City guide: Edinburgh

Edinburgh City Guide

There’s much more to Edinburgh than kilts and whisky, the Scottish capital is fast becoming one of the coolest cities in the world so if you’re planning a visit, make the most of it by checking out some of these local haunts, recommended by the city's very own tastemakers.

The Pantry

Founder of LS Productions, Marie Owen spends her days searching out the most awe-inspiring locations in Scotland. It involves A LOT of early mornings, fortunately she knows just where to go for the best start to her day…

“Fortitude is a great little coffee bar on York Place, a few minutes walk from the MADE pop-up. It's cosy, stylish and does amazing hot chocolate – just the thing to warm you up on a chilly Edinburgh morning.

“When only a proper sit-down brekkie will do, I head to The Pantry in Stockbridge. This wee gem offers the best smashed avo plate in town, not to mention perfect people watching.

El Cartel

Another local who’s up and about early is restaurateur Michele Civeria, who owns hip Italian street food joint Civerinos. If anyone knows where to find the best eats in the Scottish capital, it’s Michele...

“I’m always on the move so after a busy morning, I’ll cycle into town for lunch and pop into Dishoom on St Andrew Square. I love the old school colonial decadence of the restaurant and they do the best Indian street food outside of Bombay.

“Evenings out are all about hidden gems full of character. I’ll go for tacos and margaritas at El Cartel on Thistle Street or steaks and red wine at Steak on Picardy Place, then for a night cap, I’ll seek out Bryant & Mack - a secret bar posing as a detective agency.”

The Voyage of Buck

If you’re a fan of discovering secret spots, Dean Newton - Features Editor of Scotland’s biggest glossy, i-on magazine - also has a couple of insider tips to divulge…

“For cocktails, it has to be The Voyage of Buck which opened late last year in the west end. Pick from their ‘round the world’ menu or have one of their superb mixologists make you something bespoke.”

“Another very special spot is Monteith’s Kitchen which is hidden in an enchanted close off the Royal Mile. The atmospheric interior is matched with a phenomenal menu offering the best in Scottish produce with artisan butchery, fine seafood and unfussy five-star service.”

The Scottish Poetry Library

Atmospheric interiors are certainly not in short supply in Auld Reekie, as property writer Gabriella Bennett of The Times knows very well. Here are her top picks for style and substance…

Timberyard’s opening brought some serious foodie kudos to the capital. Its success lies in the ever-changing menu, well-edited selection of cocktails and chic minimalist aesthetic.

“Another of my favourite city spots is the Scottish Poetry Library. This stunning architect-designed archive lies down a narrow alley off the Royal Mile, yards from The Times’ office. I like to spend my lunch hour poring over the literary magazines before browsing the bookshop for something to take home.”

The Fruitmarket Gallery

When it comes to the arts, Edinburgh has always been a frontrunner. We asked local artist Rowan Paton which galleries really have their finger on the pulse…

“My favourite gallery is Ingelby, which is a bit of an Edinburgh institution. It’s a beautiful space with fantastic thought provoking curation. The David Austen show on till the end of January is definitely worth a visit.

“In the city centre, The Fruitmarket Gallery hosts various pop-ups and great events throughout the year, not to mention wonderful exhibitions. And around town, smaller, artist-run venues like Embassy, Rhubaba and DOK are doing some really exciting things.”


The fashion scene in the city is also on the cutting edge. Kristina Currie, owner of kids boutique, Bon Tot, picks her favourite stores…

“Dick’s on North West Circus Place has the cleanest edit in town for both men and women. They have a great mix of classic labels, niche names and lesser known brands.”

“There are a few great stores on Thistle Street but my favourite has to be Kakao by K - a women's boutique filling a pretty big gap in the market for those seeking Scandi styles, independent labels and a minimal sartorial vibe.”

Smith and Gertrude

If all that shopping has made you thirsty, you’re in the right place. Stuart Mccluskey – wine buff and owner of two of the city’s most buzzing bars The Bon Vivant and The Devil’s Advocateand The Devil’s Advocate – reveals where he goes for a glass of vino on a night off…

“We serve 40 different wines by the glass in The Bon Vivant so I’m always looking for places that offer a good choice. Divino – an Italian enoteca owned by local restaurateur Tony Crolla does just that. It was the first place to introduce enomatic machines which mean you can try some really great wines by the glass without breaking the bank.”

“Another must-try is Smith & Gertrude - a stylish little wine bar in Stockbridge. The couple who own it are so friendly and knowledgeable, plus they have a great collection of vinyl.

Narcissus flowers

Had a few too many vinos? Lifestyle writer Gaby Soutar of the Scotsman knows just the places to pick you up the morning after the night before…

Narcissus on Broughton Street is not your average florist. In my opinion, it performs a public service - brightening up the day of every passer-by with its colourful on-street display. If money were no object, I'd buy myself one of their bouquets every day of the week.”

“Another spot offering a feast for the eyes – and the tastebuds - is Love Crumbs on West Port. This quirky cafe offers a selection of creatively flavoured cakes - violet and rose, chocolate and peanut butter - all displayed Narnia-style, in an open wardrobe. Don’t even try to resist.”

Photography by: Robert Ormerod

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