Edinburgh’s annual festival bonanza each August is always a blast. But how you approach it depends on whether you’re a local or a tourist, a first timer or a seasoned visitor. And in turn, that’ll determine what and when you eat.
48 Hours in Edinburgh
If you’ve decided to cram everything into 48 hours, quick and filling will be your go-to. Luckily, there are plenty of options around the “Big 4” venues, Assembly, Pleasance, Underbelly and Gilded Balloon. Clustered in the heart of the Old Town, they’re surrounded by Fringe-only pop-ups and year-round stalwarts.
Wings, Tupiniquim and Union of Genius are three year-round eateries guaranteed to satisfy for around £5. Decked out in sci-fi geek chic, Wings does bowls of 6 wings with a choice of 40+ sauces and moist towelettes as standard. Tupiniquim, housed in a colourful police box, offers unbeatable gluten free crepes, packed with fresh, flavourful fillings. Union of Genius serves hearty bowls of soup and chilli, with a daily rotating menu of 6 flavours for all diets.
Three days or more in Edinburgh
With a bit more time to relax, you can consider your menu options and enjoy a drink. Check out Holyrood 9A for a locally-brewed pint and a choice of burgers, or Salt Horse for craft beer and an artisan kebab. Choose Checkpoint Charlie for small plates and a glass of wine, or Under the Stairs for a cocktail and a sophisticated salad. You’d make a fine choice in Field for a sit down lunch or dinner, whilst Brewlab offers a tricky toss up between coffee and cake, and draft beer and substantial sandwiches.
If you’re visiting for longer, a more relaxed schedule offers the opportunity to explore Edinburgh’s edible highlights further afield. The rule is book well in advance!
Top notch restaurants to explore
On the Southside of city you’d be mad to miss the menu mastery at Aizle or Timberyard, the South American inspired Tapas of Indaba or the marvellous Maki and Ramen (Tollcross). Cloisters is your best choice for real ale and quality pub grub.
In the New Town, pick up coffee at Fortitude before a show at The Stand, then head down to Broughton St. Choose between dinner in the Educated Flea, or wine, cheese platters and, um, pickles at Pickles. Meet the locals in Stockbridge for a delightful dinner in tiny Purslane, or over whisky and cocktails in The Last Word.
Continue north out to Leith to grab brunch at the outstanding Twelve Triangles Kitchen Table. Share stunning pizza with pals in Origano, feel at home in The Walnut BYOB bistro, or treat yourself to something really special with the seven-course tasting menu at Norn.
My selection covers something to suit the full spectrum of Fringe experiences, as well as numerous tastes and wallet sizes. We’re just scratching the surface though, so if all else fails, ask the others in the ticket queue or box office staff where they like to eat.
For all eateries, check social media for opening times and special menus during the Fringe. Many places are booked up or crowded during festival time, even outside the city centre, so if you’ve got your set heart on somewhere, do book ahead.
Message from Danielle:
Many thanks to Amy for writing this! We used to write the Edinburgh Foody blog together. This is a great place to find out more about the eating places mentioned.
Avoid (most) eating places along the Royal Mile and as Amy suggests book ahead. Even if you’re not visiting at festival time, you should always book. It just doesn’t work turning up! Eat further away from the centre, and you’ll find it relaxed and far less full of visitors.
About Amy Brewer
I gleefully work for Mara Seaweed, promoting sea vegetables via social media. As you do. I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Edinburgh’s eating options, achieved through an unrivalled dedication to consuming everything the city has to offer.