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The best pub food in Edinburgh 2024 (19 best gastropubs and pub lunches)

When it comes to finding the best pub food in Edinburgh, the city certainly does not disappoint. With a thriving gastropub scene and a wide selection of cozy pubs serving up delicious lunches, Edinburgh has something to satisfy every craving. From traditional Scottish dishes to more contemporary cuisine, there are plenty of options to choose from in this vibrant city.

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Gastropubs in Edinburgh have become known for their high-quality, gourmet-style food that pairs perfectly with the laid-back atmosphere of a traditional pub. Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty plate of haggis or a freshly caught seafood dish, there’s a gastro pub in Edinburgh serving up exactly what you’re looking for.

And for those seeking a more casual pub lunch experience, Edinburgh has a plethora of charming establishments offering classic pub fare alongside a selection of local and international beers. From steak and ale pies to fish and chips, the pub lunch scene in Edinburgh provides a delicious taste of traditional Scottish cuisine.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best gastropubs and pub lunches Edinburgh has to offer.

1. The Queens Arms

The Queen’s Arms is a snug basement pub with a classic atmosphere, offering a diverse selection of beer, whisky, and cocktails. What was once a forgettable city-center pub has undergone a substantial transformation, now resembling a faux 18th-century gentlemen’s club. The interior boasts linen-backed shelves of books, ornate fireplaces, candles in whisky bottles, numerous pictures of Mary Queen of Scots adorning the walls, and even wine bottles embedded in the ceiling. Despite the over-the-top kitsch, the overall ambiance works well.

The seasonal food menu gives a contemporary twist to traditional pub lunches, featuring items like haggis lollipops, ‘Desperate Dan’ sharing pies, and tempura tiger prawns. A standout offering is their fantastic Sunday roast dinner complete with all the trimmings.

49 Frederick Street, EH2 1EP –

2. The Devil’s Advocate

The Devil’s Advocate offers a welcome departure from traditional pubs, boasting a swanky vibe that attracts a diverse crowd of Edinburghers and well-informed tourists alike. Tucked away on Advocate’s Close, just off the Royal Mile, this whisky bar is a hidden gem housed in a historic Victorian pump house.

While the bar is a unique spot to enjoy an expertly mixed drink or delve into Scotland’s favorite spirit, it also stands out for its great food menu. The menu features upscale wine-bar fare with Scottish twists, celebrating the best of Scottish produce with seasonal and local ingredients.

9 Advocate’s Cl, Edinburgh EH1 1ND –

© lambda_X, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

3. Dirty Dick’s Pub

On bustling Rose Street in Edinburgh, discover Dirty Dick’s, a charming whisky cave captivating fans with its impressive array of drams. The cozy Victorian interior bar boasts over 250 single malts, stored even in a gravity-defying ‘whisky ceiling’ above the bar, creating a visually stunning feature reminiscent of the film Inception.

The menu features delicious pub grub, including classics like Haggis Bon Bons, Mac & Cheese, Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, and a unique take on the deep-fried Mars Bar for dessert.

159 Rose St, Edinburgh EH2 4LS –

4. The Auld Hundred

Auld Hundred, one of Rose Street’s earliest pubs and one of the best pubs in Edinburgh, welcomes you with a traditional bar featuring warm sandstone walls and various seating, including comfortable settees. The spiral wrought iron staircase leads to the hidden dining room, offering a menu with a strong Scottish theme and a selection of traditional pub fare.

For an authentic Scottish experience, they recommend starting with their Cold Town Beer, brewed in Edinburgh, followed by Haggis, Neeps & Tatties, and finishing with a choice from their extensive selection of malt whisky. In addition to classic Scottish comfort dishes, the menu features quality burgers, steaks, and pies.

100 Rose St, Edinburgh EH2 2NN –

5. Innis & Gunn

Innis & Gunn’s pubs in Leith and the West End serve elevated American eats, offering a diverse menu featuring items like charred cauliflower steak and braised ox cheek with buttered mash. Mouth-watering burgers, tempting beer bites, and a broad range of options for vegetarians and vegans ensure there’s something for everyone to savor. Don’t miss out on their 26 craft ber taps, one of the best selections in Edinburgh.

81-83 Lothian Rd, Edinburgh EH3 9AW –

6. Leith Depot

Owned by three musicians, former neighbors, they transformed what was once deemed ‘the worst pub in the city’ into this vibrant bar and live music venue. Cold beer, excellent food, and a front-row seat to watch the world go by.

The menu surprises with a diverse, international array of bar snacks and main meals, catering well to vegetarians and vegans. Their homemade veggie burger, paired with beer-battered onion rings and sweet potato wedges, is a popular choice. And if you’re into it, the black pudding bonbons hit the spot.

138-140 Leith Walk  EH6 5DT –

7. The Piper’s Rest

This traditional Scottish Bar and Kitchen in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town offers good quality food sourced locally, a wide drink selection, and classic Scottish hospitality.

The menu, catering to Old Town explorers, features haggis, Cullen skink, stovies, Clan Mac and cheese, and the Frying Scotsman burger. Unique options include Freedom Fries, onion girders with Irn Bru mayo, and Declaration chicken. An exact replica of the Arbroath Declaration of Independence adorns the wall, subtly reminding patrons of the Scottish ambiance.

3 Hunter Square, Edinburgh EH1 1QW –

8. Salt Horse

Salt Horse, a haven for craft beer enthusiasts, is both a cozy, modern pub and a well-stocked bottle shop. Offering an extensive selection, you’ll find 12 keg lines featuring local and international beers, around 350 bottled or canned beers, and a small choice of wines and spirits for those not inclined toward pints or schooners. Beyond their beer reputation, Salt Horse is fast becoming one of the best places for pub grub, gaining recognition for its stacked burgers, fries, and wings served throughout the week.

57-61 Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh EH1 1NB –

9. Paradise Palms

Paradise Palms is a go-to for vegetarian and vegan-friendly pub lunches with a soulful twist. Indulge in dishes like vegan hot dogs, roasted squash chili with cornbread, jackfruit nachos, and chipotle mac and cheese. 

This venue is a true jack-of-all-trades, boasting quirky decorations, wall hangings, bunting, antiques, and vintage records. Keep an eye out for their party nights, regularly hosting music, magic and cabaret.

41 Lothian Street, EH1 1HB –

© Bex Walton, licensed under CC BY 2.0

10. The Scran and Scallie

The Scran & Scallie, with Tom Kitchin’s Michelin-star team, offers top-quality food in a cozy pub setting, focusing on simple, traditional comfort dishes executed exceptionally well.

This bistro pub, conveniently located near Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens, provides some of the city’s most impressive lunches. Despite its unassuming atmosphere, the food stands out with dishes like steak and ale pie, homemade beef sausages with mash, and smoked haddock kedgeree on the menu.

1 Comely Bank Road, EH4 1DT –

11. The Doric Tavern

The Doric, dating back to the 18th century, proudly claims the title of Edinburgh’s oldest gastropub. Nestled near the bottom of Fleshmarket Close, it once served as a haven for the city’s hacks, where copious amounts of booze were enjoyed. The downstairs area is a standard drinking den, but the real gem lies upstairs in the civilised bar, adorned with swagged curtains, scrubbed floors, and a warm claret-tinged glow.

The Doric offers a menu featuring comfort food classics like cullen skink and shepherd’s pie alongside more modern dishes like tiger prawn linguine and smoked beef fillet carpaccio. 

15-16 Market Street, EH1 1DE –

12. The Fountain

Following a major renovation, this establishment transformed from one of Edinburgh’s rough pubs into a stylish neighborhood bar and restaurant. Located on Dundee Street in Fountainbridge, it offers an alternative to the typical pubs and bars in town. 

Combining speakeasy style with home comforts, this real pub with a modern twist provides a range of great beers, spirits, and a modest wine selection. The menu features upscaled pub favorites like fish and chips, burgers, and lamb, along with Asian and Middle Eastern-inspired choices.

131 Dundee St, EH11 1AX –

© Magnus Hagdorn, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

13. The Auld Hoose

The Auld Hoose, a laid-back pub, specializes in classic pub favorites, offering homemade burgers, hot dogs, and mac and cheese.

Known for their hearty portions, The Auld Hoose claims to serve some of the biggest portions in Edinburgh. Notably, they boast the city’s largest nachos – a towering plate of tortilla chips, cheese, and chili capable of feeding up to five people.

23-25 St Leonards Street, EH8 9QN –

© morebyless, licensed under CC BY 2.0

14. Holyrood 9A

Situated just off the bottom end of the Royal Mile and recently renovated, this bar, well-known to Festival-goers at the Pleasance, has undergone a chic transformation. With silver stags’ heads adorning the walls, it has evolved from a student goth hangout into a hip establishment. The dark and stylish ambiance sets the stage for a diverse menu, including the famous ‘two-handers’ – 20 stunningly good burgers with various flavors and toppings.

Whether you choose to eat in the packed bar area or at the tables at the far end, you can enjoy big Scottish breakfasts, hefty steaks, sharing boards, and salads from the all-day menu. To complement the food, Holyrood 9A offers an impressive roster of craft beers and real ales, including the house brew from Williams Bros in Alloa.

Visit: 9A Holyrood Road, EH8 8AE –

15. The Ox

Situated at the bottom of Broughton Street, The Ox has a bar-like ambiance with a small area on a mezzanine level. While not what one might typically envision as a pub, the food embraces classic pub grub. Highlights include Deuchars battered fish and chips, Shetland mussels with leeks and cider, lamb rump with potato terrine, and a traditional Sunday roast.

Visit: 49-51 London Street, EH3 6LX –

16. The Caley Sample Room

The Caley Sample Room not only serves a variety of local beers but also offers a delightful menu of refined pub grub favorites.

Indulge in homemade chicken liver pate with apple, date, and sage chutney or savor the chef’s pie of the day accompanied by seasonal vegetables and new potatoes. For those in the mood to share, there are enticing options like charcuterie, cheese, and antipasti boards.

42-58 Angle Park Terrace, EH11 2JR –

17. The Kings Wark

Dating back to 1432, The King’s Wark pub is a historic establishment offering seasonal Scottish dishes from its atmospheric dining room overlooking The Shore.

The menu features an abundance of fresh Scottish seafood, including steamed Shetland mussels with tomato, chili, and garlic sauce or Hebridean crab, potato, and Applewood cheddar fishcakes.

36 The Shore, EH6 6QU –

18. Element

Nestled just off Princes Street amid the boutiques of Rose Street, Element has established itself as the perfect place to eat, drink, and relax in the heart of Edinburgh. Whether you’re enjoying a local beer or cocktail in the bar after work or indulging in a lazy weekend lunch in the restaurant, the staff at Element ensure you feel welcome in their homey atmosphere.

The daytime menu presents a variety of interesting international-inspired dishes, such as roast chicken tabbouleh with couscous and pomegranate, alongside more traditional options like Scrabster beer-battered haddock with hand-cut chips.

110-114 Rose Street, EH2 3JF –

19. Teuchters Landing

Teuchter’s Landing, a hidden gem in Leith, is a small dockside bar frequented mostly by locals. With an urbane and classy atmosphere, it offers a remarkable selection of 20 predominantly Scottish beers and lagers, along with nearly 100 whiskies. The menu features hearty comestibles served in mugs, ranging from Cullen skink and haggis stovies to casseroles, stews, mac ‘n’ cheese with oatcakes, or Loch Creran oysters. Even desserts like sticky toffee pudding come in a mug. 

With both indoor and outdoor seating, including a floating pontoon, it gets busy on nice days, so be prepared for potential wait times at the bar.

1c Dock Pl, EH6 6LU –

The best pub food in Edinburgh FAQs

What is the most beautiful pub in Edinburgh?

The most beautiful pub in Edinburgh is a matter of personal preference, but there are many options to choose from. Here are some of the best:

  • The Guildford Arms: An old-school Victorian pub with a Rococo plaster ceiling and an ornamented bar that dates back to the ‘golden age’ of Scottish pub design.
  • The Cafe Royal: A Parisian-style saloon bar with a traditional oyster bar, stained glass windows, and a mosaic floor.
  • The Sheep Heid Inn: The oldest pub in Scotland, dating back to 1360, with a cosy fireplace, a skittle alley, and a view of Duddingston Loch.
  • The Caley Sample Room: A modern gastropub with a sleek interior, a large beer garden, and a range of craft beers and cask ales.
  • The Royal Dick: A former veterinary hospital turned into a quirky pub with a courtyard, a gallery, and a microbrewery

What is the most popular food in Edinburgh?

Haggis takes the lead in Edinburgh’s food scene, a savory dish made from sheep’s organs. Fish and chips also rule the taste buds, a classic favorite. For a sweet bite, indulge in shortbread, a beloved local treat.

What is the famous street in Edinburgh for bars?

The Royal Mile is the go-to for bars in Edinburgh. It’s buzzing with pubs like The Royal McGregor and The Devil’s Advocate. Great spot for a pub crawl.

What is the oldest pub in Edinburgh?

The Sheep Heid Inn holds the title for the oldest pub in Edinburgh, dating back to 1360. It’s got that historic charm and a cozy vibe.

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