Best Restaurants in Argyll and Bute



Wondering where to find the best restaurants in Argyll and Bute? Say it quietly to ensure a booking, but the area – sandwiched as it is between the Highlands and the Lowlands of Scotland – is developing quite the reputation as a foodie destination.

The remote, striking landscape and ‘away from it all’ lifestyle on the west coast has lured renowned chefs from far away gastronomic metropolises in recent years. There are many fine places to eat in Argyll and Bute, plenty of which can be the highlight of a fab day out. 

So, without further ado, here are 7 of the best restaurants in Argyll and Bute.

Seafood supper sorted. A fishing boat on Loch Fyne

Inver Restaurant, Strachur

Sheltered by Lachlan Bay and on the banks of Loch Fyne, the Inver Restaurant is in a remote spot. Yet, this restaurant has gained national attention for its innovative cuisine. Pam Brunton, who owns the Inver along with her partner Rob (who runs front of house), was named Chef of the Year in the 2020 Good Food Awards.

The Inver marries traditional Caledonian cooking with Scandinavian influences. This Nordic culinary mashup is perhaps fitting for a landscape once raided by Vikings. The area was later ruled by the Maclachlan chiefs from Old Castle Lachlan which can be seen from the restaurant along with its ‘newer’ 18th-century sister castle a little way inland.

Inside, this former crofter’s cottage is suitably homely, warmed by a woodburning stove and sheepskin rugs. Kids are welcome to dine here too. 

For more tales of warring clan chiefs and feuding Gaelic kings, take a tour of the best castles to visit in Argyll and Bute. To find out more about the area, or about other parts of Scotland, check out our Ultimate Scottish Camping Guide.

Kilberry Inn, Kilberry

The tiny village of Kilberry is a special place, and plenty of folks consider that the village inn is one of the reasons for it. The actual journey to Kilberry is almost worth the trip alone, along a single-track coastal road that runs for some 30 miles from Tarbert along the shore with outstanding sea views. Upon reaching Kilberry, visitors are first struck by its castle, a 19th-century manor house with a medieval tower.

Then, if they’re anything like the Hairy Bikers, and some other renowned diners whose names are concealed by the owners (could one of them really have been Queen Elizabeth II?), thoughts will turn to the menu and the seafood specialities at the Kilberry Inn. The dishes are made with locally caught catches and accompanied by seasonal west-coast sides. Once you’re full, a stroll to see the gorgeous Kilberry Sculptured Stones makes for very pleasing afters.

Take the scenic route for an evening meal at Strachur and book one of our campsites near Tarbert.

Time for dinner as the clouds roll in above Tarbert

Oystercatcher, Tighnabruaich

Another fine drive from the civilisation of Glasgow into the remote landscape of the Cowal Peninsula, this time over moors and through dense woodland, takes visitors to Otter Ferry near Tighnabruaich. The Oystercatcher is an old ferry inn right on a stretch of beach looking out over Loch Fyne and the Mull of Kintyre. The vista either through the old windows of the restaurant or from the pub garden is one that’s particularly pretty at sunset.

The pub has long held a reputation for its seafood. How could it not, given the abundance of produce right off the shore? There’s also steaks and grills on The Oystercatcher’s menu, alongside classic pub grub dishes and a kids’ menu. Dogs are welcome too.

Spend a few nights in the area around the Kyles of Bute at a campsite in Tighnabruaich.

The Machrie, Port Ellen, Islay

Famed for some of the world’s finest whiskies, seafood and coastal seascapes, the Isle of Islay also has the Machrie Hotel with its championship links golf course. The restaurant at the Machrie is fittingly named ‘18’, which is one less than common parlance for a course clubhouse. Yet this is so much more than a locker room where spiked-shoed golfers gather for gammon and chips.

Giant windows in the main restaurant (open to non-golfers) look out to sea beyond the manicured turf of the course. Dining at the Machrie is most suitable to mark a special occasion, but it isn’t out of budget for lots of people touring the island from a campsite near Islay. Classic British mains with elegant twists can be found on the dinner menu, and there are separate listings with plenty of choice for vegetarians and vegans. There is also a bar menu for lighter bites if you’re simply calling in or fancy something to eat before hitting the course.

This part of Scotland is well known for being home to some of the finest golf courses in the United Kingdom. If you’d like golfing to be part of your holiday itinerary, read more about the best golf courses in Argyll and Bute.

Combine fine dining with fine whiskey on the Isle of Islay

Sugar Boat, Helensburgh

An award-winning restaurant named the best in Scotland in recent years, the Sugar Boat sits in Helensburgh’s rather grand, green and open Colquhoun Square. To the front of the building is a café-style area where visitors can watch the world go by, and to the rear, a spacious dining room and enclosed courtyard.

The Sugar Boat is owned by Scott Smith, who founded a couple of Michelin-starred restaurants in London with the kitchen run by one of his former head chefs. The food is described as 'pared down’ in the Michelin guide, with seasonal local produce influencing what’s on the specials alongside mains inspired by classic favourites.

Helensburgh is only a few miles from Loch Lomond and can be easily reached from a campsite in Alexandria on its southern edge.

Airds, Port Appin

An 18th-century former coaching inn, Airds Hotel and Restaurant is in Port Appin, where the ferry runs to the Isle of Lismore. This popular option sits in hillside gardens overlooking Loch Linnhe, with views of Castle Stalker and the silhouette of the Morven Mountains beyond.

Dinner here is a fine dining experience, with classic mains of local seafood and meats in an unhurried, country house setting. A stroll through the grounds to the beach below with a wee dram from the whisky bar is a must afterwards. Children are welcome, though only until 7.30pm in the main restaurant.

Pitch up at a campsite on the Appin coast.

The Oban Fish and Chip Shop

There are plenty of fine seafood restaurants in Oban. Etive on Stevenson Street has a good reputation, as does Ee-Usk at the North Pier. But sometimes, only fish and chips will do. Especially at the seaside. That’s why a visit to the Oban Fish and Chip Shop is a must. This top chippie in the centre of town has advertised itself for years as serving fish and chips that were described by Rick Stein as ‘the best I’ve ever tasted’.

It’s not only cod and chips on the menu, either. This fine establishment serves up sole, halibut, hake and squat lobster, which is all supplied daily from the fishmonger at South Pier. There’s also haggis, burgers, and black and white pudding direct from the local butcher. It’s not surprising the 40-seater restaurant is almost always full.

Book your pitch with a sea view at a campsite in Oban. Or explore the wider west of Scotland by picking your holiday base from our complete list of sites and parks in Argyll and Bute.

After fish and chips, a boat trip from Oban to see the puffins and seabird colonies on the Isle of Staffa, the seals on the rocks off Kerrera, or a cruise around the Hebrides is a popular way to spend the day. That’s only one of the many attractions in the area, though – click here to read more about all of the other things to do in Argyll and Bute.