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.
I haven’t been to Edinburgh since 1993 (!) and Scotland is one of the countries I had been to, that Eric hadn’t. This seemed like a perfect chance for Eric to tick a new country off of his list, all while eating at some tasty Edinburgh restaurants.
We love the food we eat living in Girona, but we miss 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.
Learn more about what to eat in Edinburgh on an Edinburgh Food Tour – From $75
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.
You can’t get more traditional Scottish than a dish that has Scotch in its title. I’ve always wanted to try a Scotch Egg. 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.
Where to Try Scotch Eggs in Edinburgh: The World’s End on The Royal Mile (read reviews here)
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’s a creamy fish and potato soup, similar to a 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 over powering. 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 Traditional Scottish Food
Now, this is the quintessential traditional Scottish dish, and it is everywhere! Haggis is a mixture of sheep’s offal, onion, seasonings, and oats, normally cooked inside a sheep bladder. I always wanted to try it. 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.
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 perfect 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
After 3 solidly 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 100% Scottish. 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.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
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
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)
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 about 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 you trip to dine in Edinburgh, we have created a handy map, which includes:
- Good restaurants in Edinburgh to find traditional Scottish foods, marked with a knife and spoon
- Michelin Star restaurants in Edinburg, marked with a star
- Recommended Edinburgh hotels, marked with a comfy bed
- The Scottish Whiskey Experience, marked with a cocktail glass