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The 11 best cheap eats in Edinburgh

You don’t need to splash out to enjoy fine food in this city. Here’s our guide to the best cheap eats in Edinburgh

Oink hog roast
Photograph: Oink The hog roast at Oink
By Huw Oliver |
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Looking for a slap-up meal but don’t want to splash the £££? Worry not, for there are plenty of excellent restaurants that’ll please both your palate and wallet in Edinburgh, where Indian, Thai, Sudanese, Italian, Chinese and, of course, Scottish plates are all available for a tenner or less. So banish those money worries and dig into our pick of the very best cheap restaurants in Edinburgh – pretty much all culinary sensibilities are catered to here, with no risk of breaking the bank.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Edinburgh

Best cheap eats in Edinburgh

1
Nile Valley, Restaurants, Cheap, Edinburgh
© Stephen Robinson
Restaurants

Nile Valley Café

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.

2
Oink, Restaurants, Cheap, Edinburgh
Restaurants

Oink Grassmarket

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.

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3
Origano, Restaurants, Edinburgh
© Stephen Robinson
Restaurants

Origano

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).

4
Ting Thai Caravan
STEPHEN ROBINSON
Restaurants

Ting Thai Caravan

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.

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5
Red Box, Edinburgh
STEPHEN ROBINSON
Restaurants

Red Box

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.

6
First Coast, restaurant, European
Restaurants, Scottish

First Coast

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. 

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7
Mosque Kitchen, Edinburgh
Restaurants

The Mosque Kitchen

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.

8
Kebab Mahal, Edinburgh
STEPHEN ROBINSON
Restaurants

Kebab Mahal

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.

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9
Hanedan, Edinburgh
STEPHEN ROBINSON
Restaurants

Hanedan

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.

10
Los Cardos, Edinburgh
STEPHEN ROBINSON
Restaurants

Los Cardos

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.

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11
Kampung Ali, Cheap, Restaurants, Edinburgh
© Stephen Robinson
Restaurants, Malaysian

Kampung Ali

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.

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