Best restaurants in Kilmarnock
Kilmarnock, Ayrshire’s biggest town, lies less than 20 miles away from us at Craig Tara. Sitting alongside the banks of the River Irvine, it’s known for manufacturing textiles, including the iconic Scots bonnets (the headwear, not the chilli!)
That said, Kilmarnock can provide spicy food aplenty, as well as global cuisines ranging from Scottish-Italian to Chinese and Mexican. Here are some of the best restaurants in Kilmarnock.
British / Scottish
The Weston Tavern
The Weston Tavern was previously the Kilmaur Manse, once the home of reformist minister David Smyton, a contemporary of local poet Robert Burns. The rustic 18th-century interior is complemented by a menu of tasty and traditional Scottish food, including their celebrated starter, a tower of haggis and black pudding, with creamed mash and peppercorn sauce.
They also do a line of Cajun-styled “sizzlers,” burgers, and grilled meat dishes, with portions to satisfy any appetite. Sweet tooths will enjoy their sundaes too, especially the Scottish tablet, butterscotch, and vanilla ice cream concoction.
Cotton Mill Cookhouse & Pub
Another popular local pub for food is the Cotton Mill Cookhouse, whose smart, bright interior makes a change to the sometimes-dark restaurants of traditional pubs. Burgers and grilled meats are at the forefront of their menu, although there are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options too. Prices are very reasonable, and the Cookhouse is open for filling full Scottish breakfasts for those mornings after.
They get creative with their drinks as well, with thirst-quenching sangria and wine spritzers for summer relaxation. For unpretentious, great value fare, well presented, it’s a good bet.
The Long House
The cosy yet classy interior of the Long House strikes a good balance between comfort and style. It's a little pricier than other local options, but the quality and presentation are top-class. There’s even a small al fresco dining area for sunny days, and dogs are welcome there too.
The brunches score highly at The Long House, including their ham and smoked cheese eggs benedict and their plant-based full Scottish with grilled halloumi and avocado. Pancakes are also a must, with an American option that includes crispy bacon and sausages.
Lunches and dinners include a wide range of international dishes as well as local specialities such as their seared salmon with soft cheese and herb tortellini. Definitely a local favourite.
The Laird’s Table
One of the most picturesque places to eat in Kilmarnock is the Laird’s Table at the Craufurdland Castle Estate. An attractive modernist building sits alongside the estate’s lochan, and there’s the adjoining Ghillie’s Café where dogs are welcome.
Open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, The Laird’s Table is one of the more expensive venues on this list but the excellent quality Scottish produce on offer, perfectly presented, make it worth visiting for your special occasion.
Evening menu highlights include a medallion of Scottish beef fillet and venison sausage and a fillet of seabass with scallops. Desserts deserve a mention too, especially the poached pears served with dark chocolate sauce and locally made ice cream.
The Glasshouse at Rowallan Castle Golf Club
For the real carnivores, a visit to The Glasshouse at the popular Rowallan Castle golf club is a must. The 16th-century castle itself is worth a tour, as is its Colin Montgomerie-designed golf course. However, it’s also well worthwhile just visiting The Glasshouse, which is a wonderfully light, airy space set in a walled garden with outdoor tables.
The food is beautifully presented and very inventive and it’s no surprise The Glasshouse won a Scottish Food Award for fine dining in 2022. The menu is sensibly small, and mains include a fillet of duckling with cumin duck pate, and herb crusted hake fillet, served with mashed potato and turmeric coconut curry cream. Desserts include a delicious, salted caramel panna cotta.
The set menu prices are very good value, so be sure to book in advance as this restaurant is very popular!
For something a little more down to earth, leave the castles behind and head for the Bonnyton Café.
Here’s where you’ll find the best local chippy in Kilmarnock. As well as the traditional haddock and chips, you’ll find deep-friend haggis, black pudding fritters, and smoked sausage suppers. Wash it all down with a bottle of Scotland’s national soda, Irn Bru.
You’ll find the Bonnyton Cafe to the northwest of the city, just off the Bonnyton Road which runs west from the railway station.
Café da Vinci
Whether you fancy a classic stone-baked Napoli pizza or a king prawn linguini, Café da Vinci provides a delicious array of Italian classics and a warm welcome. The interior is comfortable and inviting, and the staff is highly accommodating to families and groups.
Set dinners offer great value with the minestrone soup and homemade cheesecake especially popular with regulars.
Chinese / Asian
La Dragon is probably Kilmarnock’s most popular Chinese restaurant, and it cleverly combines excellent Asian cuisine with a chic, modern interior that encourages diners back time and time again.
Located in a repurposed mill building by the river, La Dragon includes an adult-only champagne lounge for nights out. In the restaurant, diners can enjoy a comprehensive menu of both Chinese classics and local dishes like spiced Scottish monkfish and unique creations such as their black pepper and dark chocolate chicken.
There are great value fixed-price selections too, plus a more extensive menu of desserts, including banana tempura with butterscotch sauce and ice cream, and hot chocolate fudge cake.
Macs Spice Route
Macs is the place to head for a taste of the Indian subcontinent. It has a smaller menu than many Indian restaurants, but the food is special, including Goan fish dishes and lamb on the bone.
Pescatarians and vegetarians will find much to appreciate at Macs, and the service scores highly amongst visitors. Their banquets for two or more are highly recommended. Macs prices are reasonable, and you’ll find them on the A77, 15 miles from us at Craig Tara.
The 43 Mexican TexMex & Steakhouse
Mexican food is celebrated for its flavour, ease, and shareability. The Texan twist adds delicious steaks to the mix. Both classic tacos and chimichangas, and lamb chops are on the menu at 43. Regulars single out the service and the spicy, marinated ribs for special praise.
You can wash down your meal with a range of artisan tequilas, or a Mexican beer. The interior is colourful, simple, and welcoming. Portions are filling, so do go with a hearty appetite.