlrabi on sale at the Blairgowrie farmers’ market

Where better to pick up the freshest food than at a farmers’ market? Stalls burst with everything from seasonal fruit and vegetables to game and smoked mackerel. You can also sample cheese, artisan chocolates, homemade jams, bread and locally brewed craft beer. Save money dining at home while trying delicious food from local producers for free and find recipe suggestions from stallholders.

3. Try Scotland’s amazing seafood

You only need to glance at the plates coming out of Scotland’s kitchens to see that the country’s seafood is a class apart, from the freshest crabs and langoustines to incredible oysters and freshwater fish.

If you’re by the coast, it’s easy to lay your hands on fresh and affordable fish and seafood all year round. Look out for simple seafood shacks, sheds or vans (you name it) – they serve up the freshest of fresh ingredients, and often boast terrific views too! When you go out for dinner at a restaurant, it’s also always worth finding out what’s on the specials menu – there will often be a seafood option; many restaurants also often do a fixed price menu.

If you’re a lover of seafood and enjoy rugged, unspoiled landscapes, why not spend some time exploring the places and the produce that is on Scotland’s Seafood Trail?

4. Ask locals for tips on hidden gems and up-and-coming restaurants

Restaurants, bars and offices reflected in the Water of Leith on Leith Shore, Edinburgh

When planning where you will be eating each day, leave some room for spontaneity and get recommendations from the hotel concierge, your taxi driver and from other people you meet along the way. Locals can offer a wealth of knowledge on hidden gems you might not have found otherwise.

5. Discover delicious food along Scotland’s foodie trails

The Sgriob-Ruadh Farm Dairy, near Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Want to know how Scotland’s delicious local produce is made? Choose a food or drink trail or an area, or even take in a few in one trip, and go behind the scenes at cheesemakers, whisky distilleries, chocolate shops and more. You could be sampling piping-hot smoked haddock in the morning and trying a pint or two of zesty or refreshing Scottish ales from one of the breweries in the afternoon. Scotland’s abundant natural larder is second to none and is renowned for its unrivalled produce. Eat and drink your way around Scotland and experience its culinary treasures.

6. Treat yourself to a meal at a Michelin-star restaurant – without blowing your budget

A main course of Sole, poached scallops and calamari served at the Peat Inn restaurant with rooms, by St Andrews, Fife

There are some dining experiences you never forget and eating at a Michelin-star restaurant is one of them. Worried about the cost? You don’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy food in one of these sophisticated eateries – take advantage of the great lunchtime deals that many Michelin-star establishments offer. Though lunchtime menus may often have less food choice, it’s also usually less expensive. Oftentimes it can be a fixed price meal!

7. Try food prepared by celebrity chefs at food festivals

Chef Tony Singh

What do you get when you mix a skilled celebrity chef, excellent ingredients and a fantastic environment? An amazing foodie experience! There are plenty of artisan foodie events in Scotland, including whisky, beer and food festivals, and lots of them feature a fantastic line-up of celebrity chefs and special guests. Ticket prices often include a chance to sample lots of produce, attend cooking and baking shows, access chefs or tasting theatres and much more. Explore our calendar of foodie events.

8. Look out for quality assurance and authentic food stamps

Seared scallops on Stornoway Black Pudding

Look for places which are part of the VisitScotland Taste Our Best scheme. This quality assurance scheme ensures you always get the best of our food and drink. You should also look out for the tasty food that has the coveted PGI status (Protected Geographical Indication), which indicates the food’s authentic nature – it covers products whose production, processing or preparation takes places in a specific area. A number of Scotland’s rich food offerings have been given protected status, including Stornoway Black Pudding, Ayrshire Dunlop and Orkney cheddar cheeses, Shetland lamb and Scottish wild salmon among other.

9. Experience regional flavours that you won’t find elsewhere

The production of local delicacy the Arbroath Smokie in Arbroath, Angus

You can have smoked salmon salad anywhere! Wherever you are in the country, there are delicious local flavours to enjoy. Find out what is local in the area you’re visiting and choose regional specialties. Discover the Forfar bridie, a unique Dundee & Angus dish; tasty Ayrshire bacon and award-winning Arran cheeses; the Scottish Borders’ sugary delights such as the boiled sweets, Jethhart snails and Soor Plooms; and the succulent Aberdeen Angus beef to name just a few regional delicacies.

Find more useful information on food and drink in Scotland.