Fine food and pub grub, gastro and gourmet, Edinburgh has it all when it comes to eating out. Our guide to the city’s restaurants includes hip cafés and swish hotels for every taste and budget.
With a thriving uni population among its clientele, Edinburgh does dining on a shoestring with savvy and style. Starting in studentville, and next door to a mosque, you’ll find the bustling Nile Valley Café, which does Sudanese and Middle Eastern cuisine with free corkage on BYOB. Choose from falafel, fish curry and tasty tagines. Another fusion spot is Bindi, serving Indian and East African veggie dishes that no carnivore can resist. What started as a festival pop-up stall is the super friendly Ting Thai Caravan, which offers hearty Thai street food with a canteen-style vibe.
Pick your rice or noodle box, curry or soup, and perch on a stool or communal wooden bench. Red Box is another noodle bar, where you can design your own dish, from udon to ramen topped with any meat or tofu. Besides the oriental, there’s Oink, whose two tiny hog roast shops are firmly Scottish in style, with lip-smacking pulled pork buns on the menu. The Dogs is another local favourite, serving popular British dishes, using Scottish-sourced ingredients. First Coast is a modern, buzzy bistro cooking up great seafood and more, while other top spots include The Blue Bear for all-day brunch, The Larder Café for deli lunch and Bread Meats Bread for “Edinburgh’s best burger”.
Whether you go by Michelin stars or excitable word of mouth, you’re okay in Edinburgh when it comes to posh nosh. The Witchery By The Castle is an oldie but goodie, in part thanks to its impressive setting at the top of Royal Mile, but there’s equal wow factor in decadent dishes like hand-dived Isle of Mull scallops and some 800 wines. At the foot of the castle you’ll find relative newcomer, and fast-catching-up award-winner, Castle Terrace. Acclaimed for its innovative Scottish-French creations, this relaxed restaurant is sister to The Kitchin, where Tom Kitchin’s team still serves up a storm on Commercial Street. Scottish produce is given a dash of French flavour in other parts of town, including The Pompadour by Galvin, where the old Caledonian hotel has been given a Galvin brothers revamp.
Then there’s Number One at The Balmoral, whose opulent surroundings are matched by Michelin-starred food. Ondine in Old Town is unbeatable for seafood, from Scottish squid tempura to deluxe fish ‘n’ chips. For something more exotic, head to Dusit on Thistle Street, which takes Thai cuisine to contemporary new heights. If you’re going meat free, we recommend David Bann for his eclectic vegetarian menu. And, for fine food that’s fun, it’s got to be Restaurant Mark Greenaway, winner of three AA rosettes for Mark’s inventive dishes and desserts.
It’s going to sound cheesy, but La Favorita really is a favourite when it comes to Italian dining in Edinburgh. This pizzeria makes its own dough four days in advance, tops it with the likes of chopped haddock and spicy sausage, and then cooks it in log-fired ovens. Hot on its heels, Origano is a hugely popular little spot that also makes its own dough, serving Naples-thin pizza alongside pasta and antipasto.
The Morningside crowd (plus others in the know) flock to Nonna’s Kitchen for laidback Italian dining, with daily blackboard specials and variants to please. If you’ve heard of Centotre, you’ll find a new name above the door, as this family-run business celebrates ten years on George Street. Now Victor & Carina Contini Ristorante, the same top-notch kitchen serves authentic Italian food with a fresh Scottish twist. Another development is Valvona & Crolla VinCaffè on Multrees Walk, a new addition to Scotland’s oldest deli and Italian wine merchant clan. Try their in-house-baked bread, dipped in their own brand olive oil, washed down with their very own vintage! If you’re looking for cheap ‘n’ cheerful, perhaps a pre-theatre bite, Edinburgh has plenty of Italian chains that’ll do a great job. Choose from Zizzi and Prezzo, Bella Italia and Vittoria.
While Edinburgh is peppered with fabulous Indian restaurants, some are more fabulous than others. The prize-winning Shezaan on Union Place has been a city favourite since the ‘70s, while fellow-stalwart Kalpna on St Patrick Square wins awards for its exciting vegetarian menu. Kismot on St Leonard's Street has a reputation for some of Scotland’s hottest curries (anyone for the Kismot Killer?), and this family-run diner is all about the fun, serving quirky dishes like chocolate massallam and veggie haggis korma. Laying claim as Edinburgh’s first Indian restaurant, Khushi's was set up in 1947 by Kushi Mohammed, who shipped in spices from his native Punjab and whose family keeps the place fresh and modern today. The same Punjabi family has also opened Mithas, an upmarket place serving Asian-inflected cocktails alongside contemporary tasting menus.
All the way from Glasgow, Mother India’s Café is an Indian tapas spot near Edinburgh Uni, where sharing small dishes is the name of the game. Tuk Tuk by King’s Theatre is another tapas-style venue, dishing up rustic Indian street food like Mumbai bhaji burger and Hakka chilli noodles. Finally on our list is the fond Punjabi Junction on Leith Walk, which launched in 2010 as a community project to upskill, employ and empower local Sikh women, and continues to serve unfancy food with a genuine smile.
Whether it's the city centre, next to Edinburgh Castle, or Princes Street, or on the outskirts of town, we have the right hotel for you. Flying in for a business trip and we've hotels next to Edinburgh Airport. And if you're looking for a family-friendly hotel for a weekend break we have those aswell.