My guide to the best places to eat in Stirling
Looking for a round-up of the best places to eat in Stirling? This is for you.
I just moved to Stirling a few months ago and it’s definitely interesting getting a feel for the food scene at a new place. For me, Stirling excels at traditional pubs and restaurants. It’s all cosy interiors and lots of character, which isn’t surprising considering how much history there is packed into the place. Right?
In fact, there’s even more history than I was first aware of. The Golden Lion on King Street is one of the flagship hotels in Stirling. Inside, there’s a restaurant called Cronies, and apparently, Robert Burns dined there with his ‘cronies (or friends) in 1787.
But despite the history, there are also some really cute cafes that bring more of a contemporary vibe to the table, so it’s a good mix!
Interested in finding out more about Stirling? You might like these posts…
- Stirling Castle: your complete guide
- The Wallace Monument: what you need to know
- Free things to do in Stirling
- Where to eat brunch in Stirling
- Toast: the busy cafe that hits the spot
What can you expect from restaurants in Stirling?
As you may expect, it’s traditional all the way when it comes to places to eat to Stirling.
If you want crackling fires, low ceilings, and some good old-fashioned food then Stirling is a great place to be. Everywhere I step into seems to have low beams or exposed bricks or just something that makes you think, OK, this places has been around for a while.
There’s also a good variety of restaurants in Stirling. Luckily for me, I pretty much like every kind of food, and so there’s always somewhere to tempt my taste buds. So without further ado, here’s my guide to the best places to eat in Stirling…
Places to eat in Stirling city centre
The great thing about Stirling is that it’s a pretty compact city so most of the restaurants are within a stone’s throw of the city centre. Friar’s Wynd is a great all-rounder – I may have only had brunch there so far but I’ve got it pegged to go back for lunch or dinner one day.
But pretty much every restaurant I talk about is a couple of minute’s walk from the city centre – at the most. Outside of the city centre, there are a couple of restaurants worth trying…
- Birds & Bees
- The Orangery at Victoria Square
- River House Stirling
Places to eat in Stirling for lunch
If you want something quick and easy I’m always a big fan of Doctor Noodles. I usually get the rice box with spicy coconut sauce and tofu for the win! HBW is popular for coffee and brunch but, hands down, the most popular place for lunch in Stirling is Toast. I’ve never seen this place not busy and whenever I’ve gone past the queue is out the door.
- Doctor Noodles
- HBW Coffee
- Toast Stirling
- Cafe Aina
Restaurants near Stirling Castle
There are a couple of restaurants directly next to the castle, The Portcullis and Hermann’s. I’ve only been to the former and I’m a big fan – it’s cosy and characterful and does classic dishes such as mac ‘n’ cheese, Balmoral chicken, and burgers. It’s also pretty budget-friendly considering its location next to Stirling’s most famous tourist attraction.
- The Portcullis
Best restaurants in Stirling
There’s a good selection of high-quality restaurants in Stirling. Brea is one of the most well-known and unfortunately haven’t been able to get to yet. But it’s definitely on the list! There are also a couple of Italian restaurants that I’m a big fan of – Mamma Mia and Italia Nostra. Finally, I love Green Gates Indian Restaurant, which is on my street!
- Mamma Mia
- Italia Nostra
- Green Gates Indian Restaurant
Pub food Stirling
As I mentioned earlier, if you like traditional pub grub you will be spoiled for choice in Stirling. I really like No.2 Baker Street. Their Cullen Skink was really tasty and the staff are lovely, too. There are a few other places really close by, too. Nicky Tams Bar & Bothy is nice for drinks and food (and live music) and Brew Dog is just across the road, too.
- No.2 Baker Street
- Nicky Tams Bar & Bothy
- Brew Dog Stirling
My favourite places to eat Stirling
Cosy Stirling restaurant The Portcullis is located just outside of Stirling Castle. It therefore makes the perfect pitstop after an afternoon of being a tourist. If you go there directly from the castle it also means that you don’t have to walk up the pretty steep hill from town. Either way, you’ll a roaring fire and a cosy, homely atmosphere when you arrive.
I remember walking in for the first time and being directed to our seats right next to this crackling open fire and just thinking I was in heaven. If you like traditional pubs with hearty food then I bet you’ll like it too. I ordered a glass of red wine and mac and cheese with chips and inhaled the lot. And don’t forget the strawberry cheesecake, which was divine.
I’ve seen a few reviews of the Portcullis saying you can just rock up without booking. However, I would suggest it would be wise to book. Whenever I’ve been there I’ve seen people being turned away and you don’t want that on a cold night.
I’d heard good reviews of Café Aina but never made it in until recently. We were planning a night at the cinema and when Nando’s had a 25-minute wait for a table (sigh…) we went for a wander to see what could fit us in and feed us in an hour. Well, Café Aina could!
As we were in a hurry I didn’t pore over the menu as much as I usually would. The café is owned and run by a Greek/Cypriot family and that’s reflected in the menu. There is an abundance of souvlakis – pitta breads – to choose from, along with burgers, salads, and paninis. I opted for a halloumi souvlaki which comes with homemade tzatziki, grilled onions and a handful of fries, all stuffed in a deliciously soft pitta bread. I wolfed down the lot!
If you’re vegetarian or vegan Café Aina is a great choice as there are a ton of choices on the menu, including numerous vegan desserts! They also so a 10% discount for students.
I also just want to give a special shout out for the service. Our waiter was able to recommend what items could come out of the kitchen quickly and the service was super friendly and attentive throughout. It was also dirt cheap – at £12 for two wraps and a Coke Zero for me it was a fraction of the price we would have paid in Nando’s.
I’m in the know now so I’ll definitely be back to Café Aina again.
This was the very first place I went to in Stirling after I moved here. I went for a wander to get a feel for the town and we walked past this place on a winding street in the centre of town. The place caught my eye. It looked charming from the outside and even nicer insider.
Friars Wynd is actually a boutique hotel and, having looked at their website they have some lovely rooms – including some with lovely traditional fireplaces. In this instance, however, I was just here for the food. It does have a lovely cosy feel inside, with exposed bricks, a huge fireplace, and traditional Scottish décor. and I could definitely see myself sipping a hot drink and watching the world go by at one of their window seats – all very whimsical!
You can come here any time of day – they have burgers, flatbreads, and an a la carte menu in the evening. When I was there I opted for the scrambled eggs on toast with smoked salmon. I was obviously feeling fancy that day and it didn’t disappoint! I would definitely recommend Friars Wynd if you want to grab some nice breakfast in Stirling.
There are a lot of Italian restaurants in Stirling and Mamma Mia is one of the best. It was voted one of TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice in 2020 and so it’s got a bit of gravitas. The restaurant is also located centrally, in the heart of Stirling’s old town, and so it’s a great choice if you’re staying in the city centre and need a crowd-pleaser.
It certainly looks charming from the outside – most of the seating is on an upper level so you can see diners at the table and the glow of candles and mood lighting as you walk past. It has a lovely cosy atmosphere inside with what appear to be fresco paintings on the wall!
They have all the usual favourites that you’d expect to see in an Italian restaurant, including a pizza menu. When I was there I ordered pan-fried seabass, which was the fish of the day. Seabass is always something I like to order when I’m eating out and this didn’t disappoint. I had three whole pieces of crispy fish piled on my plate with a rich buttery sauce – yum!
I couldn’t resist ordering the tiramisu for dessert, which is said to be one of the best in town. I love tiramisu at any time of day and this one was a good one!
No. 2 Baker Street
Looking for a welcoming pub that’s packed with character? This is it.
I’ve walked past this place ever since I moved here and have wanted to try it. It’s one of those places that just always seems to be busy. Whenever the weather is nice the tables and chairs outside go up and there are always piles of people enjoying food and drinks and giving me FOMO – fear of missing out! It just feels like the beating heart of the town.
We headed here on a Saturday afternoon one day. I loved how characterful it was inside – there were low ceiling, beams, metro tiles behind the bar… all the good things. The staff were also really great – super attentive and friendly, and you don’t always get that.
It has an extensive menu with all the kind of pub grub you would expect to see – steak pie, mac and cheese, burgers, and even a fish finger sandwich complete with tartare sauce. I opted for a sandwich whereas my boyfriend got a really delicious Cullen Skink soup.
I was actually a bit jealous of his so next time I’m at No.2 Baker Street I’m having that!
Green Gates Indian Restaurant
I’m lucky enough to say that I live on the same street as Green Gates Indian Restaurant in Stirling. The usual forest green façade always makes me smile – as do the delicious aromas emanating out of the doors. Trust me, it’s hard to walk past here every day!
Green Gates was even nicer inside than I expected – it’s really cosy and snug. The staff were also super friendly and attentive. We were served a complimentary bowl of mushroom soup which was a nice touch, if perhaps a little unusual for an Indian restaurant.
We got poppadoms with mango chutney and onion chutney to start with, which were really moreish. For a main I wanted something lighter than a curry and so I got a sizzling platter with freshly cooked king prawns, spices, and peppers and onions. It was so good!
I’m not kidding – this place is definitely the busiest café in Stirling. Every single time I’ve walked past Toast there have been queues of people standing outside. I wasn’t sure what was going on at first until I realised that it’s just a really popular place.
But what’s all the fuss about anyway? Well, you can dive into my in-depth review of Toast, but really I think it’s pretty simple. It’s a nice place that does great food – it doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that. The menu is vast. I’m calling it a breakfast place but it’s really an all-day café with pretty much anything you could want on the menu. Burgers, mac and cheese, soup, flatbreads, smashed avocado on toast… there’s a lot.
On the day I visited we ended up sitting outside – luckily it was crisp but not too cold. I opted for the intriguing-sounding forest eggs: scrambled eggs on toast with mushrooms, spinach, pine nuts, and crumbled feta. I was slightly worried I wasn’t going to like it but I needn’t have worried. The feta was zingy and sharp and went really well with the creamy scrambled eggs and earthy flavour of the mushrooms. I would highly recommend it!
I first heard about this place as a result of our neighbours, who gave us a card with a list of places to check out in the local area. This one was earmarked as having great vegan donuts, and so I knew I would check it out before long. It’s actually housed in an old opticians, complete with old signage, which gives it a bit of a quirky touch. I am all for that!
This place gets busy and the one drawback is that it’s not exactly huge on the inside. I tried to get breakfast here one time but they only had tables outside. However, I popped back another time for the takeaway breakfast of champions (or LA cops) – coffee and donuts!
There was a choice of three vegan donuts: jam, chocolate, or biscoff, the latter of which had unfortunately sold out. I opted for one jam donut, one chocolate donut, and a filter coffee with oat milk. It was all really delicious – the jam donut was definitely my favourite. Who doesn’t like oozing, sticky jam, soft, fluffy dough and a generous dusting of sugar?
I also have to commend HBW Coffee on their service. The lovely barista even got the door for me as I balanced my box of donuts and coffee, which was a really lovely touch!
We came to Italia Nostra on a Friday night and it was absolutely jammed! It’s an independent, family-run Italian restaurant and it’s located in the centre of Stirling, and so it has a lot going for it already. It’s also one of TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice 2021.
Inside, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. It’s everything I love about an authentic Italian restaurant – low ceilings, wooden beams, and candles lighting up every table.
I treated myself to a steak Diane, which is a steak that comes with a sauce made from mushrooms, Dijon mustard, double cream and brandy. It’s my favourite steak and I only ever have it once every couple of years. Luckily, the one here at Italia Nostra was just as good as anywhere I’ve had it. My plate was empty by the time I finished!
I really loved the service here as well. Our waiter chatted to ask as we were paying the bill, asking us if we were local, and it was nice to have that personal touch.