Over the last few years, we’ve found ourselves eating and drinking our way through Scotland more and more. One of the top cities to visit for travelers has to be Edinburgh. In this Edinburgh food guide, we share our tips on what to eat in Edinburgh.
Traveling To Scotland? See our Scotland Packing Guide – What To Pack For A Trip To Scotland.
Edinburgh Food Blog
My first trip to Edinburgh was in 1993, so a lot has changed since then. With recent trips to Edinburgh, Glasgow, and two weeks spent drinking whisky in Speyside, I am simply falling in love with the country and all of the tasty traditional Scottish dishes.
Most of our visits to Scotland occurred when we lived in Spain. I love the Spanish food and all the food we eat in Catalonia, but I miss pubs. It’s one of the reasons why we moved to Limerick Ireland and try to visit the UK as much as possible.
When visiting Edinburgh, we searched for some traditional Scottish foods and some great places to eat in Edinburgh. Our Edinburgh food guide includes some of the best food to try in Edinburgh, or really some of the best food to try in Scotland in general.
For more on traditional Scottish dishes, check out our comprehensive Scotland Food Guide – What To Eat In Scotland.
Where To Stay In Edinburgh
We stayed at two different IHG properties in “New Town,” which is about a 10-minute walk to Old Town. Both properties were clean and contemporary and run about €75-100 a night. The Hotel Indigo on York Place was a little more artistic and comfortable. Get the best rates here.
Across the street was the Holiday Inn Express City Centre, which was a fine option, like other Holiday Inn Express properties in Europe. The Holiday Inn Express came with free breakfast. It offered less character but is often a little less expensive than the Indigo. Get the best rates here.
7 Dishes You Must Eat In Edinburgh
Now, I am not entirely sure how “Scottish” versus British a few of these dishes are. Some of them were on almost every pub menu we saw, regardless of origin. And, I will include some links to recommendations on where to find some of these dishes.
I am not an expert on the best places to eat in Edinburgh, but I did a lot of research on where to eat in Edinburgh before visiting. Most of these pubs were on every list I saw. That must be for a reason. And, I am not including any recommendations on where to eat in Edinburgh that we did not thoroughly enjoy.
Scotch Eggs In Edinburgh
You can’t get a more traditional Scottish food than a dish that has Scotch in its title. I’ve always wanted to try a Scotch Egg. I wasn’t sure what a Scotch Egg was, but I knew I wanted to try one.
We managed to track one down our first evening in Edinburgh, where we managed to try 4 different dishes on our must-eat in Edinburgh list. I loved the Scotch Egg, which is a hard-boiled egg wrapped in seasoned pork, and then deep-fried. The egg came with a sweet whisky sauce for dunking.
My only disappointment? Days of eating and drinking in Scottish pubs and this was the only time we saw it on a menu. It’s a must-eat in Edinburgh, but one that takes some effort to track down.
Scotch Eggs seems to be the best food in Edinburgh that can’t be easily found. (Update: I have spoken to at least two Scotsmen who informed me that a Scotch Egg is actually British, not Scottish. Ignore them! Try one!).
Where to Try Scotch Eggs in Edinburgh: The World’s End on The Royal Mile
This was one dish I never heard of before doing my research on what and where to eat in Edinburgh. But, when I mentioned Cullen Skink to the Scottish folks we met, every one of them said they loved it!
It quickly became something I had to add to our things to eat in Edinburgh list. Cullen Skink, though, is not a native dish to Edinburgh. Instead, it hails from a little farther north in Scotland.
Cullen Skink is a creamy fish and potato soup, similar to a New England-style chowder. The big difference? It’s made with smoked fish, normally haddock. We are not huge fans of smoked fish, but this was pleasantly smoked. The fish was not overpowering. I would definitely recommend Cullen Skink when eating in Edinburgh!
Where to Try Cullen Skink in Edinburgh: The World’s End on The Royal Mile
Haggis – THE Scottish Traditional Food
Now, this is the quintessential typical Scottish food, and it is everywhere! Haggis is a mixture of sheep’s offal, onion, seasonings, and oats, normally cooked inside a sheep bladder. To me, this is THE must-try food in Edinburgh. I like black and white pudding when we are in Ireland, so I figured this is not much different. And, it’s not.
Some things to know about haggis. First, it’s usually served “with neeps and tatties,” which are mashed potatoes and mashed turnips. To make the haggis a little more contemporary, many pubs have a haggis tower on their menu, which stacks the ingredients all fancy-like.
The haggis is normally served with a whisky sauce or gravy too. As much as the contemporary version perhaps might not be considered authentic Scottish food it’s one of the most common ways to find this dish on the menus.
Second, many pubs have a haggis starter as well as an entree. The starter is a great way to taste the haggis without the commitment. The version we tried at The World’s End was a starter. It was perfectly sized. But, it was also very very good. We ate the whole thing! We ate a few more versions of haggis, but I thought based on our trip that this was the best haggis in Edinburgh.
Where to Try Haggis in Edinburgh: The World’s End on The Royal Mile
Fish & Chips – Fried Food To Eat In Edinburgh
After 3 solidly popular Scottish dishes, let’s talk fish & chips. This is one of those dishes that can be found all over the British Isles, and might not be considered one of the 100% typical Scottish dishes. But, it remains a dish to eat in Edinburgh, and most good restaurants in Edinburgh will offer this dish.
First, it’s easy to find on every menu. Second, the fish seems to always be HUGE! Third, it tends to be served with whole peas, rather than mushy peas, which I appreciate. Ask for cider vinegar to shake onto the chips.
Where to Try Fish & Chips in Edinburgh: The World’s End on The Royal Mile
Steak & Ale Pie
Nothing says the British Isles like pie. The Steak & Ale pies in Edinburgh are tasty comfort food. We had a more contemporary version, which offered a giant puff of pastry over a bowl of tender Scottish beef in a brown ale sauce.
But, my favorite was the one that The Royal McGregor served in a bowl, topped with crispy pie crust. Paired with a pint of Guinness, it was the perfect dish for a snowy, Sunday lunch in Edinburgh.
Where to try Steak & Ale Pie in Edinburgh: The Royal McGregor on The Royal Mile and The White Hart Inn on Grassmarket
Sticky Toffee Pudding
If you have a sweet tooth this is one of the best things to eat in Edinburgh, and it’s easy to find. I love all things pudding. Sticky Toffee Pudding. Bread Pudding. Really anything sweet and warm served with ice cream or custard on top.
Some of the pubs offered a hybrid of sticky toffee pudding and bread pudding. Although I mentioned my passion for Sticky Toffee Pudding to a Scot, and he didn’t know it was a Scottish dish. This might, in fact, be a British import. But, try it anyway! We practically licked the dish clean.
Where to try Sticky Toffee Pudding in Edinburgh: The Last Drop on Grassmarket
Traditional Scottish Breakfast – An Edinburgh Must Eat
Our last dish to eat in Edinburgh should, perhaps, be at the beginning. A big, gut-busting traditional Scottish breakfast. I love a good fry up, and try to get them when I can in Ireland and in the UK.
This version differed a bit from the Irish version because it included, of course, haggis, along with black pudding, sausages, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, and a grilled tomato, along with a tattie scone. A tattie scone is a griddle cake made with mashed potatoes and butter. It looks like a piece of pita bread.
Full breakfasts like this are actually difficult to find, so plan ahead when researching breakfast places in Edinburgh.
Where to try a traditional Scottish breakfast in Edinburgh: The Royal McGregor on The Royal Mile
What About Tasting Scotch Whisky?
One of the things we wanted to do when traveling in Edinburgh was to learn more about Scotch whisky. We drink a good amount of Irish whiskey, and have been learning more about American bourbon whiskey. At time of our visit, though, whisky in Scotland was still a bit of a mystery.
We learned an incredible amount, though, at the Edinburgh Scotch Whisky Experience. The Experience starts with a short ride that explains how whisky is made. Then, we learned about the history of whisky and whisky marketing.
Ultimately there was a taste. And, there’s a chance to upgrade to taste even more at the bar at the end. I would definitely recommend it, particularly because they did a good job of trying to explain the different Scotch regions.
Learn more about Scotch in Edinburgh: Book a Guided Silver Whisky Tour of Edinburgh’s Scotch Whisky Experience from €18. Or, try this Whisky Masterclass Experience in Edinburgh from €45. This is on my must-do list for our next visit.
Just be sure to raise your glass, toast “Slàinte Mhath” while in Edinburgh!
Looking For Fine Dining In Edinburgh?
There’s more to eating out in Edinburgh than finding the best haggis in town. There are also some top restaurants in Edinburgh that offer more contemporary cuisine, or modern versions of traditional Scottish cuisine. There are a handful of recommended Michelin restaurants in Edinburgh, including four restaurants with one Michelin Star.
Obviously, these meals are going to cost a lot more than the best pub food in Edinburgh. But, they could be worth the investment to see a different side of Edinburgh. The restaurants include:
Number One, at the Balmoral
21212, on Royal Terrace
Restaurant Martin Wishart, in Leith, close to the water
The Kitchin, in Leith, on Commercial Quay
These are some of the best restaurants in Edinburgh, so reservations are strongly recommended.