What to Eat in Edinburgh: 12 Treats You Should Not Miss
If you're looking to try some classic Scottish food, there's no better place to do it than in Edinburgh. And although Scottish cuisine doesn't have the international reputation some other countries enjoy, you'll find plenty to like here. Hearty Scottish staples are the perfect way to fuel up for a long day exploring Edinburgh Castle or shopping on the Royal Mile, and trying the country's delicious food is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the unique culture of Scotland.
Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Edinburgh, and you'll be able to indulge in all the great food the city has to offer, whether you're looking for a fancy sit-down dinner with a view of the Edinburgh skyline or the best street food in Edinburgh.
Scottish cuisine has come a long way in recent years, and it's easy to find a Scottish classic like, for instance, haggis, with a modern twist. In the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Edinburgh, you can even get your hands on vegetarian haggis and other nontraditional items, including lots of gluten-free options. But if you want to keep things classic, Edinburgh's Old Town has a variety of both modern and traditional restaurants that will keep you well fed while you explore.
Edinburgh Food: Haggis
Haggis is a dish made from sheep intestine, oatmeal, and spices like pepper and onions. It's often served with neeps (turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes), and it's definitely an acquired taste. But if you're looking to try a traditional Scottish meal, haggis is a must.
You can find haggis in almost any restaurant in Edinburgh, but for a truly traditional experience, head to The Royal Mile Tavern. This historic tavern dates back to the 16th century, and it's said to be the birthplace of haggis as we know it today. The dish has been on the menu here since 1787, so you can be sure you're getting the real deal. Wash it down with a wee dram of whiskey, and you'll have about the most iconic comfort food in Scotland, as well as a very filling meal.
If you're not a fan of sheep intestine (and let's face it, not many people are), don't worry – there are plenty of other options. In recent years, vegetarian haggis has become increasingly popular, and you can find it in many of Edinburgh's best vegan and vegetarian restaurants.
Or, if you're feeling really adventurous, you can try haggis pakora at The Elephant House. This popular cafe is known as the birthplace of Harry Potter, and it's also one of the best places in Edinburgh for street food. The haggis pakora is a deep-fried version of the traditional dish, and it's sure to be a hit with even the most skeptical eaters.
Edinburgh Food: Scottish Breakfast
A Scottish breakfast is a hearty way to start your day, and it typically includes eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, baked beans, and toast. You can find Scottish breakfast all over Edinburgh, but for the best, head to The Cumberland Bar. This historic pub has been serving Scottish breakfast since 1872, and it's the perfect place to fuel up before a day of exploring the city.
If you're looking for something a bit lighter, you can also find plenty of great options for a healthy breakfast in Edinburgh. Many cafes offer porridge (a type of oatmeal made with milk or water), and you can usually add fruit or other toppings to make it more filling. For something heartier, try avocado toast or eggs on toast.
Edinburgh Food: Smoked Fish
With miles and miles of coastline and some of Europe's most productive fishing waters, it's no surprise that fish is a huge part of traditional Scottish cuisine. Arbroath smokies, a local name for smoked haddock, are salted overnight in barrels and then smoked over a hardwood fire. The story goes that Arbroath smokies were invented when a barrel of salted fish accidentally caught fire, and the smoky flavor imparted to the fish made them an instant hit. Salting and smoking fish in this way was also a great technique to preserve it for long sea journeys. But you don't need to be a North Sea fisherman to enjoy smoked haddock in Edinburgh. You'll find it in a variety of restaurants around the city, including many on the Royal Mile.
Of course, haddock isn't the only fish on the menu. Smoked salmon is also popular, and you can find it in everything from bagels to pasta dishes. For something truly unique, try haggis bonbons at The Whiski Rooms. These deep-fried haggis balls are served with smoked salmon and a whisky cream sauce – an unlikely but delicious combination.
Edinburgh Food: Stornoway Black Pudding
If you're unfamiliar with black pudding, it's a type of blood sausage made with pork fat, oats, and barley. It might not sound appetizing, but it's actually a tasty and traditional Scottish food. You'll find it on many menus in Edinburgh, but for something truly unique, try the Stornoway black pudding at The Kitchin. This Michelin-starred restaurant serves the dish with seared scallops, crispy pork belly, and a light dressing – a far cry from the greasy sausage you might be expecting.
Edinburgh Food: Shortbread
Shortbread is a type of biscuit (cookie) made with flour, sugar, and butter. It's one of the most iconic Scottish foods, and it's also one of the simplest. The first shortbread recipe was recorded in 16th century Scotland, and it's thought to have been made as a way to use up leftover flour and sugar. Today, shortbread is a popular holiday treat, and you can find it in nearly every bakery and grocery store in Edinburgh. For a truly traditional experience, head to The Fudge Kitchen on the Royal Mile. This shop has been making shortbread by hand since 1887, and they offer a variety of flavors, including chocolate, raspberry, and oatmeal.
Shortbread makes an ideal snack to eat while you're touring around the city. Just make sure you get at least two cookies - one won't be enough!
Edinburgh Food: Cullen Skink
Cullen skink is a type of soup made with smoked haddock, potatoes, and onions. It's a hearty dish that originates from the fishing village of Cullen on Scotland's northeast coast. These days, you can find it all over Edinburgh (and beyond), but head to The Fisheries for the best Cullen skink in town. This seafood restaurant has been serving traditional Scottish dishes like Cullen skink since 1886, using only the freshest ingredients.
Edinburgh Food: Deep-fried Mars Bar
This may not be the oldest tradition in Scotland, but in the years since it was first invented, the deep-fried Mars bar has become an icon of the country. Available from fish and chip shops around the city, a deep-fried Mars bar is exactly what it sounds like. It's a bar of chocolate, coated in batter and fried until it's golden brown and gooey. It might not be the healthiest snack, but it's definitely one of the most delicious. For the best deep-fried Mars bars in Edinburgh, head to The Chippy on Victoria Street. This shop has been serving up this greasy treat since 1995.
Edinburgh Food: Baked Potatoes
A simple baked potato might not sound like much, but it's a beloved dish in Scotland. A traditional Scottish baked potato is topped with butter, cheese, and beans, and it makes for a hearty and satisfying meal. You can find baked potatoes all over Edinburgh, but try the haggis-topped potatoes at The Hectors House for something truly unique. This restaurant offers a variety of traditional Scottish dishes, but their haggis-topped potatoes are definitely one of the most popular. Alternatively, you could try the hole-in-the-wall baked potato shop known as, unsurprisingly, The Baked Potato Shop.
Baked potatoes, also known as jacket potatoes, are a traditional UK street food dating back to before street food was even a thing, and you'll find a variety of toppings available around the city. Cheese, sour cream, baked beans, pulled pork, and just about everything else you can imagine can be put on potatoes around the city.
Edinburgh Food: Crumpets
Crumpets are a type of English muffin made with yeast and baking soda. They're popular in Scotland as well, and you can find them in many cafes and bakeries around Edinburgh. Crumpets are usually served with butter and jam but can also be topped with savory ingredients like cheese or eggs. If you're feeling adventurous, try topping your crumpets with Marmite, a famously divisive savory spread that's loved and loathed in equal measure in the UK.
Edinburgh Food: Scotch Whisky
Of course, we can't mention the flavors of Scotland without discussing what is undoubtedly the country's most famous export. Scotch whisky is a type of whisky made in Scotland, and it's known for its smoky flavor. There are many distilleries located around Edinburgh, and you can tour some of them to learn about the history and production of Scotch whisky. For a truly unique experience, head to The Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile. This shop offers a variety of tours and tastings, and they have one of the largest collections of Scotch whisky in the world.
Edinburgh Food: Sticky Toffee Pudding
Sticky toffee pudding is a type of dessert made with dates, toffee, and sponge cake. It's a popular dish in the UK, and you can find it all over Edinburgh. For something truly special, head to The Other Place. This restaurant is known for its award-winning sticky toffee pudding, which comes with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce. Yum!
Edinburgh Food: Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea is a British tradition that's also popular in Scotland. Afternoon tea typically consists of finger sandwiches, pastries, scones, and tea. Many cafes and restaurants around Edinburgh offer afternoon tea, but head to The Dome on George Street for something extra special. This luxurious cafe is located in an iconic former bank building, and their afternoon tea is served on beautiful china plates.
The UK isn't short of traditional food in general, but Scotland has its own unique spin that makes the food in this country worth trying. You'll find some great options for both meat eaters and vegetarians. The Edinburgh restaurants cover the whole range from fancy white tablecloth affairs to food trucks and hole-in-the-wall joints designed to provide a delicious but unpretentious experience.
In fact, with so much great food to try, the hard part is fitting it all into your trip. Not to mention fitting into your clothes when the trip is over. Luckily, there are so many great places to get some exercise in and around Edinburgh you shouldn't struggle to stay in shape. Check out our guide to the best hikes in Edinburgh for more details on some good ways to burn off all those extra calories.
Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Edinburgh, and you'll be ready to explore the world of both traditional and modern Scottish food. You'll find something else delicious being made everywhere you turn in the city, so don't be afraid to try something new. Who knows? You may even find a new favorite on your trip to the Scottish capital.