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Eat Local in Melrose: Hidden Gems, Famous Food and Where to Eat in the Scottish Borders

Alex Dalgetty

The Scottish Borders has a thriving food scene, spurred on by passionate chefs emphasising traditional Scottish cooking, quality and sustainability. Make the most of the abundant seasonal local ingredients on offer and discover hidden gems and culinary delights as you explore Melrose and the Borders towns beyond. Whet your appetite with our top recommendations.

Traditional Scottish Borders Cuisine

The Scottish Borders boasts a rich culinary heritage, with many dishes reflecting the region's history and local ingredients. When in Melrose, be sure to try these famous local dishes:

  • Border Tart: A traditional Scottish tart made with a shortcrust pastry base, filled with fruit and topped with a lattice pastry design.

  • Scotch Broth: A hearty and nutritious soup, made with a base of barley, vegetables and meat, perfect for a warming meal during a cool Scottish evening.

  • Selkirk Bannock: A famous dish from nearby Selkirk, this is a rich and buttery leavened tea bread filled with sweet sultanas involving several dough fermentation stages. Best served warm with lashings of butter.

  • Rumbledethumps: A traditional Borders dish of shredded cabbage and onions, sautéed and mixed with mashed potatoes, topped with cheddar cheese then baked until golden brown. Although it can be enjoyed as a standalone dish, it's a tasty way to use up leftovers from a roast dinner or leftover mash, as you can throw other veg in there too.

The Best Places for a Quick Bite to Eat in Melrose & Beyond

Main Street Trading Company, St. Boswells, Apples for Jam, Melrose, Abbey Fine Wines, Melrose

With so many dining options available, it is difficult to choose where to eat when visiting Melrose. We have compiled our top recommendations for a memorable lunch experience in Melrose and the surrounding Borders Towns:

  1. Apples for Jam, Melrose: A lovely small cafe with gorgeous bagels full of deliciously unusual fillings, müesli with fresh fruit, light salads and yummy home baked cakes. Apples for Jam may be a small café in size, but it packs a mighty punch with the food that's served. All dishes are made with local seasonal products - a real gem for a quick lunch.

  2. Abbey Fine Wines, Melrose: A wine bar, cafe and off license that offers cheese and charcuterie platters, exceptional sandwiches, salads, scones, tea & coffee and of course wonderful wines/spirits to taste. This little bar is a must-visit for all food and wine lovers for a leisurely afternoon break. Abbey Fine Wines is located right in the main square with tables to sit outside in summer  - a perfect spot to watch the world go by.

  3. Alex Dalgetty & Sons, Melrose and Galashiels is an award-winning bakery with branches in Melrose and Galashiels, head baker Craig Murray and his team stay true to tradition, freshly baking their goods in traditional 120-year-old Scotch ovens. Famous for their original Selkirk Bannocks and Scotch Black Buns, there’s also freshly baked Border Tarts, Oatcakes and Shortbreads to keep you satisfied for a full day out in Melrose.  

  4. The Mainstreet Trading Company, St. Boswells is a famous independent bookshop that frequently hosts talks from authors, including Margaret Atwood and Michael Morpurgo. Stop by for a spot of lunch in their lovely cafe, where they serve light lunches and yummy cakes, then stock up for the road from their separate delicatessen.

  5. Cafe U, Kelso is a great place for home baked cakes, homemade lunches and artisan bread - fantastic food.

Farmers' Markets and Local Produce

The Scottish Borders is home to an abundance of farmers' markets and artisan producers, offering the opportunity to shop and eat local. Some of the top markets and producers include:

  • Kelso Farmers' Market: Held on the 4th Saturday of each month, the market provides a fantastic opportunity to meet local producers, sample and purchase an array of locally made food, including meats, cheeses, jams and much more. - the farmers market in Kelso is an event not to be missed - It is held in the market square on the 4th Saturday of every month and features local produce of all sorts.

  • Border Eggs: Based in the heart of the Scottish Borders, this family-owned and operated farm offers a range of high-quality, organic free-range eggs from happy hens.

  • Fresh Fish: Our top tip for the best fresh fish would be Collins in Eyemouth.

Local Scenic Picnic Spots

Why not take advantage of the area's natural beauty and enjoy a scenic picnic featuring some of Melrose's local food? Some popular picnic spots include:

  • Abbey Gardens: With stunning views of the historic Melrose Abbey, it is a perfect spot for a relaxing outdoor meal.

  • Eildon Hills: Take a short drive to the nearby Eildon Hills and enjoy your picnic with panoramic views of the Scottish Borders.

Where to Dine Out on Fresh, Local Produce

Seasons, Gattonside The Caddy Man , Jedburgh

If you've had your fill of sweet treats, there's also plenty of savoury options on offer. Local seafood and game are hugely popular in the Scottish Borders - in particular the must-try indigenous Roe Deer, which offers a much more delicate flavour than Venison. Local restaurants foster connections with nearby farmers and game estates to provide the freshest ingredients on offer. Here our top restaurant picks:  

  • Seasons Restaurant, Gattonside specialises in local produce and is an excellent choice for both Roe Deer and local seafood. We love Seaonson's food!

  • The Caddy Mann Restaurant, Jedburgh boasts a near-flawless Tripadvisor rating, and offers both local seasonal game and ‘some of the best Scotch Beef and lamb found anywhere in the world’ (it is on you to verify this claim :-)).

Book a stay at Bowden House Boutique Bed and Breakfast and make the most of the culinary scene of Melrose and the Scottish Borders. Discover the hidden gems, sample famous local dishes, try the best places to eat and savour the unforgettable flavours of Scotland.

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