I began writing this article as a “living on a budget does not mean you cannot eat well!” / “Let me show the world the cheap eats of Edinburgh,” but slowly I began to realize that there is just so much good food out here, and I want to share them with you all. I’ve split them into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, so there’s no ranking of restaurants — only really, really tasty suggestions.
Here are my favourite places to eat centred on authenticity, uniqueness, and all-around good flavour. Enjoy!
We all know we have to start our day out right — and that means a hearty and nutritious breakfast (at least it does for me 😬). My favourite choice?
Tani Modi, 103 Hanover Street
Tani Modi is an Italian restaurant located just north of Princes Street on Hanover. It boasts authentic Italian food complete with piadas, paninis and antipasto. But my reason for going here: their to-die-for blueberry pancakes (pictured above). These pancakes are a gift from God: they’re warm and made fresh to order. Sandwiched between two pancakes are ripe blueberries mixed with yogurt and blueberry coulis. It is an explosion of flavour in your mouth with every bite without being too sweet nor too dull. This is my absolute breakfast go-to. They also have apple cinnamon, bacon and maple syrup, nutella and banana and even spinach and feta cheese pancakes, but that’s not all: they also have smoked salmon, bacon and eggs, something savoury for every type of taste bud, AND also ridiculously rich chocolate cakes amongst other pastries. You should definitely check them out. I highly recommend.
Beetroot Café, 33-41 Ratcliffe Terrace
Beetroot Café or Beetroot Sauvage has just reopened on 33-41 Ratcliffe Terrace (south of Newington) and it is a ridiculously scrumptious vegan option for all my vegans/vegetarians out there. They have the BEST vegan cakes and for mouth-watering visuals (and just aesthetics in general), check out their Instagram page available here: https://www.instagram.com/beetrootsauvage/
They also have a slew of pancake options (as you can tell, I kind of sort of really love pancakes). Their pancakes are delicious.
Urban Angel, 121 Hanover Street
Urban Angel is the only place in Edinburgh that I could find with açai. For anyone who doesn’t know what açai is, it’s a blueberry-like fruit that grows in tropical places and is usually blended and squished to form a magnificent magenta substance. At Urban Angel, you can order an açai bowl (my FAVE) with banana, blueberries, chia seeds, almond milk, toasted coconut and goji berries. It is such a step back into the tropical waters of Brazil or Indonesia. Check this place out if you want to pretend like you’re lying beneath the slow sway of palm trees.
The African Wrap Place, 4 Chapel Street
My gosh. The African Wrap Place is a bomb, authentic and full-blast-of-flavour-in-your-mouth kind of getup. It’s really cheap and 100% bang for your buck. For just FOUR pounds, you can get a wrap with chicken, avocado, yogurt, cucumber, tomato, some greens, some spicy peanut sauce (sooooooo good. dooooo try this) and some other choices that they have in the window. I sincerely believe they have the best falafel in town, and I’ve tried gourmet falafel. Trust me. This place outperforms the others.
I personally almost always order the falafel and hummus wrap. I just sincerely love the spices, the level of salt, and the texture of their falafels (never too moist, but dry enough that they literally perfectly crumble with each bite and you still get that crispiness on the outside). They quite literally ignite my taste buds. I love this place, and the people that work there. Shout out to you, African Wrap Place. You are mmm mmm good.
Word of caution: they only accept cash so make sure you bring some dollar bills with you!
Then next door you have:
The Nile Valley Café, 6 Chapel Street
Arguably under the same owner as the African Wrap Place, the Nile Café is also a ridiculously good, authentic African wrap place. Last time I came here, I ordered the Bary which basically includes everything: curry- or turmeric-spiced chicken (not entirely sure, but it’s yellow and delicious) with baked beans, feta cheese, cucumber, tomato, greens, yogurt, spicy peanut sauce (I AM SERIOUS. TRY THIS. IT IS A MUST). It is an explosion of flavour in your mouth and for just four pound fifty, it’ll fill you up and have you smiling for the rest of the day.
Oh, and also, my favourite part? Everyone that works at both of these restaurants is legitimately African. They are authentic, so cool, and so kind. Give them a smile and they’ll return it right back to you. Love these guys ❤️ Thanks for always making the best falafel in town, African Wrap Places!
Red Box, 51 West Nicolson Street
Craving ramen? Red Box is an authentic ramen restaurant located just across from Pear Tree and right around the corner from the African Wrap Place (ty Paul for the introduction!). For just six pounds you can get a massive bowl (I’m talking XL massive bowl) of ramen where you have the choice of about 10 different soups/sauces, a list of probably 20 ingredients (like water chestnut 😍 broccoli, baby bok choy, carrots, garlic etc.) from which you may choose 3 (for free) or more for an extra fee, and of course you can choose if you want ramen noodles, rice, rice noodles, egg noodles (I think there are about five choices but I always get ramen). They serve it to you instantly — freshly made — in their really cool black, white and red, brick-exposed interior (of course, take out is an option here too). They also have a meal + drink option but I never grab drinks because I don’t want to use plastic 😀 needless to say! There are many options here and it’s right on campus. It’s super cheap. It’s still healthy (add your veggies) and it’s majorly authentic. I 100% recommend.
NOTE: they also only accept cash. Make sure you bring cash with you!
The Outsider, George IV Bridge
Nestled next to the infamous Elephant Café (where J. K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter) is The Outsider: a subtle, low-key restaurant to the untrained eye where you can score a gourmet meal for just six pounds. The trick with this restaurant is to go during the day. They have a lunch menu that features literally the same items as their dinner menu but for half the price. I’m talking mussels ladened with garlic cream sauce, lamb chops adorned in foreign spices, and their menu constantly changes depending on whatever is in season. If you’re a foodie, this is the place for you. Your taste buds will definitely be satisfied (and so will your wallet!). Trust me, check it out.
They also have a really pleasing aesthetic mixed with hardwood floors, chandeliers and great views of the castle/the city in general. This is literally the best low-key (note the ridiculously subtle front sign in the photo) restaurant that you could come across. I 100% recommend. Check it out!
Pizza Posto, 16 Nicolson Street
You know I couldn’t leave this one out.
Pizza Posto is a restaurant run by Italians and as the front window states: they make a good pizza. For just 5 pounds you can get an authentic Margherita — add another pound and they’ll use buffalo (ask your Italian friends what buffalo is and they will rave 😂). This is THE restaurant to go to if you want some pizza in your life.
The best part? They also have dessert pizzas if you’re into that. I’m talking nutella on pizza. What more could you ask for in life?
TRENCHTOWN!!! 4-8 Lochrin Buildings
TRENCHTOWWWWWWNNNNNN !!!!!!! 😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍
I’ve only just discovered this place and all I can think is, why haven’t I discovered you sooner?
Trenchtown is like heaven on earth. It is beaming with life both from the outside and on the inside. The minute you walk in, you’re greeted by a fiesta of colours: bright shades of turquoise, sunshine yellow, spanish tiles adorn the floors and hand-painted mosaics of Bob Marley smile across the walls. It is my happy place. It will likely be yours too.
Trenchtown has a wide array of Caribbean selections ranging from baby back ribs to jerk chicken and curries; coconut rice and beans; butternut squash with corn. If you’re looking for a feel-good, my-friend’s-grandma-made-this-with-love kind of vibe, this is the place to be.
Sit back, relax, eat good food, and jam to the reggae and dancehall swerving in the background.
Featured above: jerk glazed chicken breast in coconut cream sauce alongside caribbean sweet potato, butternut squash, coconut curry. Both served with a side of coconut rice and beans. TRUSS ME DADDI, this is your fix. Come get some! #foodforthesoul
WORD OF WARNING: Trenchtown only accepts cash! Make sure to run to the bank before you hit up this spot!
Gourmet Burger Kitchen, 137 George Street
Gourmet Burger Kitchen is a funky, really down-to-earth burger joint located on George Street, but don’t be fooled by its location! Yes, it is higher-end than most burger places but their aesthetic and ambience is suuuper chill. Walk in and the waitors will smile at you like you’re home. The walls and washrooms are covered with Scrabble-like letters that point you in the right direction and the restaurant itself has an almost new-21st-century-diner feel. It’s super funky. Check it out.
Last time I came here (photo), I ordered the falafel salad (I clearly love falafel) with the moroccan the boat burger and an oreo milkshake (I always, always order a milkshake — they are legitimately SO GOOD!) which came to about 25 pounds. The burgers themselves range from five to eight pounds — it just depends on the size and style, but I was also very hungry that day. Girl’s gotta eat!
The falafel salad was a mix of their speciality falafel (which has a bit of spinach in it that gives it a little unique kick that most other falafel do not have) with san marzano tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, hummus, and pomegranate coulis. Every bite was like a whole new adventure. You never knew what you were going to taste next! It was fantastic. I loved it.
The moroccan the boat burger is in season right now and is likely coming off the menu soon so go grab it while you can! It has turmeric buns with moroccan spiced beef, smoked Applewood cheese, courgette fritters, rocket, and this citrus-y creme sauce that really added an interesting layer of sour to complete the taste. It was so different and definitely worth trying. I highly recommend!
Mind you, Gourmet Burger also has normal cheeseburgers and fries, so if that’s what you’re craving, GBK’s got you covered!. But definitely try a milkshake. They are frikken amazing. I seriously get one every time.
Krua Khun Mae, Craigs Close, 29 Cockburn Street
My oh my, is Krua Khun Mae the most authentic Thai restaurant I have ever visited since leaving Thailand. From the decor to the ladies greeting you at the door, everything in this restaurant screams authenticity and Thai.
My favourite dish: Thai green curry, mild, with chicken. This dish is a creamy, coconut milk based curry with carrots, bean sprouts, courgette amongst other vegetables that I never manage to take photos of because I am always way too excited when the food arrives infront of me and I kind of devour it as soon as my plate hits the table (lol… sorry?).
Make sure to also try the Thai iced tea with milk. It’s just one of those drinks you gotta try either in Thailand or at an authentic Thai restaurant. Lovely stuff.
Additionally, if you want a cheap deal, they tend to have lunch menus where you can combine a starter, entrée and dessert for I think about seven pounds? It’s for sure under ten but green curry is never an option so you know I never use this 😂 HOWEVER, the option is there if you so need it!
Makars Gourmet Mash Bar, 9 N Bank Street
Ohhhhhh boy. Since we’re talking about Edinburgh, Scotland, you know I have to end with something authentically Scottish, and nothing screams Scottish like a good plate of haggis.
To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of haggis (sorry, Scottish folks. Please don’t hate me!) but Makars Mash Bar makes a meeeean plate. I mean, I don’t just tolerate their haggis; I legitimately like it and order it — by choice!
Makars Mash Bar has the best haggis in Edinburgh. I think they were voted best haggis in 2017 or something? (Daniel, please confirm!), and they deserve the title.
As they boast, they offer a wide array of “healthy Scottish comfort food”, and both my friends and I all agree that on a rainy day, when it’s cold and dark out (and definitely even when it’s sunny), Makars Mash Bar is the place to be. Come here and warm up with some haggis and whiskey, and feel right at home!
Okay, you didn’t think I’d end WITHOUT DESSERT, did you?
If you know me, you know that I have the biggest sweet tooth and it’s kind of a problem (like I’ll eat a tub of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate chip cookie dough in one round kind of a problem), but let’s not talk about that! Let’s talk about,
SCOOPZ, 25-27 W Nicolson Street
Scoopz is my favourite icecream place in Edinburgh, ever. You can get a mountainous chocolate chip cookie dough sundae topped with vanilla and chocolate icecream (yes, one scoop each) for just 3.50. YES, 3.50!!!!! OR, you can get heated chocolate chip cookie dough bowl, or brownie, or WARM CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKE (no joke) topped with any flavoured icecream you want (one scoop) topped with any sort of topping you want (ranging from rainbow sprinkles to chocolate curls to crushed nuts or chocolate sauce) for again… ONLY 3.50. I come here way too often (ask Özge) but I can’t help myself. With these kinds of prices, and those kinds of options, how’s a girl supposed to say no?
Definitely come here while the weather is still hot. It is such a satisfying array of icecream choices. OH! And also, they have waffles and crepes and even hot dogs… and a wall of candy lol… AND MILKSHAKES! Scoopz has it all. I highly recommend 💕
Café 1505, 18 Nicolson Street
If icecream is not your thing and you want a more subtle sweet, Café 1505 is my favourite place for pastries and sweet baked goods. I personally think they have the best brownies because they’re not too sweet, but just sweet enough that they leave you wanting for nothing more. They also have really impressive macarons (I lived in France — I understand what a good macaron is) and their oversized macarons hit the spot. They are the perfect study snack if your brain needs some sugar! S/o to Julian for almost always serving me LOL!
Okay, I know I said I’d end this article but one last reco. If I ever want bread — I mean real, authentic, artisan bread — you have to go to…
The Manna House Bakery & Patisserie, 22-24 Easter Rd.
The Manna House is by far the best bakery (in my opinion) in Edinburgh. They have fresh selections each and every day ranging from sour dough to my personal favourite: whole grain bloomers. They also sell charcoal bread on demand and sometimes on Saturdays! This place is fantastic for artisan bread selections. Additionally, they also offer lunchtime snacks like chickpea-couscous salads and the like + French pastries (hence the Patisserie in the name). Believe me, this is a fantastic bakery and I definitely recommend it if you’re in town!
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And that’s it folks! These are my absolute favourite places to eat in Edinburgh full of flavour, authenticity, quality, and of course, character. I like unique places. I like interesting flavours. If you do too, this list is for you. Go out, try them all, and then let me know what you think in the comments below.
Am I missing anything? (Likely). Give me a shout and I’ll definitely make it my mission to try and taste ’em. I’m always open to recommendations so send your food recos my way!
Have a delicious day, fellow foodies, and remember to always eat well!