With restaurants spanning the whole gamut of food styles and dining experiences, Edinburgh is one of the capitals of the Scottish culinary world.
But with such a dizzying variety of eateries on offer, it can be difficult to know where to begin.
Step in TripAdvisor, whose everyday reviewers have clanked forks at all of the best restaurants in the city so that you can cut straight through the noise and get right down to eating.
We give you the rundown on TripAdvisor's top 10 ranked restaurants in the capital below.
Named, we can only presume, after the Roman goddess of the dawn, TripAdvisor's number one ranked restaurant in Edinburgh certainly brightened the days of its reviewers.
“Cosy” is the adjective that crops up the most in reviews: cosy food, cosy service and cosy atmosphere. The waiters and waitresses are among the most charming in the city and, unlike many establishments, Aurora's staff even extend this hospitality to their diner's pooches, pampering them with a complimentary water bowl and lots of attention. Prices are “reasonable” and food – as you might expect – is top drawer, with the eggs Benedict and eggs Florentine coming particularly recommended.
The title is again a telling one here. Scottish for “a burning coal; a glowing hot ember; a spark”, TripAdvisor reviewers agree that “Aizle” perfectly captures the restaurant's flair for the unconventional and its daringly inventive approach to cuisine. Husband and wife duo Stuart Ralston and Krystal Goff aren't afraid to push the boat out with their menu's bold flavours, and married to a commitment to using only seasonal and local ingredients (Aizle even grow their own herbs and vegetables in the restaurant’s back garden), it’s a combination that sits well with its visitors.
Cocktails are singled out for praise, as are the views over Holyrood Hill from the window seats. The Tardis blue décor is also a highlight.
As an unpretentious fine diner, The Table is that rarest of beasts. Targeting fine dining quality and experience but without the baggage of “formality and fuss”, reams of satisfied TripAdvisor reviewers attest that the restaurant is definitely making good on its promise.
Aside from the refreshingly relaxed atmosphere, The Table's other USP is its open plan kitchen, in which visitors can watch their food being prepared fresh in front of their eyes. Chefs are exceptionally chatty and love explaining the thinking behind their dishes, which “takes the restaurant beyond just fine dining” to a “theatrical... event”.
Some reviewers were disappointed by one less-than-ideally-friendly waiter, but the caveats are few and far between for a restaurant that is thoroughly deserving of its place on this list.
What's in a name? Well, as this article is swiftly bearing out, rather a lot. With a staggering amount of pickles and preserves on its menu, and a similarly awesome amount of chutney adorning its walls, Pickles does exactly what it says on the tin.
Reviewers say these are best enjoyed with one of the excellent mixed meat and cheese platters and accompanied by a selection from the “really extensive” wine and beer list. The venison pate also logged rave reviews. As did Pickles' – rare among upscale restaurants – generous portions.
Number five on TripAdvisor's list, Number One at the Balmoral is one of Edinburgh's swankier fine dining experiences. Wines garner particular praise from its visitors, with tipples being always matched excellently to the accompanying dish.
As you might expect, being attached to a five star hotel, the Balmoral's interior is sleeker and more modern than a number of the other restaurants’ on this list – compare clean glass city skyscraper to an 18th century country house – and very traditional fine dining décor. Those in search of a more rustic experience might be better off at Aurora or Aizle, but if it is traditional fine dining sheen that you're looking for, Number One is, as its name implies, Number One.
If you're after a little taste of Italia as opposed to a silver spoon, look no further than Locanda De Gusti. A small, family run Italian restaurant, Locanda is as friendly an establishment as any of the homeliest on TripAdvisor's list – even if you come in at closing time, the restaurant still ushers you to a table with open arms.
Seafood is where Locanda really earns its stripes among reviewers with TripAdvisors recommending its mixed platters, seafood linguine and various burrata embellished dishes in particular. The wine list is quirky and endearingly offbeat – one happy customer gushes about a perfectly selected “chilled, slightly fizzy red” – and service is also outstanding.
A great record at tracking down and returning lost property proves the garnish on the platter at Locanda De Gusti. Honesty, sincerity and simplicity is the restaurant’s representative motto – buon appetito!
With “dough balls amuse bouche” so good that they’re “worth the trip alone” and an experience that reviewers claim has all the trappings of a top, top restaurant but without the sometimes-accompanying pretentiousness, Forage & Chatter is a convincing TripAdvisor top 10.
Small restaurants can often court risks of feeling cramped, but visitors report this is a trap F&C have avoided, the restricted size generating intimacy rather than claustrophobia.
The restaurant also gets its size right with its portions – no stingy ladlers here. Be sure to try the hazelnut and mushroom partnered liver parfait and the “superb” hake and beef dishes.
“Casual fine dining” is the term Purslane Restaurant uses to describe the experience it offers its customers. Reviewers concur that the restaurant succeeds in its goal, welding together those two often disparate elements of fine dining and an unstuffy atmosphere into a convincing professional package.
Despite being a comparative newcomer to the local food scene, having only opened in 2011, Purslane has established itself as a centre of Edinburgh culinary excellence. Moreover, Purslane’s fine home dining service means that even the most chronically lazy/agoraphobic of would be customers can sample the restaurant’s fine food – chefs can be hired to cook a meal for you in your very own kitchen.
Another shining example of Edinburgh's culinary cosmopolitanism, Tupiniquim Brasil Crepes brings the spirit of the Brazilian carnival to the Scottish capital. TripAdvisor praises the variety and inventive selection of both sweet and savoury crepes – margueritatata, steak pancake and pear apple ginger (not, thankfully, all in the same wrap though!) sit side by side with more traditional fillings.
There's also plenty of crepes suitable for veggies, non-gluteners and even vegans, so Tupiniquim’s great cookery really can be enjoyed by all. Service is always bouncy and smiley and the carnival atmosphere gets a boost from the cart being situated in Old Town Edinburgh, deep in the humming student part of the town.
The only curry house to crack TripAdvisor's top 10, if you're looking for one of Edinburgh's best Thai food outlets then look no further than the incontestable Nok's Kitchen.
The beauty of Nok’s décor, reviewers report, strikes you from the moment you walk through the door. Sequinned blue wallpaper swaddles the walls and the bust of an impressive looking Buddha-like figurine impresses from a shrine in the centre of them. The food’s not half bad either.
The “gaeng phet ped yang” gets its fill of praise, as does the duck salad and king prawn curry. The panang is “the best… since whenever.” Some reviewers express concern about Oliver Twist style rationing of portion sizes, but just as many say the opposite, reporting that they're actually very generous.