Edinburgh is famous for being one of the most beautiful cities in the UK – and it just so happens that it also one of the best places to eat out in the UK. The Scottish capital is home to four restaurants which hold a Michelin star, as well as one awarded a Bib Gourmand – defined by the famous red guide as ‘exceptionally good food at moderate prices’. One Michelin star, in case you’re wondering, means ‘a very good restaurant’ – and each of the restaurants below is very good indeed.
One Michelin star restaurants in Edinburgh
This elite group of Michelin restaurants in Edinburgh all hold a coveted star for their food offering. At each of these spots you are nearly guaranteed a fantastic meal, with service and ambiance to match. From French-style menus to restaurants that use the best of Scotland's larder, these really are the pick of the bunch on the Edinburgh dining scene.
What: Experimental chef Paul Kitching offers a choice of two starters, soup, two mains, cheese and two desserts – hence the 21212 moniker. The restrictive formula doesn’t mean there’s any limit to the chef’s ambition in the kitchen, however – or sense of humour. ‘Kidnapped in Scotland’ is a starter plate of the chef’s favourites while the soup might be ‘Rainy Allotment’ flavour. Prices, however, are serious (3/4/5 courses at dinner for £70/£78/£85), though lunch is about half that price. Whenever you eat, service is unfailingly professional, while there are four bedrooms if you want to make a night of it.
Where: 3 Royal Terrace, EH7 5AB
What: ‘From nature to plate’ is the mantra of chef Tom Kitchin, and it’s a philosophy that you can see everywhere in his restaurant in Leith, The Kitchin. Natural materials such as slate and wood complemented by fabrics in cool blues and greys create a calming atmosphere for cooking that uses seasonal ingredients from regional growers, producers and fishermen. North Sea wild halibut, smoked to order on oak chips and served with parsley purée and horseradish cream potatoes, gives an idea of the level of accomplishment on offer.
Where: 78 Commercial Quay, EH6 6LX
What: A duck press on the windowsill tells you all that you need to know about the focus on high-end gastronomy at this dining room in Rocco Forte’s Balmoral. Number One has its own street entrance, but with its formal decor, there’s no mistaking you’re dining in Edinburgh’s most famous hotel. A six-course tasting menu is matched to prestige wines (£220) or you can go à la carte for £90. Expect classic French technique lightened by modern touches in the likes of cured duck foie gras with kiwi and summer truffle.
Where: The Balmoral, 1 Princes Street, EH2 2EQ
What: Edinburgh-born Martin Wishart is one of Scotland’s most famous chefs and this Leith flagship (he has another restaurant on the shores of Loch Lomond) has held a Michelin star since 2001. It’s not hard to see why: neutral furnishings and thick carpets look sleek and suave, though everyone is here for the sophisticated French-accented interpretations of Scottish ingredients, best sampled by first timers from a tasting menu that might include Orkney scallop with Jerusalem artichoke and sweet potato. There’s also a great-value lunch menu.
Where: 54 The Shore, EH6 6RA
Bib Gourmand restaurants in Edinburgh
As mentioned above a Bib Gourmand isn't quite a Michelin star, but the award still indicates an exceptionally high standard of cooking. With Edinburgh only having one restuarant in this bracket the spot below gets pretty booked up, so it's worth planning ahead to secure your table.
What: Chef Tom Kitchin does fine-dining at The Kitchin but he also does down-to-earth eating, too, at his family-friendly gastropub, The Scran & Scallie. The menu might read traditionally – ham, egg and chips; fish and chips; steak or fish pie – but this is pub grub taken to another level thanks to the skill of the team in the kitchen and the quality of ingredients: the burger is made with Wagyu beef while the sausages in a plate of bangers and mash are homemade. Good by-the-glass wines and Scottish beers, too.
Where: Comely Bank Road, EH4 1DT
More interested in drinking than dining? Check out our guide to the best rooftop bars in Edinburgh