Food and drink tips for Edinburgh students on a budget

In the lead up to term time, we take a look at some of the best places to eat and drink for students living in the capital.

Published 25th Aug 2016
Updated 18 th Sep 2023

We all know how hard it can be trying to live on a student budget, especially when you live in the capital, and let's be honest you can't live on reheated take away from your parents or Micro/Pot/Koka noodles (well you could but it's probably not advisable).

So to alleviate some of the pressure, we've created this handy Food and Drink guide for Edinburgh students.

Eating out

Cheap places with great quality food...

Mosque Kitchen

31 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh EH8 9BX, Tel: 0131 667 4035

The Mosque Kitchen is a cheap and cheerful eatery that has become something of a watch word for student eating over the years. Great curries and all for prices that won't break the bank.

We appreciate the simplicity of the menu – as well as the value for money – with chicken, lamb and vegetable curry, all with rice, for under six quid. A city favourite, we love regular trips and can’t recommend the lamb curry or saag aloo enough.

Ting Thai Caravan

8–9 Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2QZ


Delicious street food style Thai food that's affordable? Where do we sign up?

If you haven't heard of TTC by now you're either just arriving in Edinburgh or sub-consciously sabotaging any effort you could be making to eat great Thai food.

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It's usually fairly busy but thankfully the restaurant doesn't take bookings so it means you're even more likely to get a seat.

Grab yourself something from the small box menu and you'll be paying between £3-5 for gorgeous eats like Goong Frong Beer (King prawns in beer batter) and Plaa Nua Ma-Muang (pan-seared beef). Don't forget to grab some Mun Tod if you are a fan of Sweet potatoes.


34 Victoria St, Old Town, Edinburgh EH1 2JW, tel: 07771 968233

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.

Union of Genius

8 Forrest Rd, Edinburgh EH1 2QN

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It can get cold during the winter months and few things warm you up more (or remind you of the comforts of home) than a big bowl of soup and that's where Union of Genius, Scotland’s first soup café, come in.

Every day they serve up six fresh, handmade soups packed with good ingredients, served with a choice of artisan breads. There are also vegan and gluten free options to cater for most tastes and will ensure you get a regular hit of vegetables and some decent nutrition in amongst your typical student diet.

Snax Café

15 W Register St, New Town, Edinburgh EH2 2AA

118 Buccleuch Street Edinburgh EH8 9NQ

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You are going to need a big breakfast to get that brain going in the morning and though Snax Café is a bit more traditional in its food, you'll be able to get either a great cooked breakfast, or a filling lunch and get change from a fiver.

Social Bite

131 Rose Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3DT

89 shandwick place, Edinburgh, EH2 3DT

The new loyalty card has been launched at Social Bite. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach

Picture: Malcolm McCurrach

How about grabbing a great tasting sandwich and contributing to a great cause at the same time? Well Social Bite is the place to go. Despite celebs like George Clooney popping in for  a bite to eat the price range is far from A-list, making it ideal to grab a sandwich and a coffee for an easy, delicious lunch.

Bonus - Check out the Hearty Café, which runs on Mondays, from 1-2, in Edinburgh University’s Chaplaincy. The food is all cooked right before serving by students in the Chaplaincy kitchen using fresh and fair trade ingredients, with the students who run it aiming to provide "vegan, sustainable, local, organic and fairtrade food that is affordable for all".


You will probably come across more than a few people at freshers trying to palm one of these off to you and if you haven't heard of them then you should really think about accepting the offer.

These small bibles of student discounts are great for saving money and though they are yet to reveal their deals for this year here are some of the restaurants you could use them in last term:

You could get 40% off food and drink in Andrew Usher & Co., Bannermans, Bar 50, The Blind Poet and The City Cafe as well as a massive 50% off food in Greenmantle and Malones

Also if you fancy some take away, head over to SNAPfax takeaways to get even more great deals.

To drink

The Three Sisters

139 Cowgate, Edinburgh EH1 1JS


Not only is the Three Sisters a great place to grab a beer and watch some sport (they regularly show football, rugby, GAA and UFC) but they also do some great value food.

If you use the hashtag #3SistersScran and include a pic of you with your meal, you'll even get a free coffee to enjoy once you've finished.

If it's the drinks deals we are interested in then you should know that during University term time they open up The Union (located above The Three Sisters) which has lots of discounted deals for students -most drinks are £1.99 including larger, cider, spirit mixes, and bottles Sol.

The Three Sisters bar itself also offers discounted drinks for students, Sunday through Wednesday selected draft items are £2.75 & spirit mixers are £2.25. Thursday through Saturday this is increased to £2.75 and £2.50.

Sister bar Biddy Mulligans, which located on The Grassmarket, also offers 25 per cent off starters and mains and drinks from £1.00.

The Tron Bar

9 Hunter Square, Edinburgh EH1 1QW

The phrase student friendly was pretty much invented to describe the Tron bar, it's cracking atmosphere and cheap drinks makes it a favourite with students across the city.

Grab cocktails from £4 (or £10 in a pitcher), shots from £2.25 and cheap pints in casual, relaxed surroundings.

Brass Monkey

14 Drummond Street, Edinburgh

Another student favourite and a bit of badly kept secret among locals, the Brass Monkey (there are two, one in Leith and one more central) is a great place to escape the stress of uni or college life and just grab a cheap pint in a traditional pub setting.

Best of all they also do movie screenings from 3pm daily (not that you'll need another excuse to skive off) and all with drinks prices that will leave you with enough change for a bus or tram home and a bite to eat on the way.


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