The capital has many well known restaurants, but what are the top, lesser known food (and drink) related things to enjoy on a trip to the city?

We take a look at the best 25, from dinner in a former bank vault, a drink in the most haunted pub to making your own gin cocktail and lunch with a view.

Dine at The Table

(3a Dundas Street, EH3 6QG)

Located in the city centre, foodies will love the concept behind The Table. Effectively a chef’s table, guests (only 10) are seated around an interactive kitchen and can watch their bespoke meal being prepared whilst asking the chef questions.

Menus vary with the season and include local ingredients. Booking is a must as this popular venue only offers one seating per night, and is often fully booked.

Try the tasting menu at Norn

(50-54 Henderson St, Leith  EH6 6DE)

The 36 cover restaurant is named after an ancient Scottish language and reflects part of the restaurant’s ethos which is to honour and pay tribute to Scotland’s rich food landscape and heritage.

This ethos is reflected in the tasting menu, a fixed four or seven course extravaganza, which changes with the seasonal availability of produce.

Enjoy dinner at Timberyard

(10 Lady Lawson St, EH3 9DS)

Picture: Timberyard Twitter

Housed in a 19th century warehouse, which was recently known as Lawson’s Timber, is this acclaimed, family-owned restaurant.

Chopped logs and solid wood tables reflect the building’s past, coupled with a new wood-burning stove and tartan throws.

An on-site growing patch provides the kitchen with fresh herbs and edible flowers, while butchering and smoking of meat also takes place onsite.

All produce is from artisan growers, breeders and foragers and the restaurant has won AA Hospitality’s Scottish Restaurant of the Year award, as well as receiving three rosettes from the AA guide.

Indulge in alcoholic ice creams at Hoot the Redeemer

(7 Hanover St, EH2 1DJ)

Picture: Hoot the Redeemer Facebook

Nothing says summer like ice cream and a drink, so why not combine the two?

You can do just that with Señor Scoop, an ice cream machine found in bonkers bar Hoot the Redeemer.

From the people that brought Edinburgh Panda and Sons (see below), Hoot the Redeemer is a 50s-styled New Orleans funfair-themed dive bar, and is as fun, crazy and quirky as it sounds. Well worth a visit, if only to have your fortune told.

Sample cocktails at The Dome

(14 George Street, EH2 2PF)

George Street isn’t short on bars, but the most famous (and some would argue beautiful) is The Dome. This former Physicians Hall was opened in 1775, and was built and designed by James Craig, the planner of Edinburgh’s New Town.

It is at its best (and busiest) at Christmas thanks to the decorations and light displays. Pop in for a cocktail or two in the lovely Grill Room bar, or treat yourself to an traditional afternoon tea in The Georgian Tea Room.

Have a picnic on Arthur’s Seat

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One of the city’s landmarks is the perfect spot for a picnic, especially if the weather is good.

The views across the capital are excellent, and you can also enjoy a stunning sunset if you choose to stay there all day.

Visit a farmer’s market

Picture: Edinburgh Farmers Market Facebook

Edinburgh Farmers Market on Saturdays at Castle Terrace, Stockbridge Market every Sunday in Jubilee Gardens and the Greater Grassmarket weekly market running all weekend, are just three of the regular markets you can stop by and enjoy the local produce.

There’s everything from artisan coffee and gourmet marshmallows to authentic sushi on offer, as well as meat, fruit and veg.

Tuck into Sunday lunch in the city’s oldest pub

(43-45 The Causeway, EH15 3QA)

Picture: Sheep’s Heid Facebook

The Sheep’s Heid Inn professes to be the city’s oldest pub. Serving up a menu of traditional favourites and modern creations (the latest of which is a Crispy Karaage Chicken served with a Katsu sauce), there’s also an old school skittle alley, which is great fun for kids (big and small) on a weekend afternoon.

Or if the sun is shining head out to the hidden courtyard.

Have a pint in the city’s most haunted pub

(34 Grassmarket, EH1 2JU)

Picture: White Hart Inn Facebook

You might need one for courage. The cellar of this popular Grassmarket haunt dates back to 1516, making this one of the oldest pubs in the city. As well as this, it is billed as the most haunted (and even won an award in 2005 for the accolade).

Visitors have reported ghostly sightings of shadow figures and staff have claimed that items in the cellar move inexplicably.

Have a meal cooked by a Michelin starred chef

(78 Commercial St, EH6 6LX)

The Kitchin Restaurant opened in 2006 by husband and wife team Tom and Michaela Kitchin on Edinburgh’s Leith waterfront.

Awarded a Michelin star in 2007, the Kitchin has remained a must-visit destination for foodies thanks to its creative menu of modern British cuisine influenced by classic French cooking and using the best, fresh Scottish ingredients.

Eat in the light of the full moon 

(32A Old Pentland Road, EH10 7EA)

Diners enjoy the wonders of the Herb Garden under the light of the full moon, supplied

The Secret Herb Garden’s dining events have been hugely popular with locals who learned of this hidden gem on their doorstep. And the Garden’s full moon dinner is a great event to experience during the summer months.

The menu includes seasonal dishes enhanced by the on-site herbs, and prepared by the in-house chef. There’s also a wine pairing option, curated by the Garden’s founder, Hamish Martin.

Cook your own steak at Steak on Stones

(14 Picardy Place, EH1 3JT)

Picture: Steak on Stones Facebook

At Steak on Stones you can take be chef for the night by cooking thinly sliced steak on volcanic stone to your liking, right at the table.

But if that seems too much work, then a main from the menu of hearty favourites, such as smoked mac and cheese, will satisfy.

Visit the capital’s first soup cafe, Union of Genius

(8 Forrest Road, EH1 2QN)

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Tuck into a hearty, homemade soup in this quirky cafe. Made using local ingredients and offering a variety of flavours, from the traditional to something more adventurous, this is an ideal spot on a cold day.

Learn about our national drink 

(354 Castlehill, EH1 2NE)

Picture: The Scotch Whisky Experience

The Scotch Whisky Experience is a must visit for those looking to learn about all things whisky related. From distillery locations to strengths and types, it’s a fascinating way to spend an afternoon.

Depending on the time you have or how in-depth you want to go, there’s a range of tour options available. And don’t forget to try a few drams at the end of the tour.

Try the near mythical deep-fried Mars Bar at the Royal Mile Tavern

(127 High Street, EH1 1SG)

Go on, you know you want to. This infamous national ‘delicacy’ is served up as part of this historical (and brilliantly located) traditional pub’s dessert menu.

If you’d rather save your teeth, and arteries, then sample one of the many (over 100) whiskies and ever-changing craft beers.

Afternoon tea at the Signet Library

(Parliament Square, EH1 1RF)

Picture: Colonnades at The Signet Library Facebook

A book lover’s (and foodie’s) dream, lunch at the Colonnades is the perfect way to while away an afternoon. Housed within the historic Signet Library, the secluded restaurant is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Princes Street.

Running from Monday to Friday, 11am to 1.30pm, this glorious little restaurant does a roaring trade in luscious lunches at prices that won’t break the bank. Enjoy a high tea, light lunch or simply just a glass of champagne as you soak in the ambience of one of the city’s most beautiful restaurant settings.

Champagne and Lobster at the Kilted Lobster

(112 St Stephen St, EH3 5AD)

Celebrate the start of the weekend with a decadent dinner of lobster and champagne at this much-loved restaurant.

Serving fresh seafood, the Kilted Lobster’s prides itself on using the best, freshest Scottish ingredients that change with the seasons.

Try before you buy a dram

(4-7 North Bank Street,  EH1 2LP)

Picture: Whiski Rooms Facebook

Now hugely popular, ‘flights’ of drinks are a great way to try a range of a preferred spirit or beer before deciding on your favourite for the night.

One of the best places to sample whisky flights is the award winning Whiski Rooms. Perched on the Mound, the bar offers dramatic views over Princes Street and also offers daily tutored tastings and a dedicated whisky shop.

Make your own cocktails at Heads and Tales

(1a Rutland Place,EH1 2AD)

The home of the Edinburgh Gin distillery, Heads and Tales boasts over 80 varieties of gin and also houses two stills – Flora and Caledonia –  making it the perfect spot for any juniper enthusiast.

With an extensive cocktail list, there’s also a chance to create your own with the ‘Gin-It-Yourself’, or ‘G-I-Y’ menu. Guests can select their favourite gin brand, flavours, mixer, garnish and even glassware to build their ideal tipple from scratch.

Find a speakeasy style bar

(79 Queen St, EH2 4NF)

Panda and Sons is a hidden bar fusing the classic Prohibition style Speakeasy and a nod to the Vintage style Barbershop.

Located in the basement (behind a secret bookcase door) of a red painted, vintage style Barber shop on the corner of Queen Street, Panda and Sons has been very popular since its opening in 2013, and serves an array of cocktails, craft beers and more.

Enjoy some luxurious doughnuts from Twelve Triangles

(90 Brunswick St, EH7 4AQ)

Chocolate&Pistachio CreamFilled Donuts ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Anyone with a sweet tooth will love the doughnuts from Twelve Triangles. Made fresh every day and stuffed full of delicious fillings, they’re well worth visiting the Brunswick or Portobello shops for.

Cool down with some delicious gelato from Mary’s Milk Bar

(19 Grassmarket, EH1 2HS)

Just another day at the Milk Bar…

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Whether the sun is shining or not, pay a visit to Mary’s Milk Bar. This retro ice cream parlour offers gorgeous homemade gelato in traditional and flamboyant flavours (such as fig and hazelnut and Goats cheese and pickled beetroot).

Pick up some sweet treats from Mimi’s Bakehouse

(63 Shore, EH6 6RA)

This award winning family run bakery has three other outlets in Edinburgh, and is a popular spot for afternoon tea.

Serving up a selection of homemade cakes, it’s also a good lunch spot especially if you can grab an outside table on a warm day.

Have dinner in an iconic hotel

(1 Princes St, EH2 2EQ)

The Balmoral hotel is one of the landmarks of Edinburgh thanks to its iconic clock tower. Opened in 1902, this former station hotel has some varied dining options available to guests and visitors, which include Michelin-starred restaurant Number One, Hadrian’s Brasserie and Palm Court (celebrate a special day with a traditional afternoon tea here).

Whisky enthusiasts will love the cosy Scotch bar, which houses over 400 types from malts to blends.

Dine in a former bank vault

(12-13 St Andrew Square, EH2 2AF)

Edinburgh food

Picture: Amarone, Edinburgh

The beautiful building that houses Italian restaurant Amarone on St Andrew Square was once a bank and the original vault is still downstairs.

Now used as a private dining room, the safe can be booked for special occasions and holds up to 32 people or a round 20 for a cocktail masterclass.

About The Author

Rosalind Erskine

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related.

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