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Edinburgh foodie guide: where to eat and drink

Published: January 19, 2022 at 10:08 am
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From smart, seasonal dining to pop-up gin bars and experimental supper clubs, here are our favourite spots to eat and drink in and around the Scottish capital

Looking for Edinburgh restaurants? We've found the best places to eat in the Scottish capital. From the top restaurants in Edinburgh to places for brunch, cafés and bars, we have all of the local favourites here...

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For more exciting restaurants and weekend ideas for food lovers, check out our best UK city breaks.


A weekend break in Edinburgh

Start your day at the stylish Söderberg, located in the heart of the Quartermile, where you can enjoy your morning coffee with cardamom-laced buns. Walk around the Old Town, then head to modern Japanese bistro Harajuku Kitchen for Kaori Simpson’s tempura, sushi, gyoza and noodle dishes.

Enjoy a breath of fresh air out on Portobello beach, where charming restaurant The Little Chartroom has set up a takeaway kiosk in front of the arcade. BBQ-finished dishes include tempura oysters and cheffy flatbreads with fillings such as tandoori carrots and octopus with clams and XO sauce. It’s worth heading to the original intimate restaurant on a Sunday, when they swap out the meat main course on the set menu for a twist on a classic Sunday roast.

As evening approaches, pay a visit to small plate-focused Noto, a minimalist restaurant located down a cobbled New Town alley where New York meets Asian cuisine (don’t miss the char siu pork bao with teriyaki and spring onions). Or try nose-to-tail dishes at brand-new The Palmerston, housed in a former 20th-century bank in Edinburgh’s West End. Alternatively, check out Fhior for Scandi-chic dining, where you can choose from four- or seven-course tasting menus that let seasonal ingredients sing. End the evening with martinis and bespoke cocktails at Lady Libertine, in the atmospheric basement of the Edinburgh Grand.

Where to stay

Top and tail your day at the Market Street Hotel, with breakfast from the gourmet pantry or the chef’s counter, then return for a glass of fizz and Queenie scallops as the sun sets over Edinburgh’s dramatic skyline. Doubles from £130 per night, check availability at booking.com


Where to eat and drink in Edinburgh: the full list for 2022

Heron, Leith – for relaxed fine dining

The room at Heron is calm and airy with double-height ceilings, with large windows that look out on to Leith Shore where, if you’re lucky, you might see the feathered visitor the restaurant was named after. There are two menus available at lunch, the à la carte and a two- or three-course set menu (which we were advised was a lighter option). The cooking is delicate, precise and visually stunning with a real respect for the carefully sourced local ingredients. A starter of lobster claw comes on a buttery crushed potato terrine tower with a rich tomato and saffron sauce poured tableside for drama. Creamy cod brandade is served in a bowl studded with plump mussels and clams, and bursts of salty samphire and a chunk of focaccia alongside for dipping. Mains include perfectly pink lamb loin with piperade and a vivid green salsa verde, and a chunk of pearly flaked pan-fried cod with tiny cubed potatoes and sea vegetables in a creamy sauce split with fig oil. A perfect place to while away a leisurely afternoon. heron.scot

Lamb rump, asparagus and barberry sauce on a green plate on a light wooden table

The Palmerston – for nose-to-tail dishes 

The Palmerston inhabits a former bank in Edinburgh’s West End, a history that is reflected in the room’s grand dimensions, although dark green painted walls, warm wooden floors and tables and paintings by local artists give the space a more casual neighbourhood bistro vibe. Owners James Snowdon and Lloyd Morse keep things ticking from 9am with a morning menu of fresh pastries and coffee but come lunch and dinnertime it moves into more serious cooking territory. The concise menu changes daily depending on what’s available from local suppliers and cooking is confident and hearty with a focus on nose-to-tail eating. A generous slab of Mangalitsa and rabbit terrine is dense, peppery, porky and mildly gamey served with cornichons and warm grilled sourdough. Courgette salad comes with a piquant lemony, herby dressing and little bursts of crunch and creaminess from toasted walnuts and goat’s curd. Fish cooking is on point – a perfectly pan-fried chunk of monkfish is served on a bed of pretty rainbow chard and charlotte potatotoes, then topped with a salty, umami black olive dressing. We manage to fit in a slice of Victoria plum and hazelnut tart at the insistence of our server and it’s a delight – crisp pastry, dense warm frangipane and sweet plums – a memorable end to a faultless meal. thepalmerstonedinburgh.co.uk

The interior at The Palmerston, featuring dark green painted walls, warm wooden floors and tables and paintings by local artists

Considerit – for vegan desserts

Plant-based, vegan, dairy free: Considerit ticks all the boxes. Grab an iced cinnamon bun or gorgeously gooey Oreo or Biscoff doughnut plus an oat milk latte or vegan ice cream milkshake at this low-key bakery and cafe (all chipboard benches and student vibe) on Edinburgh's Southside. Before you leave, stock up on their hand-crafted chocolate bars (popcorn, chai spice and smoked sea salt flavours). consideritchocolate.com


Edinburgh Fermentarium – for kombucha

Swing by the Saturday morning farmers market, below the castle, to give your gut a boost. At Edinburgh Fermentarium's stall you can sample tubs of sauerkraut (meadowsweet is mix of lemongrass, lime leaf, carrot, onion, chilli peppers, ginger and salt), kimchi and sauerkraut water or buy a scoby to make your own kombucha.edinburghfermentarium.co.uk


Noto – for small plates

One of the most exciting new restaurants to catapult onto Edinburgh's dining scene in 2018 was Noto (from Stuart Ralston the chef behind Aizle). New York-inspired with a minimalist vibe, a cobbled New Town alley location and a nod towards Asian cuisine (don't miss the char siu pork bao with teriyaki and spring onions) the focus is on small sharing plates. notoedinburgh.co.uk


East Coast Cured – for Scottish charcuterie

Wander down to Leith to check out Scottish charcuterie producer East Coast Cured. This family business creates a range of cured meats in the store's basement; think earthy venison, pork and sloe gin salami, rare-breed smoked chorizo, Saddleback pork saucisson sec and pungent porcini and truffle salami. eastcoastcured.com


Kyloe – for the best Scottish steak

There are other things on the menu (including spankingly fresh local seafood like scallops with café de paris butter) but steak is the star of the show at Kyloe, sourced solely from great Scottish suppliers including the award-winning Hardiesmill. The grass-fed, dry aged, pedigree Aberdeen Angus steaks are a revelation, expertly cooked and served simply with a choice of classic sauces and sides including bone marrow gravy, beef shin mac n cheese and crunchy dripping chips. kyloerestaurant.com

pedigree Aberdeen Angus steaks on a wooden board with a green salad

Damm 27 – for a hearty lunch

Grab a booth for lunch at rustic-chic restaurant Damm 27. Dishes are designed for sharing but portions aren't dainty. Tuck into a hearty one-pot spiced aubergine caponata with salty slabs of grilled halloumi, the rich stew layered with peppers, capers olives and onions or rich bouillabaisse packed with chunks of fish, prawns and mussels, charred gruyere-topped bread to soak up the juices. damm27.com


Bross Bagels – for bagels

Join the queue at one of the four branches of Bross Bagels (Leith, Portobello, the West End and Bruntsfield) launched by Canadian comedian, Larah Bross, in Edinburgh in 2017. Each has a tailored selection but try a Montreal (traditional cream cheese, salmon, red onion, capers, dill and a squeeze of lemon on a sesame seed bagel) or a Hungry Vegan (smashed avo, tomatoes, chilli oil and rock salt on a multiseed bagel). brossbagels.com


Grazing by Mark Greenaway – for bistro vibes

Chef Mark Greenaway has moved out of his eponymous restaurant – and into the Waldorf Astoria. Grazing by Mark Greenaway is a big, bustling bistro with turquoise banquettes. Start with treacle sourdough smeared with duck skin butter then choose from big and small plates and a smattering of concept dishes – order the 'BBQ Shitake mushrooms, toast, truffle' the mushrooms sprouting from a chunk of a trunk. And to finish? Sticky toffee pudding soufflé. markgreenaway.com


Lady Libertine – for cocktails

In the dimly lit basement of the Edinburgh Grand, bearded bartenders rustle up mean martinis and bespoke cocktails at hipster hangout Lady Libertine. The ground floor bar has a unique vibe (think fin de siècle European train station) and an extensive sherry menu. Sip a La Gitana manzanilla or glass of Fernando de Castilla Antique Palo Cortado and step back in time. ladylibertine.co.uk


Aizle – for a surprising tasting menu

Aizle is set in the beautiful Garden Room at the Klimpton Hotel. The multi course tasting menu changes constantly depending on what is available and there is a real focus on low waste/sustainability with everything from the addictive black treacle soda bread and koji butter to the aged kombucha in the cocktails made in house. Don’t expect to read a menu online, you’ll only know what you are having when you sit down at the table but do expect delicate, refined dishes such as Cured trout, fermented daikon and tomato water dashi and Oyster and shitake mushrooms with parmesan cream and king oyster mushroom jelly. aizle.co.uk

A chocolate whisky dessert with miso ice cream and kataifi pastry plus a plate of petit fours

The Lookout by Gardener's Cottage – for earthy ingredients with views of the city skyline

The latest restaurant from chef Dale Mailley - whose rustic-chic, communal dining field-to-fork favourite, Gardener's Cottage, was joined in 2017 by a Leith-based bakery, Quay Commons - has hungry diners running up the hill. All clean, pared back lines inside a glass box built on a cantilever and part-suspended over the north-west slope of Calton Hill it's part of the new City Observatory complex, redeveloped by The Collective as a contemporary art venue. Think sweeping views of the city skyline and out over the Firth of Forth as the backdrop for Mailley's ever-inventive menu of seasonal dishes such as cured sea trout with scurvy grass, malted rabbit and hare yakitori. thelookoutedinburgh.co


Fhior – for innovative seasonal cuisine

Scott Smith wowed Edinburgh diners with his first restaurant, Norn, in Leith. Having bagged Edinburgh Restaurant of the Year, the announcement of its sudden closure sent shockwaves across the city. Fans didn’t have to wait long to taste his cooking again, however; his follow-up project, Fhior (Gaelic for true), opened on Broughton Street in summer 2018. In a string of small Scandi-chic rooms, the restaurant serves four- and seven-course tasting menus with a playful element that lets seasonal ingredients sing. Eye-poppingly creative dishes live up to the hype: ‘baby gem lettuce, hogget, pea, goats' curd', for instance, entails warm braised lettuce, tender, torn lamb, sweet peas and puree offset by a tart, tangy goat's curd. fhior.com

Langoustine dish at Fhior

Superico – for sharing plates with South American influences

Part of a double-whammy opening (its sister Superico Bar and Lounge has just opened a few doors down), this small, stylish space feels buzzy and welcoming as you walk down steps into the long dining room. Yellow banquette seating lines the wall, and there are splashes of colour (from the vibrant tiles in the entrance to the pretty glazed crockery) as a nod to its South American influences. The main evening menu follows the sharing plates model with an eclectic mix of ingredients – expect dishes like octopus with avocado crema, fennel and salsa cruda, and pork belly and cheek with chicharron, corn and wilted greens. On Sunday afternoons, the menu is pared back to a few sandwiches and sides. We tried the Mexican aubergine torta – a hefty stack of crisp tempura aubergine slices stuffed into a soft torta roll – and melt-in-the-mouth veggie empanadas with a squash, pepper and goat’s cheese filling, on a fiery red mojo sauce. The star side was a generous stack of padron peppers blistered from the grill with a blanket of finely grated Grana Padano, and there is a short but good value aperitivo list at £5 for a spritz or bloody mary. superico.com

A range of sharing small plates and cocktails at Superico

Harajuku Kitchen – for modern Japanese bistro dishes

In the heart of Edinburgh – but named after a district of Tokyo – Harajuku Kitchen specialises in traditional family recipes cooked by owner-chef Kaori Simpson, who was shortlisted in the ‘best street-food chef’ in the 2019 olive Chef Awards. This compact modern Japanese bistro serves tempura, noodle dishes, sushi and sashimi, as well as main courses such as tempura aubergine curry; tofu teriyaki and pork gyoza dumplings. harajukukitchen.co.uk


The Little Chartroom – for locally inspired dishes set in intimate surroundings

Chef Roberta Hall-McCarron's starry credentials include stints at The Kitchin and Castle Terrace. Now heading up her own restaurant, off still edgily down-at-heel Leith Walk, she was awarded Young British Foodies Chef of the Year in 2018. The bijoux little joint (just 16 diners at the bar and smattering of tables) features dishes such as earthy game broth with a plump doughy duck bun followed by venison selection, brussel sprouts, salt-baked celeriac and chestnut. Then, to finish, darkly hearty malt loaf smeared with Vacherin cheese, plus mead and hazelnuts. thelittlechartroom.com

Little Chart Room Edinburgh

White Horse Oyster and Seafood Bar – for a classic seafood feast

You can't beat 'a buck a shuck', and Oyster Happy Hour runs from 4-6pm Monday to Thursday at the White Horse Oyster and Seafood Bar at the bottom of the Royal Mile. This sleek seafood restaurant, in what was once an 18th-century inn, has a bespoke green marble bar, custom-designed oyster tank, leather banquettes and exposed stonework, and dishes up a smorgasbord of seafood. The smattering of exquisite small plates designed for sharing includes tender octopus with pine nut, mint and basil, moreish monkfish satay, chargrilled mackerel with pickled beetroot and horseradish and crab and crayfish toast with chilli, orange and avocado, as well as traditional seafood platters.whitehorseoysterbar.co.uk


Toast – for Edinburgh's first wine café

Leith's vibrant waterfront has long been a foodie hub with its jostling of Michelin-starred restaurants and quirky gastropubs. Toast, a cool jazz-filled wine café in an old art gallery on The Shore is a buzzing place for brunch. Think exposed brickwork, a mix of high tables and turquoise velvet banquettes and tables spilling out onto the pavement. Tuck into a creamy bowl of porridge with roasted pistachios, coconut and honey, Mexican inspired huevos rancheros, chilli and lime-infused smashed avocado with sun-blushed tomatoes on sourdough toast or shakshuka, that rich tomato, roast pepper, chilli, onion and aubergine stew baked with two eggs. The wine list is the other draw, of course. Wines by the glass are changed weekly to keep the locals on their toes and around a third of the 100 or so wines on the list are organic, natural or biodynamic. toastleith.co.uk


Lowdown – for cosy chats over coffee and cake

Lowdown Coffee is a cool café in the bright basement of a grand Georgian terrace on George Street. Owner Paul Anderson sources his beans from Swedish coffee roaster Koppi, founded by champion baristas Anne Lunell and Charles Nystrand – who also occasionally hold workshops and tastings at Lowdown. The inspiration for the clean, minimalist design was Japanese not Scandinavian, however. Anderson studied furniture designer and his father was an architect and the space feels more like a friend's flat than a café with its kitchen counter-layout. The whole place is designed to encourage social interaction – yes cosy chats over coffee and cake. lowdown.coffee


Cairngorm Coffee – for approachable coffee culture

The capital is sprinkled, cappuccino chocolate shaker-style, with independent coffee shops and micro-roasteries and Cairngorm Coffee is one of the best. Owner Robi Lambie veered down different design routes for his two branches, setting them apart from the mainstream chains. The Frederick Street basement café with its rustic, rough-hewn wood groove is mountain hut chic. You could hole up here nursing a latte for days amongst the coffee bean sacks. Melville Place, however, is a sleeker, more contemporary option. Think high tables (a bar of wood sandwiched between copper) along with copper angled iPad holder tables and state-of-the-art equipment: the first Sanremo Opera espresso machine in Scotland. And the coffee? Roasted in the Cairngorms, of course. cairngormcoffee.com


Twelve Triangles – for slow fermented sourdough and pastries

From dough to doughnuts: Twelve Triangles' story began back in 2015 with a spot of experimentation - slow ferment, cold-prove doughs. Now, this tiny bakery just of Leith Walk sells a range of breads – including a dark and devilish charcoal loaf, gourmet doughnuts and pastries. It’s also since expanded to a second branch in Portobello and the Twelve Triangles Kitchen Table, a café, gathering place and the venue for regular fermentation workshops. twelvetriangles.co.uk


The Bearded Baker – for bagels, doughnuts and coffee

Rowan Taylor is the Bearded Baker – or bagel man. At this cute little joint in Canonmills you can choose from a range of combinations running from your classic smoked salmon, cream cheese, pickled cucumber and dill to the P.B.B – smooth peanut butter and sliced banana with an optional drizzle of honey. He also makes a mean doughnut, plump and doughy, caked in sugar and oozing fillings from white chocolate and pecan to lemon meringue. thebeardedbaker.co.uk


Smith and Gertrude – for cheese and wine

Whether you want to sink a pint or nurse a peaty dram Edinburgh has more than its share of hipster hangouts, sleek whisky bars, old-world pubs and late night drinking dens. Smith and Gertrude, in perkily pretty Stockbridge with its delis, patisseries, cheesemongers, butchers and bakeries, is a new departure, however, a retro-chic wine bar that’s all reclaimed wood flooring, vintage radiators and a simple concept: wine, cheese, company. The carefully curated wine list features natural, organic and biodynamic bottles, as well as orange wines. It serves daily changing wines by the glass, weekly wine flights and regular tastings. And then there's the cheese - from Ubriaco, an Italian cow's cheese served with aged Balsamic to an Irish Killeen with quince – along with charcuterie platters. smithandgertrude.com


Where to stay in Edinburgh

Market Street Hotel

Edinburgh's first member of the Design Hotels group is a slick and slender 98-room pad in the city centre that’s topped with a panoramic champagne lounge and terrace. Top and tail your weekend here, with breakfast from the gourmet pantry or the chef’s counter, then return for a glass of fizz and Queenie scallops as the sun sets over Edinburgh’s dramatic skyline.

Doubles from £130 per night, check availability at booking.com

A modern white stone building against the Edinburgh skyline

Rutland Hotel

If you fancy something a bit different to the usual hotel offering The Rutland offers one and two-bed apartments that tick every box in terms of luxury. The roomy apartments are plushily furnished with colourful squishy sofas and dreamy kingsize beds. Rainfall showers, well stocked mini bars, coffee pod machines and treat boxes mean you are taken care of on arrival but still perfectly placed in the centre of town if you want to stock up on goodies. If you are after instant gratification, gourmet steak restaurant Kyloe, The Huxley cocktail bar and Edinburgh Gin Distillery are all housed in the same building.

Doubles from £105, check availability at booking.com

A room at Rutland Apartments featuring a large bed with a white frame, black and white patterned wallpaper, tall black lamps and velvet curtains

Dunstane Houses

Dunstane Houses is a cosy bolthole in Edinburgh's West End – and two hotels in one: Dunstane House, a William Playfair-designed Victorian mansion and the (about to be revamped) Hampton House across the road. Orkney-born owners Shirley and Derek Mowat have stamped their character and Orkney roots on the rambling Dunstane House. Think oversized tweed headboards and framed black and white photos of island life. There's no traditional hotel restaurant, but relaxed all-day dining (12-9.30pm) in the eclectic lounge with its low-slung velvet sofas and scattering of tables and the darker more dramatic Ba' Bar. 

The cooking style is Modern Scottish with a nod to the Orkneys, the produce local, seasonal farm, field and fishing boat, the menu split into wee and bigger bites. For 'a wee taste of Orkney' tuck into hand-cut smoked salmon and smoked peppered mackerel pate from Grimbster or a platter of mature Orkney cheddar with homemade apple and plum chutney and oatcakes. Scottish favourites include creamy Cullen Skink with artisan bread, hand-dived Orkney scallops with chorizo, chilli and spring onion and crispy Campbells haggis bonbons with Glenkinchie single malt whisky and Arran mustard mayo. To finish Dunstane Cranachan: wickedly decadent whisky, whipped cream, toasted oats, honey and orange. thedunstane.com

Doubles from £149, check availability at booking.com

Bedroom with a copper freestanding style bath at The Dunstane Houses, Edinburgh

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Trust olive Lucy Gillmore is a freelance journalist based in Scotland who heads out on the road in search of the latest foodie hotspots. For more information see visitscotland.com or Edinburgh.org, visit olivemagazine.com or search for #oliveeatsedinburgh

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