Honestly we didn’t expect much from the food scene in Scotland, and we could not have been more wrong – we easily found good eats in and around Edinburgh that pleased both kids and adults. Yes, if you seek it out you can find Haggis and Black Pudding and all the stuff that has given Scottish food a bad rap. Most restaurants (catering to visitors anyway) serve dishes we can all enjoy without cringing.
For those unaware, Haggis is a Scottish specialty made from sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, and encased in the animal’s stomach, YUM! Black Pudding is made from pork blood. DOUBLE YUM! We’ll pass thanks. Since neither sounded particularly appealing to us, we set out on a quest to find food that didn’t make us wretch every time we thought about it.
Here’s a few delicious highlights to consider the next time you are in Edinburgh:
Zizzi Italian Food – 1 Roxburgh Court (down Mary King’s Close)
A group of Italian restaurants with locations throughout the UK, Zizzi was the perfect stop for a casual dinner of food we recognized. It was comforting to be offered pizzas and pastas of many varieties in a great, warm, buzzy setting full of fun people laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Our pastas and pizzas were just as we expected – dependable and yummy. (It didn’t hurt that their Royal Mile location was directly next to our rooms at the Old Town Chambers Hotel).
Artisan Tap – 7-11 Wooer Street, Falkirk
Venturing outside of Edinburgh is absolutely necessary, as the sights in the countryside are wonderful – and easy to reach by ScotRail passes. While visiting the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies, we stopped into this casual restaurant and pub known for serving local brews. The burgers were delicious, and so were the craft beers I tried, including my fav – Schiehallion. Yup, they all had names I could not pronounce.
The Cafe at Abbotsford House – Tweedbank Train Station to Abbotsford/Melrose
Outside Edinburgh by train to Tweedbank, Abbotsford House is the home of Sir Walter Scott that is now a really cool museum inside his country manor. The restaurant is remarkably good, set in a very modern building with contemporary design – completely opposite to the museum design and furnishings. With a light drizzle outside, the carrot soup was the perfect match.
Deacon Brodie’s Tavern – 435 Lawnmarket, Old Town Edinburgh
Deacon Brodie was one of Robert Louis Stevenson’s inspirations when writing Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde (evidently he was a real life Jekyl/Hyde dude). His namesake tavern serves up really great pub food, and we enjoyed a delicious Fish & Chips platter with a healthy splash of vinegar. The Steak, Amber Ale & Mushroom Pie in shortcrust pastry was also delish. Plus you really have to experience a traditional Scottish tavern while visiting, and this one is reaaaalllly cool.
Southern Cross Cafe – 63A Cockburn St, Old Town Edinburgh
This cute little cafe is tucked into an historic building on the way to Waverly Station, and we stopped in for a delicious breakfast. Twice. The Eggs Benedict was perfectly prepared the way I like it, with yolks slightly runny and plenty of salty bacon. Ava had traditional porridge with cream and honey, and she gobbled it right up. The fresh morning rolls were the perfect topper.
The Dome – 14 George Street, Edinburgh
Within easy walking distance of the Royal Mile, The Dome really needs to be seen for full effect. It’s design is so stately and dramatic, with the bar sitting directly under the enormous dome of the building, with the restaurant surrounding it. This is fine dining, so pull out that nice sport coat you packed for occasions like this and treat yourselves to dinner here in The Grill Room under the enormous dome. Whatever you order will be fantastic (our steaks were among the best we’ve ever tasted), but the surroundings are the true star here.
There are plenty more great places to eat, so don’t worry. You will only need to eat haggis if you order it on purpose, you adventurous soul you!