Melanie Grandidge July 25 2023

At Absolute Escapes, we love exploring our beautiful country and we love food!

Our team have sampled the best restaurants, cafes, pubs, and seafood shacks across the country. To celebrate Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight, we’re sharing 10 of our favourite places to eat in the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

From casual lunch stops to fine dining experiences, there’s something in this list to delight all taste buds.


The Boathouse, Isle of Ulva

  • Where? – Oskamull, Isle of Ulva, Ulva Ferry, PA73 6LZ
  • Establishment type: Cafe
  • Cuisine: Local, Scottish
  • Good for: Seafood, homemade cakes

When visiting the Isle of Mull, make sure you hail the friendly ferryman to take you to the tiny picturesque Isle of Ulva. This small ferry and slight detour are well worth the visit for any self-confessed foodie.

On the community-owned island lies an unassuming cafe called The Boathouse, and their menu is a seafood lover’s dream. The ingredients are delivered fresh from their family’s fishing boat in the morning. And if you still have room, rumour has it that the owner Brendan’s homemade baking is not to be missed.

Absolute Escapes Director, Andy, recommends … the seafood platter.


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Lochinver Larder, Lochinver, Assynt

  • Where? – Main Street, Lochinver, IV27 4JY
  • Establishment type: Pie shop / Diner / Takeaway
  • Cuisine: Local, British
  • Good for: Takeaway, lochside views and fresh pies

How about a venison and cranberry pie to take up the mountains, or a haggis, neeps and tattie pie whilst you explore Scotland’s rich history? From the classic steak and ale to unique spiced butternut, sweet potato and goat’s cheese, there’s a pie for everyone at Lochinver Larder.

This popular spot is situated along the North Coast 500 route in the Assynt district of Sutherland. Baked daily from scratch using the highest quality locally-sourced ingredients, these award-winning pies are definitely worth the drive!

Our Senior Travel Specialist, Pippa, recommends … the chicken curry pie and the venison and cranberry pie.


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Seafood Shack, Ullapool

  • Where? – West Argyle Street, Ullapool, IV26 2TY
  • Establishment type: Food truck
  • Cuisine: Local, seafood, fast food, healthy
  • Good for: Fresh seafood, sea views

With an ever-changing menu depending on the seafood caught that day, the Seafood Shack serves with the intention to provide local, fresh seafood to the picturesque fishing village of Ullapool.

With seafood so fresh, the chefs here don’t overcomplicate the recipes. They allow the flavours to sing with the wonderful simplicity of freshly cooked seafood. Situated right by the harbour with outdoor seating, the spectacular views of the seafront add to the magic.

Can’t wait until your next trip to Ullapool to sample one of their unique recipes? Lucky for you, their award-winning book The Seafood Shack: Food & Tales from Ullapool is out now.

Our Finance and Operations Assistant, Finn, recommends … the haddock wrap.


The Real Food Cafe, Tyndrum

  • Where? – Tyndrum, Perthshire, Scotland, FK20 8RY
  • Establishment type: Diner
  • Cuisine: British, Scottish, Fast Food
  • Good for: Fish & chips, GF and vegan options

This award-winning roadside diner is a favourite stopping spot for all types of adventurers travelling further north in Scotland. Serving everything from hearty Scottish breakfasts to soups and tasty burgers, this diner is great any time of the day.

Famous for their fish and chips, they also have excellent vegan and gluten-free alternatives such as their plant-based ‘tofish‘, or their gluten-free haddock. With a relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff, the Real Food Cafe is a delightful place to stop on an Escape to the Highlands road trip, or while walking the legendary West Highland Way.

Our Travel Specialist, Jack, recommends … fish and chips.


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Harbour Kitchen, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis

  • Where? – 5 Cromwell Street, Stornoway, HS1 2DB
  • Establishment type: Restaurant
  • Cuisine: Local, Scottish, Seafood
  • Good for: Fresh local seafood, relaxed atmosphere

Nothing builds up an appetite more than letting all your senses experience the sights, sounds and smells of your delicious meal being prepared in an open kitchen. Harbour Kitchen in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, does just that in its stylish restaurant serving up fresh Hebridean produce.

If the smells from the open kitchen will make you too hungry, however, why not sit outside and soak up the charming atmosphere of this town (as long as the weather is kind to you!). You can discover the best of the Outer Hebrides on our Hebridean Island Hopping self-drive.

Our Senior Travel Specialist, Sine, recommends … Isle of Harris scallops.


Clachan Grill, Ballater, Royal Deeside

  • Where? – Clachan Grill, 5 Bridge Square, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, AB35 5QJ
  • Establishment type: Restaurant
  • Cuisine: Scottish, British, European
  • Good for: Steak, Scottish classics, modern menu

Housed in a converted steading in the picturesque Deeside village of Ballater, you’ll find the Clachan Grill. This cosy restaurant is located on the North East 250 driving route, making it a great spot for dinner after a day exploring the Cairngorms National Park.

The menu offers classic cooking with a modern Scottish twist. Think Caprese salad made with Scottish buffalo mozzarella, or locally-sourced pork belly with black pudding gratin.

The perfectly-cooked 35-day dry-aged steaks are the star attraction here, with the beef sourced from Neil Menzies Butchers in nearby Braemar.

Our Marketing Manager, Scott recommends … Aberdeen Angus Steak.


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Café Cùil, Carbost, Isle of Skye

  • Where? – Satran, Carbost, Isle of Skye, IV47 8SU
  • Establishment type: Cafe
  • Cuisine: Seafood, contemporary, soup
  • Good for: Brunch, cakes, sustainable ingredients

Originally hailing from the spectacular Isle of Skye, owner and chef, Clare Coghill, recently returned to her roots and moved her popular eatery from London to Skye.

Gathering inspiration from the wild nature of the island, meals use locally-sourced sustainable ingredients, giving visitors a taste of traditional Scottish cuisine and reducing the island’s carbon footprint.

Cosy and local, this cafe’s Gaelic name (‘Cùil’ meaning nook, nest, or corner) reflects its personality well. Located en route to the Fairy Pools, this is a great place to get warm after a busy morning exploring.

Our Senior Travel Specialist, Katia, recommends … the Hebridean brunch.


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Applecross Inn, Applecross, Wester Ross

  • Where? – Shore Street, Applecross, Wester Ross, IV54 8LR
  • Establishment type: Pub / Inn
  • Cuisine: Local, seafood, Scottish
  • Good for: Highland hospitality, remote views, local seafood

With many awards and a feature in the Michelin restaurant guide, the Applecross Inn continues to be a friendly, family-run pub serving local seafood and pub classics.

Set in a quaint whitewashed inn on the stunning North Coast 500, it boasts spectacular views across to the Isle of Skye, Knoydart and the Small Isles.

With only two roads leading here, Applecross is very remote. For the scenic route, take the famous Bealach na Bà road for an exhilarating journey. At the end of your drive, awaits a bustling atmosphere and wonderful Highland hospitality. The menu offers Scottish classics such as cranachan, haggis, oatcakes and, of course, local seafood.

Absolute Escapes Director, Sheila, recommends … the local langoustines and smoked salmon.


Mhor 84, Balquhidder, Perthshire

  • Where? – 84 Kingshouse, Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Perthshire, FK19 8NY
  • Establishment type: Motel
  • Cuisine: European, Scottish, casual
  • Good for: Fantastic casual food, all-day dining

Located within the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, Mhor 84 is set in beautiful Highland scenery just off the A84 road.

They serve casual food for lunch and dinner, including gourmet burgers, sourdough pizza, Scottish steak and delicious soups and salads.

Being open from 08.00 – 21.00, they also have a delightful breakfast menu with something for all appetites – from big breakfasts to freshly baked pastries. With much of their produce locally sourced from their own farm, Monachyle Mhor, and bread fresh from their own bakery, Mhor Bread – this family excel at local produce.

Our Marketing Manager, Scott, recommends … venison linguine.


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Highland Chocolatier, Grandtully, Perthshire

  • Where? – Grandtully, Pitlochry, PH9 0PL.
  • Establishment type: Chocolatier, shop, cafe
  • Cuisine: Chocolate
  • Good for: Tasting experiences, chocolate gifts, hot chocolate

Did you think we’d forgotten about dessert? With velvety hot chocolates, rich cakes and decadent pralines, how could we forget this chocolate haven?

Crafted by master chocolatier, Iain Burnett, the Highland Chocolatier is a gift shop, chocolate lounge and tasting room in the beautiful region of Highland Perthshire.

Boasting many international awards, Iain’s proudest accomplishment remains “the smile on anyone’s face when they taste their first Velvet Truffle!” Take a glimpse into the world of artisan chocolate and experience one of their unique chocolate tasting sessions. Afterwards, relax in their Chocolate Lounge with hot drinks and a savoury bite or dessert.

Our Travel Specialist, Bex, recommends…the thick hot chocolate. It is the most indulgent hot chocolate in the Highlands – It is melted truffle made with pure, gourmet couverture chocolate (more like drinking hot ganache). There is a range of flavours served in the Chocolate Lounge including salted caramel, white raspberry, spice-infused, or even with a shot of whisky. The perfect treat after a blustery day out in the hills!


Sample Scotland with Absolute Escapes

Feeling peckish? Sample the best food in the Highlands and Islands with a self-drive holiday in Scotland.

A perfect road trip for food lovers is the North Coast 500, where you’ll pass two of the eateries recommended above; the Applecross Inn and Lochinver Larder.

Seafood-lovers shouldn’t miss the Scottish Seafood Trail, which visits some of the tastiest seafood spots on the west coast.

When you book with us, we provide you with a detailed information pack prior to your trip. This pack is filled with tried and tested recommendations for all your meals. We always recommend you book ahead and make dinner reservations to avoid disappointment.

Get in touch with our expert team today to start planning your delicious adventure.

Melanie Grandidge

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