Edinburgh has such a fantastic food scene going on these days that going out for a romantic meal there means you're no longer restricted to dining on Scottish cuisine like haggis and neeps.
There are now more than a handful of romantic restaurants in Edinburgh that offer fine dining options from an innovative a la carte menu created by a chef with a world-class reputation. Not all of the romantic restaurants in Edinburgh are on the Royal Mile, either. There are many in the quieter, less touristy areas, such as Victoria Street in the Old Town, that offer a daily or weekly changing tasting menu for exceptionally reasonable prices.
While many of the best romantic restaurants in Edinburgh favor elevated Scottish cuisine made from local produce, there are also several where you can dine on a variety of international offerings, including Japanese and Thai food. One good thing is, especially if you're in Edinburgh in the winter, it gets dark early in Scotland, so even afternoon tea can be turned into a romantic meal. Having a romantic date where you can pour tea from a pot for your guest is a novel experience, so don't pass up giving it a try.
Whether you go for a romantic meal in the evening or for afternoon tea in a cafe with a view of Edinburgh Castle, it's not good date protocol to turn up with bags. Restaurants and cafes in Edinburgh don't have cloakrooms where you can leave your things. They might hang your coat up for you, but they won't deal with your bags. Leave your bags somewhere where you don't need to worry about them, like at a Bounce luggage locker facility, until your date at one of the following restaurants is over. You'll be unburdened and ready to take an after-date stroll down the Royal Mile if you feel like it.
Voodoo Rooms is one of the most romantic restaurants in Edinburgh. Its luxurious interior is like a Parisian palace with elaborately frescoed ceilings, arched windows, and more than the odd chandelier or two. What makes the dining room more Scottish than French is the black leather-clad, gold-studded sofas and chairs and the endless bottles of Scotch whiskey on a shelf behind the bar.
Voodoo Rooms is as much of an events venue as it is a restaurant, so as well as offering elevated Scottish fare from an inspired menu, they have first-class entertainment from live bands several nights a week.
The food at Voodoo Rooms takes Scottish cuisine to a new level. If you didn't know haggis tacos were a thing, then you'll get to try one here. Vegetarians don't need to feel left out as they even offer a veggie haggis version too. Haggis aside, the menu isn't overly large or overly fancy, so expect dishes like soup of the day, Scotch filet steak, or roast chicken breast.
Skip the soup and try the smoked trout with pickled fennel and beetroot puree, followed by cod filet with chorizo mash and pea puree. If you have a sweet tooth and stomach room to spare, finish with the very sticky toffee pudding. Just make sure it doesn't send you into a sugar coma, and you fall asleep at the table because that would totally ruin your romantic dinner.
19A West Register Street
Grain Store Restaurant
The Grain Store Restaurant is one of the most romantic places to eat in Edinburgh and is perfect for an intimate meal. Walk into this romantic restaurant, and you'll feel as though you've warped back to the Victorian era. The bare brick walls of this restaurant are adorned with candle-shaped lights, and the chairs, tables, and other decorations, like the grandmother clock, help create a vintage look that can only be called totally charming.
At the Grain Store, there's not really a main dining room, but rather secluded alcoves, dimly lit corners, and small separate dining rooms with tables for two. It's a really intimate setting for a date night and ideal when you want attentive service and food made with Scottish ingredients for a reasonable price.
While the décor of this very romantic restaurant may be fashionably antiquated, there's nothing of the bygone days about the a la carte menu. It's fine dining all the way. Here they make the most of fresh produce sourced from local suppliers to create dishes from saddle of Highland roe deer and Borders ribeye Scotch beef. Although the choices aren't endless, they cater well to vegetarians too.
There's nothing quite like the local produce, so start fresh with the citrus-cured Scottish salmon or half a dozen Loch Creran oysters, followed by a venison burger served with salsify (a root vegetable) and red cabbage.
30 Victoria Street
The Witchery near Edinburgh Castle in the Old Town is where you should go for a date night if you truly want to enchant your guest. The dining room at The Witchery, with its oak paneled walls and vaulted ceiling, looks almost medieval. That's a look that's further embellished by the addition of candelabras on the white cloth-dressed tables.
While the dining room, or the Oak Room as the proprietors prefer to call it, is romantic, it's not as romantic as the premise’s Secret Garden dining room. The Secret Garden was once an open courtyard of the 16th-century merchant's house the restaurant is housed in. Now the Secret Garden is a secluded, covered-in restaurant within a restaurant with French windows, murals on the ceiling, and draping greenery that's the ideal setting for a romantic evening.
At The Witchery, they serve seasonal menus of fine dining standard created from the best quality Scottish ingredients available on the market, including pigeons sourced from the royal Balmoral estate and scallops hand-dived from the seas around the Orkney Islands. They also prepare a superb afternoon tea here if that's what tickles your fancy more.
Whether you're vegan or not, give the pistachio parfait with a burnt blood orange, beet, and marjoram salad a try. If neither you nor your guest are vegetarians, share a venison wellington or a chateaubriand for mains.
$$$ to $$$$
White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar
Grab a table at the White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar, and you'll be able to feed your date a few aphrodisiacs to get date night started on the right foot. White Horse, even though it occupies the site of the oldest inn in the city, is one of the more contemporary romantic restaurants in Edinburgh, but one that still somehow manages to create the right atmosphere for a perfect date night.
As well as preparing a wide array of fish, shellfish, and seafood dishes, they make an entire range of fantastic ocean-inspired cocktails, including one that comes with pickled samphire and seaweed. They really are outstanding flavors, but if cocktails aren't your thing, they also have an extensive wine list featuring some great wines for a very reasonable price.
The produce they use here isn't uniquely Scottish but sourced from all over the UK. At White Horse, you'll be able to slug down oysters, dip charred octopus in smoked mayo, pick at several types of seafood cooked in tempura batter, or share their house seafood platter, which will leave you wanting for nothing.
This is a place for seafood and shellfish lovers only. There are no meat or vegetarian options on the menu, so double-check with your date that that's okay with them before taking them here.
266 Canongate, Royal Mile
$$ to $$$
Royal Yacht Britannia
If you really want to impress with the date night to beat all date nights, then you could book a table in the State Dining Room on the Royal Yacht Britannia. If your date wasn't impressed with a date night like that, then you've probably asked the wrong person out.
A date night on the yacht is a nice idea, but before you get your hopes up and your imagination running wild, the truth is they only cater for private group events at night on the Royal Yacht Britannia.
What you could do instead is take your date for the poshest afternoon tea you're likely to get anywhere in Edinburgh and, let's face it, feeding them Royal standard petit fours, crustless sandwiches, and a piece of lemon drizzle cake in the Royal Deck Tea Room should be enough to make anyone happy.
If you don't want to look like a cheapskate, go for the champagne cream tea for tea, but skip the pot of tea in favor of an extra bottle of Moet & Chandon.
Ocean Drive, Edinburgh
$ to $$$
While Devil's Advocate might sound like a place name that's a bit risky for a date night, it's anything but, and if you want somewhere relatively casual, it's ideal. Devil's Advocate is a classy gastropub in Edinburgh's Old Town with plenty of style but with a laid-back atmosphere that won't get your nerves jangling if you're not into posh romantic restaurants.
Devil's Advocate is housed in a historic old pump house, so it has plenty of character features like huge barn doors at the entrance, a spacious interior with a wood-paneled ceiling, and an upper mezzanine area for secluded dining.
While the menu at Devil's Advocate isn't fine dining by any means, and they don't resort to using a tasting menu, they do serve delicious food. Here you can expect to be presented with hearty and undeniably delicious food that would warm the cockles of any Scot's heart on a chilly winter evening, like crispy black haggis and lamb rump braised in red wine. If those are the right ingredients for a romantic dinner, then who knows what is? More delicious dishes than those are a rarity unless it's Thai food that will add some much-needed spice to your romantic meal.
NB: The vegetarian dishes are not too exciting. Think baked butternut squash and spicy cauliflower. It's not a vegetarian restaurant, after all, but at least they have some suitable dishes on the menu, so they deserve some kudos for that.
Make sure you and your date know exactly where this place is before your date night. It's down an alley you might otherwise miss if you don't know of its existence. This place is pet-friendly, too, so if you have an old dog you want to take on your date night, you'll be guaranteed a warm welcome.
9 Advocate's Close, Edinburgh Old Town
$ to $$
Burgers and Beers
There's absolutely nothing wrong with taking your date night back to basics. Forget having a candlelit romantic meal in one of the most romantic restaurants in Edinburgh and go for some juicy burgers and cold beers instead.
Burgers and Beers Grillhouse might not be one of the most romantic restaurants in Edinburgh, although that said, they do have some pretty flowers around the door. They don't offer a fine dining menu, serve foraged food, or offer only Scottish fare made from local produce, but it's still a great place for a date night. Why? Because you can be yourself without having to assume any airs and graces you might otherwise need to in some of the other, higher-priced and more romantic restaurants on the Royal Mile.
At Burgers and Beers, you can chow down on a gourmet burger, drip ketchup on your shirt, and grow a beer foam mustache, and nobody, unless it's your date, is going to worry about it.
The brussel sprout nuggets with cranberry sauce are a must-try, and so is the Man v Burger or the Frying Scotsman, which comes with a haggis fritter. No, it's not fine dining by a long shot, but Scottish cuisine doesn't get better than this unless you're talking about deep-fried Mars bars.
192A High Street
If you can't afford to go to one of the most romantic restaurants in Edinburgh, either in the city centre or in the Old Town, that's focused on fine dining or has a Michelin star to its name, don't worry. Fish and chips have always been one of the city's go-to street foods, and there's nothing wrong with that as long as you treat your date to a drink in one of Edinbugh's city centre rooftop bars before you get your takeaway.