While you’re visiting Edinburgh for this historic weekend you may find yourself with a few hours to spare and looking for a bit to eat or sup. This isn’t anything close to a definitive list – its just some places in my local area that I would recommend to anyone visiting. There are a number of cafes and eateries that could have been included but I’ve avoided places that are a bit small or difficult to seat a group, which might not be suitable for fans coming over this weekend. Without further ado, here are my completely subjective, unscientific and highly unqualified suggestions.
Start your day strong with breakfast in any of the following locations:
Montpeliers, Bruntsfield, EH10 4DG
A safe bet for good quality breakfast, lunch or dinner that also serves a wide range of craft beers and drinks. Breakfast is served from 9 to 5, so there’s no rush, although it’s a popular spot so do be prepared to wait a little while if you arrive much past 11. There will be enough options here for any visitor and a reasonably large space out front to eat in the sun if that’s your thing. The big fries source quality local ingredients, the coffee is good and you can get chunky chips with any dish.
Rating: 4 hungry Rodneys – some points deducted for time wasting.
Tribeca –Glasgow, Dumbarton Road, and Edinburgh, EH10 4DG
Another popular location in Edinburgh (younger brother branch to the Glasgow original) which almost always has a queue outside on Saturdays despite a large seating area. An American style diner, this is where you go if you want five egg stuffed omelettes, dinner plate sized pancakes, burgers, hot dogs, or alcoholic milkshakes for breakfast. Its ideal if you need a lot of soakage or you’re afraid you won’t get to eat again all day.
Rating 3.5 hungry Rodneys – a little expensive, especially for basics such as coffee or juice, but a lot of food for your money.
Bruno’s 7 to 7 diner, Tollcross, EH3 9RP
Another American style diner (American themed resturants are very popular here in general, although you’ll find all sorts of cuisine of course), the menu here is sufficiently different to Tribeca to justify inclusion. The Big Smokey and Old Timer breakfasts are serious feeds which include such delicacies as fried apple or homemade American style sausage patties, which won’t be found at the former location. Its difficult to call it authentic but you’ll also find biscuits and gravy, buttermilk pancakes and ribs on the menu. There is a modest drinks menu as well (you will find that it is disturbingly easy to get a drink in Scotland).
Three Hungry Rodneys – can be a little hit or miss, but has continued to improve since opening last year.
Pickle and Custard, Lothian Road, EH3 9BE
I haven’t eaten here but my girlfriend has and felt it was an unmitigated disaster. To this day she will approach people unsolicited to tell them to avoid the place. It changed her. Yes the location might be good for meet ups but don’t let that little positive tempt you, there are far better spots all along Lothian Road.
Rating: One kick out on the full
Obviously we’ll be at the game in the afternoon so if you’re only in Edinburgh for Saturday this won’t apply to you as much. But, if you happen to find yourself here a day or so early you might avail of the following establishments:
Ong Gie, EH3 9JU
There are a number of Korean resturants in Edinburgh but this is the best in my opinion. If you want to go Friday or Saturday evening book in advance as it’s a little small and is often full at the weekend. They offer the biggest variety of any Korean restaurant in Edinburgh, the staff are lovely, there is a nice selection of wines, but what’s important is the food. They offer Korean BBQ at your table where you can cook various forms of pork, beef and squid (the latter is perhaps a nod to European tastes – our waitress one night explained they never cook squid in this way at home in Korea). Authentic Korean dishes such as kimchi soups and stews, Bulgogi, and Bimibap are all available. Korean food is a little like what Irish cuisine could have been if you swapped rice for potatoes and added spice to the cabbage – lots of pork and cabbage based dishes that fill you up and taste great. A word of warning, the food is intentionally served boiling hot so take five minutes to enjoy a kimchi pancake while your main cools if necessary.
Rating: 5 hungry Rodneys plus bonus Buckley turnover!
The Beer Kitchen, Lothian Road, EH3 9AW (and many other cities)
Craft beer chains are the new big thing it seems – this one is run by Innis & Gunn and offers quality pub grub plus an extensive beer menu. The menu is not particularly left field but it is commendable as they do what they do very well. A slight detour from Haymarket or Princes Street, but still within walking distance of Murrayfield before or afterwards, and with plenty of seating space, this is a far better venue to while away a few hours or to get the gang together before heading out to the game.
Rating: 4.5 refreshed Rodneys (converted due to having the largest beer selection on this list)
Bread Meats Bread, Lothian Road, EH3 9BE and Glasgow, St Vincents, G2 5UB
Alongside craft beer and American diners, burger joints are the other big growth area in Scottish food right now. BMB takes the approach of adding borderline ridiculous toppings and flavours to large slabs of meat – see for instance their Butter Bacon Burger which includes Bone Marrow Butter. They also serve southern ‘nduja flavoured burgers, sandwiches and poutine, all in gigantic portions. If you’re not a burger fan then its probably not the destination for you this weekend, but whatever you have here you will leave well fed. My girlfriend provides a note of caution as she found her burger extremely saucy, which can lead to spillage.
Rating: 4 stuffed Rodneys
Pinto, Glasgow Queen Street G1 3BX and Edinburgh 119 Lothian Road, and Shandwick Place, EH2 4RN
A more budget friendly option, but that doesn’t mean it skimps on flavour. I doubt it could be accused of being authentic but this is still a step up on Boojum and the like at home. It provides quick, tasty and filling Mexican style food for under a tenner and can be easily enjoyed by stopping in on the way to Murrayfield from Princes Street.
Rating: 2.5 Rodneys short on time.
Avoid: Jamies Italian
Sometimes you might want the safety, speed and dependability of a franchise, and I’m not going to pretend that Nandos or Pizza Express aren’t common and easy picks, but they’re not places that need my recommendation. I’m not a franchise snob, but stay away from Jamie’s Italian if at all possible. The location on Rose Street is huge but its bland and expensive. Glasgow is seemingly miles ahead of Edinburgh when it comes to Italian spots so I’ve not included any here, but feel free to let me know of any in either city that you would recommend after this weekend.
Rating: a limping McSharry.
There are a million pubs in Edinburgh, and I don’t go out drinking all that much, so it would be a little reductive to do a pub review. Most if not all of the spots above will serve beer with their food, and the whole of Cowgate is awash in fancy craft beer these days (a far cry from its time as a working class Irish settlement in Edinburgh) so you could do a week long pub crawl and still not have seen everything. I think Ox184 and Brewdog in Cowgate deserve a mention, as does the Hanging Bat on Lothian Road and the Jolly Botanist near Haymarket, which does something a little different as a gin bar.
Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have a short preview, and of course there will be reactions in the coming weeks, so please like, comment, share and follow!