Dining | Travel

The Best Food and Cocktails in Edinburgh

June 3, 2017

“There are only three things women need in life: food, water, and compliments”

– Chris Rock

I couldn’t agree more, although I personally would cut out the water and substitute champagne!

Food is a vital part of life for the obvious reasons like nourishment and survival, but it also brings such excitement and pleasure to the palate and mind. I consider myself a big foodie and pretty much every minute of the day I’m thinking about my next meal. I am also very type A and like to plan some of the places where I will eat when visiting new places.

When I began researching the food scene in Scotland, I quickly realized it was going to be an interesting trip. Scotland’s national dish, haggis, is a combination of sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, spices and salt. Traditionally encased in the sheep’s stomach, although nowadays most haggis is prepared in a sausage casing. YUM! Sounds Amazing huh? Yeah, I know…I was instantly worried after reading this and wondering how I was going to survive during my trip. Worst case I figured I’d stick to a champagne diet for several days! Kidding (not really though)! Supposedly it is tasty and worth a try if you visit Scotland. If you’re willing, GO FOR IT! I personally had no desire to try it.

Strangely enough, after visiting Edinburgh, I was pleasantly surprised by the food and cocktail scene. I couldn’t believe how much diversity and culture there was. Scotland maybe a small country, but their food selection is quite the opposite.

If you’re like me and hate to miss out on a great meal, then check out my recommendations on some of the best food and cocktails in Edinburgh. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

El Cartel

This is a small, quaint, Mexican restaurant in Edinburgh. All the food is excellent, authentic and fresh. The atmosphere is cool and modern. It gets really busy and they do not take reservations so be prepared to wait. We were lucky and visited during lunch time and were able to get a table right away. I recommend the guacamole and any of the tacos! Don’t forget a margarita! It was probably one of the freshest margaritas I have ever tasted! I have been to Mexico and this place was up there!

Locanda de Gusti

Locanda de Gusti is owned by Chef Rosario Sartore, a Naples native. This authentic Italian restaurant is located in a small neighborhood, just a 5-minute walk from Haymarket Station. You can expect fresh ingredients and homemade pasta. Everything is made from scratch. If you have special dietary restrictions, well have no fear because all the pasta is made using his own gluten-free recipe. The desserts are gluten-free too. The tiramisu was everything! If you love Italian food, this is the spot! Make reservations in advance!


Pickles was a wee gem of a place with lovely wine, cheeses and friendly staff. This is the perfect place for an appetizer, snack or late night bite. It is a small restaurant but the atmosphere was great and the food even better; we opted for a mixed platter, sampling meats and Scottish cheeses. One of the highlights was the chutney. They have a wall full of jars of their chutney, which you can grab two to pair with your board. For wine, they have a great selection. We chose a lovely South African red. All in all, I would highly recommend coming here if you are in the mood to experience some Scottish cheeses, wine and meats.

Panda and Sons

Don’t be fooled when you walk up to Panda and Sons as it is disguised as a barber shop from the outside. Once you enter through the front door, you are guided down a small flight of stairs and run into a bookcase. Behind this bookcase you will find Panda and Sons. Pretty neat huh? Not only is the entire speak-easy theme fairly unique, but the cocktails were as well. If your looking to paint the town red I suggest visiting Panda and Sons!

Three Birds

Three Birds is a cute little restaurant, tucked away in the heart of Bruntsfield. We were so happy to have found this gem of a restaurant in Edinburgh. It has a casual atmosphere that we loved and the menu was full of unique choices. We ordered a feta and vegetable risotto, which was a specialty item and braised lamb shank over a bed of cucumbers, feta, olives and tomatoes. Everything was yummy. We ended our meal with their homemade pistachio and horseradish ice cream and lemon sponge cake. Talk about leaving your taste buds going nuts! I would definitely eat here again and would recommend it to anyone!

Afternoon Tea at The Balmoral

Oh you fancy, huh? (insert Drake song here) Yup! I like to be from time to time. I love spending 2 hours sipping on champagne and tea, while eating savory sandwiches and sweets. There is just something about the whole experience that is so elegant and charming. The Balmoral really steps it up a notch by having a harpist playing in the background, which is a lovely touch.

All the selections offered during our visit were fantastic. The service was impeccable and the ambiance is unbeatable. Great spot for afternoon tea if you are willing to splurge a wee bit.

The Scotch Whisky Experience

The Scotch Whisky Experience is pretty much like a mini theme park for anyone who enjoys whisky. Although, I personally am not a whisky drinker, I thoroughly enjoyed my time here. You will find this to be very educational as you are led through a barrel ride which explains the process of how whisky is made. Furthermore, you begin to really understand the significance of each area in Scotland in reference to how the whisky taste and how each region gets it’s specific style. Be sure to purchase your tickets in advance and upgrade to at least the gold tour, which provides samples of different whiskys to complete your tour.

The Monteiths

Monteiths is a boutique cocktail bar & restaurant located in Old Town just off the historic Royal Mile. At Monteiths you will find the combination of a chic cocktail lounge within an intimate restaurant. This Scottish inspired restaurant was recommended to us by a local. We had a fantastic dinner with very innovative drinks to compliment our meals.

We started with the seared scallops, while our main dishes consisted of the John Dory, Mussels and roasted chicken (without the haggis). Service was great and I would highly recommend Monteiths while in Edinburgh.

This concludes my recommendations of The Best Food & Cocktails in Edinburgh! As you can see, Scotland has some modern restaurants that feature traditional Scottish food plus a huge variety of other cuisines.


I would love to hear your recommendations. What is your favorite restaurant in Edinburgh?

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