This is the third post in the series about how to support the local community when you are staying in Self Catering accomodation on the Isle of Harris. The first post introduced you to the Isle of Harris food shops so you know just where to get your provisions. In the follow up, second post, I introduced you to some of the fantastic people selling fresh Harris fish. Now we turn our attention to all the fantastic Isle of Harris restaurants and cafes. From Real People was started to encourage people to visit local businesses when they travel. The Isle of Harris restaurants and cafes are great places to learn more about this stunning island. So come and learn more about what the island has to offer.
Check Out The Isle of Harris Restaurants and Cafes
From the southern coast right up to Tarbert, Scalpay and then to Hushinish in the North, there are some wonderful Isle of Harris restaurants and cafe for you to enjoy. Whether you are looking for fresh seafood, succulent meat dishes or event something vegetarian the Isle of Harris restaurants will have something you’ll love. Wherever you choose to eat, you are guaranteed a warm welcome in some of the most beautiful settings anywhere in the world. All of the Isle of Harris restaurants and cafes are privately owned local businesses who rely on your support. If you are staying in self catering, try and have at least a few meals out. The community needs your support in the summer season to get through the winter to the following year.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #1 – The Anchorage in Leverburgh
The first of many wonderful Isle of Harris restaurants is also one of the easiest to find. Just follow the signs for the Leverburgh to Berneray Ferry and you will find the Anchorage right next to the slipway on the left hand side. The Anchorage is run by Sally and her amazing team. It’s a popular place so it’s definitely worth booking in advance to make sure that you can grab a table. We’ve eaten here quite a few times and the food has always been amazing. The stand out dish has to be fresh and hand-dived scallops, . Whatever you have, you won’t be disappointed. They even have a new website where you can check out the fabulous menu. The website also has a great section where you can read all about the local suppliers they use. Like a little version of From Real People.
Restaurant Open for the Winter (October to December) from Thursday to Saturday between 12 to 8pm, bar until 11pm.
Normal Summer Opening Hours from Monday to Saturday between 12 and 9 pm, bar until 11pm.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #2 – The Butty Bus in Leverburgh
When you come across a restaurant in a bus you probably have a picture of a greasy spoon cafe somewhere on a bypass. The Butty Bus however, is something very special on the Isle of Harris restaurants scene. If you are in Leverburgh you cannot miss the opportunity to eat at this amazing little place. The owner Chris, works some real magic in the kitchen of the bus. He is especially famous for his soup of the day. You can even follow the Butty Bus Facebook page to see what today’s speciality soup is. The page is also a great way to keep up with the Harris weather thanks to MacKenzie’s musings. The Bus is also a great place for bacon and black pudding sandwiches and also fish and chips. Indeed, it’s a great place to eat anything that is on Chris’ menu.
Opening Hours from Monday to Saturday between 7.30 am and 3 pm.
Evening Opening Friday and Saturday between 5.00 pm and 7.30 pm.
Isle of Harris Restaurant/ Cafe #3 – The Temple Cafe in Northton
Northton’s Temple Cafe is one of my favourite cafes in all the world. The owners are Gail and her husband Reuben, who originally comes from the nearby village of Scarista. His parents have lived in Scarista for over 50 years where they run the village art gallery. Gail moved up to Harris from Edinburgh in 2003, giving up life as a Pilates Teacher in the big city for island life. The original plan had been to turn their house across the road into a cafe. However, when the chance came up to lease the Magillivary Centre building they jumped at it. As a carpenter, it’s no surprise that Reuben has done an amazing job on turning the cafe into a very special space. As well as all the interior work he also made all the cafe’s beautiful tables with giant slabs of trees from the castle grounds in Stornoway.
The Temple Cafe first opened it’s doors in 2011. Gail loved to cook but had never done it on such a grand scale before so the cafe was a totally new and exciting challenge for her. The cafe relies hugely on the island’s tourist industry. If you are visiting Harris make sure you stop by to check out their yummy cakes and amazing savoury food. Their pies are the stuff of legend. In the summer season they are open during the day as a cafe. Then they also do Pizza evenings on a Friday and evening meals on a Thursday and Sunday (you have to book ahead for the evenings though). If you factor in cake, savoury lunch, pizza and dinner, this means that you would have to visit the cafe 4 times if you are on holiday for a week. Check out the Temple Cafe’s Facebook Page for more information.
Currently, the Temple Cafe is closed for the Winter. It is also for sale, so if you are interested in buying this fantastic local business then follow the link to this post on their Facebook Page.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #4 – Croft 36 in Northton
The village of Northton is a hotbed of culinary perfection. As well as the Temple Cafe, the village is also home to the totally awesome Croft 36. Owners Steve and Julie Olley have lived on the Isle of Harris since the late 1990s. They originally came with their eldest son and since arriving they have had 3 more children, all of whom are fluent in the local Gaelic language. They started their Croft 36 food business in 2011 having identified the need for seafood meals on the island. Having tasted their food, this is another place you have to visit while you are on the island. Again, this is a proper family business who rely heavily on the support of tourists to keep their venture alive and a roof over their heads. This is exactly what From Real People is all about.
The little white shack/ shed of Croft 36 is easy to find on the main street through Northton. Just turn off the main Tarbert to Rodel road into the village and you can’t miss it. They open at 10:30 in the morning (Monday to Saturday) and continue putting their lovely baked goods, pies and other lovely things out until mid afternoon. The Croft is especially famous for it’s Fish Curry, but from what I have had myself and what I have read in reviews it doesn’t matter what you choose – everything is amazing. The food is all for take away so it’s a great option for a picnic or to take back to a holiday home.
Open on Monday to Satruday from 10.30 am.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #5 – Restaurant at Scarista House
Scarista House is a small and very special hotel that also has an award winning restaurant. It’s location has wonderful views of the Atlantic, and Scarista’s stunning sandy beach. There has been a tradition of hospitality at Scarista House for a couple of hundred years. As a former Georgian manse, the local minister would have played host to visitors to his church. Today, it is owned by Neil King, Patricia Martin and Tim Martin. Day-to-day running is in the hands of Tim and Patricia. You can eat in one of their two elegantly furnished dining rooms. They serve a set menu and while there is no choice they can provide for most dietary needs. If you are vegetarian then this is a great place to come. This is a very special place that is on the Times newspaper Top 10 places to eat by the sea. Read more about their food and amazing hospitality on the Scarista House website.
Closed for the Winter until March 2019.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #6 – The Machair Kitchen in Talla Na Mara
Another lovely place on our list of Isle of Harris restaurants is Talla na Mara. This lovely building is a Community Enterprise Centre that overlooks the golden sands of Niseaboist Beach. The words Talla na Mara is Gaelic for the “Centre by the sea” and it is owned and managed by the West Harris Trust on behalf of the local community. In January 2010 the West Harris Trust purchased 7225 hectares of land on the West side of Harris on behalf of the 120 residents of Luskentyre, Seilebost, Horgabost, Borve and Scaristavore. One of the key aims of the Trust is revitalising the community by attracting new residents and creating new housing and employment opportunities. The centre is home to the fantastic Machair Kitchen that is operated by the Hotel Hebrides. Chef Sam Barnes creates some amazing things in this wonderful place.
Open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and 6pm to 8.30pm.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #7 – Skoon Art Cafe in Geocrab
In the pretty village of Geocrab is the lovely Skoon Art Cafe. It a fantastic and cosy little place located in an old croft. This is another great local business that is owned by Andrew and his wife Emma. Originally there was just a house on the site and they converted it to a cafe 15 years ago and ran it ever since. Emma’s family are from nearby Lewis and her Mum still lives there, so that was what drew they up to Harris 20 years ago. Andrew told me that they have tried to create a place that they would love to visit themselves, whether as tourists or locals.
Winter Opening only on Thursdays between 11am to 4pm through to the end of 2018
The cafe will not reopen in 2019 so enjoy a visit while you can.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #8 – Bays Community Centre Cafe
Next up on our tour of Isle of Harris Restaurants and Cafes is a more than just a place to eat, it’s the beating heart of the Bays community. Located in Lacklea, the Bays Community Centre was established for the local children of the Bays of Harris. The youngsters if the Bays had no where to go in their spare time and wanted somewhere to start a youth club. With the help of locals the children started fund raising and the centre opening thanks to a spot of national lottery funding. After a while, it was decided to open a cafe, which is run by local Harris ladies. They specialise in home made produce like soups, toasties, filled rolls and loads of home baking. It’s also a great place to get a bit of local knowledge on the best spots of the island to visit. It also provides a great excuse to visit the Bays, that many people miss when they visit Harris. The Community Cafe also holds a ceilidh most months usually with some theme. They also do curry or Chinese nights – check out their Facebook page for all the latest info. You can see from their Facebook pictures what a wonderful and vibrant community this is.
Open from May to September usually between 12 noon and 5pm.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #9 – The Pierhouse Restaurant/Mote Bar
If you are looking for a more substantial meal while you are in Tarbert then a good place to visit is the Pierhouse Restaurant. If you find the restaurant closed or you can also check out the Mote Bar – which is equally a great place to eat in it’s own right. Off all our Isle of Harris restaurants, this is one is especially handy for the car ferry and all of the amenities that Tarbert as to offer. It is part of the lovely Hotel Hebrides, a wonderful family run hotel. Like all of our Isle of Harris restaurants and cafes, the owners place a great emphasis on using local produce. From hand dived scallops of East Loch Tarbert to the local lamb from the windswept machairs in Lewis, their mantra is to use quality local and ethically sourced produce. It really is worth a visit.
The Pierhouse Restaurant is closed for the season, but will be open for Christmas lunches and dinners throughout December.
The Mote Bar is open throughout the year serving food 7 Days a Week between 12.00 pm and 9.00pm.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #10 – Island Bites in Tarbert
The wonderful Island Bites is a good van located on the Main Street in Tarbert. Run by the culinary genius Russell and his wife, it’s a great place to grab a bite to eat as you explore the largest place on the Isle of Harris. The menu has a great selection and they are especially famous for their delicious soups. If you visit Island Bites and also the Butty Bus in Leverburgh then you can support 2 local businesses and compare their soups for yourself. They also do a fantastic line in hot sandwiches and burgers, perfect while you are hanging around waiting for the ferry. You can browse their menu in advance and find all the latest information from Island Bites on their Facebook Page.
Normally Open Tuesday to Saturday between 9.00 am and 2.00 pm then 5.00 pm to 7.00 pm.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #11 – Isle of Harris Distillery Cafe in Tarbert
You can also now visit the Harris Distillery which is located by the shore of East Loch Tarbert. You can take a tour of the distillery and find out more about the process of making gin and whisky. Also make sure to grab some hearty island fayre at their fantastic canteen – it’s the perfect place to grab lunch if you are in Tarbert. Then finish off with a wander around the distillery shop so that you can some of their lovely gin home with you. The shop has all sorts of wonderful things to buy, not just something fabulous to drink.
We love their fantastic glasses that has the same wonderful design as the bottle. The best part about a visit to the Harris Distillery is that not only is it educational and a great place to grab a bite to eat but it is another way to help support this amazing island community. Thanks to the support of tourists and visitors spreading the word the distillery will go from strength to strength and help create more jobs for the community.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #12 – Harris Hotel in Tarbert
The Harris Hotel was built in 1865 and originally called the Tarbert Hotel. Having held the lease of the hotel since 1903, the Cameron family bought the hotel outright in 1948. It is now run by the third and fourth generations of the family, now called Morrison. The menu in this Isle of Harris restaurant offers an extensive choice of only the best and freshest of local ingredients. This includes fresh fish, shellfish, lamb, beef and venison. They serve traditional food but with a modern and contemporary flair.
Opening hours: Dinner is served in the restaurant and the front lounge between 5.00pm until 9.00pm.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #13 – North Harbour Bistro in Scalpay
The North Harbour Bistro is the latest place to get some amazing food. It’s location is given away by it’s name, you can find it in the North Harbour of Scalpay. The Bistro is the brainchild of Glasgow-born George and his partner Morna. In cookery school George won student of the year and then went on become an award winning chef in Jersey under the training of David Cameron (another one). He moved to Harris in 2008 and then took over running the bistro in 2013. More recently, the closure of the community shop has left Scalpay missing a community hub. George and Morna felt that somewhere was needed for the locals to be able to meet up, chat and just grab a coffee.
In the Tearoom, George and Morna offer teas, coffees, soup and a great selection of snacks. However, to really appreciate George’s fantastic cooking, you have to go to the bistro for lunch or an evening meal. As you can seen from the photo below, the quality of food available in this wonderful little place is stunning. George does some amazing things with locally sourced meat, fish and vegetables. With a tearoom and a restaurant, this is another of the Isle of Harris Restaurants that you have to visit twice during any trip to really do it justice.
Open for the winter from early December with a special Christmas menu. Normal opening Monday to Saturday between 11 am and 9 pm.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #14 – Taste n’Sea in Bowglas
Another Isle of Harris restaurant option is the wonderful Taste n’Sea in Bowglas. It maybe a catering trailer but hopefully you are learning that in the Isle of Harris that also means amazing, restaurant quality food using the best local ingrediants. Taste n’Sea is owned by husband and wife team Irene and Alasdair Morrison. They have a wonderful location in Bowglas overlooking Loch Seaforth. They serve tasty and delicious hot and cold cuisines that uses freshly caught seafood and locally sourced produce. With a choice between the freshest seasonal seafood, outstanding burgers, paninis, breakfast rolls, pies, and more, there really is something for everyone.
Having seen an increase in visitors to Harris over the last few years, Irene and Alasdair saw a lack of places to eat between Tarbert and North Lochs. They decided to convert part of their croft as a place for their new catering trailer. They also added a sizeable parking area and benches for people to sit at and enjoy the view over looking Loch Seaforth. Alasdair is a fisherman and Irene has spent many years cooking and baking. They combined their skills into a menu includes freshly caught shellfish from their own boat along with wonderful home baking. Taste n’Sea is another great example of a local business that relies on your support.
Open Monday to Saturday between 8.30 am and 2.30 pm.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #15 – Hebscape Gallery Tearoom
A recent new addition to the Isle of Harris Restaurants and Cafes list is the tearoom at the Hebscape Gallery. This lovely little cafe is located in Adhasaig, which is a lovely village north of Tarbert. From the tearoom there are amazing views across to Taransay, West Loch Tarbert and North Harris. The owners of this lovely place are Chris Griffiths and Darren Cole who first began visiting Harris in 2008 when Darren was a tutor in Photography at the University of West England in Bristol. Having been blown away by the endless creative possibilities, Darren and Chris kept coming back to the island. In May 2013 they managed to move to the island permanently and then opened the gallery in June 2014 providing another welcome addition to the Harris Art scene.
The cafe has some scrumptious homemade cakes or light and fluffy scones with jam and cream. If you fancy something a little more filling then they also offer a homemade Stornoway hot smoked salmon pâté or a farmhouse pâté with a selection of oatcakes and luxury fruit chutney. There are also offer homemade Orkney Cheddar savoury cheese scones with cheese and luxury chutney.
Opening Hours: The tearoom is closed for the winter until April 2019, normal opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday 10:30 am to 4:30pm.
Isle of Harris Restaurants/ Cafes #16 – Ardhasaig House
Another of the wonderful Isle of Harris restaurants on our list is at the Ardhasaig House. The head chef, Katie, has trained with some of the best Scottish chefs including Andrew Fairlie in Glasgow. Katie creates daily bespoke menus for the guests and prides herself on using fresh, local produce and traditional Hebridean recipes wherever possible. The fine dining experience consists of a 4 course set menu created and cooked to individual dietary requirements and tastes. Booking for dinner is essential and bookings made from non staying guests are welcome. The average cost of this culimary feast is £58 per person. Make sure to check this amazing place out and book in advance.
Something Special to Finish – Flavour Pop-Up Restaurants
The last of our Isle of Harris Restaurants is a very special kind of restaurant. Flavour is a number of different things. Firstly, it’s a pop up restaurant that do special evenings in various places around the island. Often, their events are held in the Tarbert Community Centre but keep an eye on the Flavour Facebook page for the latest info. It is also a restaurant that can come to you. Flavour is run by Chris & Nicola. They came up with the idea for Flavour when they were in Taiwan. This was about 6 months before they made their home in Harris.
The couple are originally from Ayrshire and spent a few years travelling before coming back to Scotland. They never really thought that they would settle and set up home in Scotland. However the beauty and way of life on the Isle of Harris captured their hearts. Chris and Nicola use their travel memories and the variety of cooking techniques learned along the way to create a Hebridean fusion menu using locally sourced ingredients. This includes shellfish straight from the sea (hand dived by Chris himself) to home grown vegetables to venison from the Harris hills. They have recently started selling handmade chocolates through their website, so check out their amazing flavours.
Chris and Nicola’s Top Harris Tip
I love asking all the business owners I work with in the creation of these posts one question: If a tourist could only do one thing while visiting Harris, what would you recommend. Chris and Nicola’s recommendation was to jump in the ocean. They suggest that a wetsuit might be useful for this task but not totally essential depending on the time of year. Take a snorkel mask and have look out for some sea creatures and embrace the great outdoors.
The Illusive of Isle of Harris Restaurants – Subway Balallan
OK, so it’s not really one of the Isle of Harris restaurants at all. In reality this great little eatery is actually across the border in the Isle of Lewis. However, no piece about Isle of Harris restaurants would be complete without a note about this place. Thanks to local Lewis boy, billionaire tycoon and president of the USA Donald Trump providing the last minute investment the Balallan Subway is now open. Stop by 24 hours a day and the excess start up funds have allowed us to offer a helicopter shuttle from Stornoway airport should anyone need transport from the Greater Stornoway area. Ask any local and they will tell you that their Guga Marinara is to die for – or with.