Eating out in Shetland

Hungry? Shetland has a wealth of restaurants, cafes and takeaways where you can sample local produce and satisfy hungry appetites.

Eat like a local

Shetland’s larder is brimming with fresh produce and, as an island archipelago, is particularly well known for its fresh fish and seafood. If you’re planning a visit to Shetland then be sure to try some of our famous local produce; you won’t be disappointed.

While delicacies like lobster, crab, mussels and scallops are usually only found on the most exclusive restaurant menus, in Shetland they’re a common sight, thanks to our beautiful island location. For a taste of traditional seafood, head to Fjara, The Dowry or The String in Lerwick, Scalloway Hotel and Da Haaf in Scalloway, or Frankie’s Fish & Chips in Brae (which offers a more casual setting but do a mean bowl of Shetland mussels!).

Another of Shetland’s most famous culinary delights is reestit mutton. ‘Reestit’ means salted and the mutton is made by soaking the lamb in brine and then hanging it to dry. Once cured, it’s commonly used in tattie soup, which you’ll find on menus across Shetland. The Peerie Shop Café in Lerwick regularly has it as a lunchtime special, alongside Cullen skink (smoked haddock and potato soup), another local favourite.

Sassermaet is another common foodstuff you’ll find in Shetland, particularly in cafes. It’s a type of spiced sausage meat and you generally find it served as part of a cooked breakfast or in a bread roll with cooked onions.

While delicacies like lobster, crab, mussels and scallops are usually only found on the most exclusive restaurant menus, in Shetland they’re a common sight, thanks to our beautiful island location.

Dining in Lerwick

Unsurprisingly, most of Shetland’s eateries are located in the main town of Lerwick. Cafes like Teamore, Havly Café, Skipidock and Magno are good for lunchtime staples like sandwiches, toasties, paninis and burgers. If you're looking for a cooked breakfast, you can't go wrong with the Harbour Cafe. It's pretty basic inside but does a tasty, affordable fry-up. For healthier options, check out the salad bar at the Olive Tree, the specials at Fjara and the sandwiches and soups at the Peerie Shop Café (as mentioned above). For a taste of France, head to C’est la Vie for continental fare like croissants, brioche and croque monsieur.

New to the Shetland food scene are The Dowry and The String, situated doors from each other on Commercial Street, the main town shopping precinct. Both serve up lunch and dinner with a focus on homemade dishes made with local ingredients. If you’re in the mood for sharing, The Dowry’s small plates menu is a winner, with dishes like salt and pepper squid and Shetland salted cod paté to graze on. The String meanwhile is great for a date night. Start with a Shetland Reel Gin cocktail before feasting on dishes like Shetland crab rosti and buttered hake with chorizo hash and greens.

Alternatively, if you like your meat, Da Steak Hoose serves up the best steaks in town using Shetland beef. The hotels across Lerwick are also open for lunches and evening meals. Check out the Waterfront Bar & Grill at the Shetland Hotel and the Bay Brasserie at the Lerwick Hotel.

Out of town

The village of Scalloway is home to Shetland’s only two AA rosette fine dining restaurant at the Scalloway Hotel. It books up quickly so be sure to make a reservation. The hotel also has a bar menu with more informal options, like fish and chips and sausage and mash. Just along the road is The Cornerstone, a café/restaurant popular with locals, serving up family favourites like macaroni, fish and chips, sandwiches and paninis. There's also Da Haaf restaurant at the NAFC Marine Centre, which, as mentioned above, is known for its delicious seafood.

If you’re heading to the north mainland, the town of Brae has a handful of eateries. Frankie’s Fish & Chips is popular year-round for those looking for freshly battered fish and chips, bowls of juicy mussels and scallops in a relaxed family setting. Meanwhile, across the road at the Mid Brae Inn you can grab a bar supper or head to The Restaurant at the Brae Hotel. For fancier fodder, book a table at Drumquin Guest House or Busta House Hotel. If you like a dram, Busta also houses Shetland’s only Malt Whisky Bar with 225 drams to choose from. If you’re heading further north to Eshaness, stop in at Braewick Café next to the campsite. Here you can enjoy light refreshments and stunning views out across St Magnus Bay.

In the south mainland, stock up on local farm produce and have a cuppa and homebake at Mackenzie's Farm Shop & Café. Or, if you’re after a heartier meal, the Sumburgh Hotel and Spiggie Hotel serve bar meals. It’s advisable to call ahead to check opening times. And, if you're at the airport, Caffe Volare is good for pre-flight snacks.

If you like a dram, Busta also houses Shetland’s only Malt Whisky Bar with 225 drams to choose from.

Island eateries

The Maryfield House Hotel in Bressay is only a short ferry ride from Lerwick and is open for lunch and dinner. If you’re heading north to Yell, drop in at LJ’s, a fairly new eatery, serving up pizzas, burgers and other family favourites. Or, if you’re heading to Unst, drop into Geoffrey’s of Shetland on the way. This café near the ferry terminal offers homecooked meals, paninis and sandwiches, and does takeaway too if you’re in a hurry. In Unst, Victoria’s Vintage Tearooms offers delicious cakes and a hot brew with a retro twist; or, if you’re after a hearty evening meal made with local produce head to the Baltasound Hotel or Saxa Vord Resort.

World cuisine

If you like Chinese food, Lerwick has two Chinese restaurants, The Golden Coach and The Great Wall, as well as a number of takeaway outlets. There are also takeaways in Brae and Scalloway. Lerwick is also home to the island’s only Thai restaurant, Phu Siam. For Indian food, you can sit in or takeout at The Raba, the Ghurka Kitchen or Saffron, or get a takeaway from Indian Ahar.

Home baking

One thing that Shetland is well-known for is its home baking. During the summer, many of the community halls across Shetland open for Sunday Teas, where you can enjoy home bakes and a cuppa for a small charge. Another new trend is cake fridges, where local amateur bakers set up community fridges in remote areas and people can help themselves, paying for their items via on honesty box. Look out for them in Aith and Burra when you’re out for a drive; their produce makes for an ideal accompaniment to a flask of tea! It's also worth noting that many of Shetland's arts venues, museums and heritage centres serve up light refreshments, such as Bonhoga and Hoswick Visit Centre.

During the summer, many of the community halls across Shetland open for Sunday Teas, where you can enjoy home bakes and a cuppa.

Special diets

Most places in Shetland try to cater for gluten and dairy free diets, as well as providing plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. For a snapshot of what’s on offer and the places to visit check out our blog on Special diets in Shetland.

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