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Edinburgh and the Lothians Travel Guide

The 15 Best Restaurants in Edinburgh

There's so much more than haggis.

Times have changed for Scottish food. It is no longer the mockable wasteland of deep-fried goods and stodgy carbs; the food scene in Scotland’s capital is now vibrant and exciting. From elegant Michelin-starred ventures to unassuming chef’s favorites to classic pubs, visitors to Edinburgh will be pleasantly surprised by the range and quality of this city’s exciting offerings. These are the best restaurants in Edinburgh.

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Timberyard 10 Lady

WHERE: Lawson St, Edinburgh EH3 9DS

This Michelin-starred, family-run restaurant is a warm and welcoming treasure. A vast cocoon of dark wood and elegantly spaced tables, this converted warehouse has an almost holy ambiance for such an industrial space. In keeping with current trends, they serve locally sourced artisanal produce and a gorgeous wine list sourced from growers who “respect the land and grape.” While creative, the food remains pleasantly hearty and unpretentious – you can leave full and satisfied. The unique space and elegant food provide a sense of ceremony, which makes Timberyard a wonderful spot for a special occasion, while the affable staff keeps the atmosphere relaxed.

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WHERE: 30-31 Albert Pl, Edinburgh EH7 5HN

From the team behind local favorite The Little Chartroom, eleanore opened on Leith Walk a couple of years ago. There is a kind of restrained dignity to the interior, rustic but simple, that feels refreshing and modern in a city of dark restaurants. This is a relaxed room serving elevated food. And oh – the food! Served across set menus, the dishes are rich, fresh, and thoughtfully layered. The plating is beautiful and the friendly staff are accommodating to dietary requests. It is easy to see why eleanore is generally regarded by locals as one of the most exciting restaurants in town.

INSIDER TIPKeep room for the gorgeous deserts.


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The Palmerston

WHERE: 1 Palmerston Pl, Edinburgh EH12 5AF

Opened in 2022, The Palmerston has quickly become the name to drop in this city. Also awarded a Michelin star, there is an old-fashioned, comfortable energy to the experience, akin to a classic bistro in Paris. The space also has the kind of rustic elegance familiar to classic European restaurants. Known for its sustainable, whole-animal approach to food, the menu is sturdy and ever-changing according to the seasons and available local produce. The kind of lavish, hearty fare that brings to mind words like “mead” and “stew” even though what you are actually eating is exciting, fresh, and elevated.

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WHERE: 47a Thistle St, Edinburgh EH2 1DY

A clean and compact spot nestled on charming Thistle Street, Noto is a hidden gem offering innovative Asian-inspired food made with local Scottish produce. The space brings to mind that certain breed of minimalist style associated with Scandinavia while the bustling energy offers a cosy atmosphere. Clean white walls and dark floors are adorned only with plants – wry old branches that dance across the wall like charcoal drawings. This is food for sharing, small plates full of joy. There is a coolness here; you can feel the time that the chef and owner spent working in NYC.

INSIDER TIPThe small bar always saves room for walk-ins; it is a warm and intimate spot to enjoy their delicious natural wines and share plates.


5 OF 15

Free Company

WHERE: Balerno, Midlothian, Edinburgh EH14 7HZ

The Free Company, a farm on the outskirts of Edinburgh that practices regenerative agriculture, offers a unique dining experience. Their restaurant space opens seasonally and creates a literal farm-to-table meal; the changing menus are all sourced from the animals and vegetables they cultivate on their land. Their ticketed evenings go on sale periodically through the website and create evenings where guests sit at communal tables and “pay what you think it is worth” bills at the end. These open-hearted choices, combined with their truly sustainable approach, infuse their food with genuinely good values, making everything more enjoyable. This is more than a meal; it is a special kind of experience.

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WHERE: 162 Ferry Rd., Edinburgh EH6 4NX

This is a vibrant, casual restaurant that started as a pop-up during lockdown, a joyful family venture in which the matriarch still does all of the cooking. And what she cooks is amazing: lively Punjabi street food inspired by recipes that have been handed down for generations. Fresh produce and an ever-changing menu keep things feeling alive and exciting while the space is colorful and cheerful. Their motto, “good food with good people,” tells you all you need to know, really – this is a great choice for a relaxed, friendly, and satisfying meal.


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WHERE: 50-54 Henderson St, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6DE

An independent bistro, Borough is run by a husband and wife team offering artistic dishes in a set menu format. Nestled on a quiet street near Leith’s shore, this is a very contemporary-style restaurant with a spare, modern décor. Scotland’s bounty is presented in clean, creative recipes which allow distinct flavours and textures to sing. The restaurant appears unassuming, but the plates look like paintings; this is a friendly neighborhood spot with high-end Michelin credentials.

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Macau Kitchen

WHERE: 93 St. Leonard's St, Edinburgh EH8 9QY

Macau Kitchen is a hidden gem and an inconspicuous chef’s favorite (always a ringing endorsement). This intimate restaurant has a real independent spirit and has won many awards, including Best Asian Fusion Restaurant In Scotland. Their offerings of Macanese and Malacca Portuguese cuisine, inspired by the Portuguese journey along the Asia spice route are unique among the Edinburgh food landscape. The restaurant has both a consistent menu of favorites and ever-changing creative specials inspired by the chef’s personal relationship with Macau and Malacca. With a welcoming atmosphere, BYOB policy, and an authentic menu that encourages sharing, Macau Kitchen is full of joy. When you visit, you, too, will be full of joy – and excellent food. Just be sure to go early if you don’t have a reservation.

INSIDER TIPThe octopus and seafood are particularly good.


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WHERE: 8 Portland Pl, Edinburgh EH6 6LA & 94 Buccleuch St, Newington, Edinburgh EH8 9NH

A cheerful sandwich shop with two locations (in Leith and Newington), this is the spot for bountiful, honest lunches to fuel your long walks around the city. From their sunny, colorful storefronts to their exuberantly filled vertiginous sandwiches, this is a lunch spot free from pretension. There are options for meat, fish, and veggies, and although the prices are not cheap, the portions are generous to the point of it being something of a challenge to even finish a sandwich in one go.


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WHERE: 10-12 Bonnington Rd, Edinburgh EH6 5JD

Mistral is actually a wine shop and bar with small plates, but it warrants inclusion for its painted green storefront alone – a welcome dash of color in Leith’s grey streets. It is the perfect evening choice if you are full up from, say, an Alby’s lunch and just wish to sit at the bar and snack on antipasti while you drink delicious wine. This is a cozy neighborhood spot with a fantastic selection of organic, biodynamic, and natural wines.

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Lucky Yu

WHERE: 53-55 Broughton St, Edinburgh EH1 3RJ

Self-described as “Asian-ish,” Lucky Yu is a fun and stylish new restaurant serving up sharing plates of bao buns, chicken wings, gyozas and the like. This place feels young and full of energy, and the tasty menu reflects this. Joyful flavors, comforting fried food, and playful cocktails are the order of the day here. Warm and friendly, this is a spot to meet friends and linger in.

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WHERE: 7-13 Barclay Pl, Edinburgh EH10 4HW

An Edinburgh institution, this vegetarian café was started by Janet Henderson in 1962, making it the UK’s longest-running vegetarian restaurant. Many hearts were broken when it was forced to close down during the pandemic, and a gaping hole was left in Edinburgh’s food scene. Thankfully, in 2021, it was reincarnated by the Henderson’s grandson in a new location, given a glow-up, and brought into the contemporary scene. This new space is fancier and more modern than the homespun hippy café we were familiar with, but the ethos of healthy, often organic food that is accessible to any dietary requirement remains.

INSIDER TIPA fantastic choice for lunch (they have a £10 deal) followed by a walk across The Meadows.


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Thomas J Wells Coffee

WHERE: Forrest Rd, Edinburgh, EH1 2QN

One of the joys of the city break is, of course, a leisurely morning stretched out with coffee stops and indulgent brunches. Thomas J Wells Coffee, a handsome space that occupies and retains many of the dignified features of a converted opticians, offers excellent options for both. The atmosphere is mellow, the spacious room is decked in elegant wood paneling, and the coffee is lovely. Their brunch menu offers all the contemporary classics – shakshuka, avocado on toast and creative egg options are all here – simple, fresh fare done well. You can happily linger with a book here, relaxing in the jovial company of students, tourists, and locals alike.

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The Outsider

WHERE: 15-16 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EE

The Outsider has been sitting in its prime location for twenty years. Very cool when it opened, it is less trendy these days and oft-forgotten but reliably pleasurable – thanks in no small part to its enchanting views out the back window. It is worth calling to book ahead in the hope of nabbing one of the coveted window seats that look out over the city’s rooftops to Edinburgh Castle. It is a very dramatic and atmospheric spot from which to enjoy your seasonal mussels, steak, or other such modern European fare with a glass from their irreverent wine list.


INSIDER TIPThey have an incredibly well-priced lunch menu for such an elegant restaurant.


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Café Royal

WHERE: 19 W Register St, Edinburgh EH2 2AA

I would be remiss to get through a dining list for Edinburgh without including at least one classic pub. Café Royal is a historic pub of the most refined breed, a Victorian “palace pub” with gilded Parisian-style features and stained glass windows. It claims to be Scotland’s oldest oyster bar, and the seafood is indeed a highlight of this Grande Dame of the Edinburgh scene. Their selection of malt whiskies and ales also makes this a wonderful place to while away a few hours, sampling the finest of Scotland’s famous beverages. Despite the elegance of the fine dining on offer, the atmosphere here is always pleasantly spirited and merry.