Pubs, Cafes, Restaurants in Dumfries and Galloway
Galloway is full of good places to eat. We have picked out 11 favourites we frequent on holiday, way out west, in and around The Machars, south of Newton Stewart. Whether you want to hole up in a cosy bar by the sea or blow out on some fine dining, there is something here for you.
We keep detailed information, maps and leaflets at our holiday cottage, Burnside. We would be delighted to host your stay and be your guide to Galloway. Check out our website and the link to our booking page at www.homeaway.co.uk below…
Our Best Places to Eat and Drink In and Around The Machars
Steam Packet Inn, Isle of Whithorn
The Steam Packet Inn is tucked into the harbourside at the Isle of Whithorn, pictured. From the lounge bar you can sit and watch the sea sweep in around the quay, floating the scallop dredgers and making the sailing boats dance on the glittering blue. It is a wonderful scene.
The pub sells its own real ales and guest beers and the landlord keeps a perfect pint, which can be supped in one of two bars, at tables by the sea or in a neat little beer garden at the back. The Steam Packet is well positioned for refreshments after a tour of the rocky paths at the end of the Isle, a spell on the swings or as an interlude during crabbing on the quayside or in the rockpools that emerge as the sea retreats.
The Steam Packet’s menu is well judged from home-cooked family favourites such as sausages, fish and chips, chicken nuggets and breast, which satisfy young and old alike, to steaks, fish and fresh seafood. One of the most successful crabbing expeditions we have ever had used the bones of a delicious sea bream, which we consumed at the Steam Packet and then used as bait in the crab net we lower from the quayside. Bucketed 20 crabs that day.
2. The Clansman, Port William
The Clansman is a cosy, little restaurant serving good, home-cooked food. It never disappoints and if you are a family it has the advantage of pleasing everyone. It is good value, too. On our last visit, our family of four ate steak pies, macaroni cheese, and sausage and chips with chocolate pudding to follow. You can’t go wrong with that. There is the added attraction that you can walk to The Clansman from Burnside Cottage, along the ridge that forms part of Garnet’s Walk – three miles round trip and fabulous views over Luce Bay.
3. Kirroughtree Visitors’ centre, galloway forest park
One of our favourite places to have lunch is at the Kirroughtree Visitors’ Centre, pictured. It would never claim to be fine dining, but there is a special pleasure associated with tucking into good quality, tasty food after a morning of activity whether it be biking, hiking, wildlife watching or a spell in the adventure playground. Pasties, sausages, toasted sandwiches, chips, tiffins, muffins, teas, and hot chocolates are on offer and they can all be enjoyed outside in the sunshine or under cover, if it’s raining, with mixed forests and Galloway hills to admire.
4. The Pheasant, Sorbie
A little piece of Italy in the middle of The Machars. The Pheasant, located in a former pub of the same name in the tiny hamlet of Sorbie, is a gem. It was voted Galloway Restaurant of the Year 2017. The restaurant is run by husband and wife team, Andrea Cuomo and Morag Dewar, who hails from Galloway. Morag brought Andrea back to raise their family. Andrea, brings the traditional culinary skills of his native Naples, but also a flair that showcases the best local produce and skilfully combines flavours in a way that raises his mama’s eyebrows, but pleases her palate.
The cooking is very good at The Pheasant and so is the welcome. The menu changes regularly, but typically you might enjoy crepe al salmone, gnocchi, venison ragu, risotto, parmigiano, pan fried chicken with balsamic and shallots among much else. Morag designed the rustic dining room and driftwood bar to create a stylish, warm space and the owners’ enthusiasm and interest in their customers puts one instantly at ease. They just want you to enjoy their place and the food. And we do.
5. Basecamp, Laggan Outdoor, Gatehouse of Fleet
The café at Laggan Outdoor, called Basecamp, perched on the side of the hill above Mossyard, enjoys a breath-taking view over the estuary of the Water of Fleet and the south Galloway coast. LagganOutdoor is an activity centre which boasts the longest zip wire in Scotland, but Basecamp is open to all. It is a cosy, wooden venue with large windows to drink in the view, an open fire on cold days and delicious brunch, lunch and tea. We visited after riding the zip wire and recovered with a breakfast of Scotch pancakes, crispy bacon and maple syrup with a pot of tea. I needed it more than most - fear makes you hungry. The café is open every day until 5pm, but now offers steak nights on a Saturday, barbecues on a Sunday and ‘brew with a view’ afternoon teas.
6. The Bladnoch Inn, Bladnoch, near Wigtown
There is something deeply satisfying about a pub next to a distillery. It’s like double bubble. And the Bladnoch Inn is within a stone’s throw of the 200-year-old Bladnoch Distillery. It enjoys a charming setting at the corner of a stone bridge across the river. On a sunny day it is a delightful spot to sit and watch the world go by… and it goes by pretty slowly in Bladnoch.
The Bladnoch offers good pub food including, prawn cocktails (still love ‘em), burgers, lasagne, macaroni, steaks and vegetarian options. It is ideally located for refuelling after a round at the Wigtown and Bladnoch Golf Club, just up the road, or a tour of the Book Town (Wigtown). Across the bridge in the old industrial area by the river some artists and artisans are at work. They have a small gallery. In addition, Dowling Stoves, who made the wood burner in Burnside Cottage, have a workshop on this estate and there is a working blacksmith, too.
7. Marrbury Smokehouse, Carsluith
Marrbury produces some of the most celebrated smoked salmon in Scotland and it is a super place for lunch. In fact, the smoked salmon here has been described as the ‘best in the world’ by chef Andrew Fairlie, whose restaurant at Gleneagles holds two Michelin stars. Located in the grounds of Carsluith Castle, just off the A75, it is a pretty spot to tuck into a deluxe sandwich, which can come with chips! The menu includes more substantial options, too, such as batter salmon and clam chowder. After a brilliant lunch you can climb the castle tower and enjoy the views across the Cree estuary.
8. ReadingLasses, Wigtown
ReadingLasses is the antidote to shiny chain coffee shops. Located in the middle of Wigtown, Scotland’s designated book town, this café combines well-made food, cakes tea and coffee with a wonderful book shop, stocking 8,000 titles.
You can pick up a book to browse, or read to the children, while you eat your lunch. The quirky layout includes various rooms, where you can hole up for as long you like. Reading Lasses is always very well reviewed among visitors to Burnside Cottage and it is particularly good at catering for people with specific dietary requirements. I can vouch for delicious soup, toasted sandwiches, good chips, tiffin, cake and coffee.
9. Craft Hotel, Wigtown
Craft is a cool mix of old and new. It has a rustic feel with wooden floors, open fire and studded leather sofas, but also a funky logo, a great array of craft beers, many from Scotland, and a fantastic selection of burgers.
The restaurant prides itself on sourcing local meat and vegetables. It is also well known for its huge portion sizes and fabulous hospitality. The menu is more than burgers; steak pies, fish and chips, prawn linguine all feature and there is a good selection of scrumptious puddings.
The welcome extends to dogs too, which are provided with a bowl of water and Craft is a popular venue for live music.
10. The Galloway Fisherman, Creetown, near Newton Stewart
The Galloway Fisherman is attached to the Galloway Smokehouse, which is a fine purveyor of seafood, including King Scallops, lobster and crab, wet fish and smoked salmon among many other smoked products. And this little restaurant delivers everything you would hope for given its access to top-quality ingredients. The menu includes smoked fish favourites, such as kedgeree and Cullen Skink, but also seafood risotto, mussels, Dover sole, and seafood pancake. The experience of eating fish and seafood is always enhanced when it is enjoyed in view of the sea and Wigtown Bay fills with the tide just outside. The Fisherman also serves steak, chicken, venison and vegetarian options. It is a delight and popular with tourists and locals, alike.
11. The Crown Inn, Portpatrick
Portpatrick is a beautiful old port town, which built its wealth on trade with Ireland, before regular crossings moved to the more sheltered harbour at Stranraer. It’s stunning, stone harbour is still home to a few fishing boats and the RNLI lifeboat, while rows of pubs and neat houses stand to attention along the seafront. The Crown sits right in the middle of them with great views over the sea and up onto the tops where the long distance walking route, the Southern Upland Way, begins its epic march across Scotland to Cockburnspath, north of Berwick-Upon-Tweed. The Crown is famed for its delicious crab sandwiches, eaten in the bar with a plate of chips and fine ale (including beers from the local brewery). There is plenty of seafood and fish to choose from including scallops wrapped in bacon, Cullen Skink, seafood platter (half-lobster and crab claws at little over £20) and an honest plate of fish and chips. And then there’s a large selection of steaks, burgers, game and an extensive children’s menu. The Crown was named among the best coastal pubs in Britain by iNews in 2018 and has previously won an AA award for the Best Seafood Pub in Britain.