An insider’s guide to Dundee: Seven places the locals love

The Playwright. Picture: Jane Barlow
The Playwright. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Dundee residents have real enthusiasm for their city - Alison Campsie speaks to seven of them, who share their favourite places to drink, eat, dance and watch the world go by

Best for the perfect supper: The Playwright

Johanna Basford beside an exhibition of her own work, displayed in 2013 at the DCA. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Johanna Basford beside an exhibition of her own work, displayed in 2013 at the DCA. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

This is fine dining for the most reasonable prices. You’ll get things like game, delicious pâté and the most lovely puddings with two courses costing £12.00. We had our wedding here and had no hestitation in booking it. They did us really proud. The front of house staf are so nice and thoughful and you just know you are going to have a good time here. It’s quite a small place but very light, minimal and contemporary. There are lots of new restaurants opening in Dundee, but for me this is the one. Joy Waters, 63, retired

Tay Street, Dundee,

For the best cocktails: Jam Jar

Jam Jar is something different for Dundee. I love a margarita and they do them just right here, with lots of salt on the rim of the glass. There is a good atmosphere here – it’s quite a dark place with lots of nooks and crannies to sit in. There’s live music too, like jazz. and you’ll find quite a sophisticated crowd of all ages. It sits just over from where the V&A will be. There are lots of new places opening, and lots of new things happening here. Joyce McGlone, owner of Gallery Q

Mills Observatory

Mills Observatory

Jam Jar, 2b Whitehall Cres,

For spending the wee small hours: The Reading Rooms

The Reading Rooms is one the best nightclubs in Scotland. It’s of the same ilk as The Arches or Sub Club – it’s all about the music and atmosphere, aimed at real music aficionados and supportive of the local music scene.

The music leans from dance music to funk and soul, reggae, dub and hip-hop. It’s a grungy, dark, happy haven for music lovers.

You’ll not find any Hollyoaks stars making guest appearances here, thank goodness, but you might have the best night of your life dancing for hours.

Dundee is a very inspiring place to live and work just now. It feels like a lot of exciting things – be it in the digital, cultural, media or artistic sectors – are shooting up from the city, but always with a nod to its proud roots, too. Catriona MacPhee, 31, journalist

The Reading Rooms, 57 Blackscroft, Eastport DD4 6AT,

Best for taking five: Lemmings Statues at Seabraes

Lemmings Statues at Seabraes is somewhere I sit and pause for a moment on my way to the station, especially on a warm summer evening. The lemmings make me think of a leap of faith and the view from the steps looks down to Vision and Dundee Science Centre where leaps of faith in innovation and inspiration occur daily. Then in the background is the glorious Tay, a link to our heritage. It is such a quiet and inspirational place at the end of a day of mayhem and madness. And the lemmings are just so darned cute. Professor Sue Black, forensic anthropologist

Seabraes Gardens, DD1 4LA,

Best for a pint: The Phoenix

If you want a traditional pub, they don’t come better than this. You’ll meet all sort of people in here; its a really mixed crowd of all ages and the beer is good, as are the staff. They also do chips in a pint glass. I just love going there - a proper old boozer, and you know that the minute you open the door. Peggy Hughes, 32, director of Literary Dundee

The Phoenix, 103 Nethergate, Dundee,

Best for spending a Sunday afternoon: Victoria Park

Victoria Park is really quite a lovely place at any time of the year. It’s a nice gentle climb up to the top and from there you get lovely views across the city and the River Tay. There is also the Mills Observatory here, which I believe is the only city centre observatory left in Scotland. It’s a little museum run on a shoe string and when there is a big event, like a comet, they open it up and bring out the old school telescopes. It’s brilliant for the kids, they love it. We also come up to the park for the conkers. Patrick Rohde, 46, owner of Aitken Wines and the Wine Press Bar

Victoria Park, Scott Street,

Best for cutting-edge culture: The DCA

To my mind this is the best place to spend time in Dundee. It’s always lively, there is a buzz about it and it feels like a big city place. My daughter lives in Glasgow and when she comes up, we go here together. I will usually have a gin and tonic but the food is good too, lots of Scottish-style dishes with a twist. There is also a cinema here and a great exhibition space, so a visit can go in all sorts of directions. Shelagh Donaldson, 61, university receptionist

Dundee Contemporary Arts, 152 Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4DY,