Best restaurants in Ayr
Just four miles from Craig Tara, Ayr is one of the gems of Scotland’s west coast. It’s a comparatively small and compact town but has loads to it, including a beach, a river, and many green spaces.
The town itself has well over 100 restaurants and cafes offering a wide range of cuisine to suit every budget. These include Thai, Indian and even vegan options.
To whet your appetite, we’ve highlighted some of the very best below. We’ve specified whenever restaurants are dog friendly too, so you won’t have to leave your pooch behind!
British / Scottish / European
The Chestnuts Hotel Restaurant
Just a stone’s throw from Ayr’s beach, the Chestnuts Hotel is a boutique hotel with an attractive restaurant, a cosy bar, and outdoor tables in the beer garden for sunny afternoons. Open for lunch and supper (aka dinner!), their menu offers a high-quality take on pub classics including East Neuk haddock and chips, mixed bean chilli and macaroni cheese.
Far from pretentious, Chestnuts is very welcoming, as well as child and dog-friendly. If you have a large party, you can order a two or three course set menu. For special occasions, book early to dine in their private garden room.
Saffy’s Café Bar & Brasserie
Saffy’s hasn’t been open long, although its chef, Douglas Smith, has over 20 years’ experience in hospitality. Nevertheless, it has garnered hundreds of glowing reviews for beautifully cooked and presented dishes including BBQ pulled pork, spiced Shetland salmon and their unique and delicious haggis nachos.
A family-run business, Saffy’s is also renowned for its warm welcome, including accommodating your four-legged friends, and there are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. What was once a hidden gem is gaining stature, but Saffy’s remains refreshingly free of airs and graces.
Scottish food and veganism might not at first seem to go hand-in-hand. However, Vegan Earth is doing much to put plant-based cuisine on the map in Ayrshire. This city centre café is popular for lunchtime takeaways and sit-in diners alike and has an impressive range of filling and delicious vegan choices.
You’ll find everything from sweet and sour seitan chicken to Mexican chilli bake, and delicious desserts including apple and cinnamon pie and red velvet gateau. Bring along a non-vegan friend and convert them to the cause!
Stage Door Café at the Gaiety Theatre
The 120-year history of the Gaiety Theatre gives it a pedigree that deserves a superior restaurant. Fortunately, The Gaiety’s Stage Door Café delivers that, and more. Situated in the theatre foyer (don’t go to stage door!) the café offers mouth-watering meals beautifully presented. You’re likely to want to Instagram some of their more artistic creations.
Highlights include their wholetail scampi served with skin-on fries and sweet-tooth friendly pancake stacks. As well as satisfying your pre-theatre hunger, the Stage Door Café is a popular breakfast venue, including their full Scottish breakfasts, which will set you up for a day of sightseeing.
The Fox and Willow No 22 Restaurant
One of the most stylish restaurants in Ayr, the Fox and Willow scores highly for its large suntrap beer garden, which is dog-friendly, as is the cosy bar. The menu consists of unique twists on international classics such as their chipotle and coffee rubbed ribeye steak and rack of venison. Vegans, those with food intolerances and holidaymakers on a budget have plenty to choose from too. There’s even a “dine out for less” set menu which is great value and includes fajitas and Italian meatball wraps.
There are actually numerous places to dine at the Fox and Willow including transparent geodesic domes (perfect for bad weather), the Peacock Lounge cocktail bar and The Aviary, a luxury private room for group fine dining. More relaxed are the garden and terrace, providing a quiet haven away from city noise.
At Home Thai
At Home Thai
At Home Thai has some of the best online reviews of any Ayr eatery, and its not hard to see why. At Home provides popular and well-presented affordable Thai food in a welcoming and bright interior that lives up to the promise of its name. Guests are made to feel immediately welcome with friendly and accommodating service.
As well as all your Thai favourites, the menu offers more unusual items such as choo chee seabass (a Thai seafood curry specialty) and several tasty tofu dishes suitable for vegetarians. The kids’ menu comes with fruit shoot drinks and the bang bang minced chicken will satisfy any heat lover.
3 Idiots Ayr Tapas
Ayr has a good number of Indian restaurants, and 3 Idiots is one of the best (as well as the most interestingly named)! It recently won an Outstanding Award for Restaurant of the Year at the Curry Awards. Named after a popular Indian movie, and to commemorate its three self-deprecating co-owners, the venue has been wowing locals since 2019.
The core idea is simple, yet brilliant: small portions of Indian food allowing you to sample a host of different dishes in one sitting. These range from traditional fish pakoras to ginger chicken with spinach leaves. You can even try a haggis pakora. The extensive menu will keep you coming back to try more of their tasty, filling food.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better restaurant view than the beachfront location of Ayr India, which can be found at the northern end of the sands. If you can’t get a booking there, they have a second venue in the heart of the city too.
The banquet dinner is great value and will satisfy even the hungriest diner. Menu options include traditional curries and tandoori dishes, and highlights include their chicken karahi, cooked and presented in a domed cast iron pot. There are plenty of vegetarian options and spice levels ranging from mild to fiery.
Café Vito is another recent addition to the Ayr dining scene, offering Mediterranean cuisine and Italian classics on two floors in a cool, chic style. Their all-day menu includes custom pizzas to order, burgers, lasagne, and traditional pasta dishes like spicy penne picante and spaghetti carbonara.
Friendly, filling, and great value are the common adjectives found in customer reviews. You won’t find anything especially innovative on their menu, but you will find well prepared food at great prices, with plenty of room to accommodate larger parties.
This gem offers a contemporary take on Chinese and Asian fusion food, from its location on the Ayr River, near the harbour. The a la carte menu is extensive, with visitors singling out the salt and chilli king prawns and hot and spicy beef for praise.
Prices are very reasonable and there are sufficient vegetarian mains and sides to offer choice to the plant-based diner. There are gluten-free options too. Lychees’ interior is smart and modern, and the food is very well presented, including Malay and Singaporean dishes and lots of tasty appetisers.