10 of the best places to get lunch in Edinburgh

When wandering around the beautiful city of Edinburgh, you will inevitably need a lunch break.

Published 6th Nov 2017
Updated 18 th Sep 2023

From street food to sandwiches, Mexican to Malaysian, Edinburgh has a whole host of brilliant eateries which will make your lunchtimes the best times.

Ting Thai Caravan

(Teviot Pl, EH1 2RA, 0131 225 9801)


The street-food of Thailand has been brought to the capital by this gem of a joint.

It's certainly not fancy, but the food is to die for. Meals are served in cardboard containers at a very reasonable cost, making it popular with Edinburgh's students.

Dining at the Caravan is a fun experience, with the staff's favourite music playing, and the tables crammed together to create a cosy atmosphere.

The kitchen is open plan, so you can see how each dish is created.

The Pad Thai is delicious, as is the roti flatbread with chilli jam.

There are also plenty of gluten-free options.

And should your not be sated by their extensive menu you can always check out their sister restaurant Saboteur, and grab some of their wonderful bao and chicken pho.

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El Cartel

(64 Thistle St, EH2 1EN, 0131 226 7171)


The tacos at El Cartel are unparalleled.

Ever since opening in 2014, this Mexican eatery offers a simple menu of tacos and street snacks, but these few dishes are fresh and inventive.

You can choose between seven or eight varieties of tacos, with fantastic fillings such as pineapple, white onion and coriander.

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The old favourites, chicken wings and guacamole, also make an appearance.

Although the restaurant is small, and can feel cramped when it is busy, the food more than makes up for any inconvenience.

Manna House

(22-24 Easter Road, EH7 5RG, 0131 652 2349)


Billed as a bakery and café, the Manna House also has some sublime savouries which will definitely whet your appetite at lunchtime.

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The bacon and cheese croissants, the soups and the salads are all made with the greatest care, and the sandwiches are created using the bakery's own rustic bread.

If all this is still not enough to fill you up, why not try out one of their incredible range of cakes.

The cinnamon and apple crumble slices are particularly good, but there is also a wide selection of patisserie to choose from.

Nile Valley

(6 Chapel St, EH8 9AY, 0131 667 8200)


This Sudanese restaurant has been a popular lunch spot for decades.

The Middle Eastern dishes are both authentically tasty, including falafel, char-grilled aubergine, and hummus.

The restaurant is particularly popular with university staff and students, who will queue for as long as it takes to get their favourite lunch.

Nile Valley can be found in a small basement, which is decorated with posters for local events. If you want a full meal rather than a snack, the set menu is a complete bargain.

Edinburgh Larder

(15 Blackfriars St, EH1 1NB, 0131 556 6922)


The focus of the Edinburgh Larder is local Scottish produce, and its regular customers fully appreciate the high quality of the food here.

Often, the windows are steamed up because of the hordes of hungry punters looking for the best lunch in town.

The morning rolls are a good way to start the day, and the deli platters are perfect for sharing with friends. The salads and sandwiches are expertly put together, and the walnut chocolate brownie is highly recommended.

Mother India's Café 

(3-5 Infirmary St, Old Town, EH1 1LT, 0131 524 9801)


The first Mother India eatery opened in Glasgow in 1996, which was followed by the popular Edinburgh branch in 2008.

This café-restaurant specialises in tapas-style Indian food, making it ideal for sharing, or a light lunch.

Every dish is freshly prepared, and infused with the most fascinating flavours. The menu lists a whole range of delicious morsels, including patina lamb, made with mint; lamb saag, which has spinach; and chana daal, made from fresh lentils.

Los Cardos

(281 Leith Walk, EH6 8PD, 0131 555 6619)


Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, told Shortlist Magazine that the haggis burrito at Los Cardos is one of his guilty pleasures, and we think it will soon be one of your's too.

The carnitas burrito is equally wonderful - filled with slow-cooked pulled pork which has been marinated for hours in a zingy salsa verde.

Union of Genius

(8 Forrest Road, EH1 2QN, 0131 226 4436)


Soup may not always be the most exciting food in the world, but Union of Genius is sure to make you re-think this humble lunch-time staple.

Local ingredients and suppliers take precedence, ensuring the highest quality and the best flavours.

Some of the soups are pretty innovative, including the Ghanian chicken and peanut curry soup, and the Moroccan harira soup.

One of the perennial favourites among regulars is the caldo vede, which is made with paprika and chorizo.

If you are lucky, one of the few tables will be free, but if not, you can always grab a take-away.


(28 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2JU)

Edinburgh lunches
Picture: Trip Advisor Traveller

Sometimes only a slice will do.

Branding themselves as American pizza purveyors, rather than the more traditional Italian, Mamma’s on the Grassmarket is an Edinburgh institution, and has previously been named best pizzeria in the UK.

It's the best place to head to head to for a properly cheering pizzeria experience; one that will see you leave with a smile on your face.

The pizzas are stonebaked and the menu boasts more than 40 toppings, including apple, avocado, banana, cactus, calamari, marshmallow and chocolate.

Or, if that's too much hassle, you can go for one of the house specials such as Gusto del Papa (red onion marmalade, goats cheese and basil), The Cash (Aka Ring of Fire) with spicy beef, jalapeños, roquito peppers, onions and salsa, or even The Scotsman – haggis, potato, onion, mushroom.

We also heartily recommend the chilli cheese fries.

Makar's Gourmet Mash Bar

(9 North Bank Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2LP)

Edinburgh lunches
Picture: Makars

Elevating the humble - and hugely versatile - potato to a sort of culinary art form, Makar's have been quietly going about their business without too much fuss over their unique dining concept and it seems to going down a treat with residents and visitors alike.

A great place to not only enjoy the best style of comfort food, but also one of the best value for Scottish dishes - you can enjoy a small plate of haggis, potato, turnip with a peppercorn sauce (haggis, neeps and tatties) for just £5.

It's the tatties that are the star of this menu though and we'd be remiss not to point you in the direction of the roasted crispy potato skins, the cheddar and chives Scottish mash (just like your mum used to make) and the delightful rosti fritter stacks.


(5 - 7 Old Fishmarket Close, High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1RW)


It's a well known fact that the best concepts are always the most simple ones, and in Wings, there is no messing about with fancy menus, uptight service or even cutlery.

It's just fried chicken done really well.

Which is exactly what we want in a lunch time treat.

Take your choice of six wings covered in delicious rubs or smothered in a massive array of both hot and regular sauces.

Choose from the likes of maple BBQ, Sriracha hot sweet chilli, spicy jerk BBQ and cheese sauce with jalapenos.

Just be careful you don't end losing yourself in the retro gaming options and whatever you do, don't take the suicide challenge.



Maddy lives in Edinburgh and has written for the Sunday Herald and the Ed Fringe Review. She is passionate about authentic, sustainably sourced food, and is always keen to discover exciting new flavours.
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