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Where to eat in Edinburgh

Although Scottish cuisine is very similar to the English cuisine, the country also has a great variety of unique dishes that are only made in Scotland. Some of its cooking is influenced by foreign cuisine, especially the French cuisine.

Scotland’s dishes are normally very filling, so you will never be left hungry, especially after a traditional Scottish breakfast which are offered in most hotels and B&Bs.

Traditional Scottish food

Scottish breakfast
Scottish breakfast

Haggis, Scotland's national dish
Haggis, Scotland's national dish

Here is a list of the country’s best food, so that you make sure to try at least some of the most renowned dishes:

  • Haddock: battered haddock normally served with chips
  • Kipper: smoked kipper
  • Neeps and tatties: Tatties is mashed potato and neeps are diced or mashed swede. Neeps and tatties is normally eaten with haggis.
  • Cock-a-leekie: Soup made of leeks and peppered chicken stock.
  • Scotch broth: A meaty vegetable soup (lamb, carrots and swedes) perfect for a cold winter night.
  • Partan bree: Seafood soup. "Parten" means crab and "bree" means soup.
  • Cullen Skink: Filling soup made of potatoes, smoked haddock and onions.
  • Stovies: A potato and onion salad
  • Grouse: Bird that is very similar to a partridge
  • Porridge: Crushed oats mixed with water or milk
  • Oatcakes: A type of flatbread, similar to a cracker or biscuit.
  • Shortbread: A buttery biscuit
  • Dundee cake: A rich flavour fruit cake
  • Cranachan: A traditional Scottish dessert made from whipped cream, whisky and raspberries.

Haggis

Haggis is probably the most famous Scottish dish, this is why it is worth explaining in detail what it consists of and how it's made.

Haggis is a filling and savoury pudding made of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs mixed with onions, oatmeal, spices and encased into the sheep’s stomach and cooked for several hours.

The Scots love this dish and sometimes even have it for breakfast. On Burns Supper or Burns Night (25 January), it is typical to eat haggis, a night where the life and works of the poet Robert Burns are commemorated.

Even though haggis used to be a home based peasant food, (this is why it is made of all the parts of the sheep that nobody wanted), it is now so common that most restaurants in Edinburgh will serve it.

To suit every pocket

Edinburgh is a relatively expensive city to eat out in, but it is always possible to find spots that are cheaper.

Since most museums and top attractions close between 5 pm and 6 pm, we recommend having lunch in a fast-food place, like a kebab, “fish and chips” or a sandwich.

The best time to sit down for a nice meal is when it gets dark and cold outside, and you long to keep warm and relax after a long day of exploring. This is the best time to try some of the traditional Scottish cuisine. Prices will vary greatly depending on the restaurant you choose, but the main course will cost normally between £10 and £15.

When to have lunch and dinner?

In Edinburgh, the opening times of restaurants and fast-food places are very similar to other North European countries. Lunch is normally served between 12noon and 2pm and dinner begins at 6pm and finishes at 8:30 – 9 pm. It can prove a little difficult to find a restaurant with an open kitchen after 9 pm.

Usually restaurants and pubs on the city’s main arteries are open until later since Edinburgh is used to having international tourists, so we recommend heading to these areas if you want a late meal.

Best areas to eat out

It is easy to find restaurants and pubs anywhere in the city centre, however, the most interesting areas are the top of the Royal Mile and Princes Street, as well as the charming Rose Street.



Practical advice

In most pubs, the bartenders or waiters will not come to your table to take your order. You’ll have to go to the bar to get the menu and order from there directly.  You will also most likely have to pay immediately.

Beers are usually served in pint glasses. If you don’t want to drink as much make sure to order “half a pint”.

In Scotland, whisky is not a mixing alcoholic beverage. It is typically served in a glass without any ice and sometimes it is served with water. If you wish to mix it with coke or any other drink we recommend you ask for the two drinks separately and mix them.