After a work trip to London, we trained on up to Edinburgh for another meeting. And, we were in need of a little city break. So, we stayed a few days more to explore all of the tasty traditional Scottish foods Edinburgh offers. Here are our food travel tips on what to eat in Edinburgh Scotland.
Edinburgh Food Blog
I haven’t been to Edinburgh since 1993 (!) and Scotland is one of the countries I had been to, that Eric hadn’t. A UK weekend away in Edinburgh seemed like the perfect chance for Eric to tick a new country off of his list, all while eating at some tasty Edinburgh restaurants. And, this just scratched the surface. I would love to return to the area and road trip around Scotland or maybe even experience the famous Fringe Festival or to learn about Harry Potter in Edinburgh, to really see more of this country and to explore more traditional Scottish dishes.Learn more about what to eat in Edinburgh on an Edinburgh Food Tour – From $75
We love the food we eat living in Girona, but we miss the traditional pub grub, like the kind we get when we visit Limerick, Ireland. We were in search of 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.
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. (Book direct with IHG | Book on Booking.com)
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. (Book direct with IHG | Book on Booking.com)
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, and 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.
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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 (read reviews here)
Cullen Skink – Edinburgh Traditional Food
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 (read reviews here)
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 (read reviews here)
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 (read reviews here)
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.
What to Eat Edinburgh – 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 (read reviews here)Like whisky? Book a Whisky Tasting Day Trip leaving from Edinburgh – from $50
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 (read reviews here)
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 whisky, and have been learning more about American bourbon whiskey. Our new-found bourbon fascination is coming from our recent addiction to the Old Fashioned. It’s one of our new favorite cocktails. Whisky in Scotland, though, is 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 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.
See more Reviews of TripAdvisor Edinburgh Restaurants
Traveling to Edinburgh?
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 run about €75-100 a night.
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. (Check Tripadvisor reviews here | Book direct with IHG | Book on Booking.com)
What to Do in Edinburgh: Check out the Scottish Whisky Experience, an interactive tour of all things Scotch Whisky, including a tasting of Single Malt at the end.
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
Edinburgh Food Guide Map
To help plan your trip to dine in Edinburgh, we have created a handy map, which includes:
- Good restaurants in Edinburgh to find traditional Scottish foods to try, marked with a knife and spoon
- Michelin Star restaurants in Edinburgh, marked with a star, generally offer more contemporary cuisine, rather than traditional Scottish cuisine
- Recommended Edinburgh hotels, marked with a comfy bed
- The Scottish Whiskey Experience, marked with a cocktail glass, perfect to pair with traditional Scottish dishes and Edinburgh foods!
Pin It! Edinburgh – Places to Eat
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Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.