Eating & Drinking in Our Festival City

Food Scottish 975x400

When you're in Edinburgh for our many festivals, make sure to take advantage of the great restaurants, bistros, pubs and bars on offer. The Scottish capital has a huge range of cuisine options for every budget and taste, as well as offering more pubs per square mile than any other city on the world (or so they say...).

Here are just a handful of our favourite independent spots in 12 areas across the city - with one bar, restaurant and cafe per area - all perfect for festivalgoers throughout the year.

Edinburgh Castle Area

  • Restaurant: Cannonball, Castlehill – Historic 17th century three storey building in the heart of the Old Town, with fabulous views of Edinburgh Castle serving the very best of Scottish seasonal produce
  • Bar: Bow Bar, Victoria Street - Has everything you could possibly wish for from a traditional Scottish pub, including a superb location, with 140 malt whiskeys, no pretensions and no games or music to fray the nerves, just a straightforward pub ambiance.
  • Cate: Saint Giles Cafe Bar, Saint Giles Street - A firm favourite with tourists and locals alike, bare brick and wood floors give rustic feel to a buzzing, friendly coffee or lunch hangout.

Royal Mile/Netherbow Area

  • Restaurant: Monteiths, High Street - Provenance is hugely important & we work closely with our suppliers to ensure our food comes from farm, to plate as quickly as possible, frequently changing the menu to reflect the changing seasons & best showcase Scotland’s larder
  • Café: Storytelling Centre, High Street - Serves a great range of hot drinks and traditional food, situated right in the middle of the Royal Mile, and now hosts The Haggis Box who put a delicious street-food style twist on Scotland’s national dis
  • Bar: The Waverley Bar, St Mary Street - Owned by the same Walker family dynasty since it opened its doors in the 1920s, this wonderful watering hole, complete with eclectic Festival fringe fliers from years gone by adorning the ceiling, is one of the Capital's iconic and much loved pubs. 

National Museum/Chambers Street Area

  • Bar: Royal Oak, Infirmary Street - A 200 year old pub and folk music venue, steeped in history and atmosphere, well known for its live music sessions and for having one of the city’s smallest and most intimate bar areas
  • Restaurant: Mother India, Infirmary Street - Their ethos is based upon the simple idea of authentic, high quality and delicious Indian home cooking served in a relaxing, welcoming and comfortable dining environment - the best of Indian sub-continental food at affordable prices
  • Café: Dovecot Studios, Infirmary Street - From delicious baguettes, a selection of salads and warming soups, to indulgent cakes and biscuits, this café is the perfect spot for lunch, snacks, and some of the best coffee around and changing daily specials

University/Bristo Square Area

  • Restaurant: El Cartel, Teviot Place -  Their eats are influenced by their favourite taquerias, cantinas and street side carts to bring you a real taste of Mexico, with the flavours fresh and zesty and every dish made to order from scratch.
  • Bar: Sandy Bells, Forrest Road - A local pub, a world-famous meeting place for musicians and an institution – and a night at Bell’s can be a totally unpredictable musical adventure with traditional sounds from Scotland, Ireland, and around the world.
  • Cafe: Thomas Walls, Forrest Road - This spot has a spectrum of coffee, teas, and hot cocoas, a great breakfast and spacious digs, making it a perfect place to whip out the computer and check emails, or spread an actual newspaper over the table.

College of Art/Lauriston Place Area

  • Restaurant: Timberyard, Lady Lawson Street - A family-run restaurant, set in an authentic warehouse dating back to the 19th century, the menu is ingredient led, created with respect to nature & produce, sourced from local, artisan suppliers & Scotland’s larder.
  • Bar: The Blue Blazer - The Blue Blazer is a traditional Edinburgh pub, with the building having been a pub since at least 19893, boasting one of the finest selections of drinks in the city and a happy hang-out for musos and quiz heads, bookshop workers and football fans all at once. 
  • Café: Lovecrumbs, West Port - Attracts a vibrant community of local residents, art students, office workers and visitors who all enjoy homemade sweet treats, savoury snacks and speciality coffee in their casual and friendly space.

 Kings Theatre/Tollcross Area

  • Bar: Bennets, Leven Street - This magnificent Victorian pub has an historic long bar with its original tiered and alcoved gantry housing the vast whisky collection, with the round glass-topped tables featuring Ordnance Survey maps of Edinburgh and Scotland adding a great look
  • Restaurant: Hendersons, Barclay Place - A vegetarian and vegan restaurant with a lot of history, being started by the grandson of the original Hendersons on Hanover Street, one of the UKs longest running vegetarian restaurant
  • Café: The Treehouse, Leven Street - With tasty food, reasonable prices and a lovely, relaxed atmosphere, this café is unpretentious and a great place to go for a lunchtime bite or Sunday brunch, with ample tea, coffee and cakes on offer as well.

 Festival Square/Lothian Road Area

  • Restaurant: Ting Thai Caravan, Lothian Road - First fired up their woks at the Festivals in 2012 offering authentic Thai street food to the festival masses and their family of Thai chefs have been serving up their dishes ever since.
  • Bar: Innis and Gunn Taproom, Lothian Road - A great bar from a great independent brewery where you’ll find a selection of craft beers (26 taps!), as well as their delicious, tank fresh Innis & Gunn Lager Beer delivered straight from the brewery – and an extensive selection of wines, spirits and cocktails to suit every palate.
  • Café: Filmhouse, Lothian Road - Home to Scotland's leading independent cinema, the Filmhouse Café is a great place to hang out in the cafe/bar in a relaxed and comfortable environment, serving traditional and International food from light snacks, cooked breakfast to full meals.

 West End/West Princes Street Area

  • Bar: Teuchters, William Street - A freehouse well known as a venue for rugby fans, it’s a hidden gem centred around the large whisky selection which includes around 120 single malts, and an incredible choice of predominantly scottish independent beers & much more.
  • Restaurant: La P’tite Folie, Randoph Place - A lively and charmingly cosy place in the midst of Edinburgh’s West End, this delightful venue offers authentic French dining in a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere
  • Café: Cairngorm, Melville Street - A West End hangout serving vibrant food and a curated coffee menu, with the corner position, plus big beautiful windows, making this spot perfect for watching the busy world go by.

 George Street Area

  • Cafe: Urban Angel, Hanover Street - Sits in a space that's long been a meeting point for those looking for great food and fantastic coffee, all served in a relaxed atmosphere, and for the past 15 years they've been using carefully sourced ingredients to nourish our customers all day, every day.
  • Restaurant: Contini, George Street - This beautiful, vibrant buzzy Italian restaurant is situated in one of Edinburgh’s most beautiful rooms, modelled on a Florentine Palazzo and delivering everything you want from a fabulous, authentic contemporary Italian restaurant.  
  • Bar: Oxford Bar, Young Street - One aspect of its history is its significance as a watering-hole favoured by Scottish writers and artists, a tradition dating back to the 19th century but drawn into the public eye more recently by the Ian Rankin/Inspector Rebus connection.

East Princes Street Area

  • Restaurant: Howies, Waterloo Place - Housed in a gorgeous Georgian building, Howies Waterloo Place sits at the foot of Calton Hill and is ‘Scottish, seasonal & seriously tasty’, using only the very best ethically sourced Scottish produce from local suppliers.
  • Bar: Café Royal, West Register Street - Drink or dine in this historic and opulent setting, decked with stunning original Royal Doulton Faience ceramic tile panels depicting famous inventors, a stunning example of Victorian Baroque which lends itself wonderfully to the enjoyment of time spent drinking and dining with family and friends.
  • Café: Pep & Fodder, Waterloo Place - Comfy, unpretentious, popular lunch spot with the air of a New York deli, the menu is mostly made up of well-crafted salads, paninis and cakes, with a couple of soups usually on the go

Playhouse/Top of Leith Walk Area

  • Bar: Joseph Pearce, Elm Row - A landmark in Edinburgh which has been open since 1898 and is the perfect place to stop for some drinks after a busy day at work or after shopping, while also being family friendly throughout the day
  • CafeNational Portrait Gallery, Queen Street - The ground floor counter-service café combines sleek contemporary styling with a high church-like ceiling and wonderfully gothic windows, serving trademark made from scratch soups, sandwiches and home-baking.
  • Restaurant: Gardeners Cottage, London Road - , This quirky little eatery was once home to a royal gardener and much of the produce comes from the kitchen garden. The two cosy, simply furnished rooms have long communal tables. Well-presented modern dishes feature on a frequently changing set menu and salmon is cured in the on-site smokehouse.

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