Since having kids, you may have discovered that eating out ain't what it used to be. But you can still do lunch or dinner in style with these great, family-friendly eats in the capital. And not a chain restaurant in sight!
The Scran & Scallie
1 Comely Bank Road, EH4 1DT
Marc Millar Photography
If you want to get your little ones off to a flying foodie start, there’s no better place to take them than Stockbridge’s The Scran & Scallie. This ‘public house and dining’ offering from Michelin-starred chefs Tom Kitchin (The Kitchin) and Dominic Jack (Castle Terrace) is sure to get their tiny palates on the road to sophistication. Ravenous tots can enjoy something from the special kids' menu of pub classics while mums and dads can treat themselves to gastro delights like roe deer terrine, roasted hake and artichoke barigoule or Highland bavette steak and corned beef hash. ‘Brave wee scallies’ can even have what you’re having, as half portions of the tasty mains are on offer too. Let’s face it, whatever you go for that dash of Michelin flavour is probably going to make it some of the best scran you and the troop have ever had. You can also all relax in its cozy and stylish, home from home setting - and don’t forget to take full advantage of the playroom complete with toys at the back.
325-331 Leith Walk, EH6 8SA
Hands up for pizza! When it comes to kids and eating out, you can’t go wrong with proper Italian nosh. This Edinburgh institution serves up the best pizza in the city (arguably the country) - really, once you’ve tasted one of its log-fired delights, you’ll understand what the fuss is about. You can order pizzas to share amongst the gang or there’s a special menu for little eaters with mini portions of pizza, pasta and other dishes. Aside from its huge range of pizza offerings, it has a full menu of options such as pastas, risottos, fish and steak dishes. Its arancini starter is also a must. Make sure you make the most of it for a birthday treat too – kids will revel in the whole restaurant singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to them in true Italiano style.
73 Holyrood Road, EH8 8AU
Part of the Scandi-bars clan that includes Bar Boda, Sofi's, Joseph Pearce's and Victoria, Hemma (Swedish for ‘at home’) prides itself on being a ‘family-friendly haven’ during the day. This, and the fact it’s a bright, spacious venue, has made it a hot destination for quality family time. And as it’s kid-friendly, weekend brunches are the perfect excuse to go and eat. Scandinavian inspired dishes like smorgasboard platters, Swedish meatballs, cheesy hasselback potatoes or its legendary open sandwiches will go down a storm with your crew. It’s also got a chilled vibe going on with loads of comfy chairs, a bar on both levels, table football and even a kids' zone complete with toys. So, while the juniors keep themselves amused you can sit back, relax and just make yourself ‘hemma’.
254 Portobello High Street, EH15 2AT
If you fancy a trip to the city’s seaside, then why not make a day of it and stop off for a bite to eat at this café-bistro (near)by the sea? With its soft play area for the little ones and an indoor climbing frame for tots, it’s all about families here. A spacious entrance and buggy park make it accessible too. While the kids play away, you can take time out to eat or enjoy a much-needed coffee. Or if you’d rather join in the fun, you can make the most of its retro video games machine. Overall, the food is fairly standard but there’s something to suit all appetites. A kids' menu serves up dishes like mac and cheese, spag bol and burgers with ‘hand-cut, skin-on chips’. It even has Cullen skink homemade baby food. Grown-ups can munch on everything from jacket potatoes and sandwiches to haggis, neeps and tatties, and steak. Those with a sweet tooth will be happy too, with a tasty selection of treats and cakes. It's most popular during the day as it closes at 3pm weekdays but it’s open into the evenings at the weekend if you fancy a later visit. Whenever you decide to go, you can be sure of a warm welcome and a happy brood.
Burger Meats Bun
1 Forth Street Edinburgh, EH1 3LX
When it comes to finding food the whole family will love, you can’t go wrong with an awesome burger joint. And we’re not talking your bog-standard fast food chain here - this is the brainchild of partners Ben Dantzic and James Forrest, who honed their skills working in Michelin-starred restaurant the Peat Inn in Fife. Their ethos is to serve up ‘burgers but better’, and they don’t disappoint. You can be sure of a damn good burger here, all in a setting both parents and nippers will love. Kid-sized appetites can devour a dish from its simple menu of burger and chips or chicken nuggets while mum and dad chomp on a range of burgers from ‘Fiery’ beef to ‘Hot Chic’ chicken to its ‘Nae Meat’ specials. Its heavenly (chicken) wings are also a must on the side, and don’t leave without trying the donuts and dipping sauce. Another bonus is its handy location just off Broughton Street – it’s a great, central spot with the Omni Centre just a stone's throw away, making it the perfect stop for a pre- or post-cinema bite.
Porto and Fi
47 Newhaven Main Street, EH6 4NQ
This café-deli-bistro is one of Newhaven’s star attractions. Pitched just across from the harbour it’s in a great spot with a lovely view. It’s also incredibly popular, especially with the locals – making it a busy and bustling place to be. This means it’s uber-family friendly too so feel free to rock up with the pack as you’ll be sure of a warm welcome. Food-wise, they serve up a tasty breakfast menu every day until noon, with the main menu and daily specials thereafter. The eggs benedict go down a storm, while its fish goujons with curly fries (served in a cool silver bucket) will please the grown-ups as well as the youngsters. The sweet cabinet of fresh baking and amazing cakes will likely have you all drooling too - or in a bit of a tizz over what to pick. You’ll be very happy with its famous banoffee pie or honeymoon slice though so don’t miss out. Kids will love the fresh milkshakes, and you can even order an Isle of Arran ice cream to go. The perfect accompaniment to a wee stroll around the harbour, as you walk off lunch and check out the boats.
33-41 Ratcliffe Terrace, EH9 1SX
If you fancy teaching your kids a thing or two about the importance of eating good food, it’s time to go to Earthy. With its ‘neighbourhood hubs’ offering the best organic and seasonal produce, all in a food-market-cum-café setting, it’s a whole new experience. And now with three busy shops and eateries scattered around the city, it’s spreading the Earthy love. The original Causewayside spot offers parking and plenty of outdoor space making it the ideal venue to take the kids. You can introduce them to shopping ‘market style’ for the best locally sourced foods, organic meats and cheeses. They can then run wild in the quirky outdoor space before you all have a bite to eat in its laidback dining area. With a menu of things like amazing salads, brunches and artisan bread offerings you’re all in for a treat. And you’ll dig the cool yet casual setting. They even have regular tastings and producers days if you want to up the educational ante.
248 Morrison Street, EH3 8DT
Now, this is the place to get your kids having fun with food and chopsticks. It’s well-known and loved for its super-tasty boiled or fried dumplings, which the kids (and you) are sure to get excited about. Your little'uns will also learn a thing or two here about proper Chinese food. There’s no kids menu as such but the dumplings come in kid-friendly portions. You can also make the most of small sharing plates to whet your big, and their little appetites. An ‘eat your fill’ banquet is available, giving you the option to sample lots of different dishes. But just how much can you and the gang handle? Overall, it’s great value with quality food in a family-friendly setting. It’s always busy at the weekends so best to book in advance. The friendly service and the special attention the kids receive will also put a smile on your face. Top tip – don’t leave without trying its cucumber salad. Oh, and the fried ice-cream dumplings will probably make the kids' day, week and year.
Chambers Street, EH1 1JF
Combine culture with a spot of lunch at this in-house restaurant at the National Museum. Located in the main hall, it’s the ideal stop for grabbing a bite to eat with the kids, pre or post your day checking out the artefacts. The food isn’t half bad either - hearty meals that make the most of local produce, and are thankfully more posh nosh than stndard museum canteen grub, will certainly satisfy. Try the fish and chips that’s done in (local) Innis & Gunn beer batter, or the Edinburgh haggis and potato rosti. The Cullen skink made with Arbroath Smokies is making a name for itself too. The kiddies' menu is also great value, and the bairns will lap up simple dishes like wraps, burgers or fish and chips. You can even swap the fries for crudités if you’d prefer they had a healthier option. Make sure you all leave room for the ice cream sundae menu though. Old school delights including a Knickerbocker glory and banana split, all made with love by S Luca of Musselburgh’s ice cream, will be the highlight of the visit.
The Water of Leith Café Bistro
1 Howard Street, Canonmills, EH3 5JP
A great café bistro which is now in the heart of the Canonmills area after a recent relocation. Although they've made a move, they still have a faithful clientele that’s growing by the day. One of its high points is that it’s super family-friendly. It’s also a bright, cheery space, which means you and the kids will love hanging out here. The menu serves up a range of fresh, flavoursome, healthy and wholesome dishes, all prepared by the fabulous French chef. And it’s excellent value. Owner Ana is well-known for her big warm welcomes and makes a point of letting everyone know that she loves to ‘spoil’ her customers, so don’t be surprised if she offers to take baby off your hands for a bit while you’re tucking into your food. There’s no kids' menu as such but kid-sized portions are available. The breakfasts are a big hit here, while the Croque Monsieur / Madame is the house sandwich that everyone goes back for again and again. The sweet stuff on offer is pretty special too. There’s even a selection of toys to keep your tiny tots amused. So, whether you’re a local, visitor or tourist you’ll certainly be made to feel wanted and leave feeling satisfied.
See Time Out's guide to Edinburgh's best restaurants.