We all need to eat sometime, and whether you're up with the sparrows or crawling out of bed at noon it's important to eat right (though if it's too much of the latter, try Edinburgh's best lunch spots). The following is a list of the best places in Edinburgh to get your action-packed day off to a good start – or to nurse your hangover after an action-packed night (those Edinburgh whisky bars can be a tad tempting, after all).
Edinburgh breakfast and brunch venues
The King’s Wark has carved out a solid reputation for solid cooking using ingredients sourced from Scotland’s local larder. On weekends, it’s packed out with a merry mix of patrons, including families, couples, students and young professionals indulging in the Wark’s bevy of brunch choices (such as the gargantuan Bigger Breakfast fry-up, or the spinach crêpe with brie).
If you hadn’t guessed by the ruddy great Eiffel Tower adorning the wall of the café space, there’s a French influence at large here – though the flaky brekkie croissants and pains au chocolat are as popular as the traditional breakfast fry-up or black pudding butty. All day ‘snacks’ range from the likes of croque monsieur to grilled paninis and salad.
This sweet-toothed sit-in café on the Shore lends itself well to long breakfasts and informal parent-toddler clubs (worth bearing in mind if you’re feeling tender and heading there to get rid of a hangover). Besides the variety of sweet things on offer, their savoury options are equally impressive, with a giant vegetarian breakfast of leek and cheese sausages with eggs, tomatoes and all the trimmings, thick slabs of French toast with bacon and maple syrup, or soft baguettes with black pudding, sausages or bacon.
If there’s one thing the well-to-do area of Stockbridge isn’t short of, it’s decent spots for a sup and a nosh. Opened in 2012, The Pantry has found its place among the pack. At the weekend, it's regularly packed out with folks sampling the brunch menu, which include treats such as wild east Lothian mushrooms, pancetta and poached egg on toast and a breakfast burrito.
If Falko's tantalising sweet cakes and pastries don’t strike you as a suitable breakfast option, you can choose from a few set breakfast and brunch menus for around £11.50, which include a bowl of bircher muesli (sweetened with apple juice), then salmon and eggs, ham and eggs, or a meat and cheese platter with pretzels (baked in-house, as if you needed to ask), plus coffee and orange juice. Get there early though; they don’t take bookings and the place fills up fast at weekends.
Urban Angel’s smoothies mix up mango and coconut water with nutrient-loaded things like spinach, spirulina and kale for just under a fiver (there’s a raw chocolate version too, made with almond milk, cacao, banana and vanilla). There's also coffee roasted by London’s Alchemy, and loose-leaf tea (including breakfast/builder’s, decaf, white peony, chai and peppermint varieties) from the nearby Eteaket tea room.
The smell of fresh coffee and cardamom buns hits as soon as you walk in. Tiny savoury rolls sit in tempting jars and trays, alongside sweet tartlets, open sandwiches, flaky pastries, flavourful muffins and dark Swedish rye. This is a popular drop-in for breakfast en route to work, or a more relaxed read of the paper in airy, relaxed surrounds.
Anna and Mike Christopherson are a Swedish couple running five great bars across the city, most being adaptations of old pub premises. Hemma however is in a big, contemporary building near Holyrood Park but attempts their same signature concept of homeliness and hip in the space. It's also the most restaurant-like of the Christopherson venues with an all-day brunch menu, daily from 11am, that includes French toast or scrambled eggs served various ways, also full fried breakfasts in meaty and vegetarian versions.
This bar-café may look like a pub – because it once was – but it had a serious facelift for its 2007 launch and has menus that would put many Edinburgh restaurants to shame. As you sit among the old wooden fixtures and fittings, enhanced with the odd ornamental eccentricity, you can browse the all-day brunch selection, daily from 10am, including choices like poached eggs on toast with wild mushrooms fried in butter and rosemary; decent porridge; eggs benedict in various versions; big fried breakfasts.
Essentially this is a seafood restaurant sitting by the Water of Leith, near the old docks entrance. The décor involves lots of wood and a maritime theme but if you catch it between 9am and 11am the Ship has a daily breakfast menu with a certain touch of class. If you fancy whisky-smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, Stornoway black pudding with herb rosti and a poached egg, or a glass of champagne to start the day, this is the venue for you.
Spoon may not be the most obvious choice for breakfast – it's a first floor café- restaurant with very little street front presence. It does however offer a short and good quality breakfast menu from 10am Monday to Saturday, from noon on Sunday. In its spacious, open-plan premises, with retro furniture and fittings, you might choose a croissant, fruit salad with toasted almonds, eggs benedict, a very good breakfast roll with bacon, black pudding, fried egg or sausage – or go for the full grill available in carnivore and vegetarian versions.