Want to know where you can get the best authentic Scottish food? Hoping to find where the locals go? I’m here to help! As an Edinburgh local and a bit of a foodie, I’m happy to spill the beans on the top eats in the “best wee city in the world”.
First off, there are many great restaurants in Edinburgh. This list doesn’t even begin to cover them all, but it does list a few of our favorites and the places that we always take visitors. Stick to these and you’ll never have a bad meal.
Looking for an authentic Scottish experience?
Makar’s Rest on the Mound. This is probably our favorite Scottish restaurant in Edinburgh. We always take visitors here! They have wonderful food, a laid back vibe, a solid whisky selection, and the some of the best haggis in town (yes, I absolutely recommend that you try it). Even if haggis isn’t your thing, they have plenty of perfectly prepared Scottish classics to choose from. This is a place the locals love.
Sheep Heid Inn is the oldest pub in Scotland. Opened in 1360, it is said to have been a favorite of Mary Queen of Scots. It is a little bit of a bus trip to reach and, to be honest, the food is not our favorite, but the history is really cool. They even have an old skittles alley (precursor to bowling) in the back that can be rented out.
Pie Maker (BUDGET EAT) Close to the University of Edinburgh and the museum, this tiny shop is an absolute Edinburgh staple. They are renowned for their savory British, Scottish, and innovative pies (think mac and cheese… in a PIE!). Do not miss it! They have a huge selection of portable pies for around £1 a pie. Two people can easily eat for about £3 total. The very best pies come from butchers in the various buroughs of town (our favorite is John Bain and Son in Gorgie) , but you can’t go wrong with Pie Maker. It’s fun, easy to get to, and delicious!
Chippies- You will notice that about every tenth shop advertises, “Pizza, Kebabs, Burgers, Falafel, Shwarma”. It sounds like a strange combination to the American ear, but these city chippies (named after the classic fish and chip combination) are an absolute staple. They make for great late night food, many of them selling the famous “muchie box” (a mix of anything fried they have left to sell). We are particularly fond of Yum Yum by Elephant House.
Tailend is the only place in Scotland that makes the national “Top 10 Fish and Chips in the UK” regularly. It’s located in the Leith area and is on the Bus 22 route.
Mimi’s Bakehouse- Located on the Leith Shore, this place is ultra famous and you will definitely need reservations. Noted for their scones and clotted cream, they are definitely worth a stop while you are in town.
Fancy a date night?
Osteria del Tempo Perso is great for authentic handmade Italian food. Located in the Morningside area, this is the area of town that many of the locals go to for a nice meal out. Bus 15 will take you here.
Montpelier’s, also in Morningside, is an upscale bar and restaurant that is very popular with the locals. I especially recommend them for a lovely brunch.
Ship on the Shore. Right on the Leith Shore, come here for a romantic night and some delicious seafood. It’s always a top pick for a special date night.
Where can I get some plain good grub?
Bread Meats Bread is a hip burger joint just off Princes Street. Come early or expect a wait!
Oink (BUDGET EAT) right on the Royal Mile by Holyrood House this restaurant has mastered the art of pulled pork. For a little under £5 you can get a delicious pulled pork sandwich with your choice of fixings. This place only takes cash.
Mary’s Milk Bar– My favorite place for a calorie-abused snack. Located in Grassmarket, they sell gelato, the best hot chocolate ever, and you can even combine the two into a hot chocolate float. You will have no hope of walking off this amazing treat, but oh boy is it worth it.
Meltmongers is new on the scene, but is quickly becoming a favorite for a great cheese toastie (grilled cheese). If you can’t make it to Meltmongers… learn how to make the perfect grilled cheese here.
In the mood for something exotic?
Mosque Kitchen (BUDGET EAT) a great Indian cafeteria style restaurant right by the University of Edinburgh. You’ll get a BIG plate of food for about £5. The students (and Blythe) love this place!
Beirut is a great upscale Lebanese place right by Mosque Kitchen. We love it and always recommend it to anyone coming to town.
Mother India. Ask any Edinburgher where you can get the best Indian food in town and this will be the place they send you. You will always need reservations, even on a Tuesday in the middle of winter. It’s that popular.
Wanting an afternoon break and a good cuppa?
Elephant House- Known as the birthplace of Harry Potter, this is where J.K. Rowling wrote the first few Harry Potter books. Looking out the windows to the castle, it is easy to imagine how this view might have inspired Rowling’s description of Hogwarts. Surprisingly, this has not increased their prices and the coffee and food are wonderful. Stop for the obligatory picture and a great snack!
Costa. Even though it’s a U.K chain, I would encourage you to stop by if you’ve never been. With prices that are more reasonable than Starbucks and much better quality coffee, it’s a great little insight into UK life and taste in coffee (Blythe recommends a flat white with an almond croissant). The Costa on Princes Street has a lovely view of the castle!
Mimi’s Bakehouse. Yes, I’m mentioning it again. Located on the Leith Shore, this place is ultra famous and you will definitely need reservations. Their tea time is something we do with every single one of our visiting guests. Don’t listen to anyone who says you should have a proper tea somewhere in the touristy part of town. Mimi’s is where the locals go. Do yourself a favor and don’t miss it!