Harris Food Shops – Support the Local Community Part 1

Northon Village Isle of Harris

Buy in Harris Food Shops and Support the a Community

When you are staying in Harris Self Catering there are loads of things that you can do to help support the local community.  This is the first part a bigger post that will cover the whole subject of the Harris Community businesses.  We kick off with some great info about the local Harris food shops, so that know where to go on the island and don’t feel the need to bring everything with you.  In follow up posts I’m going to tell you all about the local cafes and restaurants as well as where to get the best Harris gifts.

All About the Harris Food Shops

The idea for this post first started after a discussion with someone about whether to bring all your food with you when staying in Harris Self Catering accommodation.  There is natural temptation to either bring your favourite things with you from home.  If you are going to buy from a chain supermarket think about using the ones in Stornoway that employ a lot of locals. They support the community in their own way and provide a good way to buy a few initial items and get you through the weekend. However I would urge you to try and support the Harris food shops local as best you can during your visit to this lovely island. A great example of such a local business deserving of your support is Heike’s Mustheb Mustard hut that is located between Leverburgh and Northton. Buy some of her fab mustard and take some home for your friends as well.  But now on with the Harris Food Shops info….

The Wee Hut of the Hebridean Mustard Company betweeen Leverburgh and Northton
The Wee Hut of the Hebridean Mustard Company betweeen Leverburgh and Northton

What Decides What to Bring and What to Buy?

So what food should you bring with you and what food should you buy when you get here?  The answer depends on your own needs, your budget and also what your accomodation is likely to have prepared for your arrival.  Firstly it’s worth checking in advance what your Harris Self Catering provides both in the cupboards and for new arrivals.  How approach buying food for your trip will likely be based on three things.  The first is whether you arrive on Saturday, which can be a problem as all shops and most restaurants are closed on a Sunday.  Secondly it depends on which ferry to the Outer Hebrides you arrive on and therefore the local shopping options open to you.  The last one is where on the island your Harris Self Catering is located.

The Calmac Ferry Hebrides (Credit: Mark Nicolson)
The Calmac Ferry Hebrides (Credit: Mark Nicolson)

The Saturday Changeover Challenge and Getting Through to Monday

As I mentioned, the traditional Saturday changeover for many Harris Self Catering places can cause a bit of a logistical headache.  This is because all of the Harris food shops are closed on Sundays. With a bit of thinking ahead you can make it through to Monday and support the local businesses at the same time?  While you can of course bring enough with you from home a more local friendly choice is to use the local Harris food shops when you arrive.  To help your planning the Saturday ferry times in the summer season and local shop times are:

Leverburgh:  Ferry Arrives at 08:15, 11:25, 14:30 and 17:00 – Harris Community Coop Leverburgh shuts at 19:00 and Croft 36 at 19.30.

Tarbert:  Ferry Arrives at 11:30 and 20:40 – AD Munro shuts at 18:00.

Stornoway:  Ferry Arrives at 13:00 and 21:30 – Co-op shuts at 23:00, Tesco shuts at 22.00.

For dinner on Saturday evening, most restaurants are open until fairly late so this is a good first night option depending on where you are staying.  On Sundays, the only places open are the Temple Cafe in Northton (in the summer season open to 17:00 – and then serving evening meals as well), the Pierhouse Restaurant at the Hotel Hebrides (to 23:00 late) and the restaurant at the Harris Hotel (17:00 to 21:00).

Temple Cafe Isle of Harris
The Temple Cafe – Great Food and Amazing Views (Hopefully not a distant Harris Memory)

What Food do You Need to Bring and What to Buy in the Harris Food Shops?

As I said before, it’s worth checking with the owner of your Self Catering accomodation what basic things they already have in the cupboard.  Everything you are likely to need will be available in the Harris food shops.  If you are in Stornoway then you might choose to grab a few things at the big Co-op or Tesco supermarkets.  I would suggest to limit these to niche items that you might not get elsewhere.  Plus, if you are a fan of craft beer like me, then perhaps buy some in Stornoway as the selection was not so good in the local shops (certainly on my last visits).

The local Harris food shops are perfect for buying local seafood, meats, vegetables and other day to day staples.  They also have great bakeries and you can also get toiletries and baby supplies as well.  We found some great local produce for the meals we cooked in our Harris Self Catering.  Another option is to use the services of Gus’ Mobile Shop.  Owned by local Gus Maclean his mobile shop is a really treasure trove of amazing stuff.

Harris Self Catering Gus' Mobile Shop
Gus Maclean’s Mobile Shop (Credit – Glyn Jones)

Harris Food Shops in Tarbert 1 – AD Munro’s

If you want to buy your food locally on the Isle of Harris then there are a few options.  The first of the Harris food shops are in Tarbert so are ideally placed when you come off the ferry from Uig.  These Tarbert options are AD Munro and John Morrisons, both of which are located on the Main Street.  AD Munro’s is the main Harris food shop in Tarbert and it is extremely well known for it’s fantastic butchers counter.  In general, it really is a treasure trove of amazing local produce and other specialities.  We bought some totally fabulous pies there on our last trip to Harris – much better than anything you would find in a supermarket.  For info, Munro’s is open on Monday to Saturday between 7.30 am and 6 pm.

Harris Self Catering A D Munro
A D Munro – For all your food needs in Tarbert

Harris Food Shops in Tarbert 2 – Morrisons (Aka Brownies)

The other main food shop in Tabert is John Morrisons, known by many people locally as Brownie’s.   It’s easy the shop in the centre of the village.  If you are looking for a quick grocery stop then this is another of the Harris Food Shops that you should visit.  Given that the shop has a background as a newsagent, their particular speciality is a good selection of magazines.

Harris Food Shops Brownies
Brownies in Tarbert (Credit: Tom McCluskie – Albyn Photography)

South Harris Food Shops – The Community Coop in Leverburgh and Northton’s Croft 36

If you are looking for Harris food shops in the south of the island then the Harris Community Coop in Leverburgh is the closest place for your shopping. It was set up In 1979, when the existing village shop in Leverburgh looked likely to close down. A community co-operative was set up and, by selling local shares at £25 each, sufficient funds were raised to allow the community to run its own enterprise.  The money that the extra summer visitors bring in allows them to invest in the business and to keep the shop trading and employing staff.  Your holiday pounds are vital in keeping the place open in the winter for the local community.

The Harris Community Coop
The Harris Community Coop

If you have specific needs like intolerances to certain things like Gluten etc, it is worth giving them a call as they always try hard to get things in to meet the needs of visitors.  To help decide what are the best days to buy different types of products you can check out the schedule of which suppliers deliver what to the Coop on which days.

Also in the South of Harris, not far from the ferry terminal in Leverburgh is the wonderful Croft 36.  You can find this treasure trove of amazing food on the main street in Northton.  It’s a great place to pick up ready made meals, along with Patisserie style baking which includes Bread, Tarts, Quiche and Cakes.  There are also some gluten-free or vegetarian options as well.  To round things off there are also Hot Pies, Pastries and Soup available all day.  It not strictly a shop but as good as.

Croft 36 Isle of Harris
Wonderful Food at Croft 36

Ardhsaig Petrol Station and Shop

If you are in North Harris then another of the Harris food shops is the Ardshaig Petrol Station and Shop.  It’s located a few miles North of Tarbert on main road towards Stornoway.  It sells more than just petrol and is a great place to pick up a few supplies.  The business is owned by the MacAskill family and they are particularly famous for their fresh scallops, crab claw meat and langoustines.  How many regular filling stations sell amazing fresh seafood?

Harris Self Catering Ardhsaig
Ardhsaig Filling Station as taken by a tourist from Strathaven

Stayed tuned for the next installment all about the best places to get fresh fish on the island.

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