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It’s famous for its summer arts festivals, but Edinburgh has plenty to offer visitors all year round, especially when it comes to the city’s food scene. 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, you’ll find a dining experience to fit the bill. We've gathered the top restaurants in this helpful guide, so you can find the best places to eat in Edinburgh without any hassle. Check out our other city guides for expert recommendations to eat like a local in Sheffield, Bath, Oxford and Leeds.

Best Edinburgh restaurants at a glance

Best for: Special occasions

Set in a converted school, this three-floor venue has a prime location next to Edinburgh Castle – but there’s more to Cannonball than the fabulous views. Owned by Italian Scots and culinary heavyweights the Contini family, the top-floor restaurant is Scottish through and through, from the tartan banquettes in the airy dining room to the menu focused around local produce with a modern twist. Haggis is reinvented with pickled turnip, whisky sauce and Seville marmalade, while the cullen skink features generous chunks of smoky haddock and potato in a creamy soup, scattered with herbs from the kitchen garden. Finish your meal with artisan Scottish cheeses and soak up the views. Mains from £26.

Best for: Casual dining

Another restaurant run by the Contini family. Here, they go back to their Italian roots, serving classic southern Italian food made from Scottish and Italian produce. It’s worth visiting for the décor alone – housed in a former Georgian banking hall, with a vaulted ceiling, sculpted pillars, chandeliers and a marble bar, Contini is one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city. Make sure you order one of the homemade pastas (made fresh every day) and for secondi, try the Milanese chicken or slow-cooked rabbit stew. Pasta from £19; mains from £20.

Best for: Special occasions

Ice dish of oysters in two rows

No trip to Edinburgh is complete without a visit to this seafood mecca, run by chef-proprietor Roy Brett, an alumnus of Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant. The cooking here is simple yet refined. Fresh oysters are delivered daily and the oyster bar has its own happy hour (5.30-6.30pm, Mon-Sat), during which time you can slurp them down for just £2.50 each. Other stand-outs include the Dunbar brown crab with crab mayonnaise and buttered crumpets, and the whole lemon sole with brown shrimps and capers. Mains from £20.

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The Fishmarket
Best for: Casual dining

Box of fish and chips being cut into

This upmarket fish and chip shop has a prime spot overlooking Newhaven Harbour and is well worth the 15-minute drive from the city centre. A joint venture from Ondine chef-patron Roy Brett and Gary Welch, owner of Welch Fishmongers, The Fishmarket is light, bright and modern, with a fabulous view of the fishing boats and lighthouse. The menu focuses on sustainable, locally caught fish; go classic with haddock and chips (£12), or try the Atlantic prawn cocktail followed by lobster grilled with garlic butter. Eat in or take away; mains from £9.

Best for: Special occasions

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 £75; the eight-course tasting menu is £95. The wine pairings add a further £60 or £89, respectively, but will make a fascinating culinary journey unforgettable.

La Garrigue
Best for: Special occasions, 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 roasted rabbit leg with heritage carrots, salsify, sprouts and a walnut sauce. Mains from £18.50.

Best for: Special occasions

Trout and 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 the 'Top Cat' (a Mediterranean fish plate), a baseless pizza and a riz condé crumble. Kitching’s personality sings through the menu, which changes weekly. Wednesday to Saturday a 3-course meal is £50 at 5:45pm, 6:00pm and 6:15pm, otherwise it is £80 – but make sure you book.

Restaurant Martin Wishart
Best for: Special occasions

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 £48.50; the fireworks to discover on the six-course tasting menu make its £125 price tag seem economical.

Best for: 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 £18.

Gardener’s Cottage
Best for: Special occasions, child-friendly

Looking like a Wizard of Oz-style tornado has deposited a quaint rural abode on the side of busy London Road, 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. Seating is at large shared tables and booking is essential.

Leith Chop House
Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

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's 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 £17, steaks from £21.

The Kitchin
Best for: Special occasions

Interior of the kitchin

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 £52.50 – extraordinary.

Scran & Scallie
Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, child-friendly

Scran & scallie restaurant interior

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 fish pie is £18.25, a Highland wagyu burger with chips is £19.50 – 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 Edinburgh pubs, this one’s child-, dog- and foodie-friendly.

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

This bustling premises on Leith Walk may just be the best pizzeria in town, and is complete with a wood-burning oven. Sit in or take away. Pizzas from £7.65.

Number One, The Balmoral
Best for: Special occasions

Number one hotel interior

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 £115 (without drinks), the seven-course tasting menu is a winner for special occasions.

Kanpai Sushi
Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

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. As well as the superior sashimi and sushi dishes, the light crab & prawn tempura should not be overlooked. Five-piece sashimi dishes from £6.20.

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

Selection of mezze plates

The people behind Glasgow restaurant Ox and Finch have brought their globetrotting culinary style to this Levantine-inspired brasserie, where Scottish nose-to-tail dining meets Yemeni cooking. The menu includes vegetarian options such as charred broccoli with lentils, garlic tahini, pomegranate & egg, plus dishes like turkey, smoked bacon & apricot kofte. Mains from £8.50.

The Voyage of Buck
Best for: Casual dining

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, camomile-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 £8.

Best for: Special occasions

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. Eight courses for £105.

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

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. Noodle soups from £7.20, curries and stir-fries from £8.20.

Porto & Fi
Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats, 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. Well-crafted dishes such as the cullen skink risotto remain unwaveringly popular. Mains from £10.30.

Palm Court, The Balmoral Hotel
Best for: Special occasions

Afternoon tea

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 £55.

The Ivy on the Square
Best for: Casual dining, special occasions

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 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 £15.95.

Salt Horse
Best for: Cheap eats

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 it's burgers from the acclaimed Meat: Stack. Mains from £7.

Best for: Casual dining, cheap eats

This Southside stalwart opened in 1975 and 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 £8.99 buffet is a steal and includes two salads, two chutneys, two starters, bread, three curries and two rice options.

Best for: Casual dining

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 seared scallops and pumpkin purée, cooked by chef Mattia Camorani from Bologna. Service is on the bright side too, with attentive, smiley and knowledgeable staff making a meal here a chilled-out treat.

Best for: Casual dining

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 £14.

Best for: Cheap eats

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.

El Cartel
Best for: Cheap eats, 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 £6.

The Wee Restaurant
Best for: Casual dining, special occasions

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. Mains from £22.

4 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.

Bakery Andante

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

Lupe Pintos

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 stalls, such as fruit and veg traders Oxenfoord Organics.

Where to shop

Valvona & Crolla

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

Peter's Yard

Seeded buns

Peter Ljungqvist and Jan Hedh’s Swedish-style bakery is famous for its 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

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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