One of the UK’s finest cities for foodies, Edinburgh is a vibrant melting pot of cultures, boasting an impressive selection of restaurants, pubs, and cafes offering exceptional international cuisine for you to sample and savour. Whether you’re looking for an award-winning Indian restaurant, a lively pub serving up big portions of your favourite comfort food, or a taste of the Mediterranean, this truly cosmopolitan city centre certainly won’t disappoint.
To celebrate the recent release of our Edinburgh Food & Drink Guide 2019, we wanted to take this opportunity to shine a spotlight on a few of our favourite places to eat and drink in the Scottish capital. Read our picks below and for a more comprehensive guide to dining out in Edinburgh, make sure you pick up a FREE copy of our Edinburgh Food & Drink Guide 2019 here or read a digital version here.
A bright, modern and award-winning curry house situated just across the road from the Playhouse theatre, a meal at Shezan in Edinburgh city centre promises something a cut above the rest and always delivers. Proudly displaying its impressive collection of gleaming Scottish Curry Awards trophies across its bar, when we visited Shezan last year, we were impressed by every element of this precious gem of an Indian and South Asian restaurant, from the attentive, friendly and knowledgeable staff to the exquisite and fragrant dishes on the menu.
To start, we ordered poppadoms which were accompanied by a selection of six tasty pickles, before tucking into tender and aromatic tandoori lamb chops and perfectly crispy vegetable samosas with impeccably spiced fillings. For mains, we couldn’t resist the succulent Punjabi garlic chicken masala and juicy king prawn karahi, which both displayed excellent depth of flavour and were beautifully balanced. We recommend ordering their famous Peshwari naan with your dish; huge yet unbelievably light and stuffed with almonds, coconut and sultanas. For dessert, we cooled ourselves down with scoops of creamy kulfi and an irresistibly sticky gulab jamun – the perfect finish to an unforgettable Indian feast.
Famous in the region for serving food in a big way, including Edinburgh’s largest portion of nachos, The Auld Hoose is an Edinburgh institution beloved by locals and visitors alike. From the laid-back atmosphere to the quality food and excellent selection of drinks, this adults-only pub guarantees a lively escape from the hustle and bustle of your day-to-day. Order a pint from the bar, stuff your faces with delicious burgers, hotdogs, and burritos, and let your hair down to the best selection of metal, punk, and gothic music blasting out of the venue’s legendary jukebox.
With a menu renowned for its generously portioned pub classics, including the legendary Hoose nachos served with beef or five-bean chilli and topped with cheese, jalapenos, sour cream, and guacamole, The Auld Hoose truly offers something for everyone. There’s even an impressive range of vegetarian and vegan dishes to choose from on the menu, including their vegan falafel burger, vegan chilli, vegan burrito, fried tofu sandwich, vegan cooked breakfast and vegan sorbet sundae.
Situated just a short walk from Waverly Station on Edinburgh’s historic Jeffrey Street, La Garrigue offers a glorious window into rustic, homestyle French cuisine, as well as an impressive collection of authentic Continental wine. Opened in 2001 by Jean-Michel Gauffre, who still informs the imaginative menu alongside head chef Peter Duck, when we visited La Garrigue earlier in the year, we immediately felt at home within the warm and inviting interior, featuring striking royal blue panelling and tableware which complements the exposed stone walls, wooden furniture, and vibrant original artwork adorning the walls of each of the intimate dining rooms.
To start, we chose the king scallops with smoked French sausage on a bed of spinach and fish soup with grated cheese, garlic dip and croutons before the chef recommended we try the rack of lamb, which came with Provencal tomato, watercress roulade, and tarragon jus – a mouth-wateringly tender dish which was perfectly enhanced by the flavours of the accompaniments. For dessert, we opted for the seasonal cherry flan with orange blossom ice cream and the warm peach tart, which were both deliciously sweet and balanced perfectly.
With an excellent reputation for its authentic, delicious, and exquisitely presented dishes, Gurkha Café and Restaurant brings a taste of India and Napal to Edinburgh’s vibrant city centre. Whether you’re a regular or first-time visitor, you’ll be charmed by the simple and tasteful décor, warm and welcoming atmosphere, and menu boasting a veritable feast of dishes with a delectable option to suit every palate.
Start with the likes of the delicately steamed momo dumplings filled with chicken or spicy vegetable or opt for a traditional Indian favourite like the juicy chicken tikka or tandoori mixed starter – ideal for sharing with your partner. The selection of mains is just as impressive, with an extensive selection of meat-based and vegetarian dishes on offer, most of which are cooked in the restaurant’s clay oven. Spice lovers will simply swoon over the scrumptious chilli garlic fish and hot lamb madras, whereas those craving something creamier and richer will melt over the mouth-wateringly delicious butter chicken or the vegetable korma. Accompany your dish with a side of fluffy rice or a subtly sweet apricot naan and you’ll never want to buy a microwavable meal again.
As a member of The Scotch Beef Club, Smoke Stack prides itself on being a steak-fan’s paradise. With over 20 years in business, the restaurant is a beloved part of the city, popular with locals and visitors alike not just thanks to its incredible steaks and locally sourced produce, which is cooked and served with respectful simplicity, but also due to the restaurant’s relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, making every single trip here a trip you’ll treasure.
Start with the likes of gently toasted goat’s cheese served with rocket, strawberries and balsamic reduction, before moving onto the restaurant’s steaks. Choose from rib-eye, sirloin, rump, or fillet steak accompanied by a choice of hand-cut chips, mash, green salad, or new potatoes, and enhanced by either classic sauce of butter. Pair this steak dish with a bottle of red wine or a Scottish craft beer and you’ll want to dine here at least once a week. If you’d rather, opt for their brunch menu instead and enjoy a delightful choice of traditional Scottish breakfasts, waffles, and refreshing smoothies. Takeaway is also available through Deliveroo, so you can look forward to indulging in delicious steaks, sandwiches, burgers, milkshakes and smoothies from the comfort of your own home.
The ideal place for a romantic date night or celebratory evening meal with friends and family, Merienda brings the authentic taste of the Mediterranean to the heart of the Scottish capital, striking the perfect balance between relaxed and fine dining.
Inside this contemporary and stylish restaurant, you’ll be welcomed by a light and airy interior featuring soft stone and cream tones, along with candles and gentle lighting that create a spacious and cosy atmosphere. The real draw of the Merienda, however, is their outstanding small plates menu, which utilises the finest Scottish produce and features a tempting tasting menu that diners can build themselves, offering them the exciting opportunity to sample a huge range of rich flavours and vibrant colours, all inspired by modern Mediterranean cuisine.
Each elegant and exquisitely presented dish looks and tastes as delicious as the next, with an evolving menu of up to 30 visually stunning dishes to choose from. If you’re looking for something rich and indulgent, opt for the herb-crusted lamb with confit ratatouille and red wine jus from the farms and pastures section or try the beautiful Tobermory oak-smoked trout with scorched cucumber and gel and a spiced crème fraiche from the rivers and seas section.
Famous for its menu full of delicious Macanese dishes which fuse flavours to create an exhilarating dining experience for all who are lucky enough to get to visit here, chef-patron of Macau Kitchen, Kei de Freitas, has created a concise menu that showcases the food of the South East Asian port founded by Portuguese traders in the 16th century. As those early settlers yearned for their Iberian home, their cooking evolved and made use of local ingredients. Spices added a kick to dishes from their homeland and one of the world’s oldest fusion cuisines was born.
A new cuisine to Edinburgh and one of the only places in the UK you can experience these dishes for yourself, this small specialist restaurant, which combines cosy Portuguese touches with cheerful Chinese decorations, makes a welcome change from always frequenting the same Italian, Indian, and Mexican restaurants you are used to. Try dishes such as the crisp pastry empada with spice-infused potatoes, polyo salad made using Portuguese-style squid with Asian spices and herbs, braised pork belly with tamarind and shrimp dressing, and the bacalhau a Macau; delicate cod cooked with coconut milk, turmeric and shrimp. For an indulgent final flourish, we recommend choosing the serradura –rich vanilla cream layered with biscuit crumbs and served in a glass – or the sumptuous orange cake that perfectly cleanses the palate after an array of spices from faraway lands.