Having explored the best of the west, it’s time to hunt out some city centre gems. Hidden down lanes, on backstreets or in plain sight amongst a whole load of crappy alternatives, these are our go-to city pubs and bars. Tackle them all, or pick and choose a few that appeal.
Bourbon & Bukowski
Starting not far from where we left off in the west is Chinaski’s on North St, next to the M8 motorway. There’s no sign above the door, so just look for the grey-blue facade and you’re in the right place. Celebrating all things Charles Bukowski, the candle-lit interior is full of bold, eye catching art, and the glass shelves behind the bar stocked to the ceiling with bourbon. The back garden is a gorgeous wee sun trap, and packed on hot days. Big windows, plenty of plants and fresh flowers bring a bit of that outside in. The food is excellent (there’s a separate vegan menu too), the music is great and the ambience dark, moody, warm and inviting. It can be hard to bring yourself to leave.
There’s plenty more places to explore though. Across the motorway and down Sauchiehall St is the next stop, Variety Bar. With it’s curved beige and red facade and bold art deco style lettering, this place grabs your attention from the outset. There’s more of that retro styling to come inside, along with good tunes and even a fish tank.
A Stately Bar
Time for a change of scene, one block down and to the right, at The State Bar. This has long been my go-to when looking for a quiet pint round this end of town. Traditional in style, this has an amazing wooden central bar, perfect for pulling up a high stool and having a blether with the bar staff, a read of the paper, or a natter with your pal. This pub has a great cask ale selection, too. The walls are covered in old theatre photos and memorabilia, a nod to the King’s Theatre just up the road. With its high corniced ceiling, dark wood, old fashioned lamps and carpet, this place makes you feel right at home. They host regular comedy nights downstairs too.
From traditional pub to the beautiful, old-meets-new surrounds of the Saramago Cafe Bar, across the main road and inside the CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts). Entering the attractive, but nothing too special, front doors of the CCA you’d have no idea what a beautiful space awaits you. The building opens up into a gorgeous atrium. The original walls of the category A listed Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson design from 1868 are complemented by a bright, modern, industrial design, complete with enormous skylight and mezzanine walkways (jeezo, do I love a mezzanine). Fairy lights and greenery add to the airy, open ambience.
For a more happening bar vibe head upstairs (you can also enter from the steep street on the corner just past the main CCA entrance). Their vegan menu is top notch, too.
A Pie & A Pint
The discerning whisky or real ale drinker will enjoy the next stop. Head straight down Sauchiehall St and walk right down Hope St until you hit The Pot Still. Boasting the city’s most impressive whisky selection, with over 700 varieties, a number of real ales on draft and some legendary homemade pies, this a cracking traditional pub with a loyal fanclub.
The Best Bar Windows in Glasgow?
For a change of scene entirely, continue down Hope St and dive down the cobbled Renfield Lane, into the industrial looking Stereo. Already given a mention in this guide for its excellent vegan food, this place is great for a drink, too. It’s got good tunes, a convivial atmosphere and I just love those big windows overlooking the lane.
High-Heels & Cocktails
You could end your night at Stereo, heading downstairs for a wee dance (check the Live Music section to read more) or if cocktails and bling are more your thing, go bar hopping in The Merchant City. There’s no shortage of options, so go for a wander and see what takes your fancy.
‘Glaswegian Heart, German Head’
If you’re up for a bit of a longer walk, a special city centre shout out goes to West on the Green. This brewery, housed in the gorgeous old Templeton Carpet Factory (modelled after the Doge’s palace in Venice), brews all their beer according to the 1516 Reinheitsgebot, the ancient German Purity Law. The setting is unique and well worth the pleasant walk through Glasgow Green to get here. You can even take a brewery tour – check out their website for info.