Forget the tired clichés about deep-fried Mars bars, which were actually invented 130 miles away. Over the last few years Glasgow has forged one of the coolest and most creative dining scenes in the UK and whether it’s brunch, lunch or dinner you’re after, with or without meat, the depth and breadth of options is dizzying.

Within two hours of the city, meanwhile, you can enjoy an exciting and diverse array of bucketlist food experiences showcasing Scottish produce, from seafood on the pier at Oban to hand-picking the sweetest raspberries in Angus. These days we often travel the world in search of great food. The truth is, we can also find it right on the doorstep.

Brunch in Glasgow’s south side

When it comes to brunch, the south side of Glasgow, particularly around the Strathbungo neighbourhood, is the place to be. Already drawing comparisons with Brooklyn in New York, brunchers in this neck of the woods are spoiled for choice. Gnom, on Pollokshaws Road, serves a small but perfectly formed menu of globally-inspired savoury and sweet dishes, from Turkish eggs and Chinese baos, to German spaetzle and Indian rotis. And the French toast ice-cream sandwiches are to die for.

Just around the corner on vibrant Nithsdale Road, The Bungo, Pot Luck and Nivens also offer deliciously exciting and creative all-day breakfast options. All these places fill up quickly at weekends, so don’t sleep in.

A fish supper in Anstruther

The queues are invariably long, but it’s always worth the wait. A fish supper from Anstruther Fish Bar, eaten straight from the cardboard box as you watch the colourful boats bobbing in the harbour, is surely one of life’s simple pleasures. The freshly-landed haddock, fried to perfection in light, airy batter melts in the mouth, while the chips (with a generous soaking of vinegar, but no sauce, of course) never seem to disappoint.

Glasgow, Gateway to Scotland: The Best Whisky and Burns

Afternoon Tea at Cromlix

Arriving at Cromlix, the luxury country house hotel owned by Andy Murray just north of Dunblane, is a relaxing experience in itself. The house is set in stunning grounds – complete with tennis court – and the welcome is friendly and informal. Then there’s the afternoon tea. From the delicious finger sandwiches and fluffy scones, to the delectable mini fruit tarts, macarons and desserts, piled high on stands and served with Ronnefeldt teas of your choice, everything is just right. Treat your mum. Or your best friend. Or yourself.

Pizza at Paesano, Glasgow

When your customers say your pizza tastes as good as it is in Milan, you’re probably getting something right. And Paesano, which has branches in Miller Street, Merchant City, and on Great Western Road in the west end, is the business. Using simple, good-quality ingredients – creamily authentic mozzarella, the most zingy and intense tomato sauce – all cooked in an authentic Neopolitan wood-fired oven, produces dazzling results. And all the pizzas on the menu come in at under a tenner. No wonder the place is packed.

Seafood on the pier at Oban

OK, this one is pushing the two hours from Glasgow challenge. But for an extra 40 minutes in the car you'll get one of the best food experiences on the planet. Indeed, it’s hard to appreciate just how fresh the catch on offer at Oban Seafood Hut – lobster, langoustine, crab, mussels – is, or how simply and beautifully cooked, until you've eaten your way through the menu. Based right next to the ferry terminal, this place is an institution with locals and visitors alike; it can be heaving, and you have to be prepared to stand and eat with plastic fork. But nobody minds when the produce is this fresh, plump and moreish.

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Pick your own berries in Angus

It’s little wonder top chefs such as Raymond Blanc rate Scottish raspberries as the best in the world. Our wet climate creates a sweetness and intensity of flavour other berries simply cannot reach, apparently (the strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and gooseberries aren’t bad, either). And there’s one sure way to get the best produce while having a healthy and fun day out with the family: pick your own. The fertile lands of Angus and Fife are renowned for the soft summer fruit they produce, and both have plenty of pick-your-own options, including Balhungie Farm near Monifieth, and Cairnie Farm near Cupar. Just don’t eat all the fruits of your labour as you go along.

Platform Glasgow

At weekends, Platform reinvents former club, bar and theatre space The Arches as a vibrant city centre food hall, bringing together the most exciting street food traders in the country for new type of dining experience. And what a fabulous experience it is. With a changing roster of food trucks, reasonable prices and a friendly canteen vibe (benches at shared tables) this is the perfect place to share plates and try new flavours. Recommendations? The tempura shrimp buns from Shrimpwreck are a triumph, while you’ll struggle to resist the crème brulee from Crema Van. Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Check for opening hours.

Glasgow, Gateway to Scotland: The Best Whisky and Burns

Picnic by Loch Lomond

When the sun shines it can feel like the whole of the west Scotland flocks to Loch Lomond, as the roads and best-known spots – such as Balloch and Luss – fill up. With all that stunning scenery just 40 minutes from Glasgow, you can understand the attraction. Thankfully, the vastness of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park means you can always find a quiet spot if you try hard enough. With a shoreline that seems to go on forever, there's enough hill, glen and forest to go round. And there’s no tastier way to soak up the splendour than with a picnic on the bonnie banks. If you’re heading out west via Great Western Road, in Glasgow, pick up some treats on the way at the array of great delis. Pay a visit to renowned artisan cheese emporium IJ Mellis, then pop over the road to Cottonrake Bakery for cakes and pasties. The dream picnic awaits.

Ice cream at Nardinis

Speaking of sweet treats, Nardinis, 50 minutes down the coast in Largs, knows a thing or two about how to satisfy customers, having been the unofficial home of Scottish ice cream for more than a century. The lovely seafront café, complete with traditionally styled interior, offers 32 flavours and a quite breathtaking choice of sundaes and desserts. Indulge yourself – you can always work it off by jumping on the ferry and cycling round Cumbrae.

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Eat vegan in Glasgow city centre

A centre of vegan food for more than a decade, Glasgow has been at the forefront of the push to transform non-meat cuisine from worthy to wonderful. Cool café-bars such as Mono, Stereo, the CCA and the Flying Duck pioneered the move, serving flavour-filled, sophisticated dishes from around the world that attract off-duty carnivores as well as their vegan pals. Newcomers such as Picnic, in the Merchant City, and GlasVegan are adding colour and texture to an increasingly vibrant scene.

Dine out in Finnieston

We wouldn’t want the carnivores to feel left out, of course, and trendy Finnieston serves up the best of Scotland's larder – including lamb, beef and game – in style. It can be hard to bag a table at the likes of The Gannet, Ox and Finch and Porter and Rye, since diners come from far and wide – and return again and again – for the exciting, creative cooking. The west end neighbourhood also has its own seafood favourite in Crabshackk, while Alchemilla has been wowing Glaswegians with its sophisticated Mediterranean sharing plates.

Glasgow, Gateway to Scotland, a partnership between People Make Glasgow and Glasgow Airport, in association with The Herald, aims to attract more US visitors and capitalise on a recent growth in overseas tourists by highlighting the city’s position as both a must-see destination in itself, and the ideal base for accessing Scotland’s landscapes, history and culture.

It's easy to fly from the US to Glasgow:

Delta - direct to and from JFK

United - direct to and from Newark

British Airways - multiple US airports to and from Glasgow via London Heathrow and London Gatwick

Icelandair - multiple US airports to and from Glasgow via Reykjavik

Aer Lingus – multiple US airports to and from Glasgow via Dublin

KLM - multiple US airports to and from Glasgow via Amsterdam Schipol