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A dish at Edinburgh restaurant Fhior
Photograph: Fhior

The 30 best restaurants in Edinburgh you need to try

Looking to eat your way around the capital? Here’s our round-up of the absolute best restaurants in Edinburgh

Written by
Dayna McAlpine
,
Jo Laidlaw
&
Arusa Qureshi
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The talent within Edinburgh’s food and drink scene means that the city is regularly treated to fantastic new openings. But even at the established favourites, you can expect the finest and freshest local produce, exciting international flavours, and original creations from the best chefs around.

Edinburgh might be known for its history, culture and natural beauty but it is also home to many outstanding restaurants, serving everything from top-quality meat and shellfish from across Scotland to inventive plant-based menus that offer twists on the traditional. If you’re looking to experience the city's dining scene, here’s our pick of the top restaurants in Edinburgh – all well worth your attention if you’re on a trip up here.

RECOMMENDED: The best Airbnbs in Edinburgh

Best restaurants in Edinburgh

  • Restaurants

What is it? A neo-bistro with an intense focus on seasonal ingredients. 

Why go? Chef Stuart Ralston and front of house supremo Krystal Goff opened Aizle 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. The team have now moved into the Garden Room at The Kimpton Charlotte Square. But their tried and tested concept remains the same, with a board detailing the latest ingredients Ralston will use to rustle up your six-course blowout.

Time Out tip: On the wall there is a board of the latest ingredients that will make up your meal for the evening; you tell the waiting staff which you would prefer to avoid, if any.

What is it? A Scandi-style restaurant offering up creative modern cooking. 

Why go? 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 or ten-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.

Time Out tip: Fancy splurging out? Add a drinks pairing to your meal for £60 for seven courses or £85 for ten.

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What is it? A dinky restaurant serving some of the most inventive cooking Edinburgh has to offer.

Why go? 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 slick modern bistro serving locally sourced, seasonal and unprocessed produce. 

Time Out tip: If you can squeeze into one of their regular events like the seafood supper club, don’t hesitate. 

  • Restaurants

What is it? Elaborate dishes in an artistic setting.

Why go? 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.

Time Out tip: It’s always worth asking the waiter to elaborate on the minimal menu descriptions, as the combinations are often more intriguing than at first glance. 

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What is it? A neighbourhood bistro serving up local, seasonal dishes. 

Why go? Named for the owners’ passion for sailing, The Little Chartroom is a much talked-about addition to Edinburgh's dining scene and one that actually lives up to the hype. Dishes are modern but pay homage to traditional Scottish flavours and cooking. The Little Chartroom's new premises are at 14 Bonnington Road (formerly Martin Wishart’s cook school).

Time Out tip: The team have recently opened Eleanore in the space formerly occupied by the original venue on Leith Walk. It's a restaurant and wine bar with a menu that is sophisticated, fresh and delightfully simple. 

Café St Honoré
  • Restaurants
  • French

What is it? An enduring bistro that hasn’t lost its charm and a rigid observer of the SlowFood movement. 

Why go? 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.

Time Out tip: Counting the pennies? Try the reasonably pitched Café Classics menu (three courses of their favourite dishes for £27.50). 

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  • Restaurants

What is it? A welcoming bistro that serves up French cuisine crafted from Scottish produce. 

Why go? 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.

 

What is it? A wee neighbourhood bistro slightly off the tourist track, but well worth seeking out.

Why go? 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.

 

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21212
  • Restaurants

What is it? Michelin-starred fine dining. 

Why go? 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 two starters, soup, a choice of two mains, a cheese course and two dessert options.

  • Restaurants

What is it? Ten seats, one table and an incredible dining experience. 

Why go? 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.

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  • Restaurants

What is it? A cottage restaurant boasting quaint decor and an atmosphere of energetic bonhomie. 

Why go? 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.
Time Out tip: On the top of Calton Hill, you'll find The Lookout by Gardener's Cottage, which takes in some of the best views of the city.

What is it? A flashy, see-and-be-seen restaurant spotlighting the flavours of the Levant.

Why go? 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.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian

What is it? An authentic Southern Italian restaurant offering seafood, pasta and pizza

Why go? 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.

What is it? A Leith restaurant with a seasonal, ingredient-led menu.

Why go? This modern bistro, which has chef Darren Murray at the helm, places a focus on sustainable and environmentally responsible food. This, coupled with Borough’s chilled-out atmosphere and expertly sourced local produce, makes the four-course set menu all the more special. Expect dishes like cured Borders lamb and roast North Sea hake, plus a fantastic selection of wines.

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  • Restaurants
  • Indian

What is it? A Scottish outpost of the swish Bombay brasseries decked out in the style of the old post-colonial 'Irani cafés' 

Why go? 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.

 

What is it? A bistro where global flavours are front and centre. 

Why go? Part of a mini-chain of three bistros, the Educated Flea is a pocket-sized haven in busy Broughton Street. 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. 

Time Out tip: Space is limited, so book, but sister restaurants Apiary and Three Birds are also brilliant if space is tight.

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What is it? A small restaurant specialising in giant sandwiches.

Why go? You might be thinking, what’s so special about a sandwich shop? But the way Natasha Ferguson and Matt Belcher do sandwiches takes comfort food to another level. The pair constantly experiment with flavours to pack into their ‘big, hot’ focaccia sandwiches, with their ever-changing menu including options like fried chicken caesar kiev, panko prawns and spiced cauliflower. 

Time Out tip: The team also host so-called ‘sandwich parties’, if you're looking for a very different kind of celebratory feast. 

  • Restaurants

What is it? Modish restaurant making use of local, seasonal produce and foraged ingredients. 

Why go? 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 Bunnahabhain whisky butterscotch.

Time Out tip: Wedgwood has launched a new initiative bringing chefs to your garden or an outside space of your choosing to cook up a memorable meal for your party.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés

What is it? Indian cuisine in tapas sizes makes this a handy spot for groups.

Why go? 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.

 

What is it? The second restaurant from Aizle’s Stuart Ralston is a New York-inspired affair.

Why go? For a taste of NY in Edinburgh’s New Town, Noto is the place to go. But don’t expect standard American diner-style food. Instead, Noto focuses on Asian cuisine with an American flavour that’s served up on sharing plates in a minimalist setting. The menu features dishes like cured trout with radish, wasabi and apple ponzu and aubergine tonkatsu with kimchi and pickled ginger.

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  • Restaurants

What is it? This locals’ favourite delivers well-priced lunches and a casual vibe. 

Why go? 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. 

Time Out tip: Bag the table with a view of the castle if available

  • Bars and pubs

What is it? Top-notch cuisine draws a well-heeled crowd to this gastro pub.  

Why go? 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.

 

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What is it? Moreish pakora and Punjabi street food. 

Why go? The Pakora Bar are all about serving beautifully flavoured Punjabi street food, including an array of quality curries and spicy pakora. Their new location in the Canongate is bright and cheerful, offering up traditional treats with a Scottish twist, all with a street food vibe that’s both fun and laid-back.

Dusit
  • Restaurants

What is it? Scottish produce meets Asian flavours at this innovative Thai restaurant. 

Why go? 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.

Time Out tip: Dusit’s real treats are best found by ordering more adventurously. 

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  • Restaurants
  • price 1 of 4

What is it? Innovative vegetarian cuisine.

Why go? When the much-loved Hendersons on Hanover Street closed in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, it felt like the end of an area for vegetarian dining in the city. But the UK's longest running vegetarian restaurant wasn't down for long as the founder's grandson Barrie took over, reopening the restaurant in a new location, bringing back many of the old staff in the process. The new Hendersons on Barclay Place is undeniably a hit with original dishes that use locally sourced whole food and organic ingredients, plus new and exciting additions to the menu.

The Palmerston
Photograph: The Palmerston

26. The Palmerston

What is it? A neighbourhood restaurant housed in a former bank building.

Why go? The Palmerston's founders James Snowdon and Lloyd Morse place an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, choosing to use nearby suppliers, farmers and growers for their menus. This means their dishes change with the seasons, but are always made with great attention to the best produce available. Aside from excellent dining options, there's an in-house bakery and coffee shop which serves freshly baked bread and pastries from 9am, Tuesday to Sunday.

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  • Restaurants
  • Mexican

What is it? A small street food joint serving appetising takes on old Mexican staples.

Why go? 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. 

Time Out tip: Frozen margaritas are available by the jug, as well as decent mezcals for sipping, rather than slamming.

What is it? Classic Scottish seafood with a modern twist.

Why go? This new spot from MasterChef: The Professionals 2018 finalist Dean Banks is pure heaven for anyone after high quality seafood dishes that are elevated with extraordinary flavours and fresh ingredients. Located in the former premises of L'Escargot Blanc, Dulse offers everything you'd expect, from scallops and octopus to lobster and oysters, but with added Mediterranean influences. Grab a drink in the relaxed cocktail and wine bar downstairs, then head up to the main restaurant when you're ready for your banquet. 

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What is it? Casual dining with an award-winning menu.

Why go? Nestled in the Waldorf Astoria on Princes Street, Grazing by Edinburgh-based chef and restaurateur Mark Greenaway takes bistro-style food to new heights. Every dish is made from high-quality local ingredients that all get their opportunity to shine.

  • Restaurants
  • Indian

What is it? A no-frills restaurant focusing on the cuisine of South India.

Why go? 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.

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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