North Hop

Festival Director's Top 10 Dundee Recommendations

Friday 16th November 2018

As we have already said on a number of occasions of late, Dundee really is THE place to be right now, and that's not just because the epic Spirit of North Hop Dundee is coming up next weekend (but you don't want to miss it either, just saying!). The city has been going through some major changes of late and as well as all the awesome indy businesses that have already set up shop there's still loads more to come, including bar openings within the next few months from Six Degrees North and St Andrews Brewing Co.

So given that I (Michelle, Festival Director) have spent a heap of time in Dundee this last 4/5 months I figured I'd share my recommendations for places to check in the city right now, whether you're coming for the festival or on another occasion...

Visit the V&A: This one really doesn't need much introduction but having just visited myself recently I thought I'd point out a few of my favourite things about the V&A. Firstly, without even entering the building the photos you can capture from the exterior are pretty impressive. Inside the architecture is equally as impressive as the outside. To visit the main exhibits entry is free (only the changing exhibitions have entry fees) and the display pieces/areas have all been well thought out and designed. And although we never got a chance to visit I have heard great reports re their on-site restaurant Tatha and the views from the restaurant across the River Tay.

Sugar Cane Libations at The King of Islington: Now one of my firm favourite bars in Dundee, The King of Islington on Union Street packs some impressive vibes considering its small size! From the outside you won't know it's there (there's no sign!) apart from the Cuban/Caribbean tunes flowing out onto the street but follow those tunes and you will find yourself whisked away to a foreign destination where you can sip on lovingly prepared cocktails, try one of many rums from around the world and meet some lovely folk in the very intimate surroundings. And for one day/night only you will find The King popping up at Spirit of North Hop Dundee as one of our themed pop-up bars...

Shopping at Local Independents: For those who like to explore local and unique shops then Dundee has you covered! Some of my favourite finds so far are Oh Hello for vintage delights (and an interior to die for!), Little Lies for awesome rock n' roll and bohemian inspired pieces, Abandon Ship for one-off and classic apparel, Dock Street Studios for amazing interior inspiration and regularly changing pop-ups (currently Tea Green and Sorbus), and The Cheesery for well, cheese obviously!

Brunch at BUBU: Always my go to for brunch in Dundee, BUBU does the most amazing egg pots loaded with all sorts of lovely fillings, my favourite being the avocado or beans ones. At BUBU you can sit in or takeaway but I love to sit at the window bar stools, look across to the church and resident penguins (statues that is!) and watch Dundee go by. BUBU is also a great shout for lunch with bagels and hot and cold boxes filled with fresh salads, etc. This place is also very vegan friendly.

Tiki Cocktails at Tom's: A short walk up from the waterfront Tom's only opened around 3 months ago meaning it's still only just being discovered by folk. The space is bright and fresh with amazing murals on the wall and some funky seating areas. But what you NEED to visit this place for is the cocktails! The theme is South Pacific so you will find some cool twists on Tiki favourites as well as some impressive sharing cocktails...think pirate ships, puffer fish and flames! They also have a great wine selection and some unique spirits on their back bar to check out...

Late Night Vibes at 3 Session Street: If late night cocktails are your thing then 3 Session Street is where it is at. Again, another fairly new addition to the Dundee scene this place is still getting discovered and is constantly evolving their offering, including a late-night food menu which will be happening very soon! Session's also hold regular tasting/meet the distiller type events and will be the venue for our official After After-Party for Spirit of North Hop Dundee, open till 2am with a special festival-inspired cocktail menu and all the spirit chat you could possibly wish for!

Brewery Tour at 71 Brewing: From cocktails to craft beer and just a short walk uphill from 3 Session Street you'll find local brewers 71 Brewing. For those of you who are North Hop festival regulars you will likely have met the 71 guys at one of our festivals this past year. Up at the brewery they have an awesome wee taproom (open 7 days) which is jam-packed with their own and guest beers on draught and in cans/bottles for sitting in or taking away, and they also host regular special events including tap takeovers, pizza/beer nights and pub quiz's. And for those wanting to see behind the scenes and learn more about what goes into their beers you can take one of their tours to experience the brewery first-hand.

Pre & Post Festival Fun at Bird & Bear: If you haven't already noticed we LOVE Bird & Bear, a love affair that started after my first visit last year not long after they opened. The guys here are partly the inspiration behind organising Spirit of North Hop Dundee due to their unique setting, passion for the industry and absolute skills on the cocktail front! It was where we held our launch party for the festival back in October and it's where you'll find us next Friday for the festival Pre-Party, then on the Saturday for the official After-Party and on the Sunday to help you all through those hangover blues with a special Recovery Hip Hop Brunch. Special cocktail menu for all of this coming soon via our social channels...

Lunch at Daisy Tasker: Another newbie but a goodie, Daisy Tasker is located with the brand new Hotel Indigo Dundee. It's housed within an old jute mill and is named after a much-loved 14 year old weaver who organised social activities for the jute mill workers. The menu in the restaurant has local produce at the forefront and includes lighter dishes as well as an a la carte menu and they serve food all day. I personally can also recommend checking out the cocktail menu! And whilst you are there also make sure you visit the stunning foyer area of the hotel for lots of snippets of Dundee's varied history!

Check out Street Art w/ Open/Close Dundee: And to try and walk off this copious amount of  food and drink goodness check out Open/Close Dundee for their self-guided walking tour (available as physical map or an app) of Dundee's impressive street art. Artists have been busy right across the city these past few years (mainly coordinated by Open/Close) and for the street art lovers out there this will be right up your street, literally!