Best places to eat in Edinburgh

From Michelin-starred meals to the best pizza and street food, here are our top picks – essential if you’re going to Edinburgh for the festival.

The Edinburgh landscape against a blue sky

Looking for somewhere to eat in Edinburgh? Stuart Farquhar, a writer for The Scotsman, and Andy Lynes, a writer for the Telegraph, know their way around the city's food scene. These are their picks for a great dining experience, whether you're looking for somewhere formal for a romantic evening for two, a casual meal with the kids, or a quick bite on the go.

Timberyard
Special occasion

Lamb slices with radishes and vegetables on a plate
Modern yet traditional, cool yet unpretentious, Timberyard is set in a converted warehouse. On the menu you’ll find responsibly sourced seasonal ingredients such as trout and lamb, combined with more unusual items like daikon radishes and woodruff. While the larder is strictly Scottish, there’s a Scandinavian feel to the decor and food presentation, which – Nordic-style – also reaches deep into the wallet. A four-course dinner will set you back £55; the eight-course menu is £75. The wine pairings add a further £40 or £75, respectively, but will make a fascinating culinary journey unforgettable. 

La Garrigue
Special occasion, child friendly


For 15 years, this French bistro has been a dependable stalwart. Chef and owner Jean-Michel Gauffre is evangelical about the comforting cuisine of his native Languedoc. Rustic ingredients are given a sophisticated flourish in dishes such as rabbit with aubergine caviar & olives. Mains from £14.95. 

21212
Special occasion

Trout scallop dish
Don’t be fooled by the sumptuous decor throughout Paul Kitching’s Michelin-starred 21212 – there’s nothing staid about the way you're served here. Dishes may include Lanzarote seafood blast (smoked salmon & haddock beignet) and the pink panther (glazed Victoria sponge brûlée). Kitching’s personality sings through the menu, which changes weekly. On weeknights, a three-course dinner is £70 – but make sure you book. 

Restaurant Martin Wishart
Special occasion


The insight which saw Martin Wishart boldly unleash fine dining on Leith back in 1999 and garner Edinburgh’s first Michelin star continues to drives his restaurant. It’s a well-oiled machine still capable of surprising and delighting. The hushed, unflavoured decor ensures the food takes centre stage – a marching band could parade past your table and you'd still be lost in admiration of the assured and finessed fusion of French-style modernity with the best of Scotland’s larder. Enjoy lunch for £32; the fireworks to discover on the six-course tasting menu make its £85 price tag seem economical.

Khushi’s
Casual dining, child friendly

Pork chops on a tray with cooked vegetables
Open since 1947, Khushi’s claims to be Edinburgh’s first Indian restaurant. A recent restyling gives it a clean, modern feel, which mirrors the consistently zingy food on offer. Don’t skip starters – the stuffed tandoori mushroom (£5.95) and prawn kolhapuri (£6.95) are standouts. Mains from £7.95. 

Pickles
Casual dining 


The genius of Pickles is its simplicity. This unassuming Broughton Street bolthole serves local pâtés, chutneys, and meat and cheese platters, meaning this cosy cellar bar is often crammed with locals sharing an informal bite and a bottle of wine. Seats are hard to come by at weekends. The highly recommended sharing platters come in at £15.

The Gardener’s Cottage
Special occasion, child friendly

Gardener's cottage behind a green bush with menu board
Kid-friendly, too, looking like a Wizard of Oz-style tornado has deposited a quaint rural abode on the side of a busy London Road, The Gardener’s Cottage keeps the magic going inside. Seasonality dictates the menu as ingredients from the garden and local farmers are conjured into spectacular dishes such as roe deer taco. You sit on large shared tables and booking is essential.

Norn
Special occasion


Opened in 2016 in Leith, Norn weaves rustic with sophisticated. From the sourdough made with bere – a Viking grain grown in Orkney – to the veal carpaccio with sorrel, every dish here is a mix of innovation and tradition. The set four- or seven-course menu (£40 and £65) is led by what chef Scott Smith and his foragers have bagged, so expect fascinating ingredients such as spruce and cicely. An enlightening dining experience. 

Quay Commons
Cheap eat

Chocolate dome garnished with a blackberry and almond slices

If you can’t get a reservation at the lauded and popular Gardener’s Cottage, you can get a taste of what you’re missing at this minimalist Scandi-chic café and wine bar under the same ownership, set in a converted warehouse on the quay in Leith. Buns, made in-house, are filled with Arbroath smokie, preserved lemon, crème fraîche and dill, or roasted lamb belly and pear. Plus, a list of boutique wines are available to drink at off-licence prices. Dishes from £7. 

Leith Chop House
Casual dining, cheap eat


With its filament lightbulbs, bare brick and high beard count, it might look like a hipster joint but these guys take their meat very seriously. Fastidiously Scottish-sourced, it is butchered and dry aged in-house for at least a month before the already legendary steaks hit the open-flame charcoal grill. The dripping chips and bread with bone marrow butter are no mere sideshows, either. Mains from £12.50. Steaks from £18. 

The Kitchin
Special occasion

Restaurant with tables, blue chairs and kitchen view
Tom Kitchin’s obsessive pursuit of perfection extends even to the bespoke crockery, which was specially commissioned for his Michelin-starred restaurant. His food is a celebration of Scottish produce – everything from the pig’s head & langoustine starter to the shellfish rockpool main is a glorious lesson in flavour. Stick to tap water and you can enjoy a three-course set lunch for £33 – extraordinary.

Scran & Scallie
Casual dining, cheap eat, child friendly


With the likes of oysters or hake & squid risotto on the menu and some Michelin-star-winning know-how, Scran & Scallie is a gastropub with attitude. While it’s on the pricey side for pub grub – a steak pie is £16.50, a burger with chips £14 – this is Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack pub grub, meaning excellence is fitted as standard and ingredients are responsibly sourced from mainly Scottish producers. And unlike many an Edinburgh pub, this one’s child-, dog- and foodie-friendly. Mains from £11.50. 

Lovage
Casual dining, special occassion

Poland meets Scotland at this upscale city centre bistro where brothers and co-head chefs Lukasz and Bartek Jedrejek’s unique take on contemporary cuisine updates traditional Polish pierogi dumplings with bacon dust and triple-cooked chips, and sees crumbly Scottish crowdie cheese paired with beef, asparagus, ponzu and preserved lemon. Mains from £16.95.

Origano
Casual dining, cheap eat

Origano recently decanted to larger, always bustling premises just down Leith Walk from the original, complete with wood-burning oven. This is the best pizzeria in town. Pizzas from £7.65. 

Castle Terrace
Special occasion

Restaurant room with tables, white chairs and blue wall
Dominic Jack lavished a stunning £1 million refurbishment on his stylish Castle Terrace restaurant, which now includes a chef’s table in the sizeable kitchen. While dishes such as salmon, sushi-style are as beautiful to look at as they are to eat, for many, the seafood paella ‘Castle Terrace style’, served on spelt risotto is the real talking point. Three-course à la carte menu from £70. 

Number One, The Balmoral
Special occasion


Occupying the grandiose Balmoral Hotel at the head of Princes Street, Michelin-starred Number One – resplendent with rich oak floors, red lacquered walls and plush furnishing – exudes early 20th-century opulence and elegance. But warm, knowledgeable staff help create a relaxed atmosphere that’s anything but snooty, allowing you to concentrate on the likes of sumptuous Blairgowrie beef or spectacular caramel soufflé. At £89 (without drinks), the seven-course tasting menu is a winner for special occasions.

Blue Parrot Cantina
Casual dining, cheap eat, child friendly

Yellow cocktail in glasses with lime slice on rim
Now that this basement restaurant in Stockbridge opens only on Fridays and Saturdays, those in search of Edinburgh’s best Margaritas (£6.95) and nachos (£4.15) will have to keep weekends clear. An intimate and quirky little place, it’s easily the city’s best Mexican. Mains from £9.50. 

Tailend
Casual dining, cheap eat


Other Edinburgh chippies are available, but what Leith Walk’s Tailend offers that many don’t is a pleasant sit-down experience in a restaurant setting, with cutlery, beer and wine and as much of the city’s famous brown chippy sauce as you care to douse over your food. Meanwhile, the golden, crisp chips are streets ahead of most Edinburgh chip shops and while the traditional battered haddock dish might seem pricey at £11.45, it tastes like it's worth a lot more. Mains from £7.45. 

Kanpai Sushi
Casual dining, cheap eat

Long wooden Japanese-style table with bench seats
The minimalist decor and crisp, clean lines of Grindley Street's Kanpai offer the first hint of the immaculately presented and exquisitely fresh Japanese food served here. Aside from the superior sashimi and sushi dishes, the light crab & prawn tempura should not be overlooked. Five-piece sashimi dishes from £5.50.

Spoon
Casual dining, cheap eat, child friendly


Occupying little more than a doorway at pavement level, Spoon is a surprisingly expansive, airy first-floor refuge from the hustle and bustle of Nicolson Street. JK Rowling used to scribble here, but today, the magic takes place in the kitchen, which rustles up anything from hangover-curing grilled breakfasts to sumptuous lamb flank. The kids’ section makes this a popular coffee or afternoon tea pit stop for parents too. Mains from £14. 

Baba
Casual dining, cheap eat

Spread of mezze on a bamboo mat

The people behind Glasgow restaurant Ox and Finch have brought their globetrotting culinary style to this Levantine-inspired brasserie. Scottish nose-to-tail dining meets the Yemen in a take on a shawarma kebab made with cuts from Scotch lamb cooked on a charcoal robata rotisserie grill and served with pitta, tabbouleh, pickles, harissa and zhug – a sort of Middle Eastern pesto. Mains from £9.75.

Hanedan
Casual dining, cheap eat, child friendly


What the cupboard-sized Hanedan on West Preston Street lacks in size, it makes up for in character. Chef/owner Gursel Bahar’s excellent Turkish dishes are modestly priced and packed with flavour. While the chargrilled meats are the stars, Bahar’s hummus deserves an award for services to chickpeas. The two-course menu of soup or hummus followed by chicken shish is a steal at £10.95. Mezes from £3.50, mains from £8.95. 

The Voyage of Buck
Casual dining

Yellow drink in a glass goblet

This stylishly converted pub (named after royal travel companion William ‘Buck’ Clarence who lived at the address in the 19th century), serves the best cocktails in Edinburgh. The signature yellow pepper sour with tequila, chamomile-infused sherry and yellow pepper syrup is representative of barman Mike McGinty’s chef-like approach to drink making. The modern British menu is also worth seeking out. Mains from £12.95.

Aizle
Special occasion

There’s no menu at this modern bistro in the vibrant Southside neighbourhood, just a blackboard of 20 monthly changing seasonal ingredients. Tell your waiter if there’s anything you can’t eat, then settle in for five courses of sophisticated food. Most of the produce is Scottish, but expect Asian influences too like katsuoboshi (dried tuna flakes) that seem to dance around the accompanying sea bream as fish velouté is poured over. Five courses for £45. 

The Honours
Casual dining, special occasion, child friendly

Beef fillet on a plate with chips and lettuce in bowls

If you want to introduce the kids to the delights of grown-up dining, there is no better place than Martin Wishart’s luxurious city centre Art Deco brasserie. Forget goujons; think steak and chips as part of a £12.50 children’s menu. Parents will bask in the sleek service and cooking that bears comparison to Wishart’s Michelin-starred flagship in Leith (see above). Adult mains from £16.50.

Saboteur
Casual dining, cheap eat

This modern Vietnamese restaurant, close to the university, is a sister of the hip Ting Thai Caravan and shares a stripped back aesthetic. A bowl of addictively aromatic kuay tiaw tom yam soup noodles – packed with roast and minced pork, prawns and fish balls – will fill you up, but don’t miss the terrific pork belly. Mains from £6.50. 

Le Roi Fou
Special occasion, casual dining

Scallops and asparagus on a plate

Swiss-born chef Jérôme Henry made his name in London as head of Mosimann’s Dining Club and Les Trois Garçons before heading north to open this charming neighbourhood bistro in Broughton. Ask for one of the two window booths or dine at the bar and order scallops, fresh from the Isle of Skye, served with scallop dumplings and an aromatic lemongrass broth. The £17.50 for two courses pre-theatre and lunch menus are a good-value way to try Henry’s superlative cooking. Mains from £14.50. 

Porto & Fi
Casual dining, cheap eat, child friendly


Versatility is the order of the day at Porto & Fi. The breakfast menu – which includes a masterful eggs Benedict with salmon – often means the smart, bright Newhaven bistro is jammed full in the morning. Later on, afternoon tea and cakes are the main attraction, before well-crafted dishes such as venison casserole with smoked paprika dumplings take centre stage. A well thought-out children’s menu makes this an ideal family venue. Mains from £10.50. 

Palm Court, The Balmoral Hotel
Special occasion

Ornately furnished room with chairs, tables, lamps and palm tress.

If you like a spot of unashamed luxury with your scones, look no further than afternoon tea in the Palm Court, with its Corinthian columns, glass dome ceiling and real palm trees. A range of teas, grown in Scotland, are poured into fine bone china cups to the sound of live harp music. Begin with a white onion soup, followed by a game sausage roll, seasonal finger sandwiches and finish with beautiful cakes and pastries. Afternoon tea, £40. 

Palmyra Pizza
Casual dining, cheap eat


Despite the name, the draw here is the falafel and hummus wrap, which attracts fans to Nicholson Street from all over the city. The decor is as low-rent as you might expect from a city-centre kebab shop, but with prices starting at £5.50 for a wrap, nobody’s complaining.

The Ivy on the Square
Casual dining, special occasion

Shepherd's pie in a wide dish

The Ivy might be a rapidly growing nationwide chain of modern brasseries, but you’d never know it from this glitzy new addition. A riot of colour with burnt orange and yellow leather banquettes and walls crammed with modern art, it even draws a glamorous crowd at breakfast who come for healthy options like organic granola. Ask for a table upstairs for views over the green at St Andrew’s Square or take a stool at the marble-topped bar to sample a flight of fine Scotch whiskies. Mains from £12.75. 

Salt Horse
Cheap eat

Tucked away on a side street off the Royal Mile, this casual bar looks unassuming enough but it’s a place of pilgrimage for lovers of craft beer. There’s an ever changing line-up of 12 keg beers and around 400 different canned and bottled beers from around the globe. Food is provided by a roster of kitchen residencies – currently its burgers from the acclaimed Meat: Stack. Mains from £7.  

Restaurant Mark Greenaway
Special occasion

Striped cannelloni filled with shellfish topped with fish

It might be all about fine dining here but the warm welcome and homely atmosphere in this converted Georgian townhouse (complete with fireplace) makes for a relaxed experience. The eight-course ‘Tour’ menu is full of surprise and invention such as a delicate tomato and beef consommé infused with thyme, served in a glass Cona coffee maker at the table. Mains from £26.

Kalpna
Casual dining, cheap eat

After 35 years, this Southside stalwart continues to be one of the best places in the UK to experience authentic Punjabi, Gujarati and South Indian vegetarian (and vegan) cooking. First-timers should opt for the good value thalis; a selection of small dishes that includes dhal, paneer butter masala, rice, bread and raita. The lunchtime £8.50 buffet is a steal. Mains from £8.95.

Cucina
Casual dining

Cucina restaurant colourful interior

A riot of colour awaits you in this smart modern Italian, from the vibrant kinetic art on the walls and pink columns to a golden yellow saffron dressing that accompanies a starter of roasted scallops and celeriac purée, cooked by Bolognian chef Mattia Camorani. Service is on the bright side too – attentive, smiley and knowledgeable – making a meal here a chilled-out treat. Mains from £19.

Hyde & Son
Casual dining

There’s a real sense of space at this Scandi-chic café and bar with a double-height ceiling and row of picture windows. Lounge on cushions or pull up a designer chair for coffee courtesy of James Wise (winner of the London Coffee Masters), pastries from Edinburgh bakery Twelve Triangles or an expertly-made cocktail such as Dr Jekyll’s Daisy with tequila, aperol, grapefruit, lime and house-made grenadine. Cocktails from £8.00.

Toast
Casual dining

Restaurant interior with window

They take their wine very seriously at this bright and stylish café and bar overlooking Leith’s waterfront, with one of the best lists in the city. But the vibe here is far from studious and a chalkboard of staff picks will help you find your way through selections from Slovenia, Croatia and Greece. Local beers on tap, great coffee and a good value menu of light bites make this a destination for wine refusers too. Sharing platters from £13.

Soderberg
Cheap eat

If you want to indulge in a spot of 'fika' (Swedish coffee and cake culture), head for this stylish glass box overlooking the city’s modernist Lister Square. The gorgeous ‘kanelbulle’ (cinnamon buns) are made in the upstairs bakery. Come back in the evening to try the excellent pizzas made in the wood-fired oven that’s on show in the centre of the café. Mains from £11.

The Pompadour by Galvin
Special occasion

Strawberry panna cotta with ice cream and biscuit pieces

Michelin-starred, London-based brothers Chris and Jeff Galvin bring their distinctive take on classic French cuisine to this romantic hotel dining room with beautiful hand-painted bird-themed wall panels and views of Edinburgh castle. The menu features seasonal Scottish produce in signature dishes such as lasagne of North Berwick crab. For a more casual experience, head to Galvin Brasserie de Luxe on the hotel’s ground floor. Three courses for £65. Mains from £12.

Galvin Brasseries with fish counter and waiter

El Cartel
Cheap eat, casual dining

This tiny, hip restaurant, with black-painted walls and Day of the Dead skull motifs everywhere you look, serves an authentic, lively take on Mexican food. Order baby-back pork ribs with a cumin, garlic and pineapple glaze, explore the carefully selected range of mezcal (tequila’s lesser-known cousin) and you’re in for a night to remember. Dishes from £4.

The Wee Restaurant
Casual dining, special occasion

Sliced pork on a bed of vegetables

A city centre counterpart to the original Wee Restaurant, which opened a decade ago on the north side of the Forth Bridge in North Queensferry, this unpretentious bistro focuses on local and seasonal ingredients served simply, such as Shetland mussels with bacon and Edinburgh gin-smoked salmon. At £20 for three courses, the menu du jour is one of the city’s great bargains. Main from £20.50.

5 foodie places to try

The Pitt Market

A daily city-centre street food market where traders include Barnacles & Bones who serve shellfish and lesser-known cuts of meat, all from Scotland.

Baba Budan

Rows of doughnuts with man in background

Choose from a regularly changing selection of light and fluffy doughnuts (chocolate and plum is a must) at this café set in an arch near Waverley Station.

Bakery Andante

This Morningside artisan bakery makes the best sourdough in the city.

Lupe Pintos

Shop front of Lupe Pintos deli

An Edinburgh institution, this chilli and spice shop stocks everything you need to make an authentic Mexican meal, along with hard-to-find American and Spanish produce.

Stockbridge Market

The Sunday market in the chic Stockbridge neighbourhood includes street food and specialist traders such as Oxenfoord Organics, a Midlothian fruit and veg farm.

Where to shop 

Valvona & Crolla
The go-to place for continental cheeses, meats, pasta, wines and food gifts. 

Peter's Yard


Peter Ljungquist and Jan Hedh’s Swedish-style bakery has queues tailing out of the door for their sourdough, crispbreads and sweet treats. 

Mary’s Milk Bar
This gelato parlour makes some of the most sinful creations you’re ever likely to encounter. 

I.J. Mellis 

Mellis cheesemonger shopfront
This old-school cheesemonger is one of Edinburgh’s favourite shops.

Edinburgh Farmers’ Market
Every Saturday, Castle Terrace is filled with food stalls. Lunch on hot pies or buffalo burgers. 


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Got any other suggestions for places to eat in Edinburgh? Leave a comment below...

All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of January 2018 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out of date information in this guide please e-mail us at goodfoodwebsite@bbc.com.

Comments, questions and tips

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Mike.Smith
29th Mar, 2018
Shame, not even a mention of either Wedgewood at 267 Canongate, Royal Mile or Petit Paris 38-40 Grassmarket ?
mark_baguley's picture
mark_baguley
29th Jan, 2018
I think you may need to revisit your definition of cheap. For example you can easily spend £30 per person in Kanpai, great food but certainly not a cheap eat.
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