Edinburgh Festival Guide: Where to eat, Southside
Sample Swedish baked goods, stand-out seafood and African curries
This article is from 2016.
Edinburgh's Southside is home to the University of Edinburgh campus and so there's a wealth of venues catering to a student budget. As well as a few higher end eateries, should you wish to splurge.
Earthy Market Café (CAFE)
33–41 Ratcliffe Terrace, 0131 667 2967, £12 (lunch)
The phrase 'farm to fork' is taken literally at Earthy Market Café. Most of the produce here is farm-fresh and organic, and what can't be plucked from the ground is locally and ethically sourced. There's a generous garden with outdoor seating, a conservatory, and a market upstairs selling a wide variety of wholesome groceries. Soups, sandwiches, and sharing boards showcase the produce with at least five seasonal salads on offer daily.
More info on Earthy Market Café
41 West Nicolson Street, 0131 667 7010, £12.95 (set lunch) / £22 (dinner)
If you're happy to forgo the faff of wine waiters and whatnot, you'll find fine dining for a fraction at Field (if it did silver service, there'd be talk of Michelin stars). Pre-theatre it's a steal, à la carte still a quality deal. Scottish larder showcased, the menu reads like a joy. It's classy, composed, contemporary cooking – skilful not showboating, playfully post-modern: artichoke cheesecake, venison rissole, goat's cheese beignets, chicken confit ravioli.
More info on Field
The Forest Café (CAFE)
141 Lauriston Place, 0131 229 4922, £6 (lunch or dinner)
The Forest café is a non-profit, volunteer-run art and event space which includes a vegetarian/vegan café. The small menu boasts vegan chilli, wraps, salads, and soup. Hungry patrons won't be disappointed by the falafel or burrito plates loaded with three types of salad and fresh hummus. The space feels more like a student common room than a café. And while its appearance may not be to everyone's taste, certainly the inclusive ethos, welcoming spirit, and well-priced meals will win anyone over.
More info on The Forest Café
Knights Kitchen (AFRICAN)
126 Nicolson Street, 0131 667 7278, £12 (lunch) / £15 (dinner)
Across the menu are dishes capturing the colour and vibrancy of the continent, including cinnamon and corn pancakes with various toppings served for breakfast and brunch, okra fritters as a side and sharing plates of Masai Mara meats or African curries, including a Durban-inspired 'bunny chao' of chilli served in a scooped out bun. Treats abound, from nibbly, fiery dried sardines to sweet Kenyan mandazi doughnuts. Out of Africa, a place that delivers on its promise of nourishment for the soul.
More info on Knights Kitchen
Nonna's Kitchen (ITALIAN)
45 Morningside Road, £15 (lunch) / £25 (dinner)
Tradition, family and good ingredients are the foundations of this neighbourhood stalwart. There is a menu del giorno, a well-conceived children's menu, an extensive à la carte and a changing list of specials longer than most people's memory. Seafood is carefully sourced and celebrated both in pasta dishes and in stand-alone splendour. Gamberoni are tender and tangy with baby tomatoes and shreds of chilli; and a luscious slab of halibut is served on a patchwork of rosemary-spiked, thinly sliced potato and seared Mediterranean vegetables.
More info on Nonna's Kitchen
Peter's Yard (CAFE)
27 Simpson Loan (Quartermile), 0131 228 5876, £8 (lunch) / £15 (dinner)
'Fika' is an essential part of Swedish life. It means to take a break with coffee and something sweet. It's a habit this Swedish café is trying to instil in the heart of Edinburgh, and judging by its popularity, it's succeeding. All the breads, buns, and biscuits are kneaded to perfection in the bakery at sister venue Söderberg. Breakfast consists of cinnamon buns, continental trays, and wholesome granola. Lunches are hearty and healthy open sandwiches, salads, and delicious soups such as beetroot and horseradish.
More info on Peter's Yard
Saiko Kitchen (VIETNAMESE)
15 Roseneath Street, 0131 281 5613, £12.45 (lunch) / £12.45 (dinner)
Saiko Kitchen offers bountiful bowls of pan-Asian goodness at cheerful prices. Mains are belly-fillers: the Hanoi chicken broth a lip-smacking bowlful of lemongrass-infused broth, chunky chicken, and liberal coriander and chilli. The sticky hoisin chicken salad is a mountain of tangy chicken, julienned vegetables, crunchy noodles and vermicelli. Sweet tooth? A dessert of banana and peanut butter ice-cream cake is a swooning send-off to an altogether delightful meal.
More info on Saiko Kitchen
6–8 Clerk Street, 0131 478 6518, £8 (set lunch) / £14 (dinner)
The South Indian menu lists an array of vegetarian dishes, many vegan and gluten-free. Rice and lentils are ground into batters to make typical South Indian delicacies like dosas and idlies. The massala dosai is a large, crispy, wafer-thin savoury crêpe, stuffed with seasoned potatoes, herbs and spices, and accompanied by a delicious trio of chutneys and a bowl of sambar. Aside from the lovely food and atmosphere, Tanjore's no corkage BYOB policy and fantastic value makes it a popular choice.
More info on Tanjore
Three Birds Restaurant (BISTRO)
3–5 Viewforth, Bruntsfield, 0131 229 3252, £10 (set lunch) / £20 (dinner)
This Bruntsfield bistro has a cosy, neighbourhood feel with space for just 36 diners, at a squeeze. Locals are attracted by its eclectic cooking, full of big, bold flavours as well as the popular £10 two-course lunch deal. There's plenty of spice in the half dozen starters from chilli-fried chicken to pilpechuma spiced roast aubergine. You can chose a big dish to share like the '3 birds & beasts' platter, or pick from the two specials that change every few days.
More info on Three Birds Restaurant
Tuk Tuk (INDIAN)
1 Leven Street, 0131 228 3322, £4.95 (lunch) / £16 (dinner)
With Indian street food served tapas-style, Tuk Tuk offers a welcome alternative to traditional Indian dining. A bright and bold menu of over 30 dishes brings this corner of Tollcross just that little bit closer to the sights and sounds of Bombay. Choosing can prove a challenge but it's difficult to be disappointed by dishes such as rich butter chicken served in cute copper pans, or gilafi lamb kebabs, light, herby and straight from the tandoor. BYOB, lots of long tables and a slightly raucous feel make it a great venue for larger groups.
More info on Tuk Tuk
Where to drink Southside