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A view over Leith Walk in Edinburgh
Photograph: Shutterstock

7 things not to miss on Leith Walk

A stroll down Leith Walk is an absolute must when in Edinburgh, and these are things not to miss on that famous street

Written by
John Bills
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A wander down Leith Walk is an absolute must when in Edinburgh, but this isn’t your everyday stroll. The main artery connecting the city’s famous Leith neighbourhood to the very centre of the city, the street itself is a conveyer belt of bars, pubs, restaurants and historic buildings that offer a charming picture of the Scottish capital in a nutshell – although by ‘nutshell’ we obviously mean ‘historic thoroughfare’.

People have been sauntering back and forth in these parts since the times of King James II, with plenty of controversy and excitement over the centuries. What does the future hold for Leith Walk? Predicting such things is never wise, but the present looks pretty exciting. Make a beeline for these can’t miss spots and you’ll be in for quite the adventure.

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Things not to miss on Leith Walk

  • Restaurants
  • Global

There has been a succession of typical Leith pubs at this address over the years – some alright, some not so alright – but Leith Depot is another beast entirely. It’s a simple room with wooden flooring and tables, assorted chairs and the bar itself as the dominating feature. There is a snack menu (beer-battered pickles or leek fritters with lemon zest crème fraîche for example), while mains might bring straightforward fish and chips, a steak baguette with many trimmings or a vegan platter.

Woodland Creatures
Photograph: Woodland Creatures/Facebook

Woodland Creatures

Edinburgh has snuck up on everyone to become a seriously good cocktail destination, and Leith offers up its fair share of colourful concoctions. Mixology is just one of the tentacles snaking out of Woodland Creatures, a food-centric bar that has become a byword for quality in the neighbourhood. Four friends from Leith had an idea to keep things as local as possible, and Woodland Creatures doesn't disappoint. 

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  • Restaurants

Hidden behind spray-painted shutters (decorated with a slightly baffling mural of a flapping dove and a smoking man in a hat) during the day, from 5pm (and 12.30 pm on Saturdays and Sundays) Origano serves up excellent, well-priced antipasto, pasta and pizza. It’s tiny so booking is recommended although takeaway is also an option. Understated, reliably good and the prices are right too.

  • Restaurants

Part of the rolling gentrification of Leith Walk, The Walnut ls a small, independent venue offering a high standard of bistro cooking in simple surroundings: one room, mix’n’match chairs, wooden floor, light colour scheme. All the good stuff, in short.

In terms of accessibility, informality, sheer quality and its BYOB policy, it’s an absolutely lovely place to eat. There's nothing intimidating or distracting here: just you, great cooking, decent wine, your date – and a bill that will seem pretty economical given the talent in the kitchen. 

 

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The Black Fox
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • price 1 of 4

In décor terms, this café-bar is an exercise in design archaeology: original cornices, warehouse tiling on the walls, supporting pillars, robust wooden tables and a couple of booths. The Auld Reekie Burger comes with smoked cheese and smoked bacon for example; the Volcano Dog with jalapeños, chorizo and peri-peri sauce; the Italian pizza has goat cheese, rocket and sun-dried tomatoes; alternatively, just pop in for a drink. Target market well and truly hit.

Bier Hoose
Photograph: Bier Hoose/Facebook

Bier Hoose

If you can't get behind a place called Bier Hoose, we're not sure if we can be friends. Specialising in traditional beers from Belgium and Germany (a guarantee of quality if ever there was one), Bier Hoose combines that great history of beer with a defiantly 'Leith' approach to life, which means animated conversation and a dynamic desire to put the world to rights. Food too, plenty of beer-friendly food. The best type of food? We're not going to disagree. Also, pub quizzes! 

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Artisan Coffee

The Artisan Coffee empire now extends to lovely Leith. You know what you're getting from this place; namely delicious coffee that is the equal of anything found anywhere else in the city, doubled up with delicious cakes and some of the most convivial service going. What more could the coffee fiend want?

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