Five lost Edinburgh eateries you'll remember

Gone but not forgotten: the Edinburgh eateries, restaurants and cafes we all grew up with

Published 27th Mar 2015
Updated 22 nd Dec 2015

Here we take a look back at some of the most fondly-recalled Edinburgh eateries, and why they’re no longer with us.

Fat Sam’s 

When it came to finding a location for a Chicago gangster themed restaurant, Edinburgh’s former meat market building in Fountainbridge was an inspired choice. Opening in 1986, Fat Sam’s was a hugely popular burger and steak joint for the city’s families to enjoy an evening together for nearly two decades.

Entertainment was supplied by the famous robot band and customers were presented with a token ‘I Survived Fat Sam’s’ pin badge on completion of their meal. The restaurant closed for good and the building razed to the ground in 2007 to make way for a new office and retail development.

The 1884 meat market’s iconic arches are all that remain today, albeit situated a little further down the road.


Brattisani’s was an Edinburgh institution serving fish and chips to the city for over 100 years. The business empire, which spanned three generations, was spread far and wide across the city, with outlets in Raeburn Place, Henderson Row, Brougham Place, Morrison Street and Newington Road.

The Newington shop was perhaps the most visited – helped considerably by its proximity to the Commonwealth Pool. Trips to Brattisani’s were considered mandatory after a hard day’s swim. Brothers Charles and Joe Brattisani took the difficult decision to cash in their chips in 2004, with no one in the family able to keep the business going.


Another Scots-Italian Edinburgh institution was Arcari’s in Portobello, a great rival in the ice cream stakes to S. Luca of Musselburgh. The Arcari family set up a shop at 99 Portobello High Street back in 1922, and even claimed to have invented the famous 99 cone on account of their address.
The shop in Portobello closed in 2005 after more than 80 years of operation, however, Arcari ice cream continued to be distributed from Rudy Arcari’s van around the Inch area up until his sad death last year at the age of 85. Lara’s Theme from the 1965 film Dr Zhivago signalled the van’s arrival.

The west Highland hotel with 'Scotland's best restaurant' and access to tranquil island

Wimpy Burger

The former Princes Street

Picture: Contributed

They were once numerous, but Wimpy’s burger restaurants are no longer commonplace in Edinburgh. The company first opened table service burger outlets in the capital in the 1960s, but had to adapt by the 1980s due to increasing competition from the likes of McDonald’s.

In 1984 Wimpy opened two new counter service restaurants on Princes Street, one at the corner of Castle Street, and one located in the former Woolworth’s building at the east end. Both proved hugely popular in their time but were handed over to Burger King in the early 1990s as owners United Biscuits sought to reduce the number of restaurants in their portfolio.

Looking back, it took a brave soul to don the Mr Wimpy costume. Asides from being battered at birthday parties by hyperactive children, there is at least one recorded incident of a Mr Wimpy being rolled down the slopes of Princes Street Gardens by Hibs’ casuals.

Illegal Jack’s

Scotland's first official 'Tartan Army Pie' for Euro 2024 launched by prize family bakers

It’s barely been closed a year, but Illegal Jack’s South West Grill ranks as one of the city’s most popular foodie haunts from recent times. The award-winning Tex-Mex eatery located on LothianRoad since 2009 was one of a handful of Edinburgh restaurants to provide Mexican grub and gained a loyal following in the process.

Illegal Jacks

Picture: Illegal Jacks

In a novel, modern twist, table bookings could be made through Twitter, with your Twitter name featured on the table as you took your seat. The business folded in unfortunate circumstances in autumn of last year due to flooding from the tenement above, which reportedly cost the establishment over £25,000 in lost earnings.

Thankfully, with the news of their recent reopening in the city's St Patrick Square, we can once again get our Jack's fix.

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