Absolute Escapes March 9 2020

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, has long established itself as a foodie hotspot in the UK. However, with so many options available, it’s easy to miss out on some of the hidden gems that this fabulous food scene has to offer.

With 15 years’ experience of arranging award-winning self-drive holidays in Scotland, Absolute Escapes know a thing or two about where to find the places to eat and having an office full of self-confessed foodies helps too!

Away from the spotlight of the ever-popular Royal Mile, you’ll find friendly neighbourhood bistros, casual eateries and visionary cooking. Here’s our guide to Edinburgh local favourites.


Old Town

Millions of tourists walk the cobbled streets of Edinburgh Old Town every year and if you don’t want to be too far from the action, The Outsider on George the IV Bridge offers daily changing modern menus using the best of Scottish produce. We recommend heading there at lunchtime for reasonably priced specials and great views of Edinburgh Castle.


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Another must-try is Ting Thai Caravan, which serves authentic Thai street food in a casual setting. Ting Thai operates on a first come first served basis and you might have to queue, but the service is fast and the prices unbeatable, so it’s definitely worth the wait.

If you’re looking for a memorable experience, Timberyard is the place to go. Just minutes away from the bustling Grassmarket, this modern restaurant serves tasting menus using local ingredients from independent artisans. Opt for the drink pairing option for a selection of the best natural wine in Europe.


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Newington is student territory, and here you’ll find the best value for money alongside some of Edinburgh’s finest eateries. Head to Tanjore for authentic South Indian food or stop at  The Mosque Kitchen for no-frills home-cooked curries.

On the unassuming St Leonard’s Street, Blonde Restaurant is a small bistro serving Scottish and European cuisine in an intimate setting. Make sure to try their venison casserole served with chocolate sauce.

Right beside Blonde, you’ll find Aizle, one of the best restaurants in town. In a surprisingly casual atmosphere, your only option here is a £70 6-course dinner menu crafted around seasonal products. Make sure to book several weeks ahead.

We couldn’t have a list of local favourites without mentioning Edinburgh Food Studio. A food research hub as well as a restaurant, Edinburgh Food Studio might be a little off the beaten tracks 10 minutes drive from Newington, but well worth the trip. Take your seat at one of the two communal tables and try resident chef Ben Reade’s menu or buy a ticket for one of the takeover events, which include guest chefs from all over the world.



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New Town

Edinburgh’s shopping and nightlife centre, the New Town is no short of restaurants and pubs, The Queens Arms on Frederick Street is a local favourite for quality pub grub. Make sure to visit on a Sunday for their famed Roast!


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Just turn the corner and you’ll find yourself in Thistle Street. Concentrated on this tiny stretch of Edinburgh are some true food gems. For the best tacos in town, head to cosy El Cartel. If you’re into Mexican food, frozen margaritas and old school hip-hop, this is the place for you.

Stylish newly opened Noto is also rapidly becoming a must-try. Sister restaurant of Aizle, Noto’s menu is made by medium side dishes inspired by Asian flavours. It’s the perfect spot for drinks and light bites.


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A village within the city, Stockbridge is one of the go-to destinations for hungry Edinburgh residents.

Here, you can try mouth-watering Thai dishes in Nok’s Kitchen and top-quality seafood at the Kilted Lobster. From the team behind the Michelin starred The Kitchin, Scran and Scallie serves hearty traditional dishes using the best local produce.

On a Sunday, head to Saunders Street to the busy Stockbridge Market, where you can sample delicious street food and buy fresh local products.


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Close to Haymarket Train Station, Dalry is mostly a local neighbourhood that offers some superb eating options.

If you’re passionate about Italian food, look no further than Locanda de Gusti, arguably the best Italian in Edinburgh, where chef Rosario Sartore serves authentic Neapolitan recipes. Across the road from Locanda, you’ll also find Pizzeria1926, where you can taste generous size pizza just like in Naples.

Another local favourite in Dalry is First Coast restaurant, a lively bistro serving fantastic modern Scottish food at reasonable prices – an office favourite.


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In between the New Town and the Leith neighbourhood, Broughton is a great area to visit if looking for a great meal. Here you’ll find Pickles, a wine bar famous for its enormous cheese boards at very reasonable prices.

Another popular choice is L’escargot bleu, a quintessentially French restaurant using local Scottish ingredients. A few doors down, Fhior is the new addition to the city’s fine-dining scene and is quickly becoming a foodie go-to spot.


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One of the most vibrant areas of Edinburgh, Leith is an up and coming neighbourhood with a great food scene. Amongst the local favourites, you’ll find Gaia, a family-run cafe serving traditional Italian dishes and The Sicilian Pastry Shop, a tiny patisserie laboratory where you can try the best cannoli.

At the top end of Leith Walk, The Little Chartoom is a modern eatery with a sleek design serving innovative dishes that change regularly. The intimate atmosphere adds to the charm, but it’s essential to book ahead.

At the other end of Leith, you’ll find the Ship on the Shore, a seafood restaurant which has become an institution in Edinburgh. Their ‘Fruit de Mer Platter’ is a must-try for shellfish lovers. Not far from there, the Roseleaf is a quirky pub serving quality food, but it’s their Brunch menu that makes it one of Edinburgh’s favourite.


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In Leith, you’ll also find one of the most loved street food market in Edinburgh, The Pitt. Here you can find some of Edinburgh’s best vendors, including the Buffalo Truck where you can try their delicious Buffalo Chicken Burger. With DJs, live music and a large indoor bar, it’s not hard to see why locals flock to this place every weekend!

A 10 minutes drive from Leith, The Fishmarket, is a high-end fish and chips shop that has recently been featured on BBC’s ‘Remarkable Places to Eat’. Edinburgh residents come here to taste freshly caught seafood while overlooking Newhaven Harbor.

With so many options to choose from, Edinburgh has so much to offer in terms of food. Make sure to venture outside the usual tourist route to sample some of Scotland’s finest dishes!

Rosa Leo

P.S. Established in Edinburgh in 2004, Absolute Escapes are award-winning specialists in walking and self-drive holidays in Scotland. Our team have turned our love of exploring Scotland into our day job – we know exactly where to find the best accommodation, the best food and drink experiences, and how to turn your trip into an unforgettable one. Send us an enquiry now and start planning your own Absolute Escape.

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