Why Edinburgh has the best restaurant scene in Scotland

Scotland has lots of great restaurants. But when it comes down to it, Edinburgh still reigns supreme when it comes to eating out

Published 11th Dec 2015
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

While Glasgow is undeniably the going-out capital of Scotland, it's the country's actual capital that has forged a path as a foodie destination, with more restaurants per head than any other city in the UK, including London.

Edinburgh also has the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in Scotland, currently standing at four – Restaurant Martin Wishart, which gained the city's first star back in 2001; Number One at The Balmoral, where head chef Jeff Bland has held his star for 13 years; Paul Kitching's 21212; and Tom Kitchin's The Kitchin, which earned a star within six months of opening, making him the youngest chef in history to receive one.

The Scottish capital this year placed third in the UK rankings, with the highest number of Michelin stars after London and Birmingham. Castle Terrace, a collaboration between Kitchin and Dominic Jack, held a Michelin star until this year, but has lost out in the 2016 Michelin Guide.

The city also boasts more casual (read, affordable) options from the same chefs, including Stockbridge's Scran & Scallie from Kitchin and Jack, and Wishart's The Honours in the New Town, where the same expert and inventive treatment of fine Scottish produce can be found for a fraction of the price at their eponymous outlets.

Edinburgh is also the place to eat if you like the idea of seeing your chef on TV – celebrity chefs working in the city include Kitchin, who has appeared as a judge on Masterchef and is a regular on the BBC's Saturday Kitchen, and Mark Greenaway of Restaurant Mark Greenaway, represented Scotland on The Great British Menu and is a regular on Channel 4's Sunday Brunch, while Edinburgh native Tony Singh was a regular on Ready, Steady, Cook and more recently took part in the BBC Two series A Cook Abroad.

Fittingly for the Festival city, the capital also boasts a full roster of foodie festivals, including the Edinburgh Food Festival, held for the first time this summer at Assembly's George Square Fringe venue and returning in 2016; the Edinburgh Restaurant Festival; Foodies Festival; the Royal Highland Show; the Edinburgh Vegan Festival and for fans of Heston Blumenthal-style flights of fancy, GastroFest at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

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