Edinburgh has more bars restaurants per head of the population than anywhere else in the UK.

My warmer months role as a freelance tour guide has enabled me to become highly knowledgeable of the best bars and restaurants in Edinburgh.

Not just in these top recommended places, but wherever you choose to eat in Edinburgh, at almost any time of the year, I advise you most strongly to prebook your table comfortsbly in advance of your visit.

What follows are my best bars and restaurants in Edinburgh for 2024.


Where: 197 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1PE

When: 12.00-23.00 Monday-Wednesday
12.00-00.00 Thursday
12.00-00.30 Friday & Saturday
12.00-23.00 Sunday

Let’s start with the meaning of the name of this superb tavern and eaterie. Albanach in Gaelic – the main language much more widenly spoken in Scotland in the 1700s than it is today – means ‘water of life’.

The Albanach is a popular and traditional pub at the heart of the Royal Mile in the Old Town. This pub has won the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence from 2015-2019, so you know I have found a gem here for you.

This pub really has it all. It’s cosy, bustling and friendly with a restaurant downstairs and an outside seating area on the Royal Mile where you can watch the world go by. It is famed for its vast array of whiskies, well-kept real ales and traditional Scottish pub grub.

The popular food menu is surpassed by their whisky menu, with over 200 malts to choose from. The friendly staff will happily help you select a flight of whiskies for you to enjoy and explain the best order to drink them. Try a whisky flight from different regions of Scotland.

My Top Tip: Upon checking the food menu at the time of writing this piece in January 2024, The Albanach has an extensive range of starters, main dishes and plates to share. That means not only is the Albanach a fantastic place to enjoy our national drink, but also food. If you visit the Old Town,spending time here to partake of both its culinary and drink offerngs, is a must.


Where: 47a Thistle Street, Edinbugh EH2 1DY

When: 12.30-21.00 Monday-Sunday

Think New York meets Asian street food cuisine in understated fine dining surroundings. This Michelin star Edinburgh restaurant has carved its own niche in creating unique dishes won’t find anywhere else with similar dishes with a Scottish twist.

You can sample the best of Scottish seafood such as North Sea crab and opt for small plates to share or larger plates to suit your palette and appetite.

Everything here is impeccable with innovative dishes served by friendly and charming staff. I can recommend this for special occasions and a venue that will make your visit to Edinburgh truly memorable.

My Top Tip: Booking is essential as it is a small restaurant.

Makars Gourmet and Mash Bar

Where: 9 North Bank Street, Edinburgh EH1 2LP

When: 12.00-20.30 Monday-Thursday
12.00-21.30 Friday-Saturday
12.00-20.00 Sunday

Makars is a hugely popular mash bar, perfectly located between the Royal Mile and Princes Street serving hearty local cuisine. Makars is rated as one of the top venues out of over 3,000 places to eat in Edinburgh, so you know I have found a treat here for you.

Haggis, neeps and tatties – including the vegetarian version – is a speciality here and with different types of mash and sausages to mix and match you are sure to find your perfect combination. The prices are perfectly reasonable. The generous welcome and service you receive will provide you with that special, VIP dining service.

This is comfort food at its best and for those with a sweet tooth. All puddings at However, I still recommend the chocolate brownie with ice cream to round off a great dining experience.

My Top Tip: Try the haggis, neeps and tatties, either the meat or vegetarian option. You won’t be disappointed!

Wedgwood The Restaurant

Where: 247 Canongate, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH8 8BQ

When: Monday to Sunday 12.00-13.45 (last booking) & 17.00 to 21.00 (last booking) Midweek 21.45 (last booking) Weekends

The Wedgwood is an award-winning Michelin star restaurant in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town on the Royal Mile. It’s popular with locals ad visitors alike. Paul and Lisa Wedgwood have created a fine dining experience without the pretentious aspects that you might expect.

You can expect fine dining with local ingredients blended with innovative combinations and flavours. Game and seafood are a speciality here. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will happily guide you through the menu and make recommendations to suit your palette and appetite.

This is one of my go-to venues for special occasions.

My Top Tip: Try the ‘Wee Tour of Scotland’ tasting menu to sample the best of traditionl Scottish cuisine.

The Gardener’s Cottage

Where: Royal Terrace Gardens, 1 London Road, Edinburgh EH7 5DX

When: 17.00-23.00 Thursday
12.00-23.00 Friday-Sunday

The Gardener’s Cottage was built in 1836 and, as the name suggests, was home to the gardener of Edinburgh’s Royal Terrace Gardens for many years.

Each dish is meticulously prepared and beautifully presented with fruit, vegetables and herbs that are grown from the gardens.

This is my recommendation for something different and unique. The menu changes with the seasons, and has a focus on fresh local food, some of which is grown in their own garden kitchen. Great service, delicious food with perfect wine pairings. What’s not to love?

My Top Tip: If you wish to enjoy local, sustainable Scottish produce with ingredients that change with the seasons,The Gardeners Cottage is not to be missed.

Wherever you choose, book your meal to add to a great Edinburgh day, after joining me on a small group private tour.


Contact me: fraser@edinburghtoursandhistory.com

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