Best restaurants in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is one of Scotland’s most food-friendly cities with loads of Michelin-listed restaurants, many cool cafes, and a wide range of cuisines.
To give you a better flavour of the Edinburgh food scene, we’ve avoided the chains and compiled list of places all over the city for varying budgets. These places tie in perfectly with a stay at nearby Seton Sands!
Modern British / Scottish
Formerly a Royal Bank of Scotland building, the grand interior of The Spence gives you a preview of what to expect: fine dining in a luxurious setting, with a mid-priced menu which has earned its chef Jonny Wright, his Michelin listing.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the menu is a beautifully presented, unfussy celebration of British surf and turf. Highlights include the Gigha halibut served with sea greens and preserved lemons and roast Scottish lamb rump.
Part of the Gleneagles Townhouse members club, The Spence is worth a visit for a bit of Edinburgh luxury (also visit The Dome, another former bank building on George Street, for an equally luxurious cocktail to finish).
Makars Gourmet Mash Bar
Makars is a low-key hidden gem. Situated off the Royal Mile and near St Giles Cathedral, Makars demonstrates that traditional Scottish home cooking can be delicious and gourmet too.
All their beef is locally sourced, and this is a great place to sample that Scottish classic – haggis, here served with heather honey, turnip puree and a unique whisky, peppercorn, mustard, and cream sauce. There are great vegetarian and vegan alternatives, and make sure you ask to visit the mushroom emporium (Makar’s grow their own lion’s mane in a spooky, high-tech darkroom).
And what about the gourmet mash? Makars have nine varieties ranging from chilli spicy mash to rumble-de-thumps (smoked bacon and spring onion). It’s a small place and they have won multiple awards, so book early or take away.
For something with a little more history and legend surrounding it, The Witchery has been in existence for over forty years, and is world-renowned, in part due to its prime location right by Edinburgh Castle esplanade.
Its gorgeous interior will take your breath away, with its sixteenth-century building and wood-panelled dining hall. There’s also a second “secret garden” outdoor seating area situated in an adjacent schoolyard. You won’t find a more romantic dining experience.
Afternoon tea by candlelight is a must here, with delicious Edinburgh gin cured Scottish salmon on rye bread a highlight, served with champagne, of course. In the evenings, choose from a range of seafood, game, and meat dishes, focusing on locally sourced ingredients. It’s expensive, but if you’re visiting the Castle, this would round off your visit perfectly. Book well in advance!
Sometimes all you need is a traditional full Scottish breakfast, and one of the best places for that morning after recovery is Quinn’s at West Port. Rated the number one Edinburgh eatery by TripAdvisor visitors, this unpretentious cafe must be doing something right.
The Scottish breakfast terrifically adds black pudding or haggis to the traditional bacon, Lorne sausage, egg, and beans. Visitors also rave about the homemade scones and smoothies. For value, convenience and service, there are few better venues.
Another wonderfully situated eatery (right by the Castle), Cannonball is an Italian-owned Scottish cuisine celebrating treat, which is reasonably priced given the location and presentation. A cannonball lodged into the building exterior gives the place its name.
Food ranges from cannonball-shaped haggis served with pickled turnips and whisky cream to Borders lamb with a garlic sauce and sauteed Phantassie leeks. The quality extends to the delicious desserts and local cheeses, and the cocktails come highly recommended by visitors too.
Enjoy views of the Castle as you dine!
The Grain Store
Hidden away above the boutiques and shops on Victoria Street, The Grain Store is a local’s favourite, offering fine dining in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town. It’s a great place to sample some of the luxurious highlights of Scottish cuisine including oysters, venison, and scallops.
Although Scottish fare dominates the menu, there’s also a tasty beetroot, goat’s cheese and caramelised nut tart for starters and pannacotta with crushed berries for dessert.
It has a cosy and rustic interior, with a great view down to Victoria Street and hardwood furniture throughout. Perfect for a business lunch or a romantic dinner, The Grain Store is a must-visit after a visit to the nearby National Museum of Scotland or the iconic Greyfriars’ Bobby statue.
Chinese / Asian
Tattu combines designer dining and delicious Chinese food. The service comes highly rated, and the food is beautifully presented and very tasty.
The menu is a mix of the traditional (dim sum, aromatic duck pancakes) and the innovative (tuna sashimi with rose, cucumber, and wasabi). There are fantastic sharing options, which are a little pricey but offer the chance to sample a wide range of dishes. If you’re feeling flush, try the Japanese black wagyu, a rare cattle breed.
Vegan and Vegetarian
This vegan and vegetarian café and buffet has been in existence since 1962 and was a pioneer of vegetarian dining in the city.
A third generation of the Henderson family now run the restaurant, which is most famous for its basement buffet, with sculpted wood benches and a daily selection of delicious salads and cakes which achieve the miraculous combination of being tasty AND healthy.
Situated in the New Town at Hanover Street, Henderson’s run a series of events too, ranging from wine tastings to urban foraging walks. It’s one of the cosiest restaurants on rainy days too.
The Prahna Indian Grill
If you’re visiting Edinburgh Zoo in Corstorphine, stop in at the Praha Indian Grill for one of the highest-rated Indian meals in the capital. The restaurant offers its own unique take on British Indian cuisine, with a menu including such starters as sweet chilli haggis pakora, monk fish tikka and hand-dived king scallop.
Main courses include many grilled seafood and meat choices, without being as large as some Indian restaurants. That selectiveness is a benefit, allowing Praha to deliver beautifully presented, tasty specialities like the South Indian Cochin Carnival, in which a mix of Scottish seafood is steeped in a mild Kerala spice sauce.
Spice lovers can opt for a chicken jalfrezi or lamb bhuna, and if you’re hungry in the afternoon, why not try their “Afternoon Chai” and sample a range of tasty bites with a glass of prosecco or cocktail.