Eating & Drinking in Edinburgh, Scotland
Warning: this post contains a lot of recommendations about eating & drink in Edinburgh. Read on at your own peril.
A little while ago, Boyfriend & I celebrated our two year anniversary. Our ideal way to celebrate anything is to eat ridiculously good food, & lots of it. My ideal way to celebrate any new day ever is to try to get out & travel to a new place. So, we planned a weekend to Edinburgh & filled our days with copious amounts of food, alcohol, & doughnuts. It was glorious.
where to stay
Buccleuch Street // we ended up staying in an apartment we found on aribnb. Neither of us would recommend the apartment itself, but it had a good location. It was a great base for wandering around to every different corner of the city, which is handy if you’re willing to walk as far as we are for a good meal!
what to do
museums & galleries
National Museum of Scotland // we sought this out. The building is annoyingly frustrating to navigate & at times gave us rage. We wanted to visit the fourth floor to see the eight miniature coffins that were found at Arthur’s Seat in the early 1800s, which sounds simple. We had to get a lift to the fifth floor, find a specific set of stairs down to the fourth floor, then navigate our way around the floor to the other side where the coffins were. It was infuriating. The mysterious coffins were worth it – no one knows what they are for or why they were made – but still. Pro tip: there’s a great viewpoint on the roof of the museum, not to be missed.
Scottish National Portrait Gallery // admittedly, we only wandered in because it was free & we were waiting for a table at a nearby restaurant. That said, we thought it was great!
Scottish Poetry Library // Boyfriend found the SPL in the New York Times article “36 Hours in Edinburgh.” It was fascinating to wander through the shelves of the bright & airy library, leafing through their large selection. There’s also apparently an area where you can listen to poetry being read through headphones, which sounds super cool. We couldn’t find it while we were there, and I’m one of those people who hates asking for directions, so we left it.
Calton Hill // no trip to Edinburgh would be complete without a visit to Calton Hill. It’s for those of you out there who are like Boyfriend & I: too lazy / too unprepared to walk up Arthur’s Seat. I like to think this is just as good. Great views over the city, great views of Arthur’s Seat, you can climb on the National Monument of Scotland for that picture, & you can get up close to the Dugald Stewart Monument.
Royal Mile & Edinburgh Castle // although jammed with tourists at any given time, you can’t miss out on wandering around the area. It’s laden with little alleyways & streets leading off a million different ways. We didn’t fork out the insane entry fee into the castle, but we wandered up to see the views from the top platform.
Stockbridge // I wish we had spent more time exploring the Stockbridge area. A little bit out of the city centre, it’s just a generally nice area to potter around. We saw food markets, pubs, wine bars, some nice parks, & a couple of interesting shops. Worth taking the time to explore if you have some extra hours, especially on a Sunday!
Circus Lane // okay, it’s a mews. If you’ve read any of my travel guides before, it won’t surprise you that I’m suggesting you visit a mews in Stockbridge. It’s pretty, and there are flowers. The houses are perfectly different, there’s cobbled streets, a well-placed bench dotted around. It’s basically just my idea of perfection. #doitforthegram.
where to eat
Dishoom // we had been to Dishoom in Covent Garden on our last trip to London & fell head-over-heels for it. When we heard there was a branch in Edinburgh, we couldn’t not go. The Bacon Naan Roll is a must, but another highly regarded alternative is the Bombay Omelette, which Boyfriend ordered & I was totally jealous. Pro tip: order the ‘Dhoble’ cocktail to have with your meal, you won’t be disappointed. Added bonus: the top floor of the restaurant has this gorgeous view out over St. Andrew Square. The whole restaurant decor has a feel of the ‘20s, we just loved it.
Urban Angel // bacon bacon bacon, so much bacon. None of the reviews online said anything about the sheer volume of bacon that comes with food, but if they had we’d have visited sooner. The service was a bit slow, but there is literally nothing that bacon can’t make up for. I had the bacon with a side of Eggs Benedict, which was mighty fine.
Locanda de Gusti // this was the first dinner we had in Edinburgh, & it set the bar pretty high. Within minutes of entering the restaurant, we actually forgot we were in rainy Edinburgh. All of the waiters are Italian, the music is Italian, everyone is singing & speaking in Italian, it truly feels like you’re in Italy! The entire experience was amazing! The food was superb, the service was great, and they even gave us a little bottle of homemade amaretto!
Voujon // Boyfriend was adamant that we go to an Indian restaurant in Edinburgh for dinner & I am so thankful. Going by the pictures online, we almost cancelled our booking in favour of Dishoom (white tablecloths), but we decided to stick with it. We were very pleasantly surprised! Every single part of the meal tasted out-of-this-world. Definitely a contender for the best Indian food I’ve ever had. Don’t miss out on the garlic naan.
Holyrood 9a // this comes highly rated across the board for its burgers, but actually the burgers are kind of substandard. More what we would describe as ‘fine’. The place did have a cool bar, the room was atmospheric, and they sold Camden Hells, so it wasn’t a complete let down.
Cairngorm // this really should be under the coffee section, but seeing as we didn’t actually have coffee here, I can’t vouch for it. That said, we did have a caramel square here, & it was damn fine. You can trust us on this one, Boyfriend is a caramel square aficionado.
Krispy Kreme // I’m embarrassed to be including this in my list of places to eat, but clearly not enough to not include it. This is a battle Boyfriend & I are going to fight until Krispy Kreme comes to Ireland. Why is it all over the UK & not in Ireland? Confession: between us, we had ten (yes, 10) doughnuts over the course of three days. We regret nothing.
where to get coffee
Wellington Coffee // good coffee is one of the first things I investigate in a city & this place was near the top of a few lists. We actually stumbled across it by accident. It’s this tiny half-underground cafe where everything is squished together & the staff are all hipsters. They seem really into their coffee & like they totally know what they’re doing. The coffee was fantastic.
Press Coffee // literally less than a minute’s walk from our apartment, so we frequented it for our morning coffee fix every day. We also one time ventured in there for breakfast. I had a scone the size of my face & Boyfriend had the best scrambled eggs he’s ever had out! Bonus: the walls are so yellow it’s impossible not to feel happy inside.
Brew Lab // a real deal kind of coffee place that makes the hipsters in Wellington Coffee look like fakers. There’s a slightly intimidating coffee menu, but you can do this, it is so worth it. I had a kick-ass flat white that knocked my socks off. We got ours to-go & sat on the cute bench outside.
where to drink
Brewdog // for some reason, if you go to Edinburgh, you have to go to Brewdog. That’s just the way it is. A cool micro-brewery with a well stocked menu full of different craft beers & really friendly staff.
Kay’s Bar // this was Boyfriend’s favourite spot of the whole trip. A true old man pub – I was the only woman there for the duration of our drinks – where everybody knows each other. It took us a little while to locate, hidden within a seemingly quiet residential area, but we’re so glad we found it eventually. Even the website is adorable.
Stockbridge Tap // Boyfriend read about this place online & it was one of the main reasons I convinced him to wander out to Stockbridge with me. He read that the beer selection was superb, there were heaps of options, & the barmen really know their stuff. I’m sure this is all true, but after trying one of their beers & not liking it, he was simply given “Plan B”: Tennent’s. I mean, we can buy Tennent’s in our local supermarket in Dublin. Aside from that, the pub does have a nice atmosphere & it is animal friendly.
Andrew Usher & Co // I was skeptical about heading down mysterious stairs into an underground bar, but Boyfriend assured me I’d like it. Thankfully, he’s pretty much never wrong about things I like – it was awesome! Loads of little tables lit by candlelight in a kind of cave-like interior? Count me in! I had a margarita, and it was a pleasure to watch the barman put in the time & effort required to make a drink that little bit better.
Smith & Gertrude // if you only take one of my recommendations, let it be this. This entirely unpretentious wine bar totally blew us away. Open plan, communal tables, exposed brick, candles, music coming from a record player in the corner, stools at the bar. A menu that consisted of three lists: cheeses, meats, and boards comprised of said meats & cheeses. It is simplicity at its finest. The wines by the glass were superb. We had two big glasses of Sangiovese to start, after which I moved onto a Spanish rosé. We put off other plans so we could stay to eat, perhaps the best decision ever. A single serving of both Ubriaco (a hard Italian cheese we’d never heard of) & Chorizo Iberico Bellota, both served with crusty bread & crackers. We died and went to wine & cheese heaven. Hands down my favourite spot of the whole trip.