Best Edinburgh Festival street food
The ten best pop-up food stalls to be found at 2011 Edinburgh Festival
This article is from 2011.
Street food is on the up in Britain and for a month the Festival crowds mean Edinburgh gets a taste of the action. Donald Reid and David Pollock from the List’s food and drink team bring you a guide to the ten best pop-up food stalls to be found in and around the Festival venues this year.
George Square walkway (east side), 11am–1am
The guys in the stripey Breton shirts are actually London-based Scots, serving up fresh mussels and oysters from the west coast near Oban. Steaming hot moules come in a wee box sturdy enough to hold the tasty broth for mopping up with the last of your frites, and to do it in style you can get a glass of prosecco or a beer on the side. Food like this will make you strong. Probably.
The Laughing Stock
Burgers, Hot Dogs, Wraps
Udderbelly, Bristo Square 10.30am–3am
Not a bad name for the concession at a comedy venue, but this Perthshire outfit are seriously good. With three outlets around the fringes of the Udderbelly’s beer garden they’re doing regular street food featuring some impressive local sourcing and imaginative ideas: venison burgers cooked perfectly, bagels with Uig salmon and tiffin boxes bursting with fresh salad. Their wraps have recently seen them into the finals of the British Street Food Awards as the only Scottish entry.
The Outsider Festival Kitchen
Assembly George Square Gardens 11am–1am
The Outsider restaurant from George IV Bridge has ventured, well, outside, setting up in a corrugated Soweto-style shanty kitchen in the heart of George Square. The straightforward menu has signature CHL (chunky healthy line) skewers of squid and chorizo, alongside fancy burgers and lively Thai combos. Fellow local stalwart Urban Angel is just across the lush astroturf with a hut selling nice sandwiches, fresh fruit and Artisan Roast coffee.
Underbelly Pasture , Bristo Square, 11am–c.3am
When it comes to pizza, it’s all about lovin’ your oven, and La Favorita do it properly with a wood-fired oven installed in their fire-truck-red mobile trailer. This year it’s parked in beside McEwan Hall near the Guilded Balloon and Underbelly, but if you can’t quite find it at first, follow the smell of woodsmoke. They’ve got a range of toppings, but it doesn’t pay to be fussy about your selection – just ask what’s hot out of the oven and tuck in. Full pizzas come in at around £9 with quarters for £3.50.
Middle Meadow Walk, junction of Lauriston Place and Forrest Road, Mon–Fri 10am–10pm; Sat/Sun 11am–9pm
Set in a converted police box at the top of Middle Meadow Walk, this upbeat Brazilian kiosk is now a permanent Edinburgh feature. They serve up fresh juices and gluten-free crepes all week and a hot dish on Saturdays: either feijoada, a black bean, pork rib and sausage stew with rice, or moqueca, fish in coconut sauce. Weekend Brazilian music and capoeira performances make the Quartermile seem positively Copacabana-esque.
Iman’s Pakora Bar
C soco, Cowgate, noon–3am
A popular Indian restaurant towards the west of the city centre in Tollcross, Iman’s has deployed its mobile pakora bar into the heart of the Festival. Parked in the beer and food garden at C soco (there are also paella and noodle stands if you don’t fancy Indian), it serves up curries, kebabs, wraps and samosas as well as perky pakora.
The Hog Hut
Underbelly, Bristo Square, 11am–1am
A new operation this year keeping things simple with roast pork, stuffing and apple sauce (and crackling, if you ask nicely) crammed into a soft white roll. If you haven’t tried one, it’s a rich, filling alternative to a bacon roll as a hangover buster. The hogs come from Ayrshire and catering know-how from Andrew MacInnes of Newhaven’s Porto & Fi.
Pleasance Courtyard, Mon–Sun 1pm–2am
It’s one of the Fringe’s most deservedly popular drinking dens, but the Pleasance isn’t well-served for decent dining options. Most outlets serve bog-standard student union fare (that’s what the building is used for the rest of the year) with the added bonus of an outdoor kids’ zone this year. This is a good burger stand, though, albeit one with a rather forced Aussie theme. Try the Cumberland sausage horseshoe or the ‘Ripsnorter’ (a quarter-pounder topped with haggis) if you’re feeling starved or adventurous.
Le Bistrot de l’Institute
French Institute, 13 Randolph Crescent, West End, 10am–midnight
Though not strictly on the streets, this café-bar has popped up for the Festival in the basement of the French Institute, with a promenade Fringe show in the venue paying a visit at various points in the day. It’s all very Gallic with pastries and coffee, Breton beers, fromage platters and a lovely outside terrace that’s flooded with evening sun and perfect for a glass or two of vin rouge. The menu has croque monsieur, fish soup and a plat du jour dropped in from parent restaurant L’Escargot Bleu.
George Square walkway (south side), 9am–midnight
Looking more like a garden hut and bedecked in cheery sunflowers, Embo is the friendly Leith Walk café transposed to a pitch outside George Square Theatre. Feed up on felafels, mezze, wraps and savoury muffins, or slake your thirst with some of their lip-smacking homemade ginger beer.