Scotland has a huge array of cheap and cheerful places to eat out in the main cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and Stirling. If you’re looking for an affordable bakery, a great coffee boost, or classic student grub we have you covered. There’s even a famous three-course lunch for just £4. Is it the cheapest place to eat out in Scotland?
Brass Monkey, 14 Drummond Street, Edinburgh EH8 9TU
Very close to the University of Edinburgh, this is a narrow bar with lots of movie posters and even a hidden lounge with mattresses at the back, where they have daily film screenings at 3pm. Real ale, board games, and free WiFi are available, and they have a weekly quiz night. Open from noon until 1am every day. If you enjoy it, there are three other Brass Monkey bars in Edinburgh (not related, as far as we can tell): one on Leith Walk, one on the Shore, and one in the Grange.
Dropkick Murphys, 7 Merchant Street, Edinburgh EH1 2QD
Named after the band of the same name, this cavernous late-night live music pub is hidden underneath the George IV bridge in the Old Town. You enter through a long corridor, imitating the walk out at Croke Park in Dublin, straight into a replica of famous Irish pub Foxy John’s. This is a real pub that includes a hardware store, sweet shop and cocktail bar (but only cocktails are available for purchase in the Foxy John’s area).
The main bar is upstairs, where you can gaze at their collection of Gaelic football tops and take part in the ‘split the G’ Guinness challenge to win a T-shirt. Free T-shirts are also given to those who sing Westlife songs at their karaoke on Wednesdays. Open till 3am every night, and 5am during the Fringe. No food, so line yer stomachs elsewhere.
The Library Bar, 13 Bristo Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AJ
Right in the centre of The University of Edinburgh campus at Bristo Square is The Library Bar. You don’t have to venture far from your study spot to get refreshments. Check out daily deals such as burger and beer for £10 or 2-4-1 Pizzas or their 2-4-1 Nachos. There’s also quite a few vegan options on the menu.
Storries Bakery, 279 Leith Walk, Edinburgh EH6 8PD
An old-school bakery (takeaway only) that can be relied upon for baked goods in the wee hours, as it is open all night. Whether it be a sweet pineapple tart or vegan pie you crave, this inexpensive place has plenty to choose from and more vegan options than you might expect.
Bloc+, 117 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 2SZ
Not only is Bloc+ somewhere to eat, it’s also a cracking wee basement music venue. All artists performing are paid for doing so, which is surprisingly unusual. Open 7 days a week, they offer daily deals such as Pasta Monday, Burger Tuesday, Steak Wednesday, Kentucky Thursday, Bloc+ Dog Friday and Super Special Sundays, which offers all the daily deals from 11am to 5pm. They have an entire vegan and veggie menu, and won Come Dine With Me: The Professionals last year. Open until 3am every night.
The Rum Shack, 657 – 659 Pollokshaws Road, G41 2AB
The Rum Shack boasts more than 100 rums from across the world, for anyone curious about the beverage. Keeping the Caribbean feel, the food menu offers delights such as jerk chicken, chargrilled fish, or more traditional dishes like curried goat. Regular live events are hosted in their 250-capacity venue with an open mic night every Wednesday. There’s a beer garden at the back too. Open from noon Friday to Sunday, and till 4pm the rest of the week. Closes at midnight every night, apart from 1am on Friday and Saturday.
The Star Bar, 37-539 Eglinton Street, Glasgow G5 9RN
The Star Bar features Glasgow’s famous three-course lunch for £4, which caters more to an older crowd, but if you’re looking for cheap homely grub with an equally cheap pint then you’ll struggle to find better value than this. Enjoy Scotch broth to start (or orange juice!) followed by fish & chips; Scotch pie; roast beef etc. Not vegan-friendly but there are vegetarian options (orange juice, macaroni cheese, creamed rice).
Famous 24/7 bakery that has been keeping post-clubbing students fed for decades. For an all-day takeaway in an industrial estate, the selection is surprisingly extensive: they sell a selection of pizzas in addition to the usual cakes and pies. You can also buy ‘magic bags’ (discounted food past its best) on the Too Good To Go app. Some vegan items available. Open 24 hours.
Pacamara, 302 Perth Road, Dundee DD2 1AU
Recently refurbished, this is a breakfast and brunch cafe in the west end of the city, where you can enjoy lots of egg-based dishes like bubble and squeak eggs benedict, shakshuka or Colombian eggs (scrambled with spring onion and tomato). Many vegetarian items, but not much is vegan. Open 8.30am till 4pm Monday to Friday and 9am till 4pm on weekends.
The West House, 2 West Port, Dundee DD1 5EP
Close to the University of Dundee, this bright and airy cafe-bar-restaurant is open from 8am for pancakes, waffles, French toast, eggs, or burritos, with a mostly Mediterranean menu of pizza, pasta, salads, and sharing plates for lunch and dinner. Plenty of vegetarian options available, but vegan items are limited.
The Gatehouse Coffee Roasters, Benn Avenue, Paisley PA1 1JS
If you love coffee then this is a great place to buy freshly ground beans and have a coffee and a gab. It’s the only coffee roastery that we’re aware of in Paisley. Open Monday to Friday 8:30am till 12:30pm.
Roasters, 69 High Street, Paisley PA1 2AY
This upmarket cafe has colourful, flavoursome food and good portions. The menu covers filled rolls, various ‘stacks’, toasted sandwiches, burgers, waffles, pancakes and more. Open from 8am on weekdays and 9am on weekends, until 4pm every day.
The Wee Howff, 53 High Street, Paisley PA1 2AN
A Tardis of a pub which is known for having a great atmosphere, friendly staff, and a jukebox.
Curly Coo Bar, 51 Barnton Street, Stirling FK8 1HH
This classic pub is Stirling’s best place for whisky, with over 130 single malts available. But of course they have beer too, with local Joker IPA and Schiehallion lager on draught and Orkney Dark Island on cask. Drinks only. Open from 4pm (5pm on Sundays) till 1am on Fridays and Saturdays, and midnight every other night.
The Hideaway Cafe, Fountain Mews, Fountain Road, Bridge of Allan FK9 4EN
Located in Bridge of Allan near the university, this cafe is aptly named as it’s hidden down a lane (look out for the signpost on the side of the Strathcarron Vintage Charity Shop on Fountain Road). Once you find it, it’s surprisingly large. Fry-ups, pancakes, soups, and buddha bowls are on the menu. Filling portions and vegan options available. Open all week from 9am till 5pm (10am till 4pm on Sundays).
Nicky Tams, 29 Baker Street, Stirling FK8 1BJ
One of the oldest pubs in Stirling, this popular music venue is open seven days a week, serving hearty pub food like burgers, nachos, haggis, and macaroni from noon (1pm on Sundays) till 8pm. Limited vegan options, though. There’s live music every night from 9pm, with open mic on Wednesdays instead, and a pub quiz on Sundays. Open from noon until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays, and midnight every other night.