Our selection of cheap Edinburgh restaurants that don't skimp on quality

Edinburgh has Michelin stars to spare these days, thanks to Tom Kitchin, Martin Wishart, Paul Kitching and co.

The city may have blossomed into a destination for foodies as much as for history buffs, culture vultures and tartan tat aficionados, but there are still plenty of places to fill your plate without emptying your wallet.

Cheap, quick, filling, formulaic and delicious, at Red Box Noodle Bar you pick your noodles, pick your meat, pick your vegetables, pick your sauce, hand over £6, take your change and enjoy your dinner – at a table in the adjoining dining room or across the street on Bristo Square watching the world skateboard by.

Picture: Redbox

Picture: Redbox

In the West End, Wannaburger  provides the city with its best burgers – plus shakes, Cajun fries, giant pickles, unlimited refills and US sports on big screens – and all for only a couple of quid more than McDonald’s. The bonus is that the burgers are Aberdeen Angus, the buns are from a local baker, the mayo is homemade and there are no artificial additives in anything.

Picture: Wannaburger

Picture: Wannaburger

Another good deal can be found at Bodega, a cantina that is a welcome addition to a city underserved by Mexican food vendors. The US West Coast street food-style tacos are two for £7, with fillings that are fresher and lighter than you’d expect including maple and pineapple pulled pork, slow-cooked chipotle steak and crispy cod. Wash them down with Mexican sodas or BYOB.

Picture: Bodega

Picture: Bodega

In the same hand-held and hip vein are the Ninja Buns in residence at neon-coated dive bar Paradise Palms. After the departure of a short-lived Deep South-style diner menu, what’s on the menu now are Taiwanese-style fluffy steamed buns filled with pulled pork, beef brisket, tofu or (somewhat unexpectedly) fish fingers and topped with peanut powder and fresh coriander – all of it organic and locally sourced.

Picture: Paradise Palms

Picture: Paradise Palms

The tapas at Mother India’s Café  would be worth it at twice the price. At the best Indian restaurant in the city the low prices are a mere bonus – the tapas start at £3.25, the most expensive is £5.95 and two or three are more than enough each. Don’t miss the fried dry okra with tomatoes.

Picture: Mother India

Picture: Mother India

The top of Easter Road doesn’t have much in common with rural France, besides The Manna House  – an artisan bakery where you’ll find the most authentic patisserie and viennoiserie goodies in Edinburgh. Think madeleines; macarons in flavours such as Earl Grey or pistachio; giant, cloudy rose-water and violet meringues, Opéras and éclairs. Don’t ignore the savoury stuff though – the salads, sandwiches and tarts are inventive and served in heaping portions and the daily bread comes in varieties including spelt and honey, feta and mint, chocolate, walnut and stilton, and sea salt and black pepper.

For food on the move, Oink  is unbeatable and on budget. Thanks to the whole roast pig in the window you can’t miss it, and – at £2.95 for a pile of freshly carved succulent pork in a soft roll topped with sage and onion, apple sauce, cheese sauce, chilli relish or haggis and topped with crackling – you shouldn’t. Choose from the Piglet, the Oink or the Grunter as appetite dictates.

1Redbox

Picture: Oink

There isn’t much in the way of Malaysian cuisine on offer in Edinburgh, so it’s a good thing Kampung Ali  is good. The portions are huge, the prices are not, and the menu includes regional classics like sambal beef, rendang chicken, nasi lemak and giant, steaming bowls of the spicy noodle soup laksa – all for under £10.

It may be a no-frills, glass-fronted fridge, open-till-2am kind of place, but don’t dismiss Kebab Mahal  as a mere small-hours pit stop. For a start, it has held its own for more than 36 years, and taken the top prize at the Scottish Curry Awards. Not to be squandered on drunken tastebuds, the kebabs, with meat or falafel, are authentic and fresh. Basic, busy and a bargain.

The set lunch at Chez Jules  – one course for £5.90, two for £7.90 or three for £9.90 – is the cheapest ticket to Paris in town. A giant bowl of salad, excellent bread and assorted appetisers (saucissons, cornichons) arrive on the table free of charge before you even get to the menu, which includes bistro classics that are clichés for good reason: French onion soup, frogs legs, snails, mussels, duck confit, grilled goat’s cheese, rabbit, charcuterie and oysters.

About The Author

Lindsey Johnstone

Lindsey Johnstone is a freelance journalist based between Edinburgh and Paris. She has written for Scotsman.com, Wow 247, The List, The Skinny, The Scottish Sun, heraldscotland.com, Fest and The Local France on arts, travel, news, food, fashion and pop culture.

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