Scotland (and the UK in general) is not necessarily known globally for its cuisine. In fact, for decades Scottish food has—sometimes unfairly—been a bit of a punchline. But that perception is certainly changing, and many parts of Scotland have started to become known for fresh ingredients and interesting foodie options.
While Edinburgh and Glasgow get a lot of the attention, Aberdeen has a lot to offer foodie travelers as well! So today we’re talking about some of the best places to eat in Aberdeen.
I’ve also included an interactive map of Aberdeen restaurants and bars at the bottom of the post that has both the places I visited and recommend, as well as a handful of places I wasn’t able to get to but that friends strongly recommended.
Other Scottish adventures from this trip:
…and how to plan an epic 10-day Scotland road trip itinerary!
Where to stay in Aberdeen
I stayed at the Sandman Signature right in the heart of Aberdeen, and GUYS…it is amazing!
Besides the fact that the hotel is a maze and I don’t think I ever found my room the same way twice, it was super charming, incredibly comfortable, and the most perfect location possible. Everything was just a few minutes’ walk away. I will 100% stay here any time I’m in Aberdeen.
Aberdeen restaurants to try
First off, I was crushed that the cat cafe I’d discovered online had closed. I had big plans…
So once I set aside dreams of frolicking kittens, I dug into my list of recommendations and tried out a handful of fun, fresh, interesting Aberdeen restaurants that showcase the best of what you can find here—here are some of my favorites!
One of the things I loved about Aberdeen was the juxtaposition of all these super cool old buildings and the bright, modern street art. There’s quite a bit of it around Cafe 52, and if you sit out on the patio it’s on display.
Even in the chilly rainy evening, they had heaters on and blankets, and it was pleasant enough to be worth the chill (and fresh air!). Cafe 52 is a small plates concept with delicious fresh ingredients and interesting takes on some Scottish classics.
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It was so hard to decide what to try, and I definitely went overboard. I had the cullen skink (good, but not the best I had in Scotland), smoked salmon and Shropshire blue bruschetta with wild rocket pesto, sea bass filet, fried parsnips with sea salt and honey, and the fig tart with Turkish coffee ice cream. DON’T JUDGE.
Everything was great, but the smoked salmon bruschetta and the fig tart were definitely my favorites. That Turkish coffee ice cream was BOMB!!
[update June 2023, unfortunately closed]
If you’d told me a vegan cafe would be on my list of “must-try” places, I’d have said you’re nuts. But Bonobo is awesome and delicious DESPITE it being vegan 🙂
It was busy there and so I ended up getting takeout and bringing it back to my hotel to work, so I didn’t get to see their upstairs seating area but the overall place is really cute.
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I had their vegan mac & cheese, a quinoa and roasted carrot salad, and a scone. All vegan, and all delicious. Their iced latte was great too.
And I could feel semi-righteous about healthy life choices after a week and a half of pure gluttony. Bonobo definitely deserves a spot on your itinerary, even for breakfast if you’ve got the time!
This wasn’t a recommendation, but rather something I wandered by and had to come back and try. My love of Turkish cuisine is well-documented, and so when I saw Nargile I decided to make that my last night’s meal.
I had their stuffed grape leaves (yaprak dolmasi) and then a specialty dish called hunkar begendi. It’s chargrilled marinated lamb on a bed of creamed eggplant. It was great, though I ended up wishing I’d ordered one of my favorite dishes (I was trying to branch out). Totally recommend this place!
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Where to drink in Aberdeen
Besides great restaurants, Aberdeen has quite an up-and-coming cocktail scene, so make sure to get out to at least one cool cocktail bar while you’re there! Here are a couple I tried and would recommend.
This place is super cool! I had a couple drinks here and chatted with the bartender for a while. If you’re looking for great cocktails in Aberdeen, this is definitely your place!
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Honestly this was a little less my vibe (but I’m not very cool). But to be fair I think it would have been a lot better with friends and at a different time. It was totally dead when I visited (earlier in the evening), and I didn’t find the staff very warm. But this is definitely a cool place to try out and I’m glad I went.
I tried their “perfect martini” with Marylebone gin, and I’m sure it was a great martini (I’ve actually never had one) but it was a bit too intensely boozy for me…I tend to be more of a gin & tonic girl. I loved how they served it though, very cool.
There were a few other Aberdeen restaurants that were recommended to me and I didn’t get to try but others recommend. Here are a few other options if you’re looking for ideas:
- Books & Beans
- Foodstory (vegetarian/vegan but supposed to be great)
- The Sand Dollar Cafe
- The Craftsman
- Moonfish (if you’re feeling a bit fancy)
Here’s a map showing the locations of all the Aberdeen restaurants and bars. The red ones are the ones I visited myself, and green is the additional list of ones I’d still like to try. You can access the map by this link too, to see things more easily.
So I managed to (okay, EAT) a lot in just a day and a half! What places to eat in Aberdeen have I missed that absolutely have to be on my list next time?? Hit me up in the comments!
Other food & drink adventures you’ll love:
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