Best restaurants in Edinburgh

Here is SquareMeal’s list of the top restaurants in Edinburgh, Scotland’s bonny capital. With the Old Town’s winding medieval lanes, the hike to the Castle, and that steep and windy slog up Arthur’s Seat, this city will leave you with a huge appetite. Luckily, we’re here to ensure you choose from the very best dining options in town. Whether you’re in need of a white-tableclothed bastion of formal fine dining, or a casual, city-centre pitstop, a meal in any of these restaurants will be among the very best eating experiences you’ll find in Edinburgh. 

Updated on 10 July 2018

Best restaurants in Edinburgh


Number One Restaurant

Number One Restaurant

Number One Restaurant
£50 - £79
Modern European

Balmoral Hotel, 1 Princes Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH2 2EQ

Situated at the east end of Princes Street, the grand old Balmoral has been an Edinburgh icon for more than a century. It has various options for food and drink, but Number One remains its Michelin-starred flagship, long supervised by executive chef Jeff Bland. The restaurant has its own entrance down some steps from street level, and it feels fairly timeless with gold banquettes and original exhibits from the Royal College of Art on red lacquered walls – although the menu is modern French, with seasonal ingredients playing an important part. Scallops might be paired with oxtail, carrot purée and Vadouvan olive oil, while dry-aged Orkney beef could appear with cavolo nero, mustard and barwheys cheese. To finish, a pairing of soft Crowdie and mandarin with carrot cake and chocolate sorbet is in tune with the prevailing theme. Number One also shows its pedigree with a tasting menu and a mighty wine list.

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21212

21212

21212
£50 - £79
Modern European
British

3 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH7 5AB

Set in a lushly refurbished Victorian townhouse, this one-off venture provides the setting for Michelin-starred Paul Kitching’s forays into gastronomic performance art and leftfield experimentation. The ‘21212’ moniker should really be ‘31313’ as there are now three starter choices, then soup, three mains, then cheese and finally three desserts. Both lunch and dinner can involve the whole shebang, although you can have fewer courses, priced accordingly. Kitching is a “hugely talented” chef who is capable of conjuring up a daily riot of fantastical constructions ranging from scallop ‘pudding’ with barley, onion and sweetcorn, prune and macadamia, pink peppercorns and balsamic to ‘halibut, egg shells’ (a combo involving prawn, cauliflower, walnuts, crab, rice salad and soy). The jokes come thick and fast as the kitchen works its magic – note ‘10CC’ (a dish involving 10 ingredients, all beginning with the letter ‘C’). As expected, desserts also let rip, from ‘ginger-nuts’ (chestnut, cinder toffee, glazed meringue, black berry brûlée and ‘crème stem’) to ‘APPPs’ (described as a ‘rice cream chocy egg’). It’s all about high-wire thrills here, and the whole show is backed by “great service”.

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Field

Field

Field
£30 - £49
Modern European
Scottish

41 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH8 9DB

There’s plenty to love at this friendly little restaurant, run by Richard and Rachel Conway with chef Gordon Craig. Shared experience at Michelin-starred eateries gives a touch of polish to the food and front-of-house, but without any stuffiness or fuss. The innovative one-page menu cleverly combines classic techniques with international flavours in dishes such as rabbit spring roll with carrot and coriander, while recent standouts have included delicate pea pannacotta with cripsy ham hock cromesquis and maple-glazed duck breast with an indulgent confit duck ‘risotto log’ and tangy yuzu mayo. Playful desserts add a sense of fun (how about Bird’s Custard ice cream with peach tarte Tatin), and the food is backed by thoughtfully chosen seasonal wines. Set menus offer good value (£11.95/14.50 for two/three courses). Note that Field is open all week during the Edinburgh Festival.

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The Gardener

The Gardener's Cottage

The Gardener's Cottage
£30 - £49
Modern European
British

1 Royal Terrace Gardens, London Road, Edinburgh, EH7 5DX

Occupying a building dating from 1836 that was once home to a gardener, with vegetable patches at the front, this charming restaurant delivers seasonal dining at long communal tables. A weekend brunch menu offers the likes of Arbroath kippers, beech-smoked anchovies and local bacon, while a daily changing lunchtime à la carte and evening tasting menu reflect the best of Scotland’s natural larder. On our visit, a snack of crisp Perthshire organic chicken skin was packed with intensely savoury flavour. We followed this with perfectly charred mackerel and a rich green fragrant lovage soup with fresh peas and smoky pancetta. Succulent Gigha halibut was served with a delicate lobster raviolo, while tender organic pork fillet came with asparagus spears, sharp gooseberry and a plump brawn dumpling. To finish, sweet, sticky honey cake was tempered by aromatic woodruff ice cream, strawberries and crisp meringue. Matched wine pairings are available from the inviting drinks list. Flawless cooking in laid-back surroundings.

Images by Jamie Ferguson 

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Purslane Edinburgh

Purslane Edinburgh

Purslane Edinburgh
£30 - £49
British

33a St Stephen Street, Edinburgh, EH3 5AH

This bijou 20-cover basement in Stockbridge is the unlikely setting for one of Edinburgh’s hidden culinary gems. Chef/patron Paul Gunning learned his trade with the likes of Marco Pierre White and Jeff Bland (of Michelin-starred Number One), and it shows in a menu that oozes quality and class – as well as outstanding value. Pleasantly informal surrounds provide the backdrop for deftly executed dishes such as sautéed prawns with crab bonbons and shellfish sauce, sun-blush tomato and goats’ cheese risotto, or pork loin with pommes Anna, shallot Tatin and a stunningly intense cider reduction. For afters, go for cheeses from LJ Mellis or try something sweet – perhaps summer pudding or cherry clafoutis with cherry sorbet. Also check out the cut-price midweek offer, when the seven-course tasting menu can be had for just £60 for two.

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Le Cafe St Honore

Le Cafe St Honore

Le Cafe St Honore
£30 - £49
Scottish
British

34 North West Thistle Lane, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH2 1EA

A long-standing fixture on the Edinburgh scene, Café St Honore has a classic fin de siècle look and could have come straight from a canvas by Manet or Renoir. The cooking is in the hands of Neil Forbes – Scottish Chef of the Year 2011 – who used to be at Edinburgh’s late lamented Atrium restaurant. Ingredients are carefully sourced and the kitchen delivers sound renditions of classic dishes, including lunchtime favourites such as lamb’s sweetbreads in breadcrumbs with tartare sauce, Cornish sardines with crushed organic potatoes, basil oil, tomatoes and capers, and crème brûlée for dessert. The dinner menu adds a few more elaborate options and there’s also a short list of Café Classics – think free-range ham hock terrine with piccalilli, fish pie, Irish stew and desserts including crème fraîche mousse with English gooseberry compote. Decent French wines, with a good choice by the glass (from £5.10).

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Angels with Bagpipes

Angels with Bagpipes

Angels with Bagpipes
£30 - £49
Modern European
Scottish

343 High Street, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH11PW

Bang in middle of the Royal Mile and opposite St Giles Cathedral (the name comes from a beautiful wood carving in the building’s Thistle Chapel), Angels with Bagpipes sounds like an expensive tourist trap, but that’s far from the truth. Sensibly priced and serving a really decent range of contemporary Scottish cuisine with European influences, this has been a firm favourite since launching in 2010. A few old faithfuls such as haggis with neeps and tatties fly the Caledonian flag, but native ingredients generally receive more modish treatment – say Orkney scallops with lentils, spiced aubergine ras-el-hanout, apple and caramel or rump of Highland lamb with sweetbreads, peas, anchovy and romesco sauce. To finish, how about the signature Tunnocks cake featuring chocolate and blueberry with bubble-gum ice cream? A semi-private room called the Halo is good for big groups.

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David Bann

David Bann

David Bann
Under £30
Vegetarian

56-58 St Mary's Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH1 1SX

Despite occasional challenges from other shorter-lived venues, David Bann has kept its ranking as Edinburgh’s most innovative vegetarian restaurant. The sharp, modern interior reflects the kitchen’s forward-thinking, international approach, which could bring starters such as Thai fritters with broccoli and delicious home-smoked tofu, served with banana chutney and plum dressing. The choice of mains reads like a world tour – crêpes, udon noodles, dosas, risottos – while a celebrated Scottish cheese makes an appearance in beetroot, apple and Dunsyre Blue pudding (a soufflé-style affair served with olive polenta and tarragon butter spinach). Ginger and lime ice cream in chocolate ganache with orange drizzle cake is a lush way to finish, although the assiette of desserts for two lets you try a bit of everything. You can also drop by for a salad and a glass of wine, coffee or weekend brunch.

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Brasserie Prince by Alain Roux

Brasserie Prince by Alain Roux

Brasserie Prince by Alain Roux
£50 - £79
Scottish
Brasserie

The Balmoral, 1 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2EQ

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Galvin Brasserie de Luxe at The Caledonian

Galvin Brasserie de Luxe at The Caledonian

Galvin Brasserie de Luxe at The Caledonian
£50 - £79
French

The Caledonian, Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2AB

A genuine French brasserie straight out of the brothers Galvin mould, this egalitarian eatery on the ground floor of the extravagantly restored Caledonian Hotel takes its cue from Chris and Jeff Galvin’s London big-hitter Galvin Bistrot de Luxe – in other words, it’s a very different prospect to the ultra-posh Pompadour by Galvin upstairs. Instead of palatial pomp, it promises a series of buzzy interconnecting rooms with much attention focusing on the centrepiece seafood counter. You can pitch up here for oysters and crustacea or sit down for honest-to-goodness French bistro food done with the Galvins' brio and sense of occasion. Prime Scottish ingredients get a good outing, from Berwick crab mayonnaise or Scrabster cod with artichoke barigoule to a trio of Perthshire pork with pommes Anna, cauliflower and heritage carrots. To conclude, keep it fabulously French with peach Melba, tarte Tatin or raspberry soufflé with raspberry sorbet. Service is impressively on point, children are more than welcome, and the wine list is a corker, with terrific bottles at every turn.

 

The Witchery by the Castle

The Witchery by the Castle

The Witchery by the Castle
£50 - £79
Modern European

352 Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2NF

Occupying a prime site deep in Edinburgh’s “touristville”, this gloriously gothic 16th-century building is renowned for its genuinely archaic and extravagantly baronial decor – a riot of elaborate tapestries, luxurious drapes, statues and cherubs, plus an enchanting Secret Garden reached via stone staircase. It’s a shoo-in for romance with a big dollop of heritage thrown in for good measure. The kitchen covers all bases, and it isn’t afraid of bullish Franco/Scottish flavours: dressed crab, haggis, steak tartare or Oban oysters on ice could precede roast turbot with parsley sauce, grilled fillet of Scotch beef or roast loin of Cairngorm venison with black quinoa, pumpkin, pickled pear and bitter chocolate oil. For afters, indulge in frozen berries with Amaretto sabayon or a deconstructed marjolaine. Prices are “steep”, although you can also soak up the Witchery experience by ordering from the two-course lunch and theatre menu. Sadly, the regime sometimes creaks under pressure, but all is forgiven once you start perusing the extraordinary wine list – a huge all-embracing tome stuffed with treasures from around the globe.  

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Timberyard

Timberyard

Timberyard
£50 - £79
Modern European
British

10 Lady Lawson Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH3 9DS

“Wonderful space… wonderful food” raves a fan of Timberyard. Housed in a shabby-chic timber warehouse and one-time theatrical props store, this restaurant is rightly proud of its enterprising approach to foraging, butchery, curing and growing your own, while the “delightful” owners also support Scottish producers, as well as stuffing their drinks list with “hidden gems” (including natural wines, floral cocktails and small-batch beers). Meals revolve around a choice of multi-course menus, with many dishes beautifully adorned with herbs and flowers from the Timberyard ‘patch’. Well-balanced small plates might range from mackerel, oyster, parsley, kohlrabi and horseradish to veal sweetbread with truffle, artichoke, sea purslane and hazelnut, while bigger items could include cod with white asparagus, capers, raisins and turnip or a combo of venison and beetroot bolstered by ramsons, juniper and onion. For dessert, sweet strawberries might appear alongside lemon verbena, sheep’s yoghurt and elderflower. Private dining takes place in an old brick shed and there’s a sought-after south-facing yard for alfresco meals, while “enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff” add the final gloss to this idiosyncratic Edinburgh destination.

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Castle Terrace

Castle Terrace

Castle Terrace
£50 - £79
British

33-35 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH1 2EL

There’s something rather special about Dominic Jack’s contemporary dining room in a Georgian townhouse beneath Edinburgh Castle Mound. Like its elder sibling The Kitchin, Castle Terrace is the real deal: the food is out of the top drawer, service seldom misses a beat, and there are treasures galore on the high-value wine list. ‘From nature to plate’ is the now-familiar mantra, and raw materials of distinguished provenance go into starters ranging from a tartare of North Sea gurnard with apple and crispy croûtons to ravioli of fresh herbs with a spring pea velouté. Every detail is also spot-on when it comes to clear-flavoured mains such as seared monkfish wrapped in Ayrshire ham with peas à la française or roasted and braised Inverurie lamb partnered by aubergine and apricot. To conclude, a veritable galaxy of smile-inducing desserts might feature anything from a warm Granny Smith apple pie to Scottish heather honey soufflé with sour-cream ice cream. Great-value lunch packages are worth a punt, and engaging staff make everyone feel valued.

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Restaurant Martin Wishart

Restaurant Martin Wishart

Restaurant Martin Wishart
Over £80
Modern European
British

54 The Shore, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH6 6RA

Chef and well-respected restaurateur Martin Wishart has held a Michelin star here since 2001, and standards remain sky-high at his suave flagship restaurant on Leith waterfront. Thick pile carpets, stripped pine panelling and mellow colour schemes create a mood of suave sophistication, while Wishart’s cooking takes account of Scottish produce – although his seasonally changing repertoire bears all the hallmarks of rarefied and refined French technique. You could open your account by ordering ravioli of snails with Shetland mussels, Ayrshire wild leeks, garlic shoots and white onion velouté, before tackling braised veal cheek with a fricassee of peas, morels and broad beans. After that, a dessert of brown butter pannacotta with blackcurrant crémeux and Granny Smith granita might beckon. There are also two tasting menus (including a veggie version featuring the likes of basil gnocchi with sprouting broccoli, monk’s beard, celeriac and Parmesan), while the superlative wine list offers some fine food-matching possibilities. Some readers applaud the “flawless attention to detail” and the service from “friendly French-speaking staff”, while others point out that lunch is “excellent value for money”.

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Café Andaluz

Café Andaluz

Café Andaluz
£30 - £49
Tapas
Spanish

77b George Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH2 3EE

A younger sibling of the two Café Andaluz outlets in Glasgow, this bustling city-centre tapas bar instantly evokes images of Spain with its terracotta tiles and Andalusian artwork, while the authenticity of the food will have you dreaming of Barcelona. Good-value special deals should see you through, especially as portions are fairly hefty and the results are remarkably consistent: try chorizo and black pudding in spicy tomato sauce, chicken croquetas or grilled goats’ cheese with Seville orange and chilli marmalade. Otherwise, share the spoils from one of their excellent paellas (the Valenciana is particularly popular with locals). Café Andaluz is a good base for a warm-up before hitting George Street’s pubs and clubs, but book if you want to secure a spot during the absurdly busy weekend sessions.

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Ondine

Ondine

Ondine
£50 - £79
Scottish
Fish

2 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH1 1AD

Occupying a first-floor space above Victoria Street with wraparound views of Edinburgh's landmarks, Ondine is a “sleek but unpretentious” space with a crustacean bar holding centre stage, plus a jazzy helping of baroque fabrics and jaunty art. This is ‘a proper seafood restaurant’ declares chef/proprietor Roy Brett, who learned his trade with fish guru Rick Stein, and is renowned for his use of sustainably sourced, “super-fresh” produce (Ondine is accredited by the Marine Stewardship Council). Fixed-price lunch and pre-theatre deals might bring oyster ceviche ahead of Shetland mussels with soy, black beans and ginger, with lemon meringue pie for afters. Things move up a notch in the evening, when the kitchen offers more flashy stuff ranging from roasted shellfish platters and fruits de mer to sea bream curry, brown crab risotto with butternut squash or grilled Mull scallops in the half-shell with Chanteraise sausage and garlic butter. Although meat eaters might be offered rib of Orkney beef with oyster mushrooms and chips, Ondine is really about “the best seafood served by the friendliest staff”.

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The Kitchin

The Kitchin

The Kitchin
Over £80
Modern European

78 Commercial Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6LX

“One to remember”, Tom Kitchin’s highly regarded Michelin-starred restaurant on Leith’s reenergised waterfront comes complete with a whisky snug and a temperature-controlled wine cellar – not to mention views of the kitchen from a specially designed window. Inside, there are hints of Scotland’s heritage (tartans, sheepskins, silver birch), while Kitchin’s highly distinctive cooking is still founded on seasonal produce from regional growers, producers and fishermen. ‘From nature to plate’ is the mantra, and that translates into clever, complex ideas “presented with flair and wit”:  a ‘rockpool’ of local seafood, sea vegetables, ginger and Newhaven crab consommé; boned and rolled pig’s head and langoustine tail with crispy pig’s ear salad; roasted rump ‘cap’ of Highland Wagyu beef with heritage carrots, celeriac and red wine sauce. To conclude, consider something delectably seasonal such as set Knockraich yoghurt with orange meringue and sea buckthorn consommé, but don’t ignore Kitchin’s “melt-in-the-mouth delicious” soufflés. The cosy dining room creates just the right mood, value for money is seldom in doubt, and visitors appreciate the chef’s personal touch as he greets everyone individually in the bar.

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Rhubarb at Prestonfield

Rhubarb at Prestonfield

Rhubarb at Prestonfield
£30 - £49
Modern European

Priestfield Road, Edinburgh, EH16 5UT

Owned by Edinburgh restaurateur James Thomson and out of the same stable as The Witchery by the Castle, Rhubarb is the destination restaurant at Prestonfield – a sumptuous hotel with a 17th-century pedigree, remarkable “Jacobean-meets-Gaultier” decor and impeccably tended grounds. The kitchen deals in highly worked contemporary dishes along the lines of hand-dived scallops with cauliflower, lovage, chorizo, apple dressing and confit lemon or roast Gressingham duck breast and seared foie gras with shallot tart, confit cherries, caramelised chicory and turnips. For dessert, poached rhubarb (of course) might appear with vanilla brioche and hibiscus custard. Prices are steep – especially if you start to plunder the extraordinary wine list – but two-course ‘light lunches’, theatre supper and the three-course table d’hôte should help to ease any financial pain. Be warned that Rhubarb is also hugely popular for weddings and other events.

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The Pompadour by Galvin

The Pompadour by Galvin

The Pompadour by Galvin
£50 - £79
British

Waldorf Astoria - The Caledonian, Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2AB

A classy proposition from start to finish, the ever-fabulous Pompadour at ‘The Caley’ represents the first Scottish foray for Chris and Jeff Galvin – the duo behind London big-hitters such as Galvin Bistrot de Luxe and Galvin at Windows. Inside, breathtaking views of Edinburgh Castle vie for attention with the elegant interior, a grand vision of belle époque affluence involving hand-painted Chinese panels, florid cornicing and pink chandeliers. The food more than matches up too, thanks to a kitchen that melds French technique with prime Scottish ingredients. The menu ‘gourmand’, in particular, showcases great culinary skill and precision – from a delicate lasagne of North Berwick crab with layers of scallop mousse and beurre Nantais (a reworked Galvin classic) or roast Loch Etive sea trout with fluffy herb gnocchi, sea beet and mussels to croquette of Lake District pork with grapefruit and pickled celeriac. After that, baked Crowdie cheesecake with Perthshire strawberries should fit the bill – otherwise, opt for the alluring trolley of artisan French and British cheeses. Suggested wines pair beautifully with the food, and formal yet friendly service completes a thoroughly luxurious experience. 

 

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