The best Edinburgh festivals food pop-ups 2018
- David Pollock
- 21 August 2018
Some top-tips, if you're looking for Festival food on the fly
Perhaps it's just us, but there doesn't seem to be quite the same number of ad-hoc pop-up bars and food venues around Edinburgh this year as there have been in the past; at least in terms of empty garages and shopfronts which have been commandeered in the name of doing something different for three weeks only. Perhaps it's the escalating levels of redevelopment in Edinburgh, and the fact that all the good venues have been taken?
Anyway, a couple of the more interesting spaces we've seen come courtesy of a most unusual source, PBH's Free Fringe. While you're on the lookout for some free – or, more specifically, donation-in-the-bucket – comedy, you can also check out the new temporary venue the Three Broomsticks, a shopfront space on the junction of South Bridge and Chambers Street, with a bar which is open until 1am inside. Around the corner on the Royal Mile is the similarly temporary venue Tollbooth Market, although this one also features Decagram's Skylight Bar, updated and moved from last year's home at Leith Volcano.
Decagram is an Edinburgh music promoter which is bringing artists and DJs including Urban Farmhand, Siobhan Wilson and Nasty P to the space for sets. There are food stalls onsite – including vegetarian and vegan options – and the free entry bar, which is open until 3am, is funded by what the promoters call their 'profit-to-artist' beer. As far as in-venue pop-ups go, we've also spotted BRGR+BUBBLES (Apex Grassmarket Hotel, sample dish: pulled pork burger with Irn Bru barbecue sauce and Cajun spiced fries, £14), an extension of the vowel-free burger bar BRGR on Nicolson Street which has added champagne and prosecco into the menu.
Otherwise it's not unusual to find some of the best pop-up food at the festival is actually within and around the venues themselves, although this year even more of the better local names have gone all-in with these on-site ventures, rather than setting up their own place. In the courtyard at Summerhall, for example, the Rost! (crispy duck banh mi, £8) truck is back, and it's been joined by good-quality pizza van Fire & Dough (nduja pizza, £8).
Despite the Assembly Rooms' prominent presence on George Street, there are only a couple of options outside; you can get crepe and waffles, or you can try East Lothian seafood chain Alandas (chargrilled half Eyemouth lobster and chips, £15). At the Pleasance Courtyard you can find St Andrews' Cheesy Toast Shack (mac 'n' cheese toastie, £6), but more than ever, the centre of the festival as far as food stalls go is George Square.
Here, there are places to eat at either end of the square and encircling it. There are too many to mention the lot, although we would particularly recommend the Ting Thai Caravan (chicken pad Thai, £6.80) hut in the Assembly end; Jarvis Pickle pies (Moroccan lamb pie and mash, £8.50); Shri Bheema's (chicken masala dosa, £7.00), which serves north and south Indian food; and the Basement Food Truck, which specializes in Mexican staples (tacos, £7).