Tours of Edinburgh

Articles about Edinburgh and Scotland by David Wheater

My Edinburgh

Articles about Edinburgh and Scotland by David Wheater, founder of Tours of Edinburgh.

Popular Edinburgh Restaurants and Cafes

Tours of Edinburgh Pickles, 56 Broughton Street, Edinburgh, Scotland (1).jpg

Popular Edinburgh Restaurants and Cafes
by David Wheater of Tours of Edinburgh

Edinburgh has an astonishing number of places to eat, from fine dining Michelin-starred restaurants to small family run cafes that provide great quality food on a budget.

Finding the best Edinburgh restaurants and cafes, in a city with thousands of restaurants, can therefore be really difficult, so I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite places to eat in Edinburgh. I've tried to mix it up a bit with Edinburgh restaurant options to suit all budgets and tastes. Not everyone will agree with my choices - but I hope you find my list of Edinburgh restaurants a helpful place to start, especially if you're pushed for time.Edinburgh is one of the best cities in the UK for fine dining, with four different restaurants awarded a Michelin Star for 2017; those being, Number One (at The Balmoral Hotel), The Kitchin, Restaurant Martin Wishart and 21212.

A further four Edinburgh restaurants, The Dogs, Passorn Thai, Galvin Brasserie de Luxe (at Waldorf Astoria) and the Scran & Scallie were awarded with a 2017 Michelin Bib Gourmand Listing ('bibs' are awarded for good quality cooking under £28).

Over the last ten years, Edinburghʼs restaurant scene has become ever more stylish and sophisticated, with a wide range of cuisine on offer from all around the world, including French, Mexican, Indian, Thai, North African and Spanish.

There are a good number of nationwide chain style restaurants and diners in Edinburgh, but small, independent restaurants and bistros are also plentiful and usually offer the best quality food and value for money, in more atmospheric surroundings.

Edinburgh is also plentiful in good upmarket restaurants for those seeking a little luxury. Many are serving terrific contemporary Scottish dishes, using all the best ingredients from Scotlandʼs impressive natural larder of game, beef, fish and seasonable vegetables. For non-meat eaters, Edinburgh has a good number of vegetarian restaurants, the king of which has to be David Bann on St Maryʼs Street.

The popular Leith district and port is well worth heading to for excellent seafood and is home to two exciting Michelin-starred restaurants: The Kitchin and Martin Wishart (well done Leith!). Princes Street and George Street are fine for national chain restaurants and fast food, but itʼs worthwhile seeking out more individual and characterful establishments, especially in the Old Town (The Witchery) or even Broughton and Bruntsfield.

Restaurant deals and offers:
For all the latest Edinburgh restaurant offers try the following websites:

  • Last Minute.com - www.lastminute.com/restaurants/
  • 5pm.co.uk - www.5pm.co.uk/restaurant/edinburgh/
  • Table Pouncer - www.tablepouncer.com/edinburgh/restaurants/
  • The Witchery Offers - www.thewitchery.com/OffersIntroduction.html

Below are some of Edinburgh's most popular restaurants, cafes and bistros. We've included a wide range of types of cuisine and places to suit all pockets. People naturally have different tastes, and restaurant opinions are subjective, but we're sure you'll find a few here that you'll love.

21212
3 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh EH7 5AB
www.21212restaurant.co.uk

Chef Paul Kitchingʼs Edinburgh restaurant opened in May 2009 and received a Michelin star in just eight months. The menu remains true to his modern French cookery expertise and the elegant Georgian townhouse in Royal Terrace provides a very handsome backdrop to a well-designed contemporary restaurant. One of the wonderful things about the restaurant is that the menu changes every week, so thereʼs always something new. Itʼs also surprisingly affordable, with two-course lunches starting at just £22 during the week. The restaurant also has four beautiful, luxury rooms available with a dedicated lounge area. If youʼre in Edinburgh – you must go here!

Timberyard Restaurant
10 Lady Lawson Street, Edinburgh EH3 9DS
www.timberyard.co

Is this possibly the coolest place to eat in Edinburgh? As a multi-award-winning Scottish restaurant, it deserves all the praise it gets. Although located in a former timber yard, the building dates back to the 19th century when it was a props and costume store. There’s an outside yard which is fabulous on warm, sunny days. For parties of up to 10 there’s a unique wee 'Shed' with a wood-burning stove which is atmospheric and cosy in winter. They also grow their own vegetables, herbs and fruit, which is very impressive. Interestingly, you choose your dishes based on size which is a novel concept - and it works! The food is contemporary and innovative, which might not suit everyone, but it’s quirky, which really makes it stand out. We particularly approve of the support for local Scottish farmers and producers, which is surely the right way to go nowadays. Lunch is served 12-2 p.m. and dinner 5.30-9.30 p.m. 

Lovecrumbs
155 West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DP
www.lovecrumbs.co.uk

Located just up from the Grassmarket in West Port, this is the place to head for cake 'n' coffee! Made by the talented in-house bakers, the selection of cakes, scones, brownies, biscuits and tarts changes daily. Please note that they don’t do soup, sandwiches, etc. Cake is their thing and they do it fabulously! The coffee and tea is of high quality, which is essential when you’re savouring great cake. They also do whole cakes to order - so why not treat yourself for a special occasion. The passionfruit meringue pie is gorgeous and the jams are just amazing!

Colonnades at the Signet Library
The Royal Mile, Parliament Square EH1 1RF
www.thesignetlibrary.co.uk/colonnades

Located just off the Royal Mile in the beautiful Signet Library, this is the place to go for afternoon tea in Edinburgh. Described as an ‘elegant tea salon’, the Colonnades is set in the Lower Library and named after the neo-classical columns dominating the room. The mirror-top tables and finest silver add a touch of class to the rather special atmosphere. The setting is relaxed and peaceful and the service exemplary. The selection of savouries, pastries and cakes is out of this world. If you’re feeling particularly decadent, treat yourself to some Pommery champagne. Allow at least two hours and you won’t go home hungry! An absolute jewel.

Locanda de Gusti
102 Dalry Road, Edinburgh EH11 2DW
www.locandadegusti.com

Just a few minutes' walk from the West End is one of the best Italian restaurants in the city. The chef grew up in Naples and was taught to cook by his mother and aunt. The authentic Italian food is inspired by the trattorias of Naples and freshly prepared every day, including the pasta. There are also gluten-free options. Very friendly staff and a warm, cosy atmosphere make this a great place to go with friends or family. If you’re a seafood fan you'll be particularly happy here. Our favourite is the seafood linguine.

Bijou Bistro
2 Restalrig Road, Leith Links, Edinburgh EH6 8BN
www.bijoubistro.co.uk

Located in Leith Links, this popular cafe is the ideal place to head for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The special ‘Bijou Breakfast’ is highly recommended. They also do takeaway too, including burgers, smoked salmon fishcakes and haddock. They have a seasonal menu which changes every few weeks, so there’s always something new to try. The service is very friendly and attentive and you’ll leave uplifted. This is quite a small restaurant, hence the name, so book evening meals in advance. 

Number One (@Balmoral)
The Balmoral Hotel, 1 Princes Street, Edinburgh EH2 2EQ
www.restaurantnumberone.com

Number One has again retained its well-deserved Michelin star for 2016. This fine-dining restaurant is the ideal place to give your loved ones a little luxury they'll remember for a long time to come. The outstanding modern Scottish dishes are made with the finest quality Scottish ingredients and the beautiful, elegant decor and atmosphere complement the wonderful food perfectly. Thereʼs also a bar offering a great selection of cocktails, wine and champagne. Not to be missed!

The Dogs
110 Hanover Street, Edinburgh EH2 1DR
www.thedogsonline.co.uk

This is a no-frills bistro in Edinburgh city centre that offers good food and wine at great prices. Inspired by the ʻrise of the gastropubʼ, itʼs very relaxed and just the sort of place you can drop into while out and about in town. All the ingredients are sourced in Scotland, wherever possible, and thereʼs even some wine from UK vineyards. The restaurant itself is modern and contemporary, but also a little quirky, which is fun. If youʼre after tasty, well-cooked dishes at very reasonable prices – head here first!

David Bann
56-58 St Maryʼs Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SX
www.davidbann.com

An excellent vegetarian restaurant, just off the Royal Mile, serving top quality dishes. If youʼve avoided vegetarian restaurants in the past – think again! This is a really sleek and stylish restaurant, serving some very inventive and tasty dishes that really will make you forget about meat! Dishes are inspired from right around the globe, taking in Italy and Greece to Thailand and India, making it a very interesting and eclectic menu. We particularly love their desserts, which are just scrumptious. The restaurant is very relaxed and informal, and a great place to enjoy with friends and family.

Fishers in Leith
1 Shore, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6QW
www.fishersbistros.co.uk

Located in the lively Shore district of Leith, this very fine seafood bistro is still winning awards after 20 years. Part of the Fishers Restaurant Group, the group's ethos is simple: 'honest food, great service and a relaxed dining experience'. This is the original restaurant, set in a historic 17th-century watchtower, and the nautical theme leaves you in no doubt youʼre close to the sea. The menu is predominantly seafood, with the occasional meat dish included for meat lovers. Thereʼs also a great bar and restaurant next door serving a good selection of European and British dishes. This is definitely our choice for fresh, beautifully cooked seafood in Edinburgh.

La Garrigue
31 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DH
www.lagarrigue.co.uk

A top-quality French bistro that delivers some of the best food in Edinburgh, in a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Opened in 2001 by Jean Michel Gauffre, the bistro was inspired by his upbringing in Languedoc and serves 'rustic family-style cooking', along with some outstanding French wine from this region. Highly recommended.

Castle Terrace
33/35 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh EH1 2EL
www.castleterracerestaurant.com

Located in view of the Castle, this excellent restaurant opened in 2010 and is much admired for its superb modern British dishes.

The restaurantʼs motto is 'from nature to plate', and this is evident in the fresh seasonal dishes it produces. The restaurant is run by the team behind The Kitchin in Leith, but the chef, Dominic Jack, is the creative engine, with an impressive career taking in Gleneagles to top restaurants in Paris. We thoroughly recommend the set lunch menu and the taster menu (with matching wine). If youʼre looking for somewhere to celebrate a special occasion, this would be first on our list (book well in advance!).

The Witchery by the Castle
352 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NF
www.thewitchery.com

A very special restaurant at the top of the Royal Mile, a short walk from the Castle. The Witchery was opened in 1979 by James Thomson and has become something of an Edinburgh legend, with a whole host of celebrities and dignitaries singing its praises. These accolades are much deserved, as it is a sumptuously designed, chic restaurant serving some of the finest dishes in Scotland.

Specialising in Scottish produce, from seafood to beef, lamb and game, the menu showcases all the fantastic ingredients available from Scotlandʼs abundant larder. 

There are also nine luxurious and glamorous rooms to stay in, which are perfect for a romantic getaway. Check out their website for all the latest offers on rooms and tables. If youʼre looking for wonderful Scottish cuisine in magical, historic surroundings, this is the place to go. Treat a loved one to an evening they won't forget.

Wedgwood the Restaurant
267 Canongate, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH8 8BQ
www.wedgwoodtherestaurant.co.uk

An unpretentious fine-dining restaurant on the Royal Mile that really knows how to make the very best of Scottish seasonal produce. If you're exploring the Old Town, this is a great place to stop for lunch or dinner. The fixed-price lunch menu is particularly good.

The Kitchin
78 Commercial Quay, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6LX
www.thekitchin.com

Opened in 2006 by husband and wife team, Tom and Michaela Kitchin, The Kitchin has deservedly won numerous accolades including a Michelin star. 

Chef Tomʼs philosophy is to use good seasonal produce in abundance to create menus and dishes that truly fit with the time of year. The window onto the kitchen is a real novelty and the service exemplary. The lunchtime set menu is a great option and, if you're a wine fan, opt for the excellent wine taster from the second-to-none wine list. An outstandingly good restaurant that's just too good to leave for special occasions.

The Spice Pavilion
3A1 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6QG
www.thespicepavilion.co.uk

If you love your curry and spicy food, the Spice Pavilion is certainly one of the best in Edinburgh. 

Hidden away under a gallery in Dundas Steet, they offer an excellent lunch and dinner menu, with a good range of vegetarian choices. There's an extensive curry menu and they can do them very spicy indeed! Worth a mention are the lovely haggis samosas. Always friendly and helpful service.

Kismot
29 St. Leonard's Street, Edinburgh EH8 9QN
www.kismot.co.uk

A wonderful family-run Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant and takeaway. A terrific place to take the whole family. If you're brave, try the 'Chocolate Curry' and the 'Marshmallow Naan' or, if really brave, the infamous 'Kismot Killer' curry! You can bring your own bottle, with no corkage fee, which is a bonus.

Cafe Cassis Bistro
43-45 Salisbury Road, Newington, Edinburgh EH16 5AA
www.cafecassis.co.uk

Situated in Edinburghʼs Southside in the Salisbury Hotel, Cafe Cassis is a relaxed and friendly, family-run bistro, offering a varied menu with a French influence. Ideal for a pre-theatre dinner or Sunday brunch with family or friends. You must have a dessert here; they do some of the best in Edinburgh.

The Water of Leith Cafe Bistro
1 Howard Street, Edinburgh EH3 5JP
www.thewaterofleithcafebistro.co.uk

Located in Inverleith near the Botanic Gardens, close to the river, this is a great little cafe/bistro for a coffee 'nʼ cake, a light lunch or even a three-course meal. An ideal place to meet family and friends.

Dusit
49a Thistle Street, Edinburgh EH2 1DY
www.dusit.co.uk

Tucked away in Thistle Street, this popular restaurant has been producing modern, contemporary Thai dishes using the very best Scottish produce since 2002. Curries are their real speciality. They also do a good range of seafood and vegetarian dishes. Highly recommended.

Pickles
56a Broughton Street, Broughton, Edinburgh EH1 3SA
www.getpickled.co.uk

Tucked away in a basement in popular Broughton, just a short walk from the city centre, is an absolute find. Although Pickles is essentially a bar rather than restaurant, the food it serves is so delicious that its tasty platters and nibbles have become its biggest draw! The main offering is a wonderful array of meat and cheese platters, alongside some very tasty pickles, chutneys and patés. All to accompany a beer, some wine or even just a coffee from their well-stocked bar. Highly recommended is the Scottish Cheese Platter and the Pickles Combos with some house wine or port. There's a very cosy, friendly atmosphere - ideal for a cold winter's night in Edinburgh. Book ahead as can get busy.

Beirut
24 Nicolson Square, Newington, Edinburgh EH8 9BU
www.beirutrestaurant.co.uk

Fine dining Lebanese-style! This superb restaurant is Edinburghʼs only Lebanese restaurant and is well worth trying if youʼre up for expanding your culinary horizons. They also do takeaway and delivery, which is very handy. A relaxed and friendly place that offers something a little different. 

The Gardener's Cottage
1 Royal Terrace Gardens, London Road, Edinburgh EH7 5DX
www.thegardenerscottage.co

This small, charming restaurant is located in the old garden house of Royal Terrace Gardens, next to London Road. It's about a 10-minute walk from the east end of Princes Street. The restaurant serves a seasonal six-course set menu and is very sociable, with diners sitting at long wooden tables together - which might not suit couples looking for a quiet, intimate meal. However, it's a warm, lively and vibrant place, with superb food that won't fail to lift your spirits. It's also a particularly good place to have brunch with family and friends at the weekends. We also love their commitment to using local Scottish growers and suppliers.

Oink
34 Victoria Street EH1 2JW and 82 Canongate EH8 8BZ
www.oinkhogroast.co.uk

If you're around the Grassmarket or Royal Mile and absolutely starving, head for this great little hog roast takeaway. The rolls come in Piglet (small), Oink (medium) and Grunter (large), with a choice of haggis or sage-and-onion stuffing and tasty sauces (apple and chilli are yummy). Don't forget the cracking crackling! This is the perfect place to get a quick bite to eat on the run. They now have a new place in the Canongate close to the Parliament and Holyrood that has seating, which is great news.

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