Welcome to Edinburgh, and of course the biggest arts festival in world. You can expect close to 4,000 shows a day, and the opportunity to drink non-vintage wine until five in the morning. But while you’ve obviously come to to be entertained, we feel there are a few other things you really need to know about this fabulous city …
Where to find great coffee …
In order to survive both the Fringe, and all the heavy drinking you’re required by law to do, some serious rocket fuel is a must. Fortunately, Edinburgh has an amazing, ever-expanding, independent coffee scene.
Our favorites include: Lowdown, on George Street, with the world’s best carrot cake; Wellington, also on George, boasts excellent coffee and superior sones; Baba Budan, on Market Street, makes incredible doughnuts, with incredible flavours, on site; Fortitude, on York Place, offers a faultless brew, and plenty that’s gorgeous for lunch or afternoon tea; and Cairngorm, both on Hanover Street and Melville Place, is where you’ll find a perfect coffee, and a three-cheese toastie with chilli jam that will blow your mind.
Should you wish to turn coffee into brunch, Cairngorm is also a very good place to start. As is the legendary Urban Angel, where everything they make is a delight, and often organic. We can also highly recommend the amazing breakfast buffet at the Register Club, where you can scoff great food in a rather sublime setting.
And then there’s the very impressive Wrestlers’ Naan at Dishoom. Thanks to its streaky bacon, peppery pork sausage, runny-yolked egg, and spiced chutney you will immediately find yourself in breakfast heaven.
Where to indulge your shopping addiction …
A stone’s throw from Edinburgh Castle, the gorgeous Victoria Street is a wonderful place for retail therapy. For a start, we’re completely in love with the beautifully designed tweed suits at Walker & Slater. The fabric, cut, and price are all fabulous beyond belief.
Following a foray into Scottish fashion, you can also explore a glorious selection of cheeses from artisan cheesemonger IJ Mellis, as well as everything from rare old books and whisky, to the work of local artists, and even a joke shop on this beautiful street.
Carry on to the Grassmarket, and you’ll also discover Armstrong’s – the coolest vintage store in the world, no argument. Like walking into the wardrobe department of an amazing theatre, this place really is rather magical.
Walk a little further, and you can end this shopping spree at the dazzling Mary’s Milk Bar. Clearly an absolute goddess, Mary makes the best ice cream imaginable, fresh each day, and still finds time to whip up her very own handmade chocolates.
The best place to enjoy the sun …
While many a cruel joke is made about Scottish weather, we can assure you the sun often shines in Edinburgh. Some of the best places to enjoy it include the balcony of Harvey Nicol’s Forth Floor, the Raeburn in Stockbridge, and the rooftop of microbrewery Cold Town House which boasts a view of the Castle.
But our absolute favourite spot is Calton Hill. Here you’re surrounded by incredible 360 degree views, the monument known as Edinburgh’s shame, and even a top notch restaurant – The Lookout – assuming of course you’ve booked ahead.
Where to soak up the culture …
Soaking up the culture is a MUST, and we think it’s best to do so through the medium of perfectly mixed cocktails. A journey that always begins at the fabulous Voodoo Rooms, where you’ll be blown away by the gold and black decor, along with staff and mixology equally as stunning.
A few glasses later, why not take a liquid tour of the Georgian New Town, making sure to include the Permit Room @ Dishoom, the Dome, Bon Vivant, Hoot the Redeemer, and the world-famous Panda & Sons.
How to find Edinburgh’s Hidden Gems …
While Edinburgh has many a hidden gem, one of its biggest is Leith. Easily missed by your average tourist, our harbour has an incredible food and drink scene. Start with brunch and the best Bloody Mary EVER at Toast, then stay another hour or so in order to indulge in their delicious brunch menu, and irresistible cake selection.
You can then weigh up options such as a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia [ the scones at their on-board cafe are are also a must ], lunch at The Kitchin – Tom Kitchin’s Michelin starred restaurant, or a pub crawl of some the city’s best gastro boozers, like Nauitcus, Nobles, and Roseleath to name but a few.
Or you could head just a few minutes round the coast to Newhaven, and one of our latest discoveries: Basil’s, which pays tribute to modernist architect Sir Basil Spence via heavenly cocktails, and cauliflower fritters that will rock your world
ALWAYS make a reservation for dinner …
No visit to this city is complete without at least one excursion into fine dining. On this score, you are utterly, UTTERLY spoiled for choice. But if you haven’t booked, prepare to go hungry, as Edinburgh is full of foodies who happily dine out 24/7.
To get you started, here are just some of our many favourites:
Twenty Princes Street – which offers castle views, and a menu equally as breath-taking; Rollo – a trifecta of fabulousness, food, atmosphere & service; Leftfield – sensational neighbourhood dining that’s winning awards; Otro – where each dish brings joys to both the eye and your tastebuds; and the delicious Kyloe, with its melt-in-your mouth highland beef, and that marvellous red wine & blue cheese sauce.
Though if in the mood for dining that’s a little more casual …
Definitely still make a reservation, as you consider: a little meat frenzy, aka Brazilian barabecue, at the gorgeous Fazenda; or heavenly fish & chips at Berties; then there’s the mouthwatering Chilean flavours of 83 Hanover Street; the most stunning Nepalese food on the planet at Khukuri; and one of our absolute favourites, Spitaki, a Greek taverna that offers sumptuous food and wine for what seems like pennies.
Though one place that definitely doesn’t require a reservation is the brilliant Stockbridge Market. If you’re sober and able enough to leave the house on a Sunday, this delicious weekly event will reward you with great food, cheese, coffee, chocolate, organic meats, and so much more.
But all of this really is just the beginning, as Edinburgh is a city that really loves its food. Our advice is allow plenty of time – in-between all of those Fringe shows – to explore a culinary scene that’s truly world class!
Though above all, please enjoy what is most definitely our favourite time of year.
The Social Bitches xx