As city’s go, Edinburgh has a lot offer when it comes to restaurants and that includes it having a number spots with fantastic outdoor areas. There are a whole host of reasons why you might be looking to book an outdoor restaurant in Edinburgh. The most common of these is that you want to take advantage of the warmer weather during the summer rather than being stuck inside eating. However, given Scotland’s cool climate, the people of Edinburgh also aren’t phased by the cold weather, meaning that al fresco dining isn’t just popular during the warmer months in the Scottish capital. As long as it’s not tipping it down with rain, outdoor dining is still on the cards in Edinburgh and we’re not ruling it out even if the heavens do open, as there’s still the option of a covered area.
Another benefit of outdoor dining in Edinburgh is that it gives you a further chance to take in the stunning, historic city while you eat. After all, once you’re inside a restaurant, quite often it can feel like you could be in any city in the UK. Al fresco dining has also boomed in the UK since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, due to it being the only way you could visit a restaurant during some points. This means that outdoor areas are now busier than ever and quite often book up weeks, if not months, in advance.
We’ve put together this guide to Edinburgh’s best outdoor restaurants so that you can quickly find an al fresco spot that suits your needs when you’re next looking. Whether it’s outdoor fine dining you’re looking for, a terrace with a view, or simply a fantastic beer garden which offers food, one of these options is sure to tickle your fancy.
What: A favourite among Edinburgh locals and visitors alike, Timberyard is a restaurant that oozes cool, partly due to the fact that it’s based in a converted 19th century warehouse, but also because of its exciting, contemporary menu. The family-run restaurant also boasts an enclosed yard out the back which acts as a sun trap during the summer and is the perfect place to enjoy the exquisite food on offer.
Where: 10 Lady Lawson Street, EH3 9DS
The Devil's Advocate
What: Tucked away down a small street off the busy Royal Mile, The Devil’s Advocate is somewhat of a well-kept secret. This former Victorian pump house offers a menu of seasonal Scottish dishes alongside a range of inventive cocktails, and over 300 whiskeys. It’s trump card however, is its small outdoor area consisting of just a few tables where you can eat and drink while feeling totally immersed in all things Edinburgh.
Where: 9 Advocate's Close, EH1 1ND
Angels with Bagpipes
What: If eating in and among the hubbub is your thing, Angels with Bagpipes’ outdoor area will be right up your street. Based at the heart of the Royal Mile, the few tables out the front of this much lauded Scottish restaurant are primely positioned for people-watching. Tuck into dishes such as 12-hour braised beef with potatoes while the bells of St Giles ring from above.
Where: 343 High Street, EH1 1PW
The Sheep Heid Inn
What: For those who don’t mind a bit of a walk from the city centre, The Sheep Heid Inn at Duddingston is well worth the trip. Found on the Eastern side of Arthur’s Seat, this charming boozer is bursting with character and serves a mean Sunday roast. Its enclosed beer garden is at its best when the sun’s beating down but also has covered areas for wetter weather.
Where: 43-45 The Causeway, EH15 3QA
What: Monteiths is another restaurant nestled away down the backstreets of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Head down a tunnel made of twigs and decorated with fairy lights to find the restaurant’s small courtyard area. Here you can tuck into hearty Scottish dishes including hand dived scallops and a venison Scotch egg while sitting under the stars – the ideal setting for a romantic meal out.
Where: 61 High Street, EH1 1SR
What: Providing customers with incredible rooftop views towards Edinburgh castle, Chaophraya on Castle Street is the place to go a sophisticated Thai meal. However, an added bonus at Chaophraya is that it has an outdoor section with a retractable roof meaning that as soon as the weather allows, you can stuff your face with pad Thai while sitting in the open air.
Where: 33 Castle Street, EH2 3DN
The Ivy on the Square
What: You can never go wrong with a meal at The Ivy and it’s no different at the impressive glass-fronted Edinburgh outpost. Featuring a small outdoor area which overlooks the greenery of St Andrew’s Square, The Ivy on the Square serves an all-day menu of British classics which are sure to keep you warm even on the coldest Edinburgh days.
Where: 6 St Andrew Square, EH2 2BD
What: From the outside there are no clues to the beer garden hiding out the back of The Blackbird on Leven Street. However, once you’ve found your way through to the pub’s colourful decked area, you’ll find yourself wanting to stay there all day long. We suggest heading here at the weekend for an al fresco brunch with one of The Blackbird’s signature Bloody Mary’s on the side.
Where: 37-39 Leven Street, EH3 9LH
What: This upmarket Italian restaurant and wine bar is hidden away near Grassmarket and is a favourite among Edinburgh pasta enthusiasts. What you might not know about Divino Enoteca though, is that is has a gorgeous outdoor patio area surrounded by stone walls and lit with fairy lights. Feast on frittura mista here during the warmer months, or sit by the heaters during winter and shovel down the tagliatelle alla Bolognese.
Where: 5 Merchant Street, EH1 2QD
Harvey Nichols Forth Floor Brasserie
What: Harvey Nichols never fails to impress with its stylish restaurants and that’s no different in its Edinburgh store. The cleverly named Forth Floor Brasserie has wonderful views of Edinburgh castle and a few tables out on its balcony, meaning that you can dine outdoors with St Andrew’s Square below you. Why not really turn the style on and book in here for an al fresco afternoon tea?
Where: 30-34 St Andrew Square, EH2 2AD
What: Black Ivy’s stunning location on the edge of the Bruntsfield Links is appealing enough as it is, but when you add in the fact that the bar and restaurant also has a gorgeous terrace, coming here for dinner becomes a no-brainer. Al fresco dining and drinking isn’t just limited to the summer at The Black Ivy either, as there are heaters and canopies on hand to keep you good and toasty.
Where: 4 Alvanley Terrace, EH9 1DU
Cold Town House
What: Edinburgh Castle is one the city’s most recognisable sites and Cold Town House’s rooftop terrace offers some of the finest views you could wish for of the landmark. The après ski-themed outdoor area comes complete with gondola seats and vintage Nissan van-cum-bar, with food options at Cold Town House ranging from Neapolitan-style pizzas to hanging grills. Make sure to try one of beer’s brewed in-house with your food too.
Where: 4 Grassmarket, EH1 2JU
McLaren's on the Corner
What: We’re a fan of any restaurant which thinks of an innovative way to make their outdoor area weather proof and that’s exactly what McLaren’s on the Corner has done. In 2020 McLaren’s installed a number of ski gondolas in the garden allowing you to sit inside them to enjoy the all-day food menu, while imagining you’re skiing in Courchevel.
Where: 8 Morningside Road, EH10 4DD
What: Found in the heart of West End, Indigo Yard is a restaurant and bar that has been serving up popular food and craft beer to the people of Edinburgh since 1996. Boasting a large, covered outdoor area, Indigo Yard unsurprisingly gets pretty busy particularly during the summer, so get here early if you want guarantee yourself a table outside.
Where: 7 Charlotte Lane, EH2 4QZ
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