Edinburgh’s restaurants are increasingly diverse and the number of them is constantly rising. Prices vary greatly, and a full meal can set you back anything between £5 and £15. The New Town around streets such as Hanover Street and Georges Street are lined with more expensive restaurants, while the Old Town is where you’ll find those with more reasonable prices.
If your budget is tight, then stick to pub grub which is surprisingly good in the Scottish capital, even at night time. Traditional pubs along the Royal Mile and in the Grassmarket serve a wide variety of meals for around £5. These range from plain old sausage and chips, to more traditional culinary delights such as haggis.
Incidentally, haggis is Scotland’s most famed dish. For those who are unfamiliar with it, Haggis is a mixture of offal and oatmeal boiled in a sheep’s stomach though there are vegetarian versions available. It might not sound extremely appetising, but as the phrase goes, ‘When in Rome…’
Drummond Street, Old Town, Edinburgh, Scotland
Popular with Edinburgh’s ever-expanding student population, Brass Monkey is a true gem. Firstly, it is conveniently located just minutes from both Princes Street and the Royal Mile. Secondly, they plate paninis for just £1.50. There is a catch in that you have to buy a drink with them, but still - you can really complain when you get a drink and panini for £3. But one of its best attributes isn’t the food it serves for peanuts, its the cinema they have out the back. Films are screened daily at 3pm and range from new cult classics such as Pulp Fiction to older movies such as the Godfather.
Open 11am-1am Mon-Sat, 12pm-1pm Sun.
4 High St, Edinburgh, Scotland
There are different reasons as to why this pub is called the World's End, but the real one is that it is on the site where the Old Town used to end, hence people used to think it was the end of the world. Today it serves prize-winning pub grub at decent prices and you'll feed yourself on under £6. Make sure to try their sticky toffee pudding.
Open daily from 11am-1am; Sat & Sun 10am-1am.
Canongate, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland
Cosy doesn’t really describe this café properly. Tiny fits better. But find a seat (there are approximately 6 to choose from) and you can enjoy adequate breakfasts for less than £3.
Open daily from 12pm-6pm.
1 Johnston Terrace, Old Town, Edinburgh, Scotland
If you are looking for breakfast or lunch on the go this is where to get it from. Found off the top of the Royal Mile, you can pick up bacon or sausage breakfast rolls here from as little as £1.20. And if you really feel like splashing out you can get the two in one for less than £2!
Open 8am-3.30pm Mon-Fri, 9am-3.30pm Sat & Sun; sausage/bacon rolls cost £1.20.
53-55 Broughton Street, also 19 Shore Place, Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland
Granted, you'll spend a few more pounds in this restaurant than in some of the pubs on the Royal Mile, but the food is excellent and the service is friendly and efficient. The varied menu has everything from steaks to chicken to burgers to fish. Worth the extra few pounds.
Open nightly from 5.30pm-11.30pm (last orders 10.30pm).
168 Rose St, Edinburgh, Scotland
One of the best things about pubs in the UK is that they do ‘2 for 1’ when it comes to full meals. In this particular pub just one street back from Princes Street there is a wide choice of mains to choose from, such as lasagne, burgers, fish and chips and chicken kiev. The deal is from 11am-6pm daily and for £5.99 you get two meals.
15 West Register St, New Town, Edinburgh, Scotland
The only problem with this fast food outlet/café is that it’s a tad hard to locate in the backlanes behind Princes Street. But as it is only two minutes from the eastern end of the city’s main thoroughfare it is worth the look. You can pick up all-day breakfasts for £3 while you should be able to ruffle up enough for a burger and chips from whatever loose change is clinging to the depths of your pocket.
Open 6.30am-6pm Mon-Sat, 8am-6pm Sun.
Grassmarket, Edinburgh, Scotland
This traditional ‘boozer’ in the Grassmarket kindly gives backpackers all dishes that are £4.95 for £2.95. All you have to do is prove to the staff that you are budget traveller and they’ll kindly give you the discount. Your hostel key should suffice. While not all dishes on the lunch menu are under that £4.95 threshold, many are including traditional ‘haggis, tatties and neeps’ and a couple of pasta dishes. Note that this offer only applies to the lunch menu which you can order from between 12pm and 3pm.
Open daily from 11am-midnight.
127 High Street, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland
Its title gives the impression that it targets tourists, and its location backs up this theory. But its prices don’t. You will get yourself a traditional Scottish dish, namely haggis, tatties and neeps here for around a fiver. Amazing value considering its location, and good food too.
Open from 11am 7 days a week; until 11pm Mon-Wed, midnight Thurs & Sun, 1am Fri & Sat; traditional Haggis, tatties (mashed potatoes) and neeps (turnip) costs £5.50.
109 Princes Street, New Town, Edinburgh, Scotland
If you take my advice and eat in Debenhams café there is something you should be aware of first of all – Debenhams is actually a department store and doesn’t fall into the ‘eatery’ category. What makes eating in its café worthwhile is the view to enjoy while munching on your panini. The entrance is at the western end of Princes Street and once you walk in just follow the escalators to the top floor and you’ll find the café there.
Open 9.30am-5pm Mon-Sat, 12pm-5pm Sun; avg. sandwich costs £2.70, fish & chips costs £5.75.