Googling "Glasgow" today, the results are sobering: "Pregnant woman attacked and robbed in Glasgow." "Glasgow gangland wars have scarred city with stabbings, shootings and murder." Scotland's largest city, the third most populous in the UK, has a bit of a reputation. But don't forget, so does Houston.
Don't join a gang or precipitate a bar fight, and you should be fine, especially when you stay in the parts of town where interesting things are happening. Primarily, those are the West End and the City Centre, the hippie heart and historic soul of the city, respectively. Read our recommendations below to keep out of trouble and in some serious fun.
Hidden beneath the rails of Central Station is a meaty secret. With more than 100 gins at the bar, it's a good place to relax before or after a trip, but the primary appeal at this restaurant is the steaks, hand-selected by a master butcher, then dry-aged for at least 35 days. The cattle, Limousin-Aberdeen Angus crosses, is raised on the Scottish borders on a diet of grass and barley. The result is optimally beefy, tender meat. The rump steak is only £22 with a side and sauce of your choice, which leaves cash for a made-to-order cocktail.
Ever wondered what an Indo-Iranian menu would taste like in Scotland? Here's your answer. Bombay cafés were otherwise known as Irani cafés in India beginning in the 19th century, serving a combination of Persian and Indian dishes. Got that? Now put it through a modern Scottish lens and you've got Chaakoo.
Small plates range from classic curries like rogan josh to surprises including Kerala-style monkfish. Don't miss the smoked chicken tikka, imbued with the whisper of burning whiskey barrels. Just be sure to follow the posted rules. "No asking recipe" and "no fightings" allowed.
When 18th century anatomist William Hunter died, he willed his impressive collection of anatomical specimens, art and oddities to the University of Glasgow. Since 1807, his enviable cabinet of curiosities has been on display, now the oldest public museum in Scotland. It's the best place to learn about the Scottish Enlightenment, the era during which Hunter and his peers were making intellectual discoveries at a breakneck pace. Across the street is the Hunterian Art Gallery, which currently houses the exhibit, "William Hunter and the Anatomy of the Modern Museum," an education in how Hunter's collection still influences curation today.
Close to the Hunterian, pedestrian-only Ashton Lane is packed with interesting local restaurants. The Ubiquitous Chip, however, is credited as the birthplace of modern Scottish cuisine. Since 1971, regional Scottish ingredients have found a creative home on the plates of this tree-filled eatery. It's best to dine at lunch or for an early dinner, when the three-course prix-fixe is £23.95. Most entrées cost more than that on the regular menu. Highlights might include rabbit loin in chamomile jus, pheasant breast with wild mushrooms and gingerbread, or a dessert of chocolate-Earl Grey ganache with cherries.
Do you always go for the chicken tikka masala? Your favorite dish may not have been born in India, but at this Glasgow stalwart. Shish Mahal owner Ahmed Aslam Ali claims to have invented the stew in the early '70s when he added tomato soup to a customer's chicken tikka after the man complained it was dry. Indian food historians say it's an authentic Mughlai recipe, but all the same, Ali has been working for years to get the dish a "Protected Designation of Origin" from the European Union. But it doesn't matter where you fall in the argument. This uncommonly spicy version of the chicken curry is worth trying with a side of crackly Peshwari naan, and chocolate samosas for dessert.