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Wondering what to eat in Edinburgh? Whether you’re a local looking for something new, or a visitor working out what the popular food in Edinburgh is, our guide is jam-packed (boom boom) with traditional meals you must try and unique eats you won’t find elsewhere. We’ve covered every meal from breakfast to dessert and even suggested which Edinburgh restaurants to test the dishes out for yourself.
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Traditional Scottish Food in Edinburgh
1. Full Scottish Breakfast
This right here is the ultimate, quintessential way to start your day in Edinburgh.
Those who succeed in demolishing the whole lot may feel a bit sleepy afterwards, but it’s a breakfast of champions nonetheless.
If you’re after the very best Full Scottish breakfast in Edinburgh, look no further than Leith.
Nobles Bar and Restaurant is found in the charming Shore area, and the nautical stained glass window inside is a tribute to the vibrant history of Edinburgh’s port.
The ‘Nobles Full Scottish’ is a thing of great beauty and substance.
You’ll find all the classic breakfast items on there: free-range smoked bacon, cherry tomatoes, confit mushrooms, beans, toasted Artisan bread, and two free-range eggs, how you like ‘em.
What separates this absolute bad-boy from cooked breakfasts in other parts of the UK is the addition of Stornoway black pudding (the best ever), tattie scone, organic venison sausage, and haggis, of course, from a local butcher too!
So Scottish. So satisfying.
Where to eat a full Scottish breakfast in Edinburgh: Nobles, 44A Constitution Street. Read about our fave Leith eateries here.
Kay, The Chaotic Scot
Warm, filling and tasty, porridge is the perfect breakfast for a busy day of sightseeing.
Cooked with milk and garnished with fruit, cream, jam or even peanut butter, this oat-based bowl of goodness is my go-to daily breakfast during the week.
Where to eat porridge in Edinburgh: Brochan, 24 Marchmont Crescent
The meal that Scotland is most known for is of course haggis.
Served with neeps (turnip or swede) and tatties (potatoes), haggis is a filling winter meal enjoyed at least twice throughout the year in Scottish homes.
The big events that see this delicacy being served up are St Andrew’s Day (November 30th) and Burns Night (January 28th).
So what is haggis?
Haggis is not a furry animal that runs through the fields of the Scottish Highlands as some sarcastic locals may try to tell you.
Traditionally it is a rich meaty dish of minced heart, liver, lungs, onion, spices and oats cooked in the stomach of the prey (today, sheep) that had been caught by its hunter.
Oatcakes are often served on the side.
If you purchase haggis from a shop, expect it to be contained in a synthetic sausage casing, not sheep’s stomach.
If you prefer a lighter version, don’t shun vegetarian haggis. It’s my (Gemma) preference. Spicy but not as rich as the meat version.
Below is an image from a haggis, neeps and tatties stack which I tried at The Caledonian, one of Edinburgh’s most romantic hotels according to our guide.
Haggis is also eaten at breakfast time. My husband (Craig) eats it weekly on a bread roll with brown sauce.
The breakfast version comes in a circular casing which should be removed.
There are lots of haggis themed meals in Edinburgh which we have included in our ‘unique food’ section below.
Haggis bon bons are a nice intro to the tradition Scottish food and found as starters on many menus.
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4. Lentil Soup
You won’t beat granny’s lentil soup, so if you get invited to someone’s house for Sunday dinner, take them up on that offer.
Lentil soup comes in a bowl and is crammed with lentils, onion, carrot and sometimes other vegetables like leeks.
This soup can be made with meat or without.
It is usually served thick with a big lump of bread and butter.
The perfect lunch for rainy and cripser autumn days.
5. Steak Pie
Steak pie is a traditional Scottish meal enjoyed all year round but especially on New Year’s Day, Jan 1st.
Stewed steak is cooked in a gravy sauce and topped with pastry.
Some prefer their pastry soggy (me) while others like it when it disappears with a fork prick (weirdos).
Steak pie is a filling meal served with potatoes or chips (thick-cut fries) and vegetables such as carrots and peas.
Trigger warning: My family adds sausage to their steak pie recipe. Controversial!
Where to try steak pie in Edinburgh: Auld Hundred on Rose Street
6. Fish and Chips
Fish and chips or fish and chups, is a hugely popular meal in Scotland.
Fresh fish is battered (a mixture of egg, milk and flour), fried and served on a plate or in a packet, depending on whether you are dining in or taking away from a ‘chippy’.
Special fish is usually a fish dipped in egg and breadcrumbs before being fried.
Both are served with mountains for chips which are thick cut potatoes.
Across Scotland, locals smother their fish and chips in one or a mix of the following:
- Brown sauce – not Heinz, special watered (vinegar) down sauce
- Red sauce – tomato
In Edinburgh, locals are very particular about this; chips should be covered in salt ‘n’ sauce, not vinegar.
Some cafes do a fish and chips high tea which is a sit-down meal among the greasy fryer, accompanied with buttered bread and Irn Bru (see below) or a cup of tea.
Where to eat fish and chips in Edinburgh: Upmarket – The Fishmarket, Newhaven
7. Vegan Tofu “Fish” & Chips at Harmonium
Fried items and seafood are two things that are deeply anchored in the Scottish diet.
Fish and chips is a staple in takeaway shops (chippys) and traditional Scottish restaurants alike.
Traditionally made from haddock or cod, the rise of veganism in Scotland has seen restaurants offering a vegan version of this Scottish classic too!
The vegan “fish” part of the dish is made from thick slices of banana blossoms.
The banana blossom is often wrapped in seaweed to give it a hint of the sea and then battered the same ways as fish.
Some chippys even offer the option to fry the vegan “fish” supper in a separate frier.
A great place to try vegan “fish” and chips in Edinburgh is Harmonium, a vegan gastro-pub in the trendy neighbourhood of Leith.
Their menu is a mix of veganised Scottish classics and comfort food, and the location is perfect for a pub crawl through Leith right after dinner.
by Kathi from Glasgow Vegan Guide
Where to eat vegan fish and chips: Harmonium, 60 Henderson Street.
We don’t just eat our fish fried, Scotland also serves up haddock, cod, sea bass, plaice, halibut, sea trout, salmon, mussels, scallops, calamari, oysters, langoustine, scallops, herring, kippers, smoked kippers (Arbroath smokies) and you can try them all in the capital.
Many of Edinburgh’s most romantic restaurants focus on fresh Scottish produce so you can look forward to lots of seafood items on their menus.
Where to eat seafood in Edinburgh: The Ship On The Shore, Teuchters Landing, Fishers
Read next | 40 Scottish words you should learn
9. Cullen Skink
Cullen Skink is a thick Scottish soup that traditionally contains smoked haddock, onions and potatoes in either milk or cream.
Cullen Skink hails from the small fishing town of Cullen on the northeast coast of Scotland, famous in the past for its haddock.
Today Cullen Skink is often made with any type of smoked fish, sometimes leeks instead of onions and some versions include mashed potatoes to make the soup thicker.
It’s the smoked fish that brings the major flavour to this, but the Cullen Skink that you eat will depend on the specific chef.
A small bowl of Cullen Skink is traditionally served at major Scottish events as a starter, but for many, this hearty fish soup will more than suffice as a main course, especially as it is usually served with bread.
Where to eat Cullen Skink: The Albanach Pub, 197 High Street.
Sarah Carter of Let’s Grow Cook
Stovies is a very filling winter meal enjoyed by families in Scotland.
Each household has its own way of making it.
Some use corned beef, onions and potatoes (boiled in milk), others turn their nose up at this economical version, opting for leftover meat (beef/lamb) or sausage instead.
Then the controversy deepens; do you accompany your stovies with red or brown sauce?
Whatever way you cook it or eat it, you will feel content after it.
Ps. My family cooks stovies with corned beef but adds cuts of sausage through it.
Pies before thighs!
Pies in the UK differ from the North American sweet pies, ours are savoury and stuffed full of meat and other ingredients.
The pastry is used as a casing to keep the insides from spilling out.
Fillings can be anything from steak, mince, chicken, or even macaroni cheese.
Where to eat pies in Edinburgh: The legendary late-night Storries on Leith Walk (takeaway).
A note about bakers in Scotland.
A ‘bakers’ in Scotland sells bread, rolls, cakes such as empire biscuit and fudge doughnuts, and savoury pastry goods such as pies and sausage rolls.
Some also do soup, stovies and sandwiches.
In Edinburgh, you will find specialist bakeries which serve pastries and bread products akin to French bakers, but outside of Scotland’s cities, bakers are as described above.
It is now common for local bakers to sell their products in corner shops and small supermarkets such as the Co-op.
Desserts to Try in Edinburgh
12. Fresh Strawberries
Many don’t know this but Scotland’s strawberries are lovely in summer and can be handpicked close to Edinburgh in the Kingdom of Fife!
In season, you will find plenty of options on menus including super sweet strawberry tarts.
13. Scottish Shortbread
Beloved by royals and commoners alike, Scottish shortbread is a must-eat food in Edinburgh.
Traditionally made with only three ingredients, flour, butter, and sugar, Scottish shortbread comes in all shapes and sizes, from simple fingers to decorated biscuits.
Its buttery, crumbly, and subtly sweet profile is utterly addictive.
While shortbread is often served with tea, it pairs wonderfully with chocolate, fruit, and even cheese.
There’s also no shame in eating it by the handful directly from the tin.
Shortbread is one of Scotland’s most popular souvenirs, and it’s easy to find plenty of tartan-patterned tins along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile gift shops.
But for a more authentic place to try and buy biscuits, head straight to the source, Shortbread House of Edinburgh.
Located in the wharf district of Leith, Shortbread House bakes and distributes dozens of flavours, from dark chocolate to Sicilian lemon.
Lucky visitors might even get a glimpse inside the factory where the magic happens.
Chelsea, The Portable Wife
What’s the fastest of all the cakes?
Scones are a wheat or oatmeal baked good typically made plain or with fruit such as raisins.
This afternoon delight is best served with butter or cream and jam.
Whether you put the cream or jam on first to the sliced scone divides the nation!
This snack should be washed down with a cup of tea.
Where to eat scones in Edinburgh: Cramond Falls Cafe or as part of an afternoon tea.
15. Sticky Toffee Pudding
Dense toffee sponge drenched in toffee sauce served piping hot with cold ice cream. What’s not to like?
This English cake (Lake District) is commonly featured on Scottish restaurant menus.
16. Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers and Teacakes
No Scotland food guide would be complete without a nod to our nation’s leading biscuit producer; Tunnock’s.
Pick up a pack of Teacakes and Wafers as souvenirs.
If they last that long!
Unique Food To Eat in Edinburgh
The following things to eat in Edinburgh are either traditional meals with a twist, dishes you are familiar with hooked up with a side serving of something Scottish, or just really great food we had to mention.
17. Haggis Eggs Benedict
You can’t go to Edinburgh without trying haggis eggs benedict.
This classic brunch food usually consists of some sort of bread or English muffin, topped with bacon, poached eggs, and creamy hollandaise sauce.
Variations, where the bacon is switched for spinach or smoked salmon, are common, but in Edinburgh, you can try a more unique version with haggis instead!
Loudons is a popular cafe that began in Fountainbridge and now also has a branch near the train station called Loudons New Waverley.
They have all day breakfast, lunch options, burgers, delicious cakes, coffees and cocktails.
But the best option by far is their menu dedicated to eggs benedict, or “Bennys”.
You’ll find all sorts of delicious variations to appeal to different tastes.
There are currently two haggis options, one with caramelised onion and cheese and another that includes pulled pork and macaroni cheese.
You shouldn’t leave Edinburgh without giving one a go!
They offer lots of vegan and gluten-free options as well as a dedicated kids menu and are very family-friendly.
Definitely one to add to the list.
Where to eat haggis eggs benedict: Loudons, 2 Sibbald Walk/94B Fountainbridge
Sonja, Scotland For Families
18. Baked/Jacket Potato With Haggis
Baked potatoes, also known as jacket potatoes, are popular in several countries around the world.
But in Edinburgh, you may be surprised at the variety of fillings that they are topped with.
You can even have baked potatoes stuffed with haggis!
The Baked Potato Shop is a great place to try one, as it’s their specialty and the only thing they sell at this hole-in-the-wall eatery in the Old Town.
Potatoes come in three sizes, small, medium and large – but be warned that even the medium is huge!
A small potato with a couple of fillings will probably be sufficient for most appetites.
All the fillings here are vegetarian (including the haggis), and they also provide lots of vegan, gluten-free and other allergen-free options, so it’s perfect for vegan travellers or those with other dietary restrictions.
The location on Cockburn Street near the Royal Mile is very convenient for sightseeing, but be prepared to take away your potato, as the restaurant is tiny and has only one table.
Where to eat it: The Baked Potato Shop, 56 Cockburn Street
Wendy Werneth, The Nomadic Vegan
19. Pulled Pork Roll
This little roll of heaven is jam-packed with freshly cooked roast pork and has a generous dollop of apple sauce inside.
There are other sauces and varieties you can choose from but the original certainly is the best.
Don’t forget to take your piece of crackling out as well and save it to the very end to get that last taste of heaven before it’s all gone.
Eat it straight away in the shop or just out the front of the shop as soon as you get it.
You must be quick, only one pig is cooked per day and when it sells out you miss out!
Where to eat pulled pork: Oink, 82 Canongate
Bec, Wyld Family Travel
20. Posh Mac and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese wasn’t invented in Scotland but it sure is loved by locals, and you can bet on your life that it features in every pub grub menu in Edinburgh.
It is no surprise than Scots adore this dish since it marries carbs and fat together.
Need more proof of this mac and cheese commitment? There’s a Scottish Macaroni Cheese Society!
In hip restaurants, you will find ‘posh mac & cheese’ on the menu.
This version is a thick cheese sauce with chunky pieces of bacon.
Sound good? Check out The City Cafe for a huge portion coming in at less than a tenner!
After that, if you fancy something a little sweet with a kick, then go for their ‘Boozy Shakes’. ith seven to choose from you can’t go wrong.
The City Cafe is an American diner with outdoor seating and a downstairs area for events like karaoke.
One of Edinburgh’s hidden gems.
Where to eat mac and cheese: The City Cafe, 19 Blair Street
Charlotte, Bursting My Bubbles
21. Chop Chop’s Award-Winning Dumplings
Chop Chop is a small independent Chinese restaurant on Morrison Street run by Jian Wang and her family, who arrived from Changchun in North-Eastern China in 1997.
The restaurant quickly became a favourite with locals and it gained further prominence after appearing on Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word.
Gordon enjoyed Jian’s signature dumplings so much he claimed Chop Chop was the best Chinese restaurant in Scotland.
The dumplings are well worth a jaunt across Edinburgh and now you can even order these delicious little bundles of pure joy and collect from their warehouse in Loanhead so you eat them at home.
Recommended dumplings include the boiled pork and coriander and the fried beef and chilli dumplings.
Once you’ve ordered, the waiter or waitress will show you how to create your dipping sauce from soy sauce, garlic, chilli flakes and vinegar and dishes arrive as and when they are ready.
Where to eat dumplings: Chop Chop, 248 Morrison Street
Nicola, Funky Ellas Travel
22. Affordable Curry
Good food in Edinburgh does not have to break the holiday budget.
An institution in Edinburgh, Mosque Kitchen is an informal, family-friendly restaurant at really affordable prices.
Expect no-frills, buffet-style dining with vegan options.
Where to eat cheap curry: The Mosque Kitchen, 31-33 Nicolson Square
Not the first thing that springs to mind for Edinburgh food but we love Bross Bagels when we need to get our hole!
There are a variety of shops around the city serving deli meats, fish and salad on fresh bagels.
Edinburgh is an amazing destination for any burger lover.
Pubs, restaurants and local chains have sprouted to bring us the most delicious meaty temptation.
And the best of them all is possibly Bread Meats Bread, based on Lothian Road, right next to the Filmhouse and with a tempting neon sign luring you in.
This scrumptious eatery won Scotland’s Best Burger award in 2016 and has in their menu more than 25 different varieties, which include a wide selection of vegan ones.
One of their best sellers is the delicious Lothian Wolf, which is their signature burger with American cheese, bacon, spicy ‘Nduja & pulled pork in tangy BBQ sauce.
The portions are huge but if you’re hungry, order a side of their wonderful poutine.
Where to eat burgers in Edinburgh: Bread Meats Bread, 92 Lothian Rd,
Patrícia Cuní, Mad About Travel
25. Deep-Fried Mars Bar
The rumour is true.
You can buy deep-fried Mars Bar from chip shops in Edinburgh.
Mars Bar is a popular British chocolate bar by the confectionary company, Mars.
Popular since the 1930s, the Scots pondered – how can we make this high fat snack even worse for your health?
Oh, we’ll dip it in batter and pop it in the fryer.
Not every chippy makes this monstrosity because it plays havoc with the fryers, but you can sample it at the Castle Rock Chip Shop on the Grassmarket.
Keep your eyes peeled for special promos; deep-fried Creme Egg anyone?
Where to eat deep-fried Mars Bar: Castle Rock Chip Shop, 87 Grassmarket
Taking it too far? Fierce Edinburgh has a deep fried Mars burger on the menu.
Imagine you have a shot of espresso in one hand and a bowl of gelato in the other.
Put them together, and you have a refreshing Italian creation known as affogato.
I first experienced this treat at Mary’s Milk Bar.
Mary’s charming and quirky cafe is situated in the Grassmarket and has a perfect view of the iconic Castle Wynd Steps to Edinburgh Castle.
Once a chocolatier, Mary went to Italy to train in the art of gelato.
Now she makes fresh chocolate and gelato each morning in an intriguing variety of flavours.
The selection changes daily, so you never know what you will find.
It might be pistachio/cardamom, or orange/chocolate, or stilton/pear or rhubarb/ginger – she’s a fusion genius!
It’s the perfect place to be adventurous in your sweet pursuits. The gelato is served on cute little trays in vintage glass dishes.
For my affogato base, I’m partial to her tasty salted caramel.
To enjoy an affogato, simply pour the espresso over the gelato, (how fitting that the literal translation of affogato is “drowned”) and dig in!
Remember to grab some chocolate gifts for your friends on your way out – if you have the willpower not to eat them!
Where to eat it: Mary’s Milk Bar, 19 Grassmarket,
Lilly, Find Her in the Highlands
Drink in Edinburgh and Scotland
Whisky is one of Scotland’s top exports and the reason why many visitors come to Scotland.
This popular tipple is also known as the water of life or Uisce Beatha (Gaelic).
You may have noticed that our whisky does not have an ‘e’ at the end like our Irish friends use.
This is because the Scots interpreted Gaelic as whisky with no e, while the Irish took the additional letter.
To use the name without an ‘e’, the whisky must be produced and matured in Scotland.
The maturing process takes at least three years.
Peat whisky is popular in Scotland while the Irish use no peat or very little during production.
There is no shortage of whisky in Edinburgh’s bars, but if you are looking for dedicated shelves stacked with all variations check out Teuchter’s Bar, Usquabae and The Black Cat (live music).
Whisky fans should check out the Edinburgh Whisky Experience just off the Royal Mile.
28. Craft Beer in Edinburgh
After spending six months in Vancouver, my husband (Craig) had a lot to complain about when it came to beer in Scotland.
Luckily, Caledonia has now caught up with the rest of the world when it comes to craft beer and there is a lot of choice for beer fans.
Found in every city in most Western countries, you are never far from a Brewdog.
Founded just outside of Aberdeen, there are three Edinburgh locations – Cowgate, Lothian Road and Edinburgh Airport.
Punk IPA is Craig’s go-to.
Innis & Gunn is another household name who has a taproom on Lothian Road.
Six°north is growing its base with taprooms in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee (Dynamo Dundee).
For smaller craft beer companies, my cousin, a brew specialist who works for six°north, suggests Pilot (Mochaccino Stout), Campervan and Crossboarders.
Read next | Our Edinburgh craft beer guide
29. Edinburgh Gin
Let the games be gin!
Distilleries in and around Edinburgh started the production of their whisky but suddenly realised, this is going to take a long time.
Wise business-minded folks came up with a brilliant plan; they’d distil gin while they waited on their whisky maturing.
Little did they know that their tiding over project would make them their millions and put Edinburgh on the alcohol map for flavoured and infused gin.
If you are new to Edinburgh, expect to see coloured gin swishing about huge fishbowl glasses in Edinburgh pubs, gin flavoured cocktails on every bar drinks menu, gin-infused sweets (candy) in shops, gin smelling candles at markets and afternoon teas fuelled with gin.
You can even drink gin and eat cakes on a double-decker bus!
Gin is so popular, the distilleries have opened their doors to punters so you can see the process at both Edinburgh Gin and Pickering’s Gin distilleries.
Where to drink gin in Edinburgh: 56 North, 2 West Crosscauseway + everywhere
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30. Buckfast Tonic Wine
Buckfast Wine, or Buckfast ‘Tonic’ Wine, to give its somewhat dubious medicinal credentials, is a caffeinated fortified wine originally made by the monks of Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England.
It is an unlikely drink of choice adopted north of the border in Scotland where it has a massive cult following throughout.
However, Buckfast is rarely thought of as a ‘foodie’ drink in Scotland, where it is often more the opposite given its association with alcoholism, crime and antisocial behaviour.
This just adds to the fascination and intrigue of food tourists and gastro-tourism along with its almost biblical backstory, and a huge cult following locally.
Buckfast is now more accepted in the culinary world, including cookbooks and even TV chef Martin Blunos created a gourmet Christmas dinner centred around Buckfast.
Unfortunately, the negative stigma of Buckfast has seen it pulled from the shelves of many supermarkets meaning it is now best found at local off-licenses (shops that sell alcohol).
To find out which shops sell it, try the ‘Find Me Bucky’ app or go to one of the few bars that sell it.
Edinburgh has adopted the infamous tipple in a more sophisticated way through mixology and bar menus including the famous Buckfast Daiquiris at the Paradise Palms.
Where to drink Buckfast respectably: Paradise Palms, 41 Lothian Street.
Allan Wilson, It’s Sometimes Sunny in Bangor
31. Cider in Scotland
Surely cider is from the south, no?
True, but the Scots like to booze and are now turning their hand to different varieties of drinks and cider is one of them.
Since 2008, Thistly Cross Cider, try saying that after a few, have been producing cider just outside of Edinburgh.
Locally sourced apples are pressed at the East Lothian base to create their award-winning Core Apple and Real Fruit ciders.
Obviously, it’s Scotland so whisky sneaks its way into every alcoholic beverage, Whisky Cask is a cider distilled in Glen Moray casks giving it a hint of oak, vanilla and honey.
32. Irn Bru
Scotland’s national soft drink, Irn Bru is made from a special recipe and sold in tins and glass bottles.
Renowned for its outlandish advertising campaigns and its re-running take on The Snowman, Irn Bru is a fluorescent orange national treasure which is loved by some and confuses others.
Where to drink Irn Bru: buy it at a corner shop or supermarket.
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