Best cheap eats in Edinburgh
Next door to a mosque, and in the heart of studentland, Nile Valley has been churning out cheap and filling food for nearly two decades. It serves tasty Sudanese and Middle Eastern cuisine, and keeps the prices down – expect falafel and baba ghanoush wraps, rich tagines, spicy Egyptian lamb molokhia, chicken wings, tabbouleh and fish curry.
Oink – about halfway down Victoria Street, with another branch near the foot of the Royal Mile – is a tiny shop serving hog roasts, and you’ll probably smell it before you see it. It sells fluffy morning rolls stuffed with moreish roast pork, crackling and a choice of sage and onion stuffing, apple sauce, chilli relish or haggis. The Piglet (£2.95) suits a smaller stomach, the Oink is somewhere in the middle (£3.95) and the Grunter (£4.95) is best for bigger appetites. A soup of the day and hot and cold drinks are also served.
From 5pm (and 12.30pm on Saturdays and Sundays) Origano serves up excellent, well-priced antipasti, pasta and pizza. The pizza dough is made in-house and is probably the main pull here; pizzas are crispily thin, topped with gorgeous cuts of prosciutto, spicy sausage and salty olives, and available in three sizes (starting from £6.95).
Highlights of the Ting Thai menu (and there are many) include succulent marinated chicken dish gai cha plu and the nam tok nua, a fresh, spicy take on the traditional Thai beef salad. Although it’s the same menu throughout the day, prices and portions go up slightly at night, so expect to pay anything from £4 to £9 as the day progresses.
This noodle bar invites you to tailor your order based on a selection of ho fun, ramen, udon, egg or rice noodles, then add duck, vegetables, tofu, pork, chicken or beef. Throw in three bits of colour and roughage, customise things with options of chilli, spring onion or coriander, and finally pick from one of ten sauces. One of these paper Chinese takeaway boxes filled to the brim will set you back an overdraft-friendly £5.60.
Modern décor and a decent buzz make this friendly bistro an obvious pit-stop for local professionals and hungry neighbours, keen to explore the excellent à la carte and very reasonable ‘lunch and early evening’ set menus. Fish features heavily, but by no means dominates – there are some fantastic meat options too, plus some surprisingly original vegetarian offerings.
A full belly, and change from a fiver. That’s the main draw of The Mosque Kitchen – a no-frills, queue-up-with-a-tray canteen-style set-up, with plastic cutlery and plastic plates. The owners aren’t angling for anything more ambitious than filling up their customers with cheap and tasty Indian food – and the curry is good, so, as mission statements go, they deliver.
With its turquoise frontage and neon sign glowing with the words ‘Halal, Indo-Pak, East Indian and Kebabs’ in the window, Kebab Mahal’s been a student favourite for decades thanks to its low prices and filling platefuls. Most of the main courses (mainly lamb and chicken dishes, with one or two fish and a good range of vegetarian options) come in at around a fiver – rice and naan bread cost extra – and are best enjoyed with a glass of mango lassi.
This tiny, excellent Turkish restaurant in the Southside has built up a solid reputation over the past decade. The cold and hot mezze are a good place to start, with Turkish cannellini beans and red onion (piyaz), hummus, spicy garlic sausage, melon and feta, or hot squid and walnut salad sitting alongside the odd Scottish finger food, including Orkney herrings.
Edinburgh’s premier takeaway burrito hut, Los Cardos serves very, very good, densely packed bundles of black beans, guacamole and spicy chicken and beef to take out. The classics are all there – tacos, quesadillas, burritos and fajitas start at around £5, as well as a few new creations, including a haggis and steak taco, or a tortilla-less bean bowl with no rice for those trying to dodge carbs.
The curry laksa soup here is filed under a menu section titled ‘Big Bowl’ – and they’re not messing around. For £6.30, steaming troughs of slippery noodles, prawns, chicken pieces, tofu, bean sprouts and crab sticks come in bottomless quantities. Not to be confused with its equally delightful sister restaurant Kampung Ah Lee on Clerk Street.
And here’s where to find that cheap pint...
Think Edinburgh, think cheap whisky and pints of Tennent’s? Time to reassess – there’s so much more to the city’s pub scene than just the stereotypes. With quality beer flowing from the taps and smart bartenders pouring endless drams of single malts, this city can very much do classy...