12 of the best places to eat in Speyside - including ‘hidden gem’ Thai restaurant, pub classics and Michelin recommended fine dining 

It’s a popular destination for whisky tourism, but while what you’re drinking might be obvious, where are the best places to eat?

Published 25th Apr 2024
Updated 25 th Apr 2024

We’re only a few days away from this year’s Spirit of Speyside whisky festival. Now in its 25th year, this huge festival welcomes whisky fans from all over the world to Scotland’s most prolific whisky producing region. 

Whether you’re visiting Speyside for the festival, or if you’re visiting for whisky tourism, outdoor pursuits or just to get away from it all, we’ve listed some of the best places to visit for a bite to eat.

From a quirky cafe that serves homemade fare to pub classics and Michelin recommended fine dining, there’s something for all.

Drouthy Cobbler, Elgin

(48a High St, Elgin IV30 1BU)

best places to eat in Speyside

This stylish gastro pub, tucked away off the High Street in Elgin, is a must-visit for a delicious meal and cocktail when you’re in the area.

The pub closed, and only reopened in May 2021 with new owners, staff and a fresh new look. Bought by Speylife in early 2021, eight weeks of renovations followed before the pub reopened.

At the helm is Kevin Smith, formerly a director at Craigellachie Hotel, who is running the bar with husband Tony Pollock.

On the menu you’ll find a traditional Sunday roast, cod cheeks, smoked salmon, steak, venison and veggie dishes such as a vegetable and spicy bean burger.

Orrin, Elgin

(2-6 South St, Elgin IV30 1LE)

best places to eat in Speyside

Local chef Andy Fyfe opened Orrin, his first restaurant, in 2021.

Lannan Bakery to collaborate with author Nicola Lamb for one-off menu

Orrin -which is a beautifully decorated space - has made it into the Michelin Guide, as it puts top quality produce centre stage on the menu.

You can book for lunch, brunch, a tasting menu, a la carte, a mid week pre fixe menu and a tapas menu - so there’s something for all budgets and appetites.

The menus change with what’s in season, and seafood is a focus - unsurprising given the location.

Copper Dog, Craigellachie

(The Craigellachie Hotel, Victoria St, Craigellachie, Aberlour AB38 9SR)

best places to eat in Speyside

The Craigellachie Hotel is one of the best known whisky hotels in Scotland and a firm favourite with whisky fans.

Michelin inspectors reveal their favourite dishes - and one is from a Scottish restaurant

First built in the 1800s, the boutique, dog-friendly hotel has two bars - the Copper Dog and the Quaich bar (pictured). But it’s the Copper Dog where you can tuck into pub classics such as fish and chips, burgers and steak.

Croft Inn, Glenlivet

(Glenlivet, Ballindalloch AB37 9DP)

This ‘hidden gem’ Thai restaurant may be off the beaten path but it’s well worth a trip. Owned by Chris and Nat, this Thai Scottish fusion restaurant and bar is a cosy space for a Thai meal - made using local produce - and a dram or two.

Open Thursday to Sunday from 2pm, dishes on the menu include Gang Neua Massaman (beef massaman curry); Gang kiew wan gai (green chicken curry) and Pad Thai.

Highlander Inn, Craigellachie

(10 Victoria St, Craigellachie, Aberlour AB38 9SR)

Island cafe with stunning views to team up with Michelin-recommended Edinburgh restaurant for one-off supper club
whisky locations scotland
Picture: The Highlander Inn

Another Speyside institution, located in Craigellachie, the Highlander Inn has an impressive selection of whisky behind the bar.

Its owner, Tatsuya Minagawa, is truly an icon in the industry and to some people is as big a draw as the bar’s collection.

Drop in for a dram but stay for something to eat. There’s breakfast, lunch and dinner available. Dishes on the dinner menu include haggis bites, steak and ale pie, and mac and cheese. Breakfast is a full cooked Scottish affair while lunch could be homemade soup.

Sidings Cafe, Dufftown

(Dufftown, Keith AB55 4BB)

Sidings Cafe

This former train carriage, located near Balvenie and Glenfiddich distilleries, serves homemade lunches and afternoon tea.

Sidings cafe is run by Anya and Darren, who make all the food - savoury and sweet - fresh to order. Inside it’s like stepping back to the golden era of rail travel crossed with your gran’s living room.

There’s vintage furniture, accessories and crockery, as well as railway memorabilia on the walls. An i-pod plays upbeat 50s music, making this a cosy and welcoming pit stop when in the area - whisky fan or not.

On the menu you’ll find homemade soup, sandwiches, boards (including a ploughman’s style offering), quiche and salad, as well as cakes and scones, which can be found under glass displays in the kitchen area.

Right to Roam, various locations

This pop-up coffee stop is owned and run by Ed Barnard, a chef who operates this coffee van in various locations across Speyside.

During Spirit of Speyside you can find Ed and his van, where you can pick up a well-crafted coffee and his famous cinnamon butteries - or if you want something savoury, sausage rolls - at the Pavilion at Craigellachie Park.

After the festival, Right to Roam will have a permanent base in Rothes.

Dowans Hotel, Aberlour

(Dowans Road, Aberlour, Moray AB38 9LS)

best places to eat in Speyside

Another of Speyside’s famous whisky hotels, The Dowans Hotel lies just off that famous whisky road, the A95, close to Aberlour Distillery and the river Spey.

Visit for lunch or dinner, the hotel’s stylish dining room is a welcoming space and the staff are excellent.

You can tuck into venison and game from the nearby Ballindalloch Estate, seafood and fish from Portsoy or classics such as haggis, neeps and tatties.

Restaurant 88, Hotel 1881, Archiestown

(The Square, Archiestown, Aberlour AB38 7QL)

Owned by the family behind the Dowans Hotel, this boutique abode opened in 20xx.

You’ll need to book in advance but the tasting menu here is the star of the show.

Created by Chef Kieran McCallion the eight course menu is served from Tuesday to Saturday and showcases seasonal ingredients.

The Mash Tun, Aberlour

(Broomfield Sq, Aberlour AB38 9QP)

This pub with rooms in Aberlour has recently had a makeover thanks to new owners, C.Gars Ltd, owned by Ron Morrison and Mitchell Orchant since 2022.

This historic venue, with an alfresco space for drinks, is a lively spot to visit when in Speyside.

The food is gastro-pub fare and includes dishes such as chicken liver parfait, spiced potted prawns, venison bourguignon pie and. Veggie gnocchi.

The Station Hotel, Rothes

(51 New St, Rothes, Aberlour AB38 7BJ)

Picture: The Station Hotel

One Speyside location that combines good food and good whisky is The Station in Rothes, a small town close to the Glen Grant distillery.

Originally opened more than 100 years ago, the hotel was frequented by wealthy guests who visited to fish salmon on the Spey.

After finding success in the 1950s and 1960s, it went into decline and closed in 2006.

Ten years later, after refurbishment courtesy of local couple Richard and Heather Forsyth, the hotel reopened as the luxury digs it is now.

During Speyside, you can book in for their Still and Stove ten course tasting menu, which comes with paired whiskies.

If you’re visiting outwith the festival, you can enjoy their seasonal a la carte menu with dishes such as Peterhead monkfish, haggis, steak,and a venison burger.

The Spey Larder, Aberlour

(96/98 High St, Aberlour AB38 9QA)

If you’re staying in a self-catering spot or fancy picking up some bits and bobs for a picnic or gifts to take home,pop into the Spey Larder on Aberlour High Street.

The shop, which dates from 1864, stocks a range of fine and specialist foods, wines, malt whiskies and gifts.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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