5 of the best bars in Glasgow's West End

We take a look at some of the best bars to check out when you are in Glasgow's West End.

Published 1st Feb 2017
Updated 20 th Sep 2023

Overshadowed somewhat by the rise of the Finnieston strip, bars in Glasgow's traditional West End still deserve much of the credit for making the area so desirable to visit for food and drink fans.

Indeed some the city's best bars still reside in and around Byres Road, at the heart of the West End, here are five of the best.

Curler's Rest

(256-260 Byres Rd, G12 8SH, 0141 341 0737)

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller
Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

Former dingy pub and current swish brasserie, the Curler's Rest is decked out with solid oak tables and a very lengthy bar.

The list of draught beers on offer is similarly lengthy, giving customers an extremely wide selection of lagers and ales to choose from.

The atmosphere of the place is one of its best characteristics – the bar has a fantastic buzz about it on Friday and Saturday nights.
Sunday roasts at the Curler's Rest are also a pleasure, as is the daily pub-grub, which includes such classics as ale battered cod and chicken pot pie.

Òran Mór

(Byres Rd, G12 8QX, 0141 357 6200)

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller
Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

This majestic converted church now houses bars, restaurants and a nightclub, making it one of the West End's most popular late-night haunts. The Gaelic name translates as “the great melody of life” in English, and, as there are many excellent live music performances at Òran Mór, the name is very appropriate.

The talented Declan Hegarty plays in the Whisky Bar every Wednesday, either on the folk harp or on the guitar.

The Victorian-style Whisky Bar has a beautiful painted ceiling and elegant pillars, while the Late Night Brasserie Bar is an elegant, with ornate mirrors and art nouveau paintings.

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The Whisky Bar has over 280 malts for you to sample, and the brasserie menu is available too.

The Sparkle Horse

(16 Dowanhill St, G11 5QR, 0141 562 3175)

Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller
Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

This pub combines hip and old-school design to create a cosy, convivial atmosphere, and the classic statuettes of horses are a nod to its name. The food is a mix of traditional pub fare and more contemporary tastes, with steak and ale pie sitting alongside halloumi salad.

The West Brewery on Glasgow Green provides them with excellent draught beers, and their list of fourteen wines from Europe, New Zealand and Chile is sure to delight.

The Monday quiz is a great opportunity for the brainy among us to battle it out, and the Sunday event Horseplay event encourages guests to bring out the board games for a relaxed afternoon of family fun.

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(Ashton Ln, G12 8SJ, 0141 342 4966)

(l-r) Andrew, Scott, Stewart Laing
Picture: Brel

The conservatory and beer garden at Brel make it a charming place for a drink on a sunny afternoon. Having been recently been refurbished, you can be certain of stylish surroundings as well as delicious drinks.

The selection of bottled beers is huge, with places of origin across Europe and the Americas. Classic cocktails and a whole range of spirits are also up for grabs.

The food menu is a mixture of French sophistication and classic pub comfort: the Francophile's favourite, Moules Frites, is prominent on the menu, as are the eternally popular burgers.

Hillhead Bookclub

(17 Vinicombe St, G12 8SJ, 0141 576 1700)

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Glasgow West End Hillhead Bookclub
Picture: Geogrpah.org

This venue has a history as an old cinema, but now it's packed to the rafters with youthful types who revel in its quirkiness. Cocktails are served in gramophones, with names like “Kentucky Bar Brawl” and “Practice What You Peach”.

Retro computer games and ping pong are the pastimes of choice, vintage fairs grace the bar on Sundays, and young fogeys pop in for the Tuesday sewing club.

When it comes to music, the Bookclub puts the emphasis on “rare beats” and “unheard edits of classic tunes”. They also support local DJs, who spin the discs on Tuesday nights, while resident DJs take the helm on Fridays and Saturdays.

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Maddy lives in Edinburgh and has written for the Sunday Herald and the Ed Fringe Review. She is passionate about authentic, sustainably sourced food, and is always keen to discover exciting new flavours.
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