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The Cafe Royal

  • Bars and pubs
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
The Cafe Royal, Bars, Edinburgh
Photograph: Suzanne R Livingstone

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A pub of two halves, featuring a bar and posher dining area – mostly dedicated to quality fish dishes. Drinks include Scottish ales and a long whisky list.

An ornate drinking palace dating to 1863, the Café Royal Circle Bar is among the city’s most beautiful places to stop for a beer. Despite its longevity the venue has been very well maintained so its stained glass, decorated ceiling and cornicing all look good as new – as do the artworks made of ceramic tiles depicting celebrated inventors and scientists like Caxton, Faraday, Stephenson and Watt.

The building itself is a rather lovely example of Parisian-style architecture but as it’s tucked away in the lanes behind the east end of Princes Street that can be hard to appreciate. There are usually a few cask ales available, a reasonable whisky selection and one of the most elevated bar menus in Edinburgh. You can go upmarket here with a dozen oysters or a seafood platter – alternatively stick to more typical pub grub like haggis, neeps and tatties, or fish and chips.  

Generations of locals and city visitors have come to know and love this establishment – it really is an Edinburgh institution. The bar only forms one part of the premises however; the rest is given over to the equally ornate Café Royal restaurant, with its old-school seafood menu, where dishes like lobster thermidor have been available since forever. 

Written by
Keith Davidson


19 West Register Street
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