Lunch spots in Edinburgh
An affordable restaurant in a handy New Town location, where the menu focuses on traditional cooking from around the British Isles, filtered through a contemporary sensibility. You could gather as much from the décor: essentially simple, featuring white walls and wooden furniture, but with additional neo-baroque touches.
It’s small, it feels cramped when busy, there’s a no-bookings policy and a limited menu. That said, the freshness and flavour of the tacos and other dishes here make El Cartel far and away the best Mexican in the city. The menu is simple: seven or eight varieties of taco (you get two per order) and a similar number of antojitos (‘little cravings’ or street snacks).
Handy for Haymarket Station, and all of five minutes’ walk from the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Milk appeared in 2010. It’s a very small café with simple, raised-bench seating and tables, and white-tiled walls. Since launch however, the business has picked up catering franchises at locations across the city. Clearly, Milk is doing something right and that something is the food.
David Bann is Scotland’s leading vegetarian restaurant and has been a successful part of the Edinburgh scene since 2002. Handily placed in the Old Town just a few seconds off the Royal Mile – and avoiding the hippy wholefood look with a modern, straight-lined interior – the cooking is reliably creative but doesn’t carry the soporific after-effects that you might suffer following an encounter with a heavy curry, pasta or meat dish in the middle of the day.
In basement New Town premises, Leo’s is a neighbourhood café in one of Edinburgh’s more illustrious neighbourhoods. With its fresh look, the venue is great for breakfast or snacks and does excellent coffee, but the lunch menu extends to seriously accomplished burgers, pâté, quiche, salads, sandwiches plus a daily special like pork and plum stew, all cooked to order.
Essentially a bakery with a few tables for eating in, the standard here is very high indeed. The patisserie, like glazed fruit tart or lemon polenta cake, is downright fabulous while the Manna House also offers coffee and tea, great sandwiches, and excellent savouries and salads.