It’s always a good idea to take advice from the locals so here are a few suggestions of places which we frequent and which we hope you will enjoy too! If you find any that we’ve not included then please let us know and we’ll try them out ourselves!
- The Olive Branch: (0131-557-8589 www.theolivebranchscotland.co.uk) just opposite the New Town Deli about half way down Broughton Street. This café/brasserie is also open in the evening when it turns into quite a romantic setting for some well priced and varied brasserie food. On a hot day (yes it does happen!), it’s great to sit outside and people watch.
- The Broughton Deli: this cute little neighbourhood deli come café (through the back of the shop) is situated just off Broughton Street just opposite the New Town Deli. It’s such a gem because of all the home made cakes, salads, hams, pickles (I could go on!) that are made by the owners on the premises.
- Artisan Roast Coffee Shop: half way down Broughton Street on the right- if you are a coffee connoisseur then this is the place to head for. One of the best in town- locally roasted in Edinburgh and expertly made by the in house baristas.
- The Prinkworks Cafe: Located in the heart of Leith on Constitution Street- if you’re in the area or like to seek out good coffee it’s worth checking out- the only place which offers Monmouth coffee in Edinburgh. Great sandwiches and cakes are a bonus.
- Cafe Tartine: located on Commercial Quay, this is a busy and bustling French cafe which successfully manages to work well for lunch as well as dinner. Fare is as you would expect very traditionally French, from croque monsieur to more complex dishes, everything is delicious. Oh, and if you sit in the front conservatory you can bring your dog (which Vera is very happy about!).
- Urban Angel: (Hanover Street: 0131-225-6215 www.urban-angel.co.uk) - Relaxed brasserie/cafe menu for lunch and dinner of freshly made delights and great cakes.
- De Giorgio’s: (0131-624-4666) formerly Circle Café- an Italian style bistro/café with beautiful original stone wall interior- great open sandwiches/coffee and cakes as well as a good selection of restaurant quality daily specials all made on the premises! Just head down Broughton Street and keep going for another 5 minutes or so on the way to the botanic gardens!
- The New Town Deli: located halfway down Broughton Street- hearty sandwiches and coffee with a great corner window to watch the world go by.
- Fortitude: a small coffee stop which does great cakes and lovely soup/salad combos. Coffee is the speciality here and one of the best in town. Situated on York Place a block after the tram stop just before you turn left on to St Andrew’s Square.
- Wellington’s: If you need a pit stop whilst shopping on George street then this is the best option- located at Hanover Street and George Street- great coffee and a lovely scone! Another great local option and example of why you should avoid Starbucks! Not to be missed.
- Embo: (0131-652-3880 www.embodeli.com) – if you’re heading up into town or wandering back after a hard day’s sightseeing drop into Embo on Leith Walk (on the left heading towards Pilrig Street). They also sell great coffees, freshly squeezed juices and a great selection of design your own sandwiches!
- Valvona and Crolla: (0131-556-6066 www.valvonacrolla.com) - an Edinburgh institution- this is the best Italian deli- probably between here and Italy!- situated at the top of Leith Walk on the way to Princes Street (Elm Row) - at the back of the deli is a great café open for coffee and food all day.
- Vin Caffé: (0131-557-0088 www.valvonacrolla.com) - a great contemporary eatery also owned by Valvona and Crolla so it serves the best in of their fabulous deli food and more in a sophisticated atmosphere. Located in the fashionable Multrees walk just behind Harvey Nichols.
- National Galleries Cafés: (my favourites are the modern Art Gallery and the Dean Gallery cafés (located just across the road from each other a short walk or free gallery bus ride from town- the shuttle bus runs between all the national gallery sites regularly through the day). A great lunch stop in between taking in some culture. The latest addition is the newly reopened and refurbished cafe at the National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street- worth checking out.
- Eteaket: (0131-226-2982 www.eteaket.co.uk) - this lovely little afternoon tea spot is located on Frederick Street and is the perfect pitstop for the perfect cup of tea (in more varieties than you can imagine) and cake…of course!
- The Chippy by Spencer (0131-556-8223)- formerly Rapido, this newly refurbished fish and chip takeaway does it gourmet! Half way down Broughton Street next to the Barony Bar.
- Spoon: (0131-556-6922)- located in the building formerly ‘Nicholsons’ and made famous by JK Rowling- it’s where she penned her first Harry Potter book!- located on South bridge, just past the Royal Mile opposite the Festival Theatre. This is by no means a greasy spoon- in fact, quite the opposite- a bright and airy café where food is the main draw- lots of fresh and tasty soups, salads and sandwiches make this a great lunch sto
The list reads in ascending order from cheap and informal to posh and pricey…
- Origano (0131-554-6539) –situated close to town, just down Leith Walk a little further than Pilrig Street- this is a fabulous neighbourhood pizzeria- opened in the summer of 2011, it’s making an impression- recently listed as Edinburgh’s number 1 pizzeria on Trip Advisor. A lovely informal dining option with two branches now. On the right is the take-away and a little further down Leith Walk on the other side, the new and larger main restaurant.
- La Favorita: (0131-554-2430 www.la-favorita.com) - on Leith Walk, just a little further down from Pilrig Street (before Origano), La Favorita has previously won the restaurant award for best pizzeria in the UK- modern Italian cooking- and great pizzas! Their sister restaurant, Vittoria’s (0131-556-6171 www.vittoriarestaurant.com) -a traditional Edinburgh institution but with a recent makeover- is also on Leith Walk slightly further towards Princes Street- also great with a huge selection of traditional italian dishes. Outdoor seating makes for fun summer evenings- sweaters not supplied so bring one and you can sit out ‘til late under the heaters. Finally the latest offering from this mini Edinburgh chain is Taste of Italy which is located just down from the Playhouse Theatre- very servicable and inexpensive- great for a pre-theatre bite.
- Cafe Domenico: (0131-467-7266 www.cafedomenico.co.uk) - in the Shore area of Leith also (just off Commercial Street on Sandport Street, just over the bridge)- this is a really great family Italian restaurant which specialises in great past and specials- try the seafood stew- it’s great!
- Spitaki: (0131-556-9423 www.spitaki.co.uk). Since opening just afew years ago this gorgeous little neighbourhood greek taverna has gone from strength to strength- lovely greek tapas in an informal atmosphere, they recently won a hidden gem award which is so well deserved. End of East Claremont Street, just 10 minutes walk.
- The Fishmarket: (0131-552.8262 www.thefishmarketnewhaven.co.uk) - for some really great fish and chips and a varied menu of all manor of amaxing fish and seafood options, this sit in or take out sister restaurant to the wonderful Ondine has been a huge hit with the Newhaven diners since its opening in 2018. Charmingly situated at Newhaven harbor, this is a must, if you can make the journey from town (the number 11 bus will take you from the top of Leith Walk and drop you at their door!).
- Pomegranate: (0131-556-8337 www.pomegranaterestaurant.com) - a fun and buzzy middle eastern street food cafe- great sharing mezze plates as well as hearty mains- lcation, just opposite the Playhouse, near Broughton Street.
- The Educated Flea: (0131-556-8092 www.educatedflea.co.uk) - halfway down Broughton Street, this is the third of a locally owned group of quirky bistros (check out also The Three birds and the Apiary). The menu changes regularly and demonstrates use of interesting ingredients in brasserie/bistro style- really worth a visit.
- Rollo: (0131-556-5333- top of Broughton Street)- dark and moody interior with a tapas style menu of fusion dishes. The origial Rollo is also located opposite Scran and Scallie, Stockbridge.
- Pickles: (0131-557-5005) Although this is billed as a wine bar/cafe I think it deserves a mention in our restaurant section- if you just want a glass of wine, cool beer and some grazing platters this is a lovely local hang out- cosy and contemporary decor with a small menu of great meat/cheese/pates and pickles. Situated on Broughton Street, quite far down on the left. We give Pickles a big tick!
- The Walnut: (0131-281-1236)- this is a lovely little local eatery- unpretentious but with a really high standard of cooking- it’s small and always rammed so be sure to book and you won’t be disappointed! Situated half way down Leith Walk just after MacDonald Road.
- L’Escargot Bleu: (0131-557-1600 www.lescargotbleu.co.uk) Located on Broughton Street, this is a wonderful authentically French restaurant- some great, classically French cooking in a bistro setting, this is always a huge treat. Say hi to our friend Sebastian the manager! Also check out their new basement winebar if you just fancy a glass of wine and a cheeseboard!
- Contini Ristorante: (0131-225-1550 www.contini.com/contini-ristorante) - former directors of Valvona and Crolla (the best Italian deli in hundreds of miles!) run this stylish café/restaurant near the west end of George Street (corner of Castle Street). Good Italian cooking in an amazing Edinburgh building. Sister restaurant Canonball next to the castle.
- The Dome: (0131-624-8624 www.thedomeedinburgh.com) - again on George Street, near the St Andrew Square end (opposite the George Hotel)- this is a great place to stop for lunch or an afternoon pit-stop- worth it just to experience the inside of the building-originally a bank headquarters. Top tip- don’t miss the amazing ceiling.
- Fish Restaurants: For the best fish restaurants in Edinburgh you really have to head down to Leith where there are a multitude of great eateries....
- Fishers on the Shore (0131-554-5666 www.fishersbistros.cu.uk); The Shore (0131-553-5080 www.theshore.biz ); The Ship On The Shore (0131-555-0409 www.theshipontheshore.co.uk ); The King’s Wark (0131-554-9260 www.thekingswark.com)…all well worth the trip and with a great waterfront setting. My favourite and also that of most of the Edinburgh locals is Fishers - don’t even think of going without booking! They also have another branch in the centre of town (Fishers in the City) on Thistle Street, close to Princes Street (0131-225-5109).
- Loch Fyne Restaurant: (0131-559-3900 www.lochfyne.com) – The original Loch Fyne restaurant has been an institution on the west coast of Scotland for years- we’re now lucky enough to have a branch on our doorstep. Situated in a fantastic location overlooking Newhaven harbour with views out across the Firth of Forth- the great selection of mainly fishy dishes lives up to the reputation. The number 11 bus from Leith Walk will drop you on the doorstep!
- The Gardener’s Cottage: (0131-558-1221 www.gardenerscottage.co) – the latest addition to the dining scene-brunch, lunch and dinner, offering a variety of fresh seasonal Scottish produce in a quirky atmosphere- originally the cottage for the gardener of Royal Terrace Gardens built in 1836- and it even has vegetable patches in the front garden! You may love or hate the bench style seating plan but you’ll certainly have an experience to remember. Recently opened on the top of Calton Hill, their sister restaurant, The Lookout (0131-332-1246 www.thelookoutedinburgh.co) is getting good reviews and with views across to the castle, for setting alone it will be worth the walk up the hill!
- Aizle Restaurant (0131-662-9349 www.aizle.co.uk ): Recently moved from the south side into the more upmarket venue within the Kimpton Hotel on Charlotte Square, michelin standard tasting menu by Stuart Ralston- a great choice for a fabulous dining experience and their new sister restaurant Noto (0131-241-8518 www.notoedinburgh.co.uk ,Thistle Street), with equally high standard but with a more relaxed feel is also worth a visit.
- David Bann Restaurant: (0131-556-5888 www.davidbann.com) - 100% vegetarian but without the stereotype! Bann’s is located on St Mary’s Street just off the royal Mile. It boasts a cool contemporary interior with modern and sophisticated vegetarian menu.
- The Outsider: (0131-226-3131 www.theoutsiderrestaurant.com) - a stylish eaterie without the price tag so it’s always full to the rafters. It’s located on George Fourth Bridge close to the Royal Mile and has stunning views to the castle- advance bookings needed every night of the week. This is one of my favourite choices.
- Taisteal (0131-557-2209 www.taisteal.co.uk )- relaxed and informal dining using the best Scottish ingredients but with inspiration from around the world. Taisteal has just recently moved from their home in Stockbridge to this new venue on Forth street, just off Broughton Street. Well worth a visit for a sophisticated but casual dinner.
- The Ivy on the Square (0131-526-4777 www.theivyedinburgh.com)- normally I’m not one to recommend a chain style restaurant but the Ivy really does deliver for ambience, food and service- brasserie food done very well in a city centre location- a great lunch stop or casual dining dinner.
- The Fourth Floor Restaurant at Harvey Nichols: (0131-524-8350 www.harveynichols.com) - very much a place to see and be seen- a stylish bar and restaurant for lunch and dinner with great views across the city and towards the north. Worth it for the views and the people watching- the food’s consistently good- just don’t stress if the service doesn’t quite match.
- Ondine: (0131-226-1888 www.ondinerestaurant.co.uk) - if you’re in the old town and love fish then this is not to be missed. Situated just off the royal Mile at George Fourth Bridge, Ondine is the place to go for amazing Scottish fish and seafood in a relaxed and contemporary environment.
- The Scotsman Hotel, North Bridge Brasserie: (0131-622-2846 www.thescotsmanhotel.co.uk) - This hotel used to be the home of the Scotsman newspaper until it moved into purpose built offices and the building became a hotel. The brasserie is the old reception area- wonderful marble columns set against a very contemporary glass staircase. Great for cocktails and the food? Not too pricey- ‘modern Scottish’.
- Contini Canonball: (0131-225-1550 www.contini.com ) - located just before the castle with one of the best views in the city right across the castle esplanade. But that’s no the only reason to book this latest food offering from the Continis of Valvona and Crolla fame. The setting is a beautiful high ceilinged room with contemporary food to match.
- The Witchery: (0131-225-5613 www.thewitchery.com) - the ultimate tourist mecca when it comes to eating in Edinburgh. As a local I’d say it’s a little over- priced but worth it for the location (right next to the castle) and the interior. The best tip though is that for ambience, it’s best to eat in the ‘secret garden’!
- Rhubarb at Prestonfield House: (0131-225-1333 www.rhubarb-restaurant.com) - a little out of town set within beautiful grounds (peacocks on the lawn!), the is the ultimate sumptuously designed dining experience. The sister restaurant to the witchery and I reckon the ambience outshines the food- it’s still great but heavy on the pocket!
- Fhior: (0131-477-5000 www.fhior.com) - situated on Broughton Street, chef Scott Smith has recently won awards for Scottish chef of the year- seasonal and inventive local produce in a stripped back environment. A young chef team here is heading for Michelin glory so try it now while you can still get a table!
- Restaurant Martin Wishart: (0131-553-3557 www.restaurantmartinwishart.co.uk) - certainly one of the most talked about restaurants in town, mainly due to its Michelin star rating, and as such its reputation as a sublime dining experience. Located in Leith on the Shore- bookings always necessary!
- Victoria Bar/Joseph Pearce - these lovely bars are Swedish owned the (hint is in the décor with bar snack options to match!). The Victoria is located a little way down Leith Walk on the other side from Pilrig Street, Joseph Pearce- on the corner of Elm Row at the top of Leith Walk. Both have a very mixed local crowd and a lovely quirky ‘shabby-chic’ atmosphere.
- The Flying Fox- half way up Leith Walk, nice mixed crowd, funky interior which spills onto the pavement on nicer days, good pub food from a small open kitchen.
- The Ox- at the bottom of Broughton Street, this is great for just a drink butis fast making a name for itself for great gastro-pub food.
- The Barony Bar– on Broughton street, half way down on the right hand side. This is a very traditional Edinburgh bar with a mixed age local crowd. Worth a visit- especially for a taste of their pies and real ales!
- Woodland Creatures- a wonderfully quirky/kitch bar with a mixed youngish arty crowd. Just opposite the Victoria Bar/Origano about half way down Leith Walk in an area that’s fast becoming a funky local enclave.
- The Street – right at the top of Broughton Street on the corner. This is at the other end of the scale – a stylish coffee/drinking hang out by day and a pre-club bar by night frequented by a young groovy mixed/gay crowd.
- Panda and sons (www.pandaandsons.com) - probably the coolest bar in town but not the easiest to find- and deliberately so! At the far end of Queen just before Charlotte Square, you’ll find what looks like a barbershop- enter, take the stairs down and go through the library door into a world of speakeasy, table service and amazing cocktails.
- The Last Word (www.lastwordsaloon.com) - if you find yourself in Stockbridge (possibly pre- Scran and Scallie?) this is a great quirky basement cocktail bar to stop off beforehand. Situated half way along St Stephens Street- great dry martinis and lots of house favourites.
- The Devil’s Advocate (www.devilsadvocateedinburgh.co.uk) - in the old town on a lovely traditional Edinburgh close (infact Advocate’s Close so hence the name!). Dark and buzzy, great for a pre dinner cocktail and also great gastro pub food.
- Bramble (www.bramblebar.co.uk) - a lovely stylish darkly lit cocktail bar- at the bottom of Hanover Street on Queen Street- it gets quite busy and loud later so best to be ready for a night out!
- DragonFly (0131-228-4543 www.dragonflycocktailbar.com) - not the closest drinking haunts- situated just on the other side of the Grassmarket on WestPort. It’s worth the trip- this very groovy bar has a mixed hip crowd and quirky/contemporary interior.
- Tigerlily (0131-225-5005 www.tigerlilyedinburgh.co.uk) - the latest rival to Rick’s and the Opal Lounge- also George Street- this stylish and theatrical bar/restaurant/nightclub (Lulu) is a big hit with the cocktail crowd and eye candy barflies!
- Harvey Nicols- the top floor bar (on the left out of the lift) - a sophisticated atmosphere for an early evening cocktail and check the amazing panoramic window to the Forth and the north!
- The Register Club: (0131-230-0571 www.lateralcity.com) - Situated at the top of the recently opened Edinburgh Grand building which also houses Hawksmoor Restaurant on the ground floor (0131-526-4790 www.thehawksmoor.com) - This stylish and sophisticated club bar is perfect for a quiet drink away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Also check out the cool wine bar Lady Libertine, next door on West Register Street (0131-322-1020 www.ladylibertine.co.uk).
- Food Shopping- if you’re staying at the apartment for a few days you may want to stock up on supplies and here are some great places just around the corner. firstly for some basics, there’s a good Tesco Express just around the corner- at the top of the square, turn right and walk about 200 metres, past the Avis, just before the top of Broughton Street. For more specialist artisan shops, head down Broughton Street and you’ll find lots of options. Heading down: Something Fishy (fresh fish shop), Real Foods (health food store), Soderberg (skandi bakery), Artisan Roast (coffee roasters), Crombie’s (butchers- if you’re a fan of sausages, check out their speciality section!). From the apartment, you can also head across the road at the top of the square to Elm Row where you’ll find Valvona and Crolla- the best Italian deli in town! Heading further down Leith Walk you’ll find lots of artisan/quirky food shops and small eateries- 12 Triangles bakery just on the corner of Brunswick street is fantastic, opposite the Leith Walk Police Box hosts a different food business every day- go further and you’ll find lots more!
- Princes Street - the main street in town which faces the castle. Here you’ll find a mix of all the regular high street shops- Frasers department store, Gap, Zara etc. at the west end, Waterstone’s book shop close by, M&S, and Jenner’s close to the railway station.
- George Street- parallel to Princes street but with a much better selection of upmarket clothes shops and some good eateries. Check out the local Cruise for upmarket men’s and women’s fashions, as well as Xile on Frederick Street for menswear, and just down on to Queen Street and Frederick, Boutique Men’s Store.
- Harvey Nichols - the newest upmarket department store in town- on the north corner of St Andrew Square. Don’t miss it for fantastic designer clothes, perfumes, and gorgeous little things! It also has a wonderful rooftop café with great views of the city.
- John Lewis - my favourite department store in town (ok strike that, my favourite shop in the world!)- not out of any respect for their lines in high fashion (it’s not that kind of place), but because you can get almost anything here and the staff are unbelievably knowledgable. Situated at the top of Leith Walk, just off the roundabout and the gateway to the new St James Quarter shopping centre which recently opened- this is the biggest retail development in Edinburgh for years and hosts an array of shops and eating options with cinema and the new W Hotel (the walnut whip!) due to complete soon.
- Geoffrey Taylor Kilts - on the lower stretch of the Royal Mile, close to John Knox’s house. As well as a great selection of traditional tartans, this shop incorporates 21st Century Kilts- set up by the owner’s son, Howie who now produces kilts in everything from denim to pink silk and also has his own store on Thistle Street. Customers include Robbie Williams and Vin Diesel!
- St. Stephen’s Street/North West Circus Place/Raeburn Place: Stockbridge area- a lovely collection of streets with a selection of shops which sell anything from antique jewellery, second-hand clothes, to retro-furniture and interiors. In particular, check out Jeffrey Interiors, Those Were the Days (gorgeous vintage clothing), Dick’s Menswear and Annie Smith Jewellery over the bridge on Raeburn Place- she designs and makes a great selection of contemporary Scottish silver and gold jewellery.
- Victoria Street- a downhill walk from just off the Royal Mile (near the GeorgeIVBridge crossroads). Here you’ll find a host of small, quirky shops and cafes- from clothes to antiques and lots in between. Check out Walker Slater menswear for amazing bespoke Scottish suiting. At the bottom, wander into the Grassmarket where you’ll also find some gems. Look out for Hawick Cashmere if you’re feeling rich and want to take home a special sweater!
- St Mary’s Street/Jeffrey Street - these streets meet each other at an intersection near the bottom of the Royal Mile- a good mix of quirky shops- jewellery, retro, clothing, flowers, gift shops.
- Causewayside - on the south side of the city, just past the Meadows (park) this is a great street for antiques- furniture and knick-knacks- if you’re an enthusiast, it might be worth the trip!
If you’re thinking of taking some time to explore a little further afield, we’d recommend some tour companies which get good recommendations from our guests and have a 4 star Scottish Tourist Board grading. All do either day trips or longer tours to the many beautiful locations in the north and west of Scotland. You can check them out at their web sites either www.timberbush-tours.co.uk or www.rabbies.com or www.graylinetours.com. Grayline also offer the service of a pick up from your accommodation- worth thinking about if you’re heading off early in the morning! Alternatively, if you would like to consider something much more bespoke, we work with a great guide called Mike McKinlay who will plan and organise anything from a one day tour to something covering a 2/3 nights trip to your chosen undiscovered parts of Scotland- just enquire at booking and we will put you in touch.
If you’re feeling energetic and adventurous then try these guys: www.gorunningtours.com/p/united-kingdom/edinburgh/
8 Things you have to do When You’re here!
- Take a walk up Calton Hill- takes only 10 minutes from the top of Leith Walk roundabout and it’s the best view of the city!
- Have lunch or a coffee at Harvey Nicols 4th Floor brasserie. The view from the cocktail bar is an unexpected treat too!
- Eat in one of the city’s amazing dining choices- from the informal L’escargot Bleu or Le Roi Fou on Broughton Street, Fishers in Leith, to Rhubarb for experience and setting to remember, to Michelin standard of Number One at the Balmoral Hotel, Martin Wishart, 21212.
- Take a walk along the Water of Leith- you can stop off at the Botanic Gardens, Dean Village and finally the Gallery of Modern Art and the Dean Gallery (great lunch at their cafés).
- If you’re not visiting in August then you MUST make a date to come back and soak up the atmosphere of the world’s biggest arts festival, which runs for most of the month.
- If you are visiting in August then you must return for our Christmas Festival and 5 day Hogmanay (New Year) Festival. Ice skate in Princes Street Gardens with the castle as your backdrop.
- Take some great food home- Crombies (the best butcher in Edinburgh!) have wonderful haggis and an amazing sausages selection, and for an Italian experience, Valvona and Crolla (top of Leith Walk) is difficult to leave without emptying your bank account!
- It may sound like being too much of a tourist but the city bus tours (leaving from Waverley Bridge) are a great way to orientate yourself and get a flavour of the city- especially if you’re here for just a short time.