Haggis, the national dish of Scotland, isn’t for everyone. The thought of eating the offal from a sheep — usually the heart, liver, and lungs — makes many people recoil in horror. But that’s usually before they’ve tried it. The truth is, whether you like the idea of what goes into haggis or not, once you taste it, it’s hard to deny how good it is. Haggis is offal mixed with onion, oatmeal, beef or mutton suet, and spices, packed into a sheep’s stomach and boiled. It might not sound appetizing, but it’s actually incredibly tasty. It’s served on all kinds of days in various different dishes and you won’t travel far in Scotland without seeing it on the menu. It’s fair to say that haggis is sometimes, in some places, prepared and cooked better than in others. So here’s my pick of where to get the best haggis in Scotland.
1. The Little Chartroom, Leith, Edinburgh
Roberta Hall-McCarron is the chef and owner of The Little Chartroom, the Leith-based restaurant inspired by her childhood memories of sailing the Scottish coastline and her love for the country’s produce. The menu is concise and considerate, with three options for each course, guided by what is available. On Sundays, however, the team swaps out the meat main course for their twist on a classic Sunday roast — roast rib of beef, shin, and Yorkshire pudding stuffed with beef haggis. Roberta’s take on the classic dish ramps up the spices and is such a crowd favorite one local has booked Sunday roast at The Little Chartroom every Sunday for the foreseeable future!
The staff at The Little Chartroom knows their wine and the wine list here is one of the most extensive I’ve ever seen at a restaurant. I’d recommend letting the wait staff guide you on the perfect pairing for your meal, as with such a long wine list, it’s really hard to choose!
2. The Drum And Monkey, Glasgow
Just about the only thing more traditionally Scottish than haggis is the pub, so haggis served in a pub is the ultimate Scottish experience. At The Drum and Monkey, you’ll find authentic pub food but with that Scottish twist. And as if this experience couldn’t get more authentically Scottish, The Drum and Monkey serves its haggis in the traditional way — haggis, neeps, and tatties, that’s haggis, mashed swede, potatoes, and gravy. If you want to dive in and eat haggis how it was meant to be eaten, this is the place to go.
This historic building was built in the 1920s, originally as a bank and, although it’s since been refurbished as a pub, there are still plenty of original features from the days when it was a city center bank. It’s a grand building, inside and out, and lovers of history will enjoy dining inside these old walls.
3. Links House, Dornoch
The food at Mara, the restaurant at Links House in Dornoch, is pretty incredible anyway, but stay over in one of the spacious luxury rooms at the hotel and in the morning you’ll be treated to a full Scottish breakfast, including haggis. Your plate will arrive adorned with bacon, sausage, eggs how you like them, mushrooms, fried tomato, and the all-important haggis. The staff at Links House are especially good at catering to any dietary requirements you might have and even if you’re vegan you can still enjoy haggis as part of your breakfast. The vegetarian and vegan full Scottish breakfast comes with vegan haggis, which I can testify, is really very good.
The staff at Links House go out of their way to make your stay one to remember. Ask for a breakfast table by the window and you can eat your haggis with an incredible view. If the weather is fine you can enjoy your breakfast outside in the Dornoch sun.
4. Scott Brothers Butchers, Dundee
Dundee is a great city for having a wander and if you don’t have time to, or don’t want to go for a sit-down meal in a restaurant or café, you can head to Scott Brothers family butcher and pick up some deep-fried haggis pudding to go. The haggis is rolled long like a sausage and battered till crispy on the outside, so perfect as street food. It’s tasty with a dip of your choice or just eat it as it is and the batter makes the ideal accompaniment to the spices in the haggis.
5. Highlander Cafe Bus, Aberdeen
The Highlander Cafe Bus is an old double-decker bus that’s been turned into a beachside café and takeaway. As well as its uniqueness, the café bus also offers a great café shack menu and you can get haggis at any time of day. For breakfast, you can try the haggis roll, the Scottish breakfast including haggis, or the breakfast burrito including haggis. Then for lunch or dinner, there’s the haggis burger. I’d recommend choosing one of these and enjoying it with your choice of milkshake, then sitting on the beach which is only a few steps away. The milkshakes are something else, and more like a dessert than a drink!
Sit upstairs on the bus and you get great views out over the beach and out to sea. You might even spot a dolphin or two.
6. Urquhart’s Restaurant, Inverness
Urquhart’s is an intimate restaurant, but the tables are nicely spaced so it doesn’t feel cramped at all. It does get very busy, so make sure you book ahead because the food here is hearty, generous, and full of flavor. The traditional haggis, neeps, and tatties, with a whiskey sauce, is a firm favorite, but the chicken on haggis with a whiskey cream sauce is pretty incredible, too. At first glance, the menu does look very meat heavy, but a section at the bottom for vegetarian dishes shows you can also indulge in the traditional dish with a vegetarian haggis, neeps, and tatties.
The portions here are very generous, so if you choose a starter and a main it’s unlikely you’ll have room for dessert. Plan in advance what you’d prefer, as the desserts, homemade and changed daily, are worth saving space for. Check the in-house board for what’s been baked on the day you visit.
7. Arcade, Edinburgh
As you approach Arcade Haggis and Whiskey Bar in Edinburgh, there’s a chalkboard in the window that proudly proclaims it serves the best haggis in town. It certainly takes haggis seriously here, and the restaurant wouldn’t make such a claim if it couldn’t back it up. On the menu, you’ll find Robert Burns’ Famous Haggis, Princess Diana Haggis, haggis-stuffed chicken, and gluten-free and vegan haggis. This is a haggis house, something you won’t find often even in Scotland, so the focus is certainly on this regional dish. However, there are other dishes on the menu too, and all of them are made with the same love and care. It’s a cozy little restaurant, with a great atmosphere and very friendly staff.
This is the ideal place to go if you’re trying haggis for the first time. It’s beautifully cooked but also comes with sauces and accompaniments that will ease you into your haggis journey, and won’t make you feel like you’re eating something odd and too strange for your palette. To help you along, try it with one of the whiskeys from the extensive range on offer.
8. The Grog And Gruel, Fort William
A traditional ale house and restaurant, The Grog and Gruel is fairly unusual in that it expertly combines an authentic old pub with a separate restaurant. The pub is downstairs and the restaurant is upstairs and each has a very different atmosphere. Down in the bar, you’ll find a wide selection of ales, while upstairs in the restaurant you can order haggis to start and haggis for the main course. The haggis taster as a starter is a good choice if you’re not too sure if you’ll like haggis. But if you want to go all in, the wild boar and haggis burger is a no-holes-barred hearty burger with haggis. Vegetarian haggis is also available as a starter.
If you like the pub vibe and want to stay by the bar, you can order a selection of dishes from the bar menu and enjoy the atmosphere of the alehouse while you eat.