Gordon Ramsay Street Burger is coming to Edinburgh’s St James Quarter, but here are a few independent burger joints to try first

Get your laughing gear around this lot

Published 30th Mar 2022
Updated 18 th Sep 2023

We’re sure Gordon Ramsay Street Burger will be great, but the capital already has some good independent burger joints to try first.

Here are a few of our favourites. They don’t call us Edinburgers for nothing.

El Perro Negro, Bonnie & Wild Market, St James Quarter, www.el-perro-negro.com

This lot started out in Glasgow and have a restaurant on Woodlands Road, but they opened their first Edinburgh branch in the new Bonnie & Wild Market a couple of months ago. They won Burger of the Year at the National Burger Awards in 2019 and 2021, specifically for their Top Dog Burger. All of their hamburgers are made from grass fed dry-aged beef.

What to order: The above, which features bone marrow and Roquefort butter, double bacon, caramelised onions and truffle mayo, though for purists there’s a simple Classic, with pickles, caramelised onions and burger sauce. Look out for their specials too. These have included The Hot Dog, which features two patties, bone marrow butter, double cheese, chilli, hot house pickles, onions and chipotle mayo. Ooft.

Sides? We’ll take the togarashi fries, crispy fried confit wings and the onion rings, thank you kindly.

Burger Mama, 16 Haymarket Terrace, www.thelionessofleith.co.uk

Although they started out as a side project in Leith’s Lioness of Leith pub, this burger business now has a box fresh restaurant at Haymarket. Their patties are made in-house with flank and skirt steak from Findlays of Portobello.

What to order: The Phoenix - a 6oz patty topped by jalapenos, mature cheddar, hot sauce and an onion ring, all in a brioche bun.

Sides? There’s fried chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese, various types of fries, and all your other five-a-day essentials.

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Bell’s Diner, 7 St Stephen Street, www.bellsdineredinburgh.com

This place is a real institution and has been in Stockbridge, incredibly, since 1972. Their half-a-century long ethos seems to be, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as things have remained relatively unchanged. Fans are hugely loyal to their beef, chicken, falafel, mushroom or nut burgers. They’ve also kept the prices affordable, with mains for around the £7 mark, rather than the £16 you might have to pay elsewhere (Gordon Ramsay, we’re looking at you).

What to order: The classic 8oz beef, which is served in a sesame bun with a salad on the side to cancel out the lard.

Sides? They do milkshakes made with Crolla’s ice-cream, in flavours including chocolate malt, banana, strawberry or vanilla. Also, among other things, there are halloumi or loaded fries, as well as the regular ones.

Earl’s, 74 Raeburn Place, www.earlsedinburgh.com

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Although they opened as a gourmet focaccia sandwich shop sometime last year, Earl’s, who are owned by the team behind Stockbridge’s The Pantry, have changed tack and transformed into a burger joint instead. We’ve yet to try their new wares, but they look pretty decent, and will suit those who like their fillings and fixings stacked high.

What to order: We think they deserve some sort of award for naming a burger The Notorious P.I.G. This one contains a smash patty, sausage patty, charred pineapple, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles. We’re also amused by the title of their veggie burger, aka Chickpea Diddy.

Sides? There are wings with toppings including Carolina BBQ sauce and bacon bits, chilli cheese waffle fries, Sriracha slaw and pickles.

Luxford Burgers, St Leonard’s Street, www.luxfordburgers.co.uk

For burgers named after movies, try this restaurant, which also currently has a Glasgow branch on Scotland Street, and a residency at Fore Play Crazy Golf on Edinburgh’s Picardy Place, where it provides patties to putters. They opened as a dark kitchen in the capital during lockdown before opening a more conventional sit-in venue, though they still do takeaway.

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What to order: Burgers include The Donnie Darko, which doesn’t feature any rabbit, but instead contains crispy garlic chicken fillet, double American cheese, streaky bacon and Sriracha mayo. The Highlander is a best-seller, thanks to two Scotch beef patties, double American cheese, bacon, Lux sauce and pickles.

Sides? We like the chicken Kiev fries, or the Fiercely Rarebit versions that are topped with beer-candied bacon bits, jalapenos and Kentish rarebit. The focus at their Newington branch is also on cocktails.

Bread Meats Bread, North Bridge, www.breadmeatsbread.com

There are now seven branches of this family-owned restaurant in Edinburgh and Glasgow, which started out in the west coast city back in 2012. They were well ahead of the curve when it came to the new wave of gourmet burger restaurants. At the end of last year, they opened a huge flagship venue on North Bridge, in the former premises of chain, Prezzo.

What to order: This place has the longest menu of any of our other burger joints. We dare you to try the Luther Burger - “a caramelised glazed ring doughnut toasted and filled with a cheeseburger topped with candied bacon, gochujang mayo and crispy onions”. In for a penny.

Sides? Tons. Their newest additions are the pretzel bites, though they also offer Canadian poutine, buffalo fries and chicken bites. No salad.

Butta Burger, 8 Lister Square, www.buttaburger.co.uk

This is another lockdown business done good. They opened their first branch at 137 George Street and now the newest Quartermile branch.

What to order: Their signature is possibly the Chicken Kiev burger, which features a huge slab of fried chicken, Parmesan, and homemade black garlic sauce. We also like the Reuben, with two aged beef patties, salt beef, fried onions and homemade bone marrow mayo.

Sides? The truffle, Parmesan and rosemary topped fries are a very good call. They also offer shakes, including the Strawberry Cheesecake version, and classic cocktails.

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Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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