The best thing about our pick of the best Aberdeen restaurants is that they all provide adequate shelter from the rain that will probably be failing during your time there. No, that’s not fair, this north eastern Scottish city only sees a meagre 250 days of rainfall per year…
Really, we’re joking, there’s more to Scotland than cheap weather quips, as we’re sure you know. Aberdeen, sitting pretty on the wild, rugged coast boasts a whole host of attractions – from some of the best golf courses in the world to some of the most beautiful dune-fringed beaches we’re ever laid our eyes on. Another blessing is of course Aberdeen’s restaurants – multi-faceted and offering something for everyone, they really do go above and beyond.
Scotland produces some of the finest seafood in the world and a few of the below restaurants happily make full use of this natural bounty. Showcasing classic flavours and cooking techniques IX Restaurant takes fish and elevates it to fine-dining levels, while Moonfish café adds a magical modern twist to everything it does. And then there are the harbouside views of The Silver Darling. But fear not those who don’t enjoy seafood, we haven’t forgotten you. Some of our favourite restaurants in Aberdeen showcase global flavours – from Thai and Turkish to Indian and Japanese.
Right, ready to find your next booking? Have a scroll below, give our brief reviews a read and reserve your table.
During the day this double-height space operates as a charming café, with the additional benefit of a tapas menu that accompanies its lunchtime mainstays, like sandwiches and soups. In the evening Cafe 52 is transformed into a candle-lit bustling bistro serving plates of modern British food. With a line-up that changes weekly to reflect seasonality and availability you can never be sure what you’ll get, but recent dishes have included chicken liver pate with poached fruits and toasted ciabatta, and pan-fried Scottish herring with herby tomatoes.
Where: 52 The Green, AB11 6PE
Housed within The Chester Hotel, a four-star spot on the fringes of city centre, this Aberdeen restaurant serves up plates of theatrical food in a refined setting. There are monthly-changing menus to make use of the best ingredients at the time and there’s a Josper charcoal oven and grill for steaks (which are pretty constant on each month’s menu). Start with langoustine paired with smoked haddock espuma, leeks and potatoes (a riff on a Cullen skink, if you will), and if you can resist the allure of charcoal-cooked steak then plump for dishes like beef cheeks with mushroom gratin and hasselback potatoes or halibut with clams, mussels and chorizo.
Where: 59-63 Queen's Road, AB15 4YP
This pretty bistro tucked away down one of Aberdeen’s oldest streets makes a comfortable and convivial setting for an evening out with friends. Bedecked with wooden bent-back chairs and cool grey wood-panelled walls, this has to be one of the city’s chicest restaurants. The Michelin-recommended menu at Moonfish Cafe has a seafood focus and uses the very best local ingredients for plates that are packed with flavour. At £55 for an eight-course tasting menu, it doesn’t offer bad value and if you prefer there is an accomplished main menu showcasing dishes such as curried monkfish with aubergine or sirloin of beef with fermented enoki. Two courses from this section will set you back £30 or add pudding for £6 more.
Where: 9 Correction Wynd, AB10 1HP
The Silver Darling
It comes as no surprise that Aberdeen has a whole clutch of seafood restaurants when you consider its seaside location. With its waterfront views The Silver Darling makes a beautiful location for a special meal, just remember to reserve a window seat. The menu galivants around the globe - Thai fishcakes here, prawn linguine there – so there’s a good amount of variety to suit nearly every diner. There are even options for those who don’t eat fish, you could try the slow roasted belly pork which is rolled with herbs and braised with apples and cider before being served with buttered spuds, greens, gravy and crackling.
Where: Pocra Quay, AB11 5DQ
You might not expect to see a Thai takeaway in a round-up of Aberdeen’s best restaurants, but we hope we’re in a safe space when we say finding a good Friday night feed to enjoy in the comfort of your own home can be quite the challenge. All the favourites are present and correct – pad Thai, mussaman curry, jungle pork – as well as a few Chinese crowd-pleasers. Be warned, this spot is popular so you might have to wait a while for your food, but when you get your mitts on it, it will be salty and satisfying, packed with crunchy veg, well-cooked meat or fish and slathered in addictive combinations of Thai flavours.
Where: 21 Rose Street, AB10 1TX
Rustico in name and rustic in nature, this homely trattoria isn’t trying to be modern or cutting-edge, but it’s in this that its charm lies. Staff are warm and friendly while the menu recounts familiar Italian favourites: bruschetta, caprese salads, calamari fritti and a whole host of pastas. Everything is homemade, down to the biscotti that accompanies your hot drink, and there are regular specials to look out for – like lobster spaghetti.
Where: 62 Union Row, AB10 1SA
Claiming to be Aberdeen’s only Turkish restaurant, here’s where to head when you need a hummus fix. Interiors are a little dated, but clean and comfortable, and if you aren’t here for the instagrammin’ then you’ll be happy as a clam tucking into dishes like spicy chicken wings with yogurt and garlic sauce or one of their kebab choices that are served with rice, salad and sauce (and a side of fries, should the fancy take you). There’s are good vegetarian and fish sections, making this ideal for a mixed group of diners – plus the more people, the more mezze you can share. No brainer.
Where: 77-79 Skene Street, AB10 1QD
The east coast of Scotland might not be where you were expecting to find an incarnation of the informal Japanese pubs called Izakayas, but hey, more surprising things have probably happened. In the evenings the team here encourage Omakase-style dining, which means you tell them how much you’d like to spend, as well as anything you don’t like, and they do the rest, delivering small plates of sharing food to your group across the course of a couple of hours. If you prefer to order from the main menu you can expect crowd-pleasing classics like katsu chicken curry and pork dumplings alongside slightly more unusual dishes such as courgette skewers with lime and chilli butter or deep-fried tofu in hot ginger and soy broth.
Where: 53 Langstane Place, AB11 6EN
Expect a warm Lebanese welcome at this small but inviting neighbourhood restaurant. Freshly made dishes showcase plenty of veg and fragrant herbs in dishes like traditional stuffed vine leaves or fattoush salad made with tomato, cucumber, olives and crispy Lebanese bread. It’s good news for carb-fans here too, with pastries being a speciality. Choose from a selection of sweet and savoury, perhaps starting with halloumi cheese and parsley before treating yourself to a box of baklava to take home.
Where: Unit 3 Jesmond Drive, Bridge of Don, AB22 8UR
Cognito on the Corner
With no-less than four outposts, we think Cognito can safely be classified as a mini-chain. Each of its locations offer something different (one’s a café and another is a deli, for instance), so despite the grouping there’s no one-size-fits all approach here. The menu at this particular venue is packed with comfort food: haggis bon bons, burgers, roast chicken and even knickerbocker glory ice cream sundaes. Interiors are as comforting as the menu, with candlelit tables surrounded by upholstered dining chairs, while staff are fun and friendly, making for an all-round pretty perfect package.
Where: 1 Mid Stocket Road, AB15 5NE
Touted by some as the best Indian in Aberdeen, Wild Ginger happily combines delicious dishes with friendly and knowledgeable service. We’d head straight for the house specialities section of the menu where dishes like tandoori garlic chilli chicken or relish lamb feature, but if you’re after a classic butter chicken or biryani, then those are all in attendance too. Round everything off with a generous serving of rice, naan and saag aloo for a proper family feast.
Where: 367 Union Street, AB11 6BT
This cosy trattoria does a good line in comforting classics, with enjoyable results. Let the menu lead you from antipasto and pasta through to risotto and fish dishes: Perhaps start with deep fried mozzarella before tucking into a lobster ravioli. You must be tactical, too, leaving room for pudding time when you’ll be able to treat yourself to homemade tiramisu or panna cotta. There’s a reasonable pre-theatre menu, making it a really good place to take the whole gang, with 2 courses of popular picks like calamari and chicken Milanese served for £14.95 per person.
Where: 80-82 Huntly Street, AB10 1TD
There’s a lot to take in upon first arrival at Madame Mews (which is owned by the same people as Bahn Thai FYI), do you study the menu or give your attention over to the room instead? There are mismatched colourful tablecloths, parasols hanging from the ceiling and gold walls that add up to a pretty eclectic scene. It’s this fun and lively atmosphere that adds to the experience though, and the food is as pretty and punchy as the décor. Portions are huge, prices are cheap, and the ingredients used are fresh and vibrant. They’re whipped up into classic Thai dishes like satay starters and roast pork and sticky rice wraps or Pad Thai, as well as more adventurous-sounding meals like kaeng mus-mun andmoo dad diaw. Whatever you end up ordering make sure to save room for a dessert of bananas and sticky rice or a piece of pandan layer cake.
Where: Unit 11, Aberdeen Market, Market Street, AB11 5PA
Rendezvous at Nargile
A sibling to Nargile, this subsequent opening from the same team serves up equally-as-good food in a slightly smarter setting. Kick things off with an easy order: mezze. The kitchen will present your table with a whole host of little dishes and dips all accompanied by hot pitta breads. For mains you could try the king prawns poached in a tomato and herb sauce with feta cheese or one of the house kebabs – all marinated and skewered with onions and peppers. For all out indulgence we suggest the steak and prawn combo.
Where: 106-108 Forest Avenue, AB15 4UP
Looking for more Scottish scran? How about reading our in-depth guide and brief-history of the battered Mars bar, the country’s unofficial nation dish. Haggis, who?