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Edinburgh, Scotland: 8 Great Places for Food + Drink

Edinburgh The Witchery Pistachio Terrine with Burnt Clementine and Pistachio Granola. Champagne and water glasses in the background.
Pistachio Terrine with Burnt Clementine and Pistachio Granola at The Witchery.

Edinburgh, Scotland. When I think food scene, I think Rome, Paris, Porto, NYC, Minneapolis, and Miami. I do not think Edinburgh. It’s not why I wanted to visit the city. After Chris and I spent a few days in Edinburgh, looking for the best restaurants to eat at without going crazy over budget, we can tell you that the food scene is a great reason to visit Edinburgh. Five of its restaurants have a Michelin star, and two have Michelin Bib Gourmand ratings. It’s tapas-forward, which we love because it gives us a chance to try more on their menu. Edinburgh’s restaurant scene is full of variety and unexpected flavors.  

Angels With Bagpipes Kitchen + Wine Bar

Beef Shortrib with Rosti Potatoes topped with truffle on a black plate. BBQ Broccoli on a white plate.

Even though it’s on Edinburgh’s touristy Royal Mile, Angels with Bagpipes has that farm-to-table feel Chris and I love. Our late lunch there was elegant, romantic, and tasted divine.

Their menu, focused on Scottish fare, invites guests to dine tapas-style. Options are available for plant-based, pescatarian, and omnivore eaters: oysters, eggplant, and steak dishes are all on the menu. We started with their Company Bakery Sourdough served with cultured butter. Then, we tried their Beef Short Rib served with beef fat, potato rosti, and truffle, BBQ Tender Stem Broccoli with ricotta, chili, and honey. We devoured it all. Sadly, we didn’t have room for dessert. 

In addition to their fantastic food, Angels With Bagpipes crafts creative cocktails and has a nice wine list with a variety of wines available by the glass. For cocktails, try a Rum Old Fashioned(Ron Zacapa 23, orange bitters, sugar syrup) or Pearetto (Xante pear cognac, amaretto, lemon, cinnamon). We did. They were so delicious we were each tempted to have more than one, but it was since it was lunchtime, so we refrained.

Chili Beer Cauliflower Tacos at Bodega in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Bodega is known for its tequilas, tacos, and good vibes. It’s located in Leith, one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world. Those good vibes start with but don’t end with the poppy pastel atmosphere and friendly staff. If you’re gluten-free and looking for a place to dine in Edinburgh, the good vibes here are definitely for you. Their entire menu is gluten-free.  Like Angels With Bagpipes, Bodega encourages ordering tapas-style. 

We recommend trying their Chili Beer Cauliflower Tacos, Beef Short Rib Chimichurri, and Charred Padron Peppers. They were our favorites. For drinks, we tried (and loved) their Spicy Margarita and Frozen Grapefruit Jalapeno Margarita. 

Everything looks pink in this picture at Lucky Yu in Edinburgh, Scotland. The dishes on the table are: Karage Chicken and Crispy Potatoes and Kimchi Gyoza and Cauliflower Bao Bun

If you like flavorful, creative food, put Lucky Yu on your list of not-to-miss restaurants in Edinburgh. It’s owned by the same restauranteur that owns Bodega – John Howard. Like Bodega, it’s in the trendy Leith neighborhood. 

Lucky Yu serves what they refer to as Asian-ish small plates. We ordered 24-hour Beef Short Rib Kushiyaki, Karage Chicken, Crispy Potatoes, Kimchi Gyoza, and a Cauliflower Bao Bun. My favorites were the Beef Short Rib Kushiyaki and the Crispy Potatoes. Chris loved the Kimchi Gyoza, Crispy Potatoes, and Karage Chicken. We both enjoyed the Cauliflower Bao Bun, but it was up against a lot of tasty competition for our attention. Thanks to this restaurant, I’ve started a seasonings-I-need-to-buy list and put togarashi at the top of it. According to the menu, it’s the seasoning used in their beef short ribs.

Their cocktails are crafty. I loved the Soul Thai (chili-infused El Sueño tequila, pink grapefruit). Chris very much enjoyed the One Inch Punch (East London Rarer Rum, Amaro Montenegro, Muyu Chinotto Nero, Angostura bitters). 

The service and atmosphere here were just as fabulous as the food. 

Two dishes: 1. Chargrilled Broccoli, Lentils, Hazelnuts, and Soft Egg 2. Charred hispi Cabbage, Honey Tahini, and Tobacco Onions on the table at Baba in Edinburgh

Confession Time: I booked our table at Baba because I saw that it served tapas-style Mediterranean dishes, had wings on the menu, and a high Google rating. However, I didn’t realize how limited my view of Mediterranean food was before our server explained the menu to us. To me, Mediterranean food equals meals on the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet – dishes popular in southern Spain, southern Italy, and Crete.

Baba’s website clearly states that flavors of the Levant inspire its menu. I didn’t know what Levant meant when I made the reservations. In case you don’t know (we didn’t), the Levant refers to the Eastern Mediterranean region: Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Egypt. As far as we know, Baba’s is the first place that either one of us has ever eaten dishes from Palestine, Israel, Cyprus, or Syria. We’ve tried Greek and Turkish food before. 

At Baba, the dishes are flavorful and filling, rich and complex, and full of delicious surprises. Our top recommendations are the Blackened Peppers (fried almonds, crispy pita, buttermilk), Merguez Sausage (green chili hummus, pickled red onion, parsley salad), and Charred Hispi Cabbage (honey, tahini, tobacco onions). I also enjoyed the Chargrilled Broccoli, Lentils, Hazelnuts, and Soft Egg. If you arrive super hungry, start with the Cauliflower Fritters (zhug and crème fraîche); they come out super fast. 

This is yet another restaurant on this list with delightful, creative craft cocktails. Chris tried the Gooseberry Revenge because he liked the name. I tried the Fig Margarita because I like figs and margaritas. They were delish. 

Our table setting and glasses of champagne at The Witchery in Edinburgh. Candles. Flowers.

Book a table in The Secret Garden portion of The Witchery restaurant. It’s gorgeous. There’s no need to worry about the weather; you’ll be indoors. Romantic, gothic, and lush are just a few words to describe the atmosphere. It’s one of the prettiest places I’ve ever dined in. Maybe the prettiest. Their service is remarkable and a bit formal. I don’t think we ever waited a moment for anything. 

As a server guided us to our seats, he asked if we’d like to start with a champagne aperitif. “Yes, please,” we said without asking the price. This was the one big splurge meal that I booked, and it was a good choice. Champagne was a good choice too. 

On their menu, you’ll find everything from game to oysters to vegan options. We ordered just one appetizer, but this is the sort of place where it seems as if the norm is for each person to get their own appetizer. Still, the Pistachio Terrine with Burnt Clementine and Pistachio Granola I ordered was the perfect portion for us to enjoy and still have room for dessert after our mains. We each ordered the 30-day Dry-Aged Scotch Beef fillet with Rosti Potatoes – so good. 

Their wine list is extensive, as in a nice heavy book worth of options. With dinner, we shared a bottle of 2022 Poliziano Rosso di Montepulciano. Chris and I love Montepulciano wines. Chris picked out our dessert, which seemed more acceptable to share than the appetizer, the Paris Brest with Pistachio Praline and Nougat Sauce. 

Korean Fried Chicken Burger and chips at The World's End Pub in Edinburgh.

It may not be the end of the world as we know it anymore, but in the 16th century, this pub’s location was the end of the world so far as the citizens of Edinburgh were once concerned. While it is on the touristy Royal Mile, and its name might seem as though it’s trying to pander to tourists, The World’s End Pub felt local. The place is dog-friendly, and at least a couple of dogs and their owners were making themselves at home in what seemed to be familiar territory for them. 

The service was super friendly, and the ambiance was cool. World’s End Pub’s menu offers traditional Scottish fare and pub food. Their kitchen window facing the dining area reminded me so much of the Sports Bars I’ve worked at. I bet they have just two or three folks in the kitchen cooking meals for everyone there. We both ate Korean Chicken Burgers, which were amazing.

Shortbread, Fruit Scone, Cappuccino, and a Chai Latte on the table at Deacon's House Cafe in Edinburgh Scotland.

By day, Deacon William Brodie (1741-88) was a respected member of Edinburgh society. He was on the Town Council, deacon of the Incorporation of Wrights and Masons, and a skilled cabinet maker and locksmith. By night, he was a gambler and leader of a gang of burglars. Some posit that his double life inspired Edinburgh native Robert Louis Stevenson’s story, “The Strange Case of Dr Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde” — published in 1886. 

There are a few businesses named after the infamous Deacon Brodie. One is the Deacon House Cafe, located in Brodie’s Close. It’s one of Edinburgh’s top-rated coffee shops, and it made The Herald’s List of “The best 20 places to scoff a Scottish scone.” We stumbled upon it on our first afternoon in the city and decided to pop in for a treat. 

Chris had a fruit scone with jam and fresh whipped cream, and a cappuccino. He enjoyed it all. I would have had one if they hadn’t sold out of plain scones. Since they were sold out of them, I decided to try the plain shortbread. It seemed like a good choice since shortbread originated in Scotland. I ordered a chai latte to go with it. The shortbread was, as the menu says, lovely. The chai was delicious. 

You can also enjoy breakfast or lunch at Deacon’s House Cafe. They have a full menu of offerings for both. Reservations are not needed (or accepted).

The exterior of the Guilford Arms Pub in Edinburgh.

Did you know that there was a Golden Age of Scottish Pub Design? We didn’t. Seeing Guilford Arms Pub is believing such a Golden Age existed. The place, owned and operated by the Stewart Family since 1896, is stunning. The Good Pub Guide, “Britain’s bestselling travel guide for over 30 years,” put the Guilford Arms Pub on its 2024 Top 10 Beer Pubs list. It’s the only pub in Scotland to make the prestigious list.

Its decor may be Victorian, but its atmosphere is laid-back. Their staff is friendly, and so are their apparent regulars. On the afternoon we went to Guilford Arms Pub, there wasn’t an open chair. We found a high-top counter away from the actual bar with space to lean and asked the couple standing next to it if they minded us using the available space. They didn’t. When a nearby table was getting ready to leave, they offered us their spot. It was such a welcoming experience. 

A couple more spots in Edinburgh to consider

If you’re a foodie and enjoy whisky, you might enjoy one of the tastings available at The Scotch Whisky Experience. See our review of their Tasting Tales to see if it’s right for you.   

If you’re looking for a quick bite and like pizza, try Pizza Express. It’s a chain with over 600 locations and not the sort of spot I typically write about, but their pizza and lasagna are delicious. Sometimes, simple, quick, and easy is nice. 

Not sure where to stay in Edinburgh? We enjoyed our stay at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton

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