Entertainment in Edinburgh

Pubs, Cafes and Restaurants in Edinburgh

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Drinking and pubs are necessary social pursuits. It less to do with the drinking and everything to do with the culture of the UK. Bars are the place people meet and interact and most places offer a welcoming environment. However, some local pubs can be a bit rough, especially around game days.

The legal drinking age is 18 years old and any pubs and clubs will ask for ID. However, if alcohol is to be consumed with a meal or while the teenager is with their parents, the laws are more generous. For example, it is legal for a single glass of wine to be served to a 16-year old with a meal.

Penalties for drinking and driving are extremely severe. The current limit is:
35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath;
80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood;
107 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine.

Specialities of Scotland

Scotland is famous for it's Scotch whisky (spelled without an "e"). There are around 100 whisky distilleries and many offer tours and tastings. The Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre offers an interactive tour of the history and practise of Whisky distilling.

Beer is also popular. Ales are usually served in pints. One pint equals just over half a litre (568ml). There has been a recent move to micro-breweries which are providing great local variety.

Irn Bru has been referred to as the second national drink. It is a fizzy, bright orange, highly caffeinated, soft drink that is supposed to be the best cure for a hangover.


Edinburgh has been the place of inspiration for several popular writers including Muriel Spark (author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie), Irvine Welsh (author of Trainspotting, set in the district of Leith), Ian Rankin (crime writer known for Inspector Rebus series, set within Edinburgh), Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Lady Detective's Agency and J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series). So if you sit for a bit with a book or writing, don't be surprised if someone tries to peak.

Elephant House Cafe
Tel: 0131-220-5355
Address: 21 George IV Bridge; Edinburgh EH1 1EN
Gourmet cafe on the George IV Bridge. This is a landmark of the city as it has been the inspiration to writers. J.K. Rowling sat here to write early Harry Potter novels. Authors Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall-Smith have also frequented The Elephant House.

Tel: 44 (0)131 556 2041
Address: 79 Broughton Street, Edinburgh
Serves traditional fish-and-chips and vegetarian and vegan options. Winner of the National Fish and Chip Awards for the last 3 years.

Always Sunday
Tel: 0131-622 0667
Address: 170 High Street, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH1 1QS
Cafe with a snack Bars and tea room.

The Bookstop Cafe
Tel: 2255298
Address: 4 Teviot Pl, Edinburgh
Friendly bookshop where you can buy a book with your coffee. Popular with students and nurses from the local hospital. Also filled rolls made to order.

Cafe Hub
Tel: 4732015
Address: Castle Hill, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH1 1QS
Stylishly laid-back, the food is inventive. There is a terrace open in summer.

Clarinda's Tearoom
Tel: 5571888
Address: 69 Canongate
Traditional tearoom with home-baked scones, shortbread and cakes.

Clarinda's Tearoom
Tel: 5571888
Address: 69 Canongate
Traditional tearoom with home-baked scones, shortbread and cakes.


Many famous pubs are located on the Grassmarket in Old Town. These may be more of tourist traps as they are popular with visiting stag and hen parties.

Bert's Bar
Address: 29-31 William Street, Edinburgh

Bow Bar
Address: 80 W Bow Edinburgh EH1 2HH

Canny Man's
Address: 237 Morningside Rd; Edinburgh EH10 4QU

Cumberland Bar
Address: 1-3 Cumberland St; Edinburgh EH3 6RT

Golden Rule
Address: 30 Yeaman Place Edinburgh EH11 1BT

Guildford Arms
Address: 1-5 West Register Street Edinburgh EH2 2AA

Malt and Hops
Address: 45 Shore; Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH6 6

Oxford Bar
Address: 8 Young St; Edinburgh EH2 4JB

The Cask and Barrel
Address: 115 Broughton St; Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 3RZ


Edinburgh has a vast selection of eateries serving all tastes. The center, Leith, Rose Street, and the West End have a large variety of places to eat. Around the castle and in the Grassmarket area tend to be higher priced and lower quality than visitors can find in other parts of the city.

There are 14 restaurants with Michelin stars. Along with the usual Scottish fare, numerous Thai, Japanese, Mexican, Pakistani, Polish, Turkish, Indian, French, and Italian dishes are available. Seafood is a delight in this region by the sea and oysters, scallops, crabs, salmon and lobsters are prized.

For dining guides in Edinburgh and around cotland, try

Specialities of Scotland

Scottish food hasn't been highly respected in the past, but there are traditional foods that deserve their place at the table. They make some getting used to, but they are proudly Scottish.

The UK fish and chips classic gets a twist in Edinburgh. Chippys offer salt'n'sauce in place of the salt'n'vinegar usually provided. This local sauce tends to be a runny, vinegary version of HP or Daddys style brown sauce. Most chippys will provide vinegar on request.

  • Haggis - Scotland's national dish usually doesn't tempt many foreigners. Made of chopped heart, liver and lungs of a sheep and then cooked in a sheep's stomach bag, the dish is often served with turnips and mashed potatoes (referred to as "neeps and tatties").
  • Cullen Skink - A hearty fish soup made from smoked haddock, potatoes, cream, and shellfish.
  • Sizzling Sirloin of Scotch Beef- There are five Scottish beef breeds, the best-known being Aberdeen Angus. The others are Highland, Longhorn, Shorthorn and Galloway.
  • Porridge - traditional breakfast, usually with salt as topping
  • Square sausage - another common breakfast dish, it is a flavored thin square of beef (steak sausage) or pork (lorne sausage), fried or grilled, often served in a roll.
  • Scotch Pie - Offered everywhere, this local favorite was originally made with mutton.
  • Scotch Tablet - Similar to fudge, it is slightly brittle.
  • Deep-fried anything - Many unfortunate food items are deep fried before eating. Haggis, pizza, hamburgers, Black Pudding, kabobs, and even candy bars are routinely fried and served.

It is also very popular to pick your own berries. The main berry growing areas in Scotland are in Tayside, particularly in the Strathmore valley, but also in Grampian, the Highlands, Arran, Ayrshire and the Borders. There is a helpful guide available to find what berries are in season and where to go.


Vegetarian food isn't necessarily difficult to find. Most restaurants offer at least one vegetarian option, and a side dish or appetizer can be made into a main course. Vegan food is harder to find. Feel free to ask nicely as the Scottish will usually try to be accommodating.

Luckily, Edinburgh has a number of exceptional vegetarian restaurants. The site, http://www.crueltyfree.org.uk/edinburgh/, is a helpful resource to finding an acceptable eatery.

Fast Food

Fast food is widely available, to the disadvantage of the people's health. Fish and chip shops are very popular and the classic battered and fried haggis is still enjoyed. More recent additions of pizza, Turkish-style kebabs, pakoras are also available. Practically anything deep fried is deemed a speciality: deep-fried pizza, deep fried Mars bar, and deep fried doner kebab are all notorious delights. There are, of course, also international fast food stores such as Burger King, KFC, etc.

Small pastry chain that offers a delicious assortment of donuts, danishes, and cream puffs.

Dixie Chicken
Tel: 0131 668 4242
Address: 46 South Clerk Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9PS

Address: 49 Figgate Lane; Portobello, Edinburgh EH15 1HJ


The Grain Store
Address: 30 Victoria St, Edinburgh
Phone: 0131/225-7635 Prices: lunch 10 GBP; entrees 17-25 GBP
Rustic Old Town restaurant composed of wood and stone. Serves upscale Scottish comfort food with an innovative twist.

Address: 78 Commercial Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6LX
Phone: 44-131-555-1755
Price: Surprise tasting menu 60 euro; fixed price lunch menu 24 euro (3 courses); main dishes 21-30 euro
Master chef Guy Savoy, Alain Ducasse and Pierre Koffmann opened this restaurant in 2006. French-influenced menu focuses on local produce, fish and meats.

Forth Floor Restaurant
Address: 30-34 St Andrew Sq, Edinburgh
Phone: 1620/890-875
Price: 14 GBP; entrees 16-22 GBP
British food offered in a sophisticate setting.

Address: 3 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh, EH7 5AB
Phone: 44(0)131 523 1030
Price: lunch 20 GBP (2 courses)
Luxury fine dining with Michelin Starred Chef Paul Kitching. Unique 5 course gourmet menu with a choice of 2 at the main stages, hence the name 21212.

Restaurant Martin Wishart
Address: 54 The Shore Edinburgh, EH6 6RA
Phone: 44 (131) 5533557
Price: entree 30 GBP
On the shore, the restaurant serves modern French cuisine. Menu is changed to reflect seasonal produce.

Hadrian's Brasserie
Address: 54 The Shore Edinburgh, EH6 6RA
Phone: 44 (131) 5533557
Price: Sunday Roast for two 60.00 GBP; Seasonal Lunch Menu 16.00 GBP
Hadrian's is chic and stylish, serving cosmopolitan dishes and traditional Scottish entrees. The restaurant was voted "best for breakfast".

Rhubarb at Prestonfield
Address: Priestfield Road; Edinburgh EH16 5UT
Phone: 44 (0) 131 225 7800
Price: Entrees 30.00 GBP
Stylish and fun, the Rhubarb has grand style. Edinburgh's most opulent restaurant, there is exceptional Scottish cooking. Also offers afternoon tea.

Update 8/04/2011


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