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Gail Porter shares her favourite places to eat and drink in Edinburgh

TV presenter Gail Porter shares her favourite Edinburgh bars, restaurants and places to visit.

Published: August 26, 2022
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TV presenter and motivational speaker Gail Porter was born in Edinburgh and grew up in Portobello, a seaside suburb just a few miles from the city centre.

Gail, who now lives in London and won a BAFTA Scotland award for her documentary Being Gail Porter, frequently returns home to Edinburgh to visit friends and family, and through work, most recently appearing for the Edinburgh Fringe as a special guest at the John Bishop and Tony Pitts: Three Little Words Podcast show.

While in Edinburgh for her festival appearance, Gail teamed up exclusively with Forever Edinburgh - The Official Guide to the city – as part of its Story Never Ends campaign, which showcases the city’s ever-evolving story.

Below she shares a selection of her favourite places to eat, drink, visit and stay in Edinburgh.

My favourite place to meet a friend for a meal

It’s got to be Gordon’s Trattoria, a lovely little family-run traditional Italian restaurant on the Royal Mile just down from St Giles Cathedral and of course Edinburgh Castle.

Restaurants come and go but Gordon’s has been open since the early 80s and it’s a real Edinburgh institution.

The owner Gordon and he’s become a great friend to me over the years. I always get such a warm welcome there, it feels like coming home.

I’m vegetarian and I love their ravioli which are stuffed with spinach and ricotta and tossed in butter, sage and pine kernels.

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Gordon’s Trattoria, 231 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1PE

My favourite neighbourhood to hang out in

There will always be a place in my heart for Portobello.

It’s where I grew up and went to school. It’s a wee suburb by the sea and a few miles east of the city centre with a lovely promenade and beach.

My memories are full of the times my mum used to take us down to the arcade at the end of the promenade, to play on the beach or swim in the huge outdoor pool, which had a wave machine.

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Sadly, it closed in the late 70s I think, but at the time it was hugely popular.

In recent years Portobello has definitely evolved into a cool neighbourhood, almost like a mini Brighton, with lots of great cafes, pubs and places like Aemilia, a lovely place that opened in 2020 on the High Street that specialises in handmade fresh pasta inspired by the Emilia-Romagna region.

Aemilia 186 Portobello High Street, Edinburgh, EH15 1EX

gail porter edinburgh

My favourite place to grab a drink with a pal

The Little White Pig is a gorgeous gastro pub which is co-owned by Emma Currie, who recently married my pal Irvine Welsh.

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Down some steps off Dublin Street in the heart of the New Town, it feels like stepping into someone’s living room – there’s lots of beautiful art on the walls, plants, cute cushions, and lovely lighting.

The cocktails are fab and the food is to die for with loads of seasonal and local ingredients – their sweetcorn risotto is legendary!

Little White Pig, 26B Dublin St, Edinburgh, EH3 6NN

My favourite place to escape and chill

If I need some fresh air and to clear the cobwebs, I always head to Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat.

When I was younger me and my pals used to get up early and go up there on the 1st of May and rub our faces in the morning dew – apparently it was meant to give you a glowing complexion and good luck!

I always recommend walking up Arthur’s Seat to anyone who’s visiting Edinburgh – along the way you can check out St Anthony’s Chapel - a 15th century medieval chapel – and the views over the city from the top are just stunning.

If you have worked up an appetite after walking, The Sheep Heid Inn in nearby Dudingston Village is a beautifully restored pub and restaurant full of character, history and comes with a great menu.

It’s one of Edinburgh’s oldest pubs and the Queen has even been known to pop in for lunch. 

Holyrood Park Queen's Dr, Edinburgh EH8 8HG

My favourite place for something a bit off-the-beaten-track

It might seem somewhat macabre, but I find it fascinating to explore graveyards when I visit a city.

I’ve worked on a number of TV programmes about haunted places and I find that graveyards are a great way to uncover more about a city’s past and its people.

Edinburgh has lots of historic graveyards and it doesn’t get much more atmospheric than New Calton Burial Ground.

This walled cemetery has stunning views out to Arthur’s Seat and the Scottish Parliament.

Take a wander round and explore the last resting places of many interesting characters such as Andrew Fyfe who was the leading body dissector at Edinburgh University in the late 18th century.

Apparently during this period, bodies for anatomical study were in short supply and it’s said that researchers often relied on corpses sold by ‘bodysnatchers’ – the grisly entrepreneurs of the era who dug up and sold bodies.

New Calton Burial Ground, 1759 Regent Rd, Edinburgh EH7, 1759 Regent Rd, Edinburgh

My favourite place to have a decadent overnight stay

Edinburgh is spoilt for choice when it comes to hotels and interesting places to stay.

One of my favourites is House of Gods in the Cowgate.

I absolutely love staying here, it feels decadent with an unapologetically extravagant interior that is in total contrast to the traditional streets and quaint surroundings of the Old Town and the historic Grassmarket.

The cocktails are stunning especially in its new Lilith’s Lounge bar.

One of my favourites is the Rock N’ Rose which combines gin and rose with Pomegranate & Rose Syrup – it perfectly matches the hotel’s deep red and pink colour scheme.

The Suite there is amazingly opulent with a four-poster bed, free-standing bath and there’s even a custom hand-built cocktail bar!

House of Gods Hotel, 233 Cowgate, Edinburgh

For more ideas on places to eat, drink, stay and visit in Edinburgh, visit Forever Edinburghs website

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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