Which local delicacies should you try when visiting the Shetland Islands?

Renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and unique wildlife, the Shetland Islands, located in the Northern Isles of Scotland, offers an array of local delicacies that every traveller should try. The rural charm of the Shetland Islands, sprinkled with the enchanting beauty of its capital, Lerwick, makes it a must-visit destination. This article aims to guide you on a culinary journey, highlighting the best food experiences to make your visit unforgettable.

The Affluence of Seafood in Shetland Islands

Surrounded by the untouched sea, the Shetland Islands are a haven for seafood lovers. The nutrient-rich waters around the islands provide a bounty of fresh fish, molluscs, and crustaceans.

Lerwick, the largest town in the Shetland Islands, houses various cafes and restaurants where you can indulge in a variety of seafood dishes. One such recollection is of Lerwick's famous Frankie’s Fish and Chips. This award-winning restaurant serves some of the best fish and chips in the UK, using locally sourced fish, such as haddock, cod, and monkfish.

However, the seafood journey doesn't stop there. Explore the local markets of Lerwick to find a wide variety of fresh catch such as mussels, scallops, and langoustines. These markets also sell locally made kippers - smoked herring, a traditional breakfast dish.

Experience the Island's Lamb Dishes

Aside from seafood, the Shetland Islands offer another unique culinary delight - the native Shetland Lamb. Grazing on the island’s heather-covered hills, these lambs lend a distinct flavour from their diet of seaweed, wildflowers, and herbs.

One place where you can taste this local speciality is the Scalloway Hotel in Shetland. Their menu often features dishes made with Shetland lamb, emphasising local produce and traditional cooking methods.

Another local favourite is the 'reestit mutton' - a traditional Shetland dish. This salted, brined, and air-dried mutton is often used to prepare 'reestit mutton soup' - a warming dish perfect for the cooler months.

Delight in the Orkney-Influenced Cuisine

The Shetland Islands have a historical connection with Orkney, another group of islands in the Northern Isles of Scotland. This influence is visible in the shared love for certain ingredients and dishes.

The most notable Orkney influence is the 'Orkney Cheddar'. This cheese is made using traditional methods, passed down through generations, and has a Protected Geographical Indication status. You can find this cheddar in local markets and cafes in Shetland, often used in sandwiches and platters.

Another Orkney speciality available in Shetland is the 'Orkney Fudge'. This rich, creamy fudge is a delight to the sweet tooth and comes in various flavours, from traditional vanilla to sea salt and caramel.

A Taste of Scotland - The Scottish Fare

The Scottish influence in the Shetland Islands' cuisine is evident. Haggis, a traditional Scottish dish made from sheep's offal, spices, and oatmeal, encased in a sheep's stomach, is a must-try.

Whisky is another quintessential part of the Scottish fare and is commonly found on the islands. The Lerwick Brewery, established in 2012, offers a variety of beers and whiskies. You can visit this place for a tasting or a tour to understand the brewing process.

Another Scottish element you will find in Shetland's food scene is the Scottish shortbread. This crumbly, buttery biscuit is a popular accompaniment to tea.

Discover Shetland’s Traditional Baking

Shetland's baking traditions are deeply rooted in its history. The islanders have been baking oatcakes, bannocks (flat bread), and bere (a type of barley) biscuits for centuries. These items are still baked in homes and sold in local bakeries, often served with jam or cheese.

One bakery you should visit is the Waas Bakery in Lerwick. This family-run business has been baking traditional bread and cakes using time-honoured recipes since 1895. They offer a delightful selection of traditional Shetland bakes, including the 'Shetland Bannock', a type of flatbread, and the 'Selkie’, a sweet, cinnamon-flavoured bread roll.

In conclusion, the Shetland Islands offer a cornucopia of culinary delights, deeply ingrained in the local culture and traditions. A trip to this part of Scotland is incomplete without savouring these local delicacies. Whether you are a seafood enthusiast, a lover of lamb dishes, or a fan of traditional baking, Shetland has something to offer everyone. Make sure you add these food experiences to your itinerary when you plan your visit.

Uncover Shetland's Tea Rooms and Cafes

One of the best ways to experience the local food and drink of the Shetland Islands is to visit its various tea rooms and cafes. These cosy establishments offer a range of traditional and contemporary dishes, which provide an insight into the rich history and culture of the islands.

Victoria Vintage is a charming tea room located in Lerwick. It's renowned for its home-baking, which includes traditional Shetland bakes like bannocks and oatcakes. Alongside these, you'll also find a variety of cakes and pastries, often served with a pot of tea or coffee. This cosy retreat exudes a quaint and vintage charm, providing a warm and welcoming atmosphere for the visitors.

The Fjara Cafe Bar, perched beautifully on the edge of the sea, offers stunning views along with its enticing menu. It's a popular spot for breakfast and lunch, serving dishes made from local produce. The cafe bar is also a great place to try Shetland beer and whisky.

For a modern dining experience, the Hay's Dock Cafe Restaurant is a must-visit. Located in the Shetland Museum and Archives, it offers a contemporary menu, with dishes inspired by traditional Shetland food. Here you can enjoy reestit mutton soup, Shetland black potatoes, and a lot more local delicacies.

Explore the Best Places to Eat in Shetland

No Shetland travel guide would be complete without a mention of the best places to eat. Shetland has a growing food and drink scene, with a burgeoning community of chefs, brewers, and bakers who are passionate about showcasing local produce.

The String is a restaurant and bar located in Lerwick. The food here is inventive and flavourful, using ingredients sourced from local suppliers. Its menu changes seasonally, ensuring freshness and quality. From Shetland scallops to locally reared beef, every dish is crafted with care and served with a dash of Shetland pride.

Another noteworthy place to eat is the Busta House Hotel in Brae. This historic hotel offers a dining experience that combines traditional Shetland recipes with modern culinary techniques. The result is a menu that is as diverse as it is delicious. Here, you can indulge in Shetland lamb, fresh seafood, and even Orkney cheddar.

Moreover, the Scalloway Meat Company is a must-visit for any meat lover. This family-run butcher shop specialises in Shetland lamb and reestit mutton. They also offer cooked meats, pies, and other local specialities.


In the heart of the Northern Isles of Scotland, the Shetland Islands offer a unique and rich culinary journey. It is an archipelago where food and drink are as varied as the landscapes that produce them. The local delicacies, from the fresh seafood and reestit mutton to the traditional bakes and vintage tea, are not just meals but expressions of the island's history and culture.

Whether you are exploring the local markets of Lerwick, dining in the restaurants of Shetland, or enjoying a quiet moment in a tea room, you will find that the taste of Shetland is as unforgettable as the islands themselves.

So, the next time you plan a visit to Shetland, make sure you also plan a culinary route. After all, the experience of a place is not only seen and felt but also tasted. Happy travels and happy tasting!