Your guided tour to the best eating and drinking in Edinburgh

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If you are as fascinated by good food as our international student ambassador Sofia, then this is definitely the best blog for you. Check out her food and drink favourites across Edinburgh.

Sofia’s top hangout places

After settling in Edinburgh, I really wanted to find some nice places to go out to. I’m not much of a party person but I do appreciate a nice cosy cafe or a cute bar with warm décor for the occasional meal out. After one whole year in Edinburgh, here are my top picks that I wanted to share with you.

Summerhall

The first place I discovered was one right beside where I used to live. Summerhall doesn’t really fit into a single description, it’s more of a ‘cultural destination’ as it reads on its website. As an amazing arts venue, it hosts many different events from theatre workshops to photography exhibitions and even the likes of yoga classes. It is definitely a point of reference during Edinburgh’s Summer Festival (the Fringe). If you walk past the main entrance to its back garden you’ll find yourself in a hidden gem and one of the cosiest cafes in all of Edinburgh! Previously serving as the Hospital for Small Animals, it is now transformed into an amazing cafe and bar called The Royal Dick. Don’t forget to try out the in-house gin or the incredible IPA beer brewed in their own distillery. If you’re feeling peckish there is also an impressive food menu to choose from. Apart from its great food and drinks, I was struck by how friendly and bubbly all the staff were. I’ve made it a habit to go nearly every week. It’s definitely a unique and special place in Edinburgh.

Coffee Angel

By far one of my favourite cafes. Warm, friendly staff and great cakes and sweets. If you visit then I suggest ordering the London fog! I didn’t know this drink existed before moving here. Just for a second, (stay with me on this one) imagine a strong cup of brewed earl grey tea, then add a pinch of lavender and a dash of vanilla topped with frothy milk as if it were a cappuccino. I know what you’re thinking, no thanks… but I promise it’s worth a try. Coffee Angel is also a quiet place to get out of the library and study with your laptop or to enjoy a good book.

Cuckoo’s Nest

Located close to the centre of Edinburgh in the bustling area of Tollcross, this lovely pub has a homely feel to it. It holds regular pub quiz nights where you can test your knowledge while having fun, and provides a little healthy competition if that’s your thing. There’s a second level downstairs that you can book for birthdays where you can relax playing pool or table tennis. It has now become a regular hangout for my nights out with friends!

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Cameo cinema bar

I found out about this bar by accident whilst waiting to see a movie at the Cameo. Also located in Tollcross, this hidden locals bar inside the cinema can be enjoyed even if you don’t have a screening to attend afterwards. It has a unique classy old school vibe to it. I’ve also gone in some early afternoons to enjoy some soup and a quick drink. Another top tip, it has truly excellent coffee to enjoy whilst reading the Sunday papers.

Paradise Palms

One of the most atmospheric places in Edinburgh. With a uniquely eccentric and warm décor, it won me over with exceptional vegetarian and vegan dishes. It is located close to Potterow in the city centre and has definitely become a popular choice with my friends for either a nice meal out or for an afternoon coffee. They also regularly hold vibrant events where you’re bound to meet people and enjoy some nice company even if you attend alone.

Fun fact: they recently introduced their own record label so if music is your thing, take a browse through the vinyl shop.

Earl of Marchmont

In the student-filled neighbourhood of Marchmont, this cosy pub never disappoints. If you’re like me and don’t like loud, noisy pubs too much then you’ll definitely enjoy this hidden local treasure. If you’re lucky and come in during a live music night, then the sounds of the Celtic harp and fiddle will transport your mind away.

Roseleaf

One of my absolute favourites. Located in Leith, this incredible pub offers mouth melting dishes along with an old school ambience that will satisfy even the harshest of critics. This is one pub that truly pays attention to detail. They modernise traditional Scottish cuisine offering a large selection of dishes with vegan and vegetarian options as well. Bit more expensive than the rest on this list, maybe best to save Roseleaf for a night out to treat yourself to amazing food. My two top tips? Book in advance as it can get busy, and try out their inspired selection of non-alcoholic cocktails.

The enchanting Roseleaf

Artisan Roast

If you’re serious about your coffee, like me, then you’ll appreciate the Artisan Roast cafes. These cafes are located all across Edinburgh so you’re bound to find one that suits you. A great place to enjoy a nice cup of coffee (or tea) with friends or go alone for some study time.

Beetroot Sauvage

An incredible place to feed not just your body, but also your mind and soul! It is one of a kind in Edinburgh. After the first visit you’re guaranteed to put it on the list of your favourite places. The space upstairs is Beetroot Sauvage’s own wellness centre where I would definitely recommend joining the community yoga classes.  The cafe downstairs is one of those places where you go, look at the menu and just want one of everything because you can’t decide. The whole place radiates incredible warm energy and the garden at the back is a true oasis in the city. Look out for its vegan afternoon tea!

Let Me Eat Too

Located in Grassmarket, it is the perfect place for a cheap but tasty snack. The Balmoral panini is legendary but you can find lots of other great wraps, salads or soups, all at very reasonable prices. Lots of vegan/vegetarian options as well so there is bound to be something that suits everyone.

Honourable mentions

  • Green Mantle -  A great pub with a local vibe, if you’re hungry definitely try the baked sweet potato with any topping of your choice.
  • Doghouse - They have draft butter beer. Need I say more?!
  • Brauhaus -  Small but with an incredible selection of artisan beers, mostly from Austria.
  • Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens Cafe - Great for a day out combined with visiting the amazing Botanic Gardens.
  • Of course, the list wouldn’t be complete without our very own Edinburgh Napier University Union Bar, The Three Sisters, with its amazing large screens it's perfect for big matches and movies all throughout the year!

 

Sofia
Sofia is from Greece and is studying MSc Wildlife Biology & Conservation at Edinburgh Napier University.

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