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A dish at Fhior in Edinburgh
Photograph: Fhior

The 30 best restaurants in Edinburgh

From casual cheap eats to blow-the-budget feasts, here’s our round-up of the absolute best restaurants in Edinburgh

By Jo Laidlaw and Dayna McAlpine
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Culture, history, architecture and hills – Edinburgh has it all. Chefs flock here to pay homage to Scotland’s world-class larder and that means you can definitely expect to taste some brilliant local produce while in town. Beautiful shellfish from crystal-clear waters, fairly reared meat and gorgeous bread are all very much present and correct.  

Trend-wise, small plates are still hot, pizza is having something of a moment, and the much-heralded burger craze is on the way out – look for dogs, wings and ’babs for a casual cheap eat. Plant-based food takes a starring role, too, so whether you’re veggie, vegan or just plain flexi, you’ll easily find creative meat-free cooking here.

Like any city, Edinburgh has her share of chain restaurants, but with our handy list it’s easy to support local (don’t say we’re not good to you). So if you fancy planning your itinerary solely around where you want to eat, crack on. We won’t judge.  

Eaten somewhere on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutEatList. You can find out more about how Time Out makes recommendations and reviews restaurants here.

Best restaurants in Edinburgh

STEPHEN ROBINSON

1. Aizle

Restaurants

Chef Stuart Ralston and front of house supremo Krystal Goff opened here in 2014 pursuing the concept of ‘bistronomy’: fresh local food and informal surroundings, but with the kind of tasting menu you’d expect in a much swankier environment. This place has a fresh, bright bistro look with a board detailing the latest ingredients Ralston will use to rustle up your five-course blowout.

Price: High-end 

A dish at Edinburgh restaurant Fhior
Photograph: Fhior

2. Fhior

Scott Smith’s latest Edinburgh venture Fhior – that’s Gaelic for ‘true’ or ‘honest’ – certainly lives up to its name. Their ambitious use of foraged ingredients and local produce is one that pays off across every dish on their seven-course menu. You won’t know what you’re getting until you’re served, but trust us, everything here is exquisite. And there’s even something to take home: yes, a menu, handed to you in a mysterious envelope at the end.

Price: Mid-range/high-end

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Aurora
Photograph: Margherita Turrin

3. Aurora

This isn’t the fashionable part of Leith, not by a long chalk – but keep going because Aurora is well worth it. It started life as a brunch-focused café, and has turned into a dinky restaurant serving some of the most inventive cooking Edinburgh has to offer. If you can squeeze into one of their regular events like the seafood supper club, don’t hesitate, but you won’t be short-changed by a simple lunch visit either.

Price: Mid-range/Bargain 

4. Timberyard

Restaurants

Timberyard nails so many of the requirements for an excellent meal out: expect unusual ingredients and exciting combinations that run from drinks to dessert, plus a hipster vibe. It’s a family-run business, and owner-operators the Radfords – along with their extended team of local growers, breeders, producers and foragers – have you in very safe hands.

Price: Mid-range 

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A main course of salmon at the Little Chartroom
Photograph: Isabel McCabe

5. The Little Chartroom

Tucked down the tiny Leith Walk, this is a rare addition to one of Edinburgh’s most famous streets. Named for the owners’ passion for sailing, The Little Chartroom is that rare thing – a much talked-about new opening that actually lives up to the hype. Dishes are modern but pay homage to traditional Scottish flavours and cooking. With only 18 covers, booking is essential.

Price: Mid-range/high-end 

6. Café St Honoré

Restaurants French

Café St Honoré has been around for donkeys, but still, quite rightly, comes up in conversation as one of the nicest spots for a smart bistro meal in the centre of Edinburgh. The French angle got sidelined long ago in favour of locally sourced Scottish produce, cooked expertly, and dogged adherence to Slow Food principles.

Price: Mid-range/high-end

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L'escargot Bleu, Restaurants, Edinburgh
© Albie Clark

7. L’Escargot Bleu

Restaurants

Since opening in a former clockmaker’s in 2008, L’Escargot Bleu has slotted in nicely among trendy coffee shops, independent booksellers and award-winning butchers. Floor-to-ceiling windows and cosy tables at the front of the restaurant create ample occasion for an intimate tête-à-tête, while the bustle of the open kitchen to the rear adds further to the bohemian Frenchness.

Price: Mid-range/high-end

Hake and prawn escobado at 83 Hanover Street in Edinburgh
Photograph: SJS Photography

8. 83 Hanover Street

The first dining project from Gleneagles heavyweight Juan Castillo Castro sees him blend Scottish produce with flavours from his native Chile. With many dishes based on his own mother’s recipes, the menu revolves around small bites and bigger helpings designed for sharing. Settle in for a long evening with friends in the cosy basement restaurant or fly by solo for a few quick lunch plates at the bar.

Price: Bargain 

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LeftField
Photograph: LeftField

9. LeftField

This wee neighbourhood bistro is slightly off the tourist track, but it’s well worth seeking out. Carved from the ground floor of a traditional tenement, picture windows and bench seating offer views over Bruntsfield Links where locals gather to play a spot of golf on sunny summer evenings. A short, regularly changing menu offers a handful of choices per course – all well thought-out, and featuring local ingredients and creative combinations. Super-friendly service, too.

Price: Mid-range

Ting Thai Caravan
STEPHEN ROBINSON

10. Ting Thai Caravan

Restaurants

Few things are more pleasing than seeing a great little pop-up get the recognition it deserves, and so it is with Ting Thai Caravan. Once serving just four great Thai dishes, it now boasts a hearty street food menu packed with inventive flavour combinations.

Price: Bargain 

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11. 21212

Restaurants

Paul Kitching’s 21212 – opened 2009, Michelin star by 2010 – is tucked away on Royal Terrace, a distinguished, cobbled boulevard of 19th-century townhouses on the side of Calton Hill. The cooking is among Scotland’s best. Dinner is structured around a choice of three starters, soup, a choice of three mains, a cheese course and three dessert options.

Price: High-end 

12. The Table

Restaurants

Launched in 2015, this restaurant has one table – a breakfast bar affair immediately adjacent to the open-plan kitchen – and caters to a maximum of 10 diners in a single evening sitting. The environment is swish and you interact with the chefs as they cook – it’s hard to know where the fine dining ends and the performance art begins.

Price: High-end 

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The Gardener's Cottage, Edinburgh
Photograph: Gardener’s Cottage

13. The Gardener’s Cottage

Restaurants

Since The Gardener’s Cottage opened in 2012, chef and co-owner duo Ed Murray and Dale Mailley have earned themselves some serious culinary kudos. Their ethos is simple: create a great sense of place, with seasonal food that connects diner, producer and landscape.

Price: Mid-range 

14. Baba

This flashy, see-and-be-seen restaurant spotlights the flavours of the Levant. There’s plenty of booth seating, and the small-plates style is ideal for groups who want to share. If you’re going solo, plan ahead, because you’re going to want to eat your way around as much of the gutsy, flavour-packed menu as possible. Cooking is precise, flavours bold, and the whole thing very Insta-friendly.

Price: Mid-range

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Locana Di Gusti
© facebook.com/locandadg

15. Locanda De Gusti

Restaurants Italian

Locanda De Gusti launched on the other side of Edinburgh some years ago, moved to up-and-coming Dalry Road in 2014 – less than five minutes’ walk from Haymarket Station – and now enjoys an enviable reputation for its food and service. Chef Rosario Sartore is from Naples, so the cooking has a pronounced southern Italian style, with lots of excellent seafood, while the décor puts diners in mind of a bright, polite farmhouse kitchen.

Price: Mid-range 

16. Dishoom

Restaurants Indian

Dishoom has been a contemporary London success story since the original launched in 2010 near Covent Garden. As with that flagship venture, the Edinburgh outpost draws heavily on south Asia’s Irani cafés and recalls those opened by Iranian immigrants in Mumbai way back when.

Price: Bargain/mid-range 

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Wee Restaurant
Photograph: Wee Restaurant

17. The Wee Restaurant

There’s nothing very wee about this place, which punches well above its weight (the name comes from their original tiny restaurant over the water in North Queensferry). Gorgeous leather seats and fairy lights abound, the service is delightful, and the menu brims with well-done bistro food that packs flavour into every mouthful. Fish dishes are a particular highlight, and the tarte tatin is always worth the 15-minute wait.

Price: Mid-range

18. Educated Flea

Part of a mini-chain of three bistros, the Educated Flea is a pocket-sized haven in busy Broughton Street. Global flavours are front and centre, so expect unusual combinations as well as larger sharing plates featuring local beef and seafood. The daytime menu runs into pre-theatre and is a real bargain. Space is limited, so book, but sister restaurants Apiary and Three Birds are also brilliant if space is tight.

Price: Mid-range

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19. Wedgwood

Restaurants

There’s a warm, relaxed atmosphere here, from the contemporary décor to the modern Scottish menu. The dinner menu is rich in choice, with signature dishes like lobster thermidor crème brûlée among the standouts. For dessert, it has to be the sticky toffee pudding with Caol Ila whisky butterscotch.

Price: Mid-range/high-end

Mother India Cafe
STEPHEN ROBINSON

20. Mother India’s Cafe

Restaurants Cafés

Mother India began as a café in Glasgow in the ’90s, and this Edinburgh outpost popped up in 2008, serving Indian food in tapas-size portions. There are 50 dishes on offer, some putting a fresh twist on Indian restaurant staples – the chicken tikka, for instance, comes in two variations, with nuts or with peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes.

Price: Mid-range

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21. East Pizzas

Pizza is big news in Edinburgh and these days you’re never far from a decent slice. East is one of the best, thanks to their sourdough crust and focus on high-quality Scottish ingredients: mozzarella comes from Dumfries, cured meats from the excellent East Coast Cured and soft drinks are made by Bon Accord just up the road. This elevates their pies far beyond a simple pit stop, though they do takeaway, too, and service is speedy.

Price: Bargain

22. The Honours

Restaurants

This is a smart option that’s mercifully free of the stiff airs you’d normally expect at such an address. It’s brasserie food with the stops pulled out, and is especially famous for its steaks. Desserts are also a highlight.

Price: High-end

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The Outsider, Restaurants, Edinburgh
Photograph: The Outsider

23. The Outsider

Restaurants

After almost 20 years in business, this bustling bistro is still packing them in. Maybe it’s the hand-written menus, or the witty and carefully selected wine list. The outrageously well-priced lunch menu must play its part – it’s possible to dine well in the afternoon and have change from a tenner. The food covers modern bistro classics, service is swift and usually cheerful, and there are a few tables with prized castle views, too.

Price: Mid-range/Bargain 

The Scran & Scallie, Edinbrugh
Marc Millar Photography

24. The Scran & Scallie

Bars and pubs

Set up by not one, but two of Edinburgh’s Michelin-starred chefs, gastro pub The Scran & Scallie was never likely to disappoint. Couple the top-notch cuisine with its Stockbridge location – one of Edinburgh’s most affluent stomping grounds – and you have a sure-fire winner.

Price: Mid-range 

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25. Pakora Bar

Edinburgh is a bit lacking when it comes to late-night food, with greasy takeaways usually the only option. The Pakora Bar aims to change all that, with an array of quality curries and spicy pakora available until 3am at the weekends. It’s much, much more than blotting paper for boozy revellers, though – there’s a busy lunch trade and the whole thing has a street food vibe that’s both fun and laid-back.

Price: Bargain

Field, Edinburgh
unknown

26. Field

Restaurants

Right in the heart of studentsville, in Southside, Field stands apart from the so-so addresses that surround it. Its ethos is simple: take the model of what makes a great Michelin-starred restaurant and strip it right back to its basics, using ethically, locally and seasonally sourced produce.

Price: Bargain 

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27. Dusit

Restaurants

Despite competition from other Thistle Street restaurants, and a growing number of Thai spots in Edinburgh, this compact, stone-walled address remains popular thanks to its quality cooking. Beautifully balanced Thai, Japanese, Chinese, French and Vietnamese flavours are neatly combined with Scottish produce.

Price: Bargain 

Bodega
Christina Kernohan/Bodega

28. Bodega

Restaurants Mexican

Time for a taco? Edinburgh is well served by a handful of modern Mexicans, and this pretty-in-pink taqueria is one of the best. Taking inspiration from global flavours, your taco is just as likely to include avocado tempura as spicy salsa. Frozen margaritas are available by the jug, as well as decent mezcals for sipping, rather than slamming.

Price: Mid-range

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29. Tanjore

Restaurants Indian

There are plenty of generic curry houses around but those in the know seek out wee places like Tanjore, a no-frills restaurant focusing on the cuisine of South India. With an array of vegan and veggie options, the BYOB policy makes it popular with parties but the dosas are the main draw. Light, crispy and huge, they come filled with a delicious range of curries and chutneys. Cash only.

Price: Bargain

The Pitt
Photograph: Alix McIntosh

30. The Pitt

Street food struggles here. Blame the weather. Or the developers. But Edinburgh’s pioneering street food market has soldiered on for five years, showcasing some of the best vendors Scotland has to offer. There’s even a roof now, so no need to let bad weather hold you back. There’s not much to do around the immediate area, but you can easily make a day of it at The Pitt, or wander down to the nearby Shore for drinks. Weekend only.

Price: Bargain

And if it’s tip-top mixology you’re after?

The 11 best bars in Edinburgh

Bars and pubs

Smiley Edinburgh must be about as friendly and welcoming as cities get. And we’d surmise that’s in no small part thanks to the city’s wealth of pubs and bars – here’s our pick of the very best.

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