It's not just for coffee - Glasgow's cafes are where you’ll most definitely experience the city’s famous friendliness, and the city's café scene is filled to the brim with independent cafes and coffee shops to hang with your friends, read a book or simply just people watch.
But with so many in every neighbourhood in the city where should you start? Well here’s a taster of some of the cream of the crop when it comes to enjoying Glasgow’s café culture.
The Grosvenor Café
Image credit: Surface-id
Down the cobbled back street of the city’s west end The Grosvenor can be found tucked in the heart of the neighbourhood’s famous Ashton Lane. Not just a café, the Grosvenor is also a bar, restaurant and cinema. Sitting within one of the city’s oldest and one of only two independent cinemas makes this café a great place for movie buffs to enjoy brunch before a settling in to watch a film. Prefer live music? Then this is also the café for you! Jam packed with music, comedy and many other events all year round this is café is always buzzing and the reason it’s known as an award-winning venue to enjoy more than just a java.
Named after the first ever African American student to achieve a medical degree from the University of Glasgow in 1837 (James McCune Smith – who became an influential American abolitionist) this café’s ethos is entrenched in the city’s history and provenance.
This unique little café is situated in the oldest part of the city and leads the way in their use of produce from local and ethical suppliers and farms and is renowned for serving Dear Green Coffee (specialist coffee roasters in Glasgow) and their Scottish Enlightenment themed deli sandwiches. A tasty piece of history served with a modern NYC twist and a laid back friendly Glaswegian atmosphere.
Affectionately known as “The Lab” this cosy little café, in the city centre, has been listed in the top 30 of Britain’s best coffee shops according to the prestigious Caffeine Magazine – suffice to say, these guys know their coffee!
So if you’re a coffee geek, this is a must visit. The staff are famed for their friendliness and knowledge of a perfect brew, both local and global. Topped with an offering of delicious desserts and Italian pastries making this the ultimate café pit stop for the coffee aficionado.
A relatively recent addition to the city’s café scene, Singl-End is a little off the beaten track, it’s settled in a basement in Garnethill just down from the Glasgow School of Art and its place and name couldn’t be any more fitting.
Rated as the no.1 café in Glasgow, this little gem is not only a café but also has it’s own bakehouse, boasting some of the best bread, cakes and brunches in town, with plenty of gluten free and veggie options to boot!
Both family and dog friendly, this quirky artisan café is all about delivering good honest food with a friendly and laid back vibe as well as serving the odd celebrity too… Christian Slater visited recently while shooting his upcoming movie “The Wife” with Glenn Close in Glasgow!
Move over coffee, it’s time for tea right in the heart of the city at the opulent tea lounge called Cup, where tea is taken very seriously.
Set in a magnificent Victorian building designed by the man behind the Natural History Museum (Alfred Waterhouse) this is a stunning venue where you would be recommended to take your time sipping your way through the enormous tea menu.
Most notably known for their afternoon teas this is a café where you could most certainly make an occasion of it. Then come dusk, Cup turns into one of the city’s most popular gin bars, Gin 71, boasting Glasgow’s largest gin selection.
Often described as a “bohemian all day café” the Glad Café, in the city’s southside is about more than just the coffee. Run as a social enterprise this is a café where you can well and truly kick back and experience the neighbourhood’s vibe.
With all their food provided by McCune Smith you get to enjoy locally produced share plates alongside some good honest coffee with the chance to also taste a great selection of Scottish craft beer. The café is also open late into the evening, so you can enjoy a bite to eat and indulge in eclectic events from live music to comedy gigs.
Right next door is Glad Rags Thrift, a cool second hand / vintage store that supports the work and ethos of the café and adding to the laid back bohemian experience.
The owners of Riverhill opened their first café in Helensburgh (a Scottish seaside town 40 mins outside Glasgow in Argyll) and following it’s success opened up their Coffee Bar in Glasgow a few years ago, which is now hailed as “the best coffee and cake in Glasgow” by many of their customers and according to Yelp “the friendliest staff in Glasgow”.
A low-key café that sits across from the city’s iconic Central Station, this is a café where you can indulge in the Glasgow roasted Dear Green coffee brand and no short of astounding cakes and pastries, with both vegan and gluten free options.
As the only other Glasgow café to also feature in Caffeine Magazine’s top 30 best Britain’s coffee shops, Pena is quirky little place down the cobbled Eton Lane in the city’s trendy West End.
Despite being tucked away, this café is not easily missed as the outside is covered in grass, which is fitting given it’s name, a Spanish term meaning a grass-roots meeting place for musicians and artists.
A unique and cosy café, they’re most famous not only for an amazing cup of coffee but for their downright stellar sandwiches. This café may be tiny but it is full of charm which makes it an ideal “off the beaten track” pit stop when wondering around the west end neighbourhood.
Explore the beautiful designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh up close and personal at the Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow - enjoy a delicious afternoon tea in surroundings that evoke a past era, linked to one of the city's most influential designers.
The Hidden Lane Tearoom
Down another little cobbled lane, you will find a vintage tearoom with a contemporary twist. Nestled nicely amongst local artist studios, this independent café is where you can taste your way around their huge selection of teas in mismatched “granny chic” teacups while tucking into their home baked cakes, sandwiches and salads. Most notable for their afternoon teas this is a funky vintage café is a firm favourite for those who are looking to enjoy a relaxing coffee and cake in a modern yet kitsch tearoom.
Looking for the perfect pit stop while you explore the city? Cottonrake is it!
A little artisan bakery on Great Western Road, in the city’s west end, Cottonrake is famous for its fresh bakes, cakes and croissants. So popular, you’ll often find it with a queue out its doors at lunchtimes, as locals pick up their freshly baked breads and cakes. Although most notably known for their BLTs with tarragon mayo, their fresh baking will leave you’ll be hard pressed not to find a tasty delight to indulge in. It might be small but they still have a little sitting area where you can enjoy their baked goods and people watch, but it’s also an ideal café to drop in and go while you’re busy exploring the west end.