Where to eat and drink in Edinburgh: My top restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars

by Christine Knight

This is my personal list of Edinburgh’s top 10, ish, places to eat and drink. When I say 10, ish, I mean 13. And when I say drink, I mostly mean hot chocolate. If you’re new to the city, or just visiting, this one’s for you. These are the places I go back to again and again – or have recently discovered, and want to. In no particular order:

Kanpai. Scotland has fantastic seafood, but Edinburgh has surprisingly few decent sushi restaurants. Kanpai opened last year and is far and away the best I’ve had here. You can blindfold yourself, poke a pin into the menu to choose, and be guaranteed an amazing meal.

Artisan Roast. The original one on Broughton St. I don’t drink coffee, but I’m assured it’s the best. More to the point, the hot chocolate is in my top 4 in town. Rose and pepper; cardamom and cinnamon; chilli and vanilla – choose your poison. Just make sure you have plenty of running around to do later, because you’re going to have ridiculous amounts of excess energy from the sugar and caffeine.

Chocolate Tree. More of the above, but with churros. Chocolate Tree does proper, thick, Spanish-style hot chocolate with homemade churros. They also do decadent chocolate gateaux (you may be ill – I recommend sharing), some of them vegan; intense berry sorbets and rich ice-creams; and of course their own hand-made chocolates.

Under the Stairs. Great pub food in a shabby chic setting. Great cocktails too. They’re not so good for big groups (service slows to snail’s pace), and they do seem to have stopped stocking Bundaberg Peachee (grumble). But they’re still in my top 2 pubs in town.

Peter’s Yard. Yes, it’s ridiculously expensive. Yes, their cheesecakes are below their usual standard. But you need to try their cardamom hot chocolate, cardamom buns, and chocolate mazarins. The original venue on Middle Meadow Walk is better than the new, smaller one at Stockbridge.

Rivage. Best Indian I’ve had in this city, and many other cities for that matter. Off the beaten track at the top of Easter Road. Order the Goan fish curry and the baby aubergines in peanut sauce. They do takeaway, too.

The Roseleaf. If you don’t like shabby chic, you and I probably won’t get along. And you probably won’t like the Roseleaf, or several other places on this list. If you like good pub food, cocktails in teacups, and an impressive fresh juice and herbal tea selection (also served in antique china), you will.

David Bann. Best vegetarian in the city. The flavour combos in the desserts are bizarre, but the starters and mains are better and more interesting than I can cook at home, which is my benchmark for eating out. Generous portions into the bargain.

The Gardener’s Cottage. Edinburgh doesn’t do brunch, but The Gardener’s Cottage does. If they still have the baked eggs with mushrooms on the menu, get that.

Centotre. Hot chocolate. The proper Italian kind. In booths. With jazz. In a posh Italian restaurant. I find their food occasionally underwhelming, but if you don’t fancy hot chocolate, branch out to the ice-cream, cocktails, mocktails or wine. Centotre is my guaranteed depression-buster on a dreich winter’s evening when I’ve had a rotten day at work.

Bramble. Cocktails and cool. If you want to cosy up in a hole in the wall on a sheepskin rug while drinking something strong enough to stop your knees from working, do it here.

Kitchin. Set lunch. It’s billed as 3 courses but in reality it’s more like 7, each one perfect. Crudités; amuse-bouche; starter; main; sorbet; dessert; petits-fours and coffee. Or is that 8? Add wine and you can still get away under £35 per person, Michelin-starred.

Lovecrumbs. They give great cake. Nuff said.

Disclaimer: These are my current personal favourites. They’ll have changed in a month or two, and there’s certainly many other fab venues to choose from. If you don’t like hot chocolate or cake, we may have to agree to disagree. But if you come to visit me, this is where I’ll be taking you.