Edinburgh Festival survival guide
This article is from 2010.
Late night drinking
Wandering down the alleyway towards the Outhouse, you might wonder if you’ve taken a wrong turn. But the out-of-the-way location gets forgotten once you’re inside this chic bar with its laid-back crowd. When it’s not raining everyone piles outside into the beer garden, where you can enjoy some good food with your pint and soak up the atmosphere. 12A Broughton Street Lane, 0131 557 6668
Take a seat because it’s table service in Negociants, an eternally popular bar that veers between café and nightclub. With a club downstairs in the basement, it comes into its own in the evenings when groups of friends fuel up on the legendary large nachos upstairs before getting their dancing shoes on. 45—47 Lothian Street, 0131 225 6313
Assembly somehow manages to mash up the looks of a style bar with the comfort of an old local. Located across the road from the student union, the food is inexpensive, the cocktail list is tempting and the DJs play everything from hip hop to house. 41 Lothian Street 0131 220 4288
One of the city’s first ‘style bars’, the City Café still attracts a good-looking crowd. The décor is American diner-inspired, making it a favourite pre-club spot and an ideal place to grab a hearty plate of food. 19 Blair Street, 0131 220 0125
If you like your food and your beers East European, pre-club favourite Pivo will be your destination of choice. Czech beers like Budvar and Louny keep punters refreshed while the DJs do their stuff and the place just gets busier and busier as the night goes on. 2—6 Calton Road, 0131 557 2925
Top Picks: Vegetarian
The Grand Dame of vegetarian establishments in Edinburgh, fine dining is the name of the game at David Bann. Enjoy internationally-inspired dishes like chilli with sweet potato and chocolate sauce in stylish, minimalist surroundings. 56—58 St Mary’s Street, 0131 556 5888
This retro-styled restaurant comes into its own at night, when its cosy atmosphere really beckons. The regularly changing menu includes inventive, delicious combinations like beetroot and cashew balls stuffed with feta. Neighbouring Black Bo’s Bar is great for a post-dinner beer. 57—61 Blackfriars Street, 0131 557 6136
South Indian cuisine is the specialty here at this family- run vegetarian restaurant. Using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, Kalpna draws its loyal customers back with tempting signature dishes like Dam Aloo Kashmeri (filled potato barrels in tomato and saffron sauces). The popular lunch buffet offers great bang for your buck. 2/3 St Patrick’s Square, 0131 667 9890, www.kalpnarestaurant.com
Lashings of French sophistication is applied to the food at L’Artichaut. Dishes like rosemary and thyme pancake with aubergine and mozzarella will satisfy veggies and meat-eaters alike. 14 Eyre Place, 0131 558 1608
This arty venue is a stalwart on the Edinburgh vegetarian scene. Supplied by their own in-house bakery, Henderson’s serves up tasty dishes like broccoli and brie crumble. If you’re in a hurry, grab a bite on the go from the upstairs Henderson’s shop and deli. 94 Hanover Street, 0131 225 2131
Naked (35 Palmerston Place, 0131 516 2988) is a very different kind of takeaway, serving up a varied menu with dishes like Jamaican pork stew wrapped up using only sustainably sourced boxes. Zen Kitchen (138 Dundas Street, 0131 556 9988), bills itself as a ‘fusion’ restaurant, with dishes such as Chicken Adobo from the Philippines and Panggang Chicken from Malaysia highly recommended. The team behind award-winning chippy L’Alba D’Oro (7 Henderson Row, 0131 557 2580) also offer up tasty Italian takeaway Anima (11 Henderson Row, 0131 558 2918), which serves quality pasta and freshly-made pizzas, as well as gourmet grilled sandwiches.
Close by, Rapido’s (77—79 Broughton Street, 0131 556 2041) healthier wraps, salads and baked potatoes alongside the regular fish suppers and chips, make it a firm favourite. Nearby, Café Piccante (7 East Norton Place, 0131 652 6221) offers an equally gargantuan supply of chippy staples.
Back uptown, the Clamshell’s location (148 High Street, 0131 225 4338) makes it a favourite for a hot portion of chips on the way to or from a show.
For something truly special though head to a stalwart on the capital’s takeaway scene, Kebab Mahal (7 Nicolson Square, 0131 667 5214). Options like fish pakora and chicken masala are not only satisfying choices for dinner, but also great value. For something with a little fire, look to Spicebox (201 Pleasance, 0131 662 4411), which offers a selection of Thai dishes like Gaeng Ped Yang (red duck curry) and Tod Mun Pla (Thai fish cakes).
Top Picks: Best breakfasts
The bread is to die for at this Swedish bakery, served with butter, cheese and homemade jam at breakfast. Coffee is smooth and strong, and the perfect cardamom buns will satisfy any sweet tooth. 27 Simpson Loan, 0131 228 5876
Delicious Eggs Benedict may be better suited to weekend brunch, but homemade organic muesli with Greek yoghurt and berry compote is a tempting and filling start to any day. 121 Hanover Street, 0131 225 6125
If the spread of breakfast items like pancakes and omelettes on offer at Centotre is not for you, they are happy to make you something not on the menu. Ask for a spinach bruschetta for a distinctly Italian experience. 103 George Street, 0131 225 1550
A classic greasy-spoon café, Snax is the perfect hangover breakfast hangout. If a good fry-up is what you’re after, park yourself at a table and have a slow morning with a newspaper and no-frills tea. 118 Buccleuch Street, 0131 662 9009
This juice bar prides itself on using the freshest ingredients in their juices and smoothies. Fruit salad is perfect for the health-conscious, but bagels are also available. A touch of the tropical on a cold Edinburgh morning. 103-105 West Bow, 0131 220 1121
Picks Beer gardens
Tucked into a corner off Broughton Street, the Outhouse boasts a cosy beer garden serving a wide selection of world beers. Like other bars in the Broughton area, the Outhouse creates a relaxed vibe. Weekend nights see the chilled atmosphere get a bit raucous, with DJs from Edinburgh’s biggest clubs spinning the decks. On Sundays in the summer, ‘infamous’ Outhouse BBQs reward patrons with burgers on the house. If the weather is being typically Scottish, the beer garden has outdoor heaters to ward off the chills. 12a Broughton Street Lane, 0131 557 6668
The Cumberland Bar
The secluded beer garden at the back of the Cumberland Bar makes it one of the quietest spots in the city to enjoy a pint of ale. Circular tables encourage a cosy atmosphere, while pub classics like steak and kidney pie and sausage and mash provide ample sustenance for the hungry Fringe-goer. 1—3 Cumberland Street, 0131 558 3134
The Pear Tree
One of the capital’s biggest and best beer gardens, The Pear Tree’s large outdoor benches and weekly BBQs make it the perfect watering hole, whether your want is to while away an afternoon or catch a quick pint in the sun, on the way to the Underbelly, Pleasance or Teviot. 34 West Nicolson Street, 0131 667 7533
The Three Sisters
Smack bang in the middle of the Cowgate, Three Sisters is one of the more energetic beer gardens in the city. People spill out onto the courtyard from inside, where three floors of bars and dance floors ensure the party never stops. 139 Cowgate, 0131 622 6801