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Edinburgh Eat List
Photograph: Margherita Turrin/Aurora

The 30 best restaurants in Edinburgh you need to try

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

Written by
Jo Laidlaw
Dayna McAlpine
Arusa Qureshi

Edinburgh is a city of multitudes, with culture, history and rugged landscapes all wrapped up in one. But it’s also world-famous for its many outstanding restaurants, which use both the finest and freshest local produce as well as international ingredients and flavours. Expect top-quality meat and shellfish from across Scotland, but also inventive plant-based menus that offer twists on the traditional.

Of course, as with any major tourist-friendly city, Edinburgh has plenty of chains. But with so many fabulous independent restaurants featuring creations by the very best chefs around, why not try something different? Here’s our pick of the best restaurants in Edinburgh – all well worth your attention if you’re on a trip up here.

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

  • 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.


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. 


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

Why go? 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.

Time Out tip: Take a trip to Portobello to visit The Little Chartroom on the Prom. The restaurant's pop-up is now permanent, serving an always popular weekly changing takeaway menu. 

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). 

  • 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.


  • Restaurants

What is it? An innovative menu of cheap and hearty Thai street food.

Why go? 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.

Time Out tip: If Ting Thai Caravan is full (highly likely considering its popularity), pop down the road to sister restaurant Saboteur, which serves delicious Vietnamese street food.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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.

  • 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? Scottish sourdough pizza. 

Why go? 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. 

Time Out tip: Takeaway is available too, and service is speedy.

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.

  • 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.



What is it? Moreish pakora and Punjabi street food. 

Why go? 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.


  • 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. 

  • 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? 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.

What is it? Edinburgh’s pioneering street food market. 

Why go? Street food struggles here. Blame the weather. Or the developers. But this Edinburgh 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.

Time Out tip: Entry is £2, or get in for free for a whole year by becoming a Pitt Pal. 

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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