We’re not going to attempt the impossible here, because the exhaustive would be, well, exhausting. Instead, we’ve picked the brains of our favourite locals for their newest local favourites, and the old reliables they keep going back to.
Drink It In
23-24 Sandport Pl, EH6 6EW | roseleaf.co.uk
A perennial favourite of Leith residents, Edinburgh natives and visitors alike. In fact, our features photographer Christina Kernohan loved it so much she used to live in the same block – what better endorsement?
The Star Bar
1 Northumberland Pl, EH3 6LQ | starbar.business.site
One of the city’s friendliest pubs, where the only thing better than the secluded beer garden is the great vibe.
39 Jamaica St, EH3 6HF | kaysbar.co.uk
A bona fide Edinburgh institution, this cosy bar was originally a Georgian coachhouse. Today it is known as one of the city’s best cask ale houses.
Old Dr Bells
121 Great Junction Street
Formerly the Leith Victorian Swimming Pool, closed in the early noughties. It’s now been beautifully reimagined as a venue space which, amongst other events, holds a regular craft beer festival.
The Last Word Saloon
44 St Stephen St, EH3 5AL | lastwordsaloon.com
Some Edinburgh cocktail bars hold almost mythical status across the city, and beyond. The Last Word Saloon in Stockbridge is one of these – their Gunslinger cocktail is a must-try.
16A Queen St, EH2 1JE | bramblebar.co.uk
A short walk from Princes St is Bramble, another legendary Scottish Cocktail bar. Understated, unforgettable and undeniably cool, this uber-intimate subterranean speakeasy plays classic hip hop. You might have to wait for a seat but it’ll be worth it.
The Queen’s Arms
49 Frederick St, EH2 1EP | queensarmsedinburgh.com
This impossibly welcoming traditional pub boasts an excellent selection of interesting whiskies, plus a regular quiz-team comprised of The Whisky Shop staff!
The Lucky Liquor Co.
39A Queen Street, EH2 3NH | luckyliquorco.com
A place where fortune definitely favours the brave, this cosy cocktail venue changes its menu every month to feature a new variety of weird and wonderful ingredients like cider vinegar, sencha tea, tonka bean liqueur, and even a very tasty smoky Islay…
The Bow Bar
80 W Bow, EH1 2HH | thebowbar.co.uk
Located near the popular Victoria Street, this isn’t exactly a hidden gem. What it is, is a really great classic pub that specialises in whisky. It’s unpretentious, well-stocked, and a favourite amongst The Whisky Shop staff.
105 Lauriston Pl, EH3 9JG
Just off the tourist trail, this unpretentious bar is a mecca for beer boffins. Bursting with rustic charm, the intimate pub also serves an expertly chosen range of whiskies.
47-49 Deanhaug St, EH4 1LR | hectorsstockbridge.co.uk
Locals claim this to be ‘the best dog pub in Edinburgh’. It’s a great pit-stop for pints, pooches, and people watching.
8 Leven St, EH3 9LG | bennetsbaredinburgh.co.uk
Old school charm doesn’t get any more real than this. Unchanged since 1906, the classic Victorian bar is home to an excellent array of real ales and single malt whiskies. Being next to the King’s Theatre, it does attract its fair share of festival goers, so we recommend visiting this one ‘off-season’.
61 Queen St, EH2 4NA | thechaumer.com
A new and utterly charming tea house and bar situated next to, and run by, the team behind Stewart Christie & Co, Scotland’s oldest tailor. Expect a menu of the finest locally sourced food and drink to take you from breakfast to bedtime.
Eat your way around
7 Barony St, EH3 6PD | broughton-deli.co.uk
Specialising in fresh, local ingredients and a refreshing approach, this scarlet-fronted deli is a favourite amongst locals, one of whom describes it as having “the best sandwiches, salads and crepes in the world”. Enough said!
81-85 Broughton St, EH1 3RJ | thebarony.co.uk
One of Broughton St’s most established residents, this truly traditional Victorian pub now has a new kitchen team. So, in addition to charming surroundings and a host of real ales, they now boast a menu of delicious homemade pub grub too.
The Pitt Market
125 Pitt St, EH6 4DE | thepitt.co.uk
Edinburgh’s award-winning outdoor eatery is now open on both Saturday and Sunday, promising a selection of the city’s streetfood vending elite each week, with some live music and cracking cocktails thrown in for good measure.
61 Leith Walk, EH6 8LS | desipakwanonline.com
Touted by many as serving the best curry in the city, Desi Pakwan is a real insiders’ secret: Proper North Indian food served in a no-frills setting, with free BYOB offered too.
16 Nicolson St, EH8 9DH | pizzaposto.co.uk
If you’re visiting Festival Theatre, make sure to pop across the road for a taste of award-winning, authentic Neapolitan pizza that’s very wallet friendly.
9/3 Antigua St, EH1 3NH | adarestaurant.co.uk
Don’t be put off by Ada’s takeaway-like exterior – there’s a full sit down restaurant serving traditional Turkish delicacies concealed inside.
133 – 135 E Claremont St, EH7 4JA | spitaki.co.uk
Casual dining doesn’t get better than this great wee Greek taverna, which is always bursting with laid-back summery vibes.
Café St Honore
34 Thistle St N W Ln, EH2 1EA | cafesthonore.com
Hidden down one of Edinburgh’s quintessential cobbled lanes, this award-winning French-style bistro serves a new menu daily, focusing on perfectly presented food with strong local provenance.
270 Morrison St, EH3 8DT | shebeenbar.co.uk
Once exclusively for the carnivores amongst you: Shebeen is a South African eatery serving steaks as big as your head, A great shout after working up an appetite traversing the city’s steep streets.
102 Constitution St, EH6 6AW / + various locations | chophousesteak.co.uk
Competing for the title of ‘best steaks in the city’, Chop House has quickly captured the hearts of residents across Edinburgh, with a branch each in the Old Town, Leith and Bruntsfield.
61 Cockburn St, EH1 1BS | lalocandaedinburgh.co.uk
The phrase ‘family run Italian restaurant’ causes expectations to soar – and in this case, the reality delivers. Located centrally on Cockburn Street, the wee bar serves an impressive selection of whiskies alongside fantastic wines.
Gurkha Café & Restaurant
27 Cockburn St, EH1 1BP | gurkhacafe.co.uk
Also nestled on Cockburn Street, this authentic Nepalese and Indian restaurant comes highly recommended due to both the excellent food and welcoming atmosphere.
Lucky Yu Canteen
62 Elm Row, EH7 4AQ
Tucked away at the top of Leith Walk is a little Asian-inspired canteen where freshly prepared gyoza, bao and small plates are the order of the day – the dirty Burger Gyoza are unmissable.
See, Do, Stay & Discover
The Chaumer Abide
61 Queen St, EH2 4NA | thechaumer.com
Tucked behind the teahouse of the same name lies something wonderful: a decadently decorated, beautifully appointed bedroom, replete with original Georgian features. Book your stay well in advance to avoid disappointment and look forward to a host of delicious local delicacies available via room service.
Hotel Du Vin Edinburgh
11 Bristo Pl, EH1 1EZ | hotelduvin.com
Representing the luxury boutique hotel chain, this sumptuous residence sits in the heart of the city. The building dates back to 1743, since then it has housed a poorhouse, science lab and asylum, which counted famous Scots poet Robert Fergusson as a patient. As well as plush rooms, Hotel Du Vin also boasts a great bistro, fantastic whisky selection and even cigars.
10 Pattison St, EH6 7HF | georgianantiques.net
Begun in 1978 and with 50,000 square feet of treasures to explore, this is one of the biggest antiques collections in Scotland. A fantastic place to find an unusual souvenir.
Curious & Curiouser
93 Broughton St, EH1 3RZ |
A great wee gallery and gift shop on Broughton Street, where British artists and makers prevail.
Golden Hare Books
68 St Stephen St, EH3 5AQ | goldenharebooks.com
A magical wee bookshop in Stockbridge, where the knowledgeable staff will be more than happy to recommend their favourite local authors.
Customs Wharf, EH6 6PL | kestinhare.com
Functional, beautiful menswear from Edinburgh native, Kestin Hare. Expect a colour palette inspired by Scottish landscapes, and quality that’s evident in every stitch.
The Fruitmarket Gallery
45 Market St, EH1 1DF | fruitmarket.co.uk
A bright, contemporary arts space with a regular rotation of local and international exhibitors, plus an excellent collection of books and a café showcasing great local ingredients.
23 Cockburn St, EH1 1BP | stills.org
Dubbed ‘Scotland’s centre for photography’, Still exhibits intriguing photographic works and also offers production facilities and courses for keen amateur photographers.
A, 30 Victoria St, EH1 2JW | mellischeese.net
Say ‘cheese’! Something of a Scottish institution, I.J. Mellis cheese shop may be small, but its reputation is well deserved. Drop in for a taste of premium Scottish produce.
72-74 West Port, EH1 2LE | armchairbooks.co.uk
A second hand book store packed to the rafters with old and modern books, Armchair is the place for bookworms to sit back and relax surrounded by never-ending possibilities.
City Observatory, 38 Calton Hill, EH7 5AA | collective-edinburgh.art
Established in 1984, Collective contemporary arts centre relocated to a new, stunningly situated home at the top of Calton Hill, featuring the restored City Observatory and adjacent to The Lookout restaurant.
eteaket tearooms / eteaket Concept Store
41 Frederick St, E2 1EP / 111 Rose St, EH2 3DT |
Sit and sip your way through the delicious range from Edinburgh’s resident leaf tea experts at the tea rooms, or stock up and explore at their nearby Concept Store.
The full Edinburgh Tour Guide originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Whiskeria. Read the full issue online for free here