Top 10: Best restaurants in Edinburgh

Edinburgh offers some of the most incredible restaurants in the world. Discover great beer and great eats in Rose Street, Royal Mile and Grassmarket. What are the best restaurants? Edinburgh Events’ experts select their pick of the capital’s best restaurants.

1. Zara’s Mediterranean Bistro

Having a consistent emphasis on fresh ingredients and a warm, friendly welcome, Zara’s Mediterranean Bistro has become one of the rising stars among the many Mediterranean restaurants in the Edinburgh city. It’s a family run business starting from humble beginnings in 1990’s, they have recently expanded their operations and seating capacity to give you an even more relaxing and enjoyable dining experience.

  • Lunch or dinner around £25-£40
  • Reservations recommended
  • 0131 225 2333 |  Visit Website

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2. Restaurant Martin Wishart

 

Awarded the first Michelin star in Edinburgh in 2001, Martin Wishart was a fine-dining pioneer in Leith. The restaurant serves what I can only describe as tweezer food with attitude: painstakingly composed to create the prettiest plates imaginable but full of intense and sometimes surprising flavours. The piped music is puzzlingly intrusive for such an elegant, restrained setting, but it is the only off-note in a more often than not pitch-perfect composition.

The six-course tasting menu, including the signature crevice of Gigha halibut with mango and passion fruit, costs £75; there are fish and shellfish version for the same price or, more unusually, a £70 vegetarian tasting menu as well. If fiscal responsibility intrudes, try the terrific Tuesday to Friday lunch menu for £28.50, or head to Wishart’s popular brasserie, The Honours, on Castle Street just down the hill from Princes Street.

3. The Kitchin

Cherubic-looking Tom Kitchin took only six months to earn his first Michelin star at this restaurant in a converted warehouse on a previously uninspiring street in Leith. Applying classical French technique and exactitude to predominantly Scottish ingredients, he doesn’t just talk the talk about his ‘nature to plate’ philosophy. With a new facelift and expanded premises, it should be a little easier to get a table at the weekend or during the summer, but it is still safest to book well in advance – although it is always worth checking for last-minute cancellations.

4. Number One, The Balmoral

With Jeff Bland, the executive chef who’s held a Michelin star for 13 years, and his talented head chef Brian Grigor, the newly refurbished Number One at the Balmoral Hotel continues the tradition of serving some of Edinburgh’s best food. The deep red lacquered walls, covered in an intriguing selection of modern art, warm oak floors, deep banquettes, and generous space between tables give a feeling of old-school glamour and ease. There’s nothing old school about the cooking, though, with dishes to make you sigh with quiet pleasure – the signature Balvenie smoked salmon is a silken, citrusy delight.

  • Three-course a la carte menu £70
  • Reservations recommended
  • 0131 557 6727 | Visit Website

5. The Gardener’s Cottage

With communal seating at two tables in one room and one table in the other, this little restaurant is no place for misanthropes. It really was a gardener’s cottage although it sits rather incongruously just off the busy London Road. They grow vegetables out front to prove their credentials and the look is sympathetically simple, although I would describe the cooking as sophisticated-rustic. If you are a vegetarian or have allergies, request a copy of the set menu in advance so they can accommodate your needs. For those who just have to have a choice, lunch is served à la carte and there is brunch at weekends.

  • Lunch around £25-£30
  • Reservations recommended
  • 0131 558 1221 |  Visit Website

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6. Restaurant Mark Greenaway

You have to love a man who is all about puddings, which means I have the biggest crush in the world on Mark Greenaway. Peanut caramel cheesecake has my name written all over it, although 11-hour slow-roasted belly pork makes me go weak at the knees as well. Since his appearance on the TV show The Great British Menu, tables at the restaurant have been more in demand than ever, but the £22 pre-theatre Market Menu is worth eating early for.

  • Lunch or dinner around £35
  • Reservations recommended
  • 0131 226 1155 | Visit Website

7. The Scran and Scallie

‘Scran’ is a Scottish word for food, while ‘scallie’ appears to mean squint-eyed — which must refer to people having trouble with the menu, which is littered with phrases like: ‘sit ye down yer welcome’ and ‘nae meat, nae fish’. Don’t let these regrettable lapses into tweeness send you running for the door because the food at Tom and Michaela Kitchin’s new venture is as good as you would expect from a man with two Michelin-starred restaurants on his CV. The sheep’s head broth is a great deal better than it might sound and main course portions of fish pie and meltingly delicious braised hogget are enormous. If you want to be sure of a table make a reservation, but they do hold a few tables back every service for walk-ins.Children allowed until 10 pm.

8. The Dogs

David Ramsden, the owner of The Dogs, is an Edinburgh restaurant stalwart (and well-known curmudgeon), and this consistently good, mid-priced place to eat is his response to the ubiquitous gastropub. It serves what can only be described as good, honest cooking in an appealingly rambling, just the right side of scruffy setting. The menu is heavy on recession-busting offal and cheaper cuts of meat, like liver, oxtail, venison and rabbit. The wine list is as straightforward as the food, with many bottles under £20. It is usefully located on Hanover Street between Princes Street and George Street.

  • Dinner around £20-£30
  • Reservations recommended
  • 0131 220 1208 |  Visit Website

9. Ting Thai Caravan

Chef Ting’s restaurant started life as an itinerant pop-up across several Festival seasons before disappearing again like a swallow with a poor sense of direction. However, it has now settled into an Old Town nest and shows no sign of flying off anytime soon. This is as close as Edinburgh gets to real Thai street food: hot, sour, sweet, slippery, crispy, comforting and utterly addictive. It is food for sharing… and fighting over. The food comes in cardboard boxes, they don’t take credit or debit cards, you can’t book, service is stripped back and so is the decor, but who cares when it all tastes so good? If you don’t like perching on high stools at communal tables you can order take-takeaway either way be prepared to wait – everyone wants a taste of the Thai life.

10. Timberyard

Modern yet traditional, cool yet unpretentious, Timberyard is set in a converted warehouse. On the menu, you’ll find responsibly sourced seasonal ingredients such as trout and lamb, combined with more unusual items like daikon radishes and Woodruff. While the larder is strictly Scottish, there’s a Scandinavian feel to the decor and food presentation will make a fascinating culinary journey unforgettable.

  • Dinner around £70 – £100
  • Reservations recommended
  • 0131 221 1222 |  Visit Website