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Food and Drink

The top Inverness food and drink spots to visit if you’re spending 12 hours in the Highland capital

Get stuck into an array of sweet and savoury delights in Inverness.
Karla Sinclair

The Highland capital is flooded with superb eating spots, so much so that this Food and Drink Guide proved the trickiest one to write yet.

To narrow things down (slightly), I’ll be listing my most recommended food and drink businesses based in the city centre. They are all within minutes walking distance of one another, which will prove dangerously handy.

Whether you’re a local resident or visiting the area for a trip, here are my top Inverness food and drink spots to visit if you’re spending 12 hours in the the heart of the city.


8am to 11am

You can expect a bustling, welcoming atmosphere at Girvans – situated at the bottom of Stephens Brae.

For breakfast, there are pastries, stacked pancakes, buttered smoked haddock with poached eggs and chives, and natural yoghurt with fresh fruit and Scottish honey, to name a few options.

Fruit Danish pastry. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Girvans opens from 9am to 5pm Sunday to Thursday and 9am to 6pm on Fridays and Sundays.

A six-minute walk away, you’ll find an alternative breakfast option on Church Street – Comfort Foods.

The Full Monty breakfast at Comfort Foods. Image: Supplied by Comfort Foods

It’s a family-run café offering a wide selection of homemade and hearty breakfasts and lunches to eat in or take away, including an all-day breakfast served from 8am to 5pm daily.

There’s also ‘The Full Monty’ breakfast featuring locally sourced butcher sausages, bacon, black pudding, haggis, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, a tattie scone and toast.

Vegetarian and vegan full breakfasts are on the menu, too.

You’ll find a host of bakery and breakfast items available at Loch and Larder. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Then there’s Loch and Larder, the food court inside Eastgate Centre. It’s the ideal spot to eat and socialise before a look around the shops.

Coffee and cake

11am to 1pm

Down by the River Ness on Bridge Street, XOKO has been a popular spot in the Highland capital for residents and tourists since opening in 2021.

Quite rightly so.

XOKO offers expertly crafted artisan sourdoughs, pastries, cakes and more. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

Owned by Tristan Aitchison and Fernando Bazaldua, it serves a range of specialities including Spanish-style pastries.

And across The Ness Bridge, there’s The Cake Shop.

Some sweet treats available at The Cake Shop. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Inverness baker and chef Poppy Baker-Spink opened the shop in April 2022, and hasn’t looked back since.

The bakery dishes out everything from honeynut shortbread bars and Gold slices to caramel fudge blondies and its signature ‘krispie millionaires’.


1pm to 3pm

Let’s shift our focus onto some savoury scran for a bit.

Whether you’ve visited Inverness Cathedral or wandered round the local shops, you’ll hopefully have an appetite for lunch come 1pm.

I’m kicking things off with the award-winning Contract Brasserie at the Glenmoriston Townhouse Hotel.

Contrast Brasserie has won a number of awards over the years. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

From prime dry-aged beef to market fresh fruit and vegetables, and wild venison to hand-dived Isle of Skye scallops, it stay true to its Scottish roots.

The Mustard Seed also loves creating extensive menus focusing on a diverse range of the finest Scottish ingredients.

You can tuck into a two-course lunch for £16.95 from noon to 2.30pm daily.

Crispy fried buffalo mozzarella on peach and sweetcorn salad, tomato relish, herb oil and pea shoots. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

For all things seafood and shellfish – including oysters, crab, mussels, langoustine, clams, halibut and bass, to name a few options – consider River House Restaurant.

Allan (Alfie) Little is the venue’s chef proprietor. Alfie has always had an admiration for the sea, and became heavily involved in the creation of the Highland Food Festival, promoting all that is good about local food.

Trio of seafood crostini. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Amazing, right?

If tapas is more up your street, pop La Tortilla on Castle Street on your must-visit list.

It has become an integral part of the community since opening its doors in 2003, serving innovative paellas and a large range of tapas.

They include padron peppers, patatas bravas, truffle chips, and chorizo al vino.

Patatas bravas. Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

The local response to the launch of Hou Hou Mei, on the site of the former Inverness pizza restaurant Pepperoni Speciale, was phenomenal.

Now a favourite restaurant among many in the city, it offers diners quality food at an affordable price while moving Asian-style sharing platters to the forefront.

Hou Hou Mei offers top-class Chinese cuisine in Inverness. Pictures by Jason Hedges.

Despite being featured in the lunch section, all of these Inverness food and drink spots are great options for dinner too.

There’s also Culture Café and Deli, which is currently open from 9am to 3.30pm Tuesday to Sunday and serves nourishing, healthy and vibrant dishes.

It’s a superb spot serving healthy dishes. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

I’d recommend a protein packed burrito or sandwich.


3pm to 6pm

You’ve already enjoyed a few dishes in the town at this point, but you may still be feeling peckish.

If you fall into that category, the products at Perk Coffee and Doughnuts will satisfy your cravings…

A box of mouth-watering doughnuts available at Perk Coffee and Doughnuts. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

The location is a café by day – serving barista coffee and handcrafted doughnuts and pastries – and an espresso martini bar by night. I love the concept.

Doughnut flavours have included Peachy Keen, My Kinder Doughnut, Ginger Spice, Rhubarbra Streisand, Cocoa Chanel and Bis-scoff It All Up.

People gather to eat and shop in the market's food hall.
Inside The Victorian Market’s food hall. Image: Jason Hedges/ DC Thomson.

To add, a trip to Inverness wouldn’t be complete without paying a visit to The Victorian Market.

It boasts a vibrant, central social area where families and groups can pick up their choice of food, sit back and soak up the atmosphere.

Surrounding the central seating area is a range of independent businesses showcasing the best of Highland food producers. There’s something to suit all tastes!


6pm to 8pm

For me, family-run business Café 1 was a shoo-in for the dinner category. Anyone that’s also visited the restaurant before will know why.

The highlight of my trip was the Angus fillet steak I tucked into. However, the £7.50 Belgium chocolate and salted caramel torte served with honeycomb and vanilla ice cream was incredible, as well.

Top Inverness food and drink is on the cards at Café 1. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

There’s also Mumbai Thistle, which offers a menu of authentic Indian street food dishes – such as chola bhature and medhu vada – that have been carefully crafted by expert chefs.

The restaurant even has a live dosa station where you can watch the chefs make fresh dosa right in front of you.

A selection of tasty Indian street food dishes at Mumbai Thistle. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Back on the banks of the River Ness lies The Waterside Restaurant at Glen Mhor.

The sustainable restaurant offers the perfect setting for couples after a romantic and comfortable evening dining experience.

Plus, every dish tells a story of Scotland’s rich culinary heritage.

Sticky toffee pudding. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Superb options for steak and seafood fans include Prime Restaurant and Rocpool.

They are both located within a minutes walk of another, so I wish you the best of luck on deciding between the two.

Prime Restaurant also has an outdoor seating area during our summer months. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson
Roast fillet of wild North sea halibut from Rocpool. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Then there’s Tiger on the Wall, which brings customers classic Indian and Oriental dishes.

The authentic plates are full of exotic spices and flavours and can not only be enjoyed sitting in the eatery, but also taken away.

The Inverness food scene also includes Tiger on The Wall. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Undoubtedly considered one of the best Inverness food spots, Tiger on The Wall is a solid pick for anyone craving Asian grub.

And last, but certainly not least, is Torrish at Ness Walk.

Torrish is set inside Inverness’ luxurious five-star hotel, Ness Walk. Image: Ness Walk

If I could rate the service and surroundings at Torrish higher than 10/10 (from personal experience), I absolutely would. Plus, the kitchen team always puts so much effort into each and every plate.


8pm to late

To bring your day to a close, there are also a range of venues that I would recommend popping into for a drink or two (whether it be alcoholic or alcohol-free).

For cocktails and mocktails, there’s The White House on Union Street.

Pear and raspberry mojito. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson
Black Isle Brewery's bar in Inverness.
Inverness food and drink venue Black Isle Bar and Rooms also sells woodfired pizzas. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

However, if you fancy a location with a wide selection of craft beers, ciders and whiskies, consider Black Isle Bar and Rooms.