8 unusual restaurants in Edinburgh
Where is Edinburgh? Edinburgh, Scotland's hilly capital, is a city you cannot miss on your country's trip. If you travel to Edinburgh, filled with medieval castles, lush green gardens, and peculiar buildings, you will never enjoy a dull moment there.
Edinburgh has it all from the scenic and historic spots explored during the day to equally fun and happening nightlife to complement your day excursions. That is why the food also compliments the essence and spirit of the city. From dark and spooky bars to Indian themed restraint to the fancy hotels overlooking the sea, it really duplicates the city's history and culture. If you are on a business trip or weekend getaway with friends or a family vacation to Europe, make sure you visit these best restaurants in Edinburgh.
1. Pop Up Geeks
This nerd heaven is situated near Waverley train station serving cocktails inspired by famous fantasy novels. Because of their new theme every three months, the menu and décor keep rotating. Currently, their wine and blood drinks menu is inspired by a Netflix series "The Witcher." In the first quarter of 2020, their theme was based on the Star Wars universe. Moreover, you could enter the upside-down from Stranger Things and click a few pictures with Demogorgon. You could jump through various portals and wormholes in a Rick and Morty inspired bar or finally board on a train to Hogwarts from the platform number nine and three-quarters. Take a peek through the seven kingdoms of Game of Thrones while dining with the kings and sip ale from the abbeyhorn mugs. So, if you are above 18 years old and enjoy the marriage of alcohol with pop culture, then "Pop Up Geeks" is your ultimate drinking spot with friends. The most intriguing aspect of this bar is their frequently changing menu, and you cannot get anything twice again. On your every travel to Edinburgh, you will get to enjoy a new and interesting ambiance there.
2. The Mousetrap
If you are travel to Edinburgh and tired of strolling around in its streets all day while exploring tourist attractions, this bar in Leith Walk is ideal for ending the day. For those who want to have a funky, chilled out and 90s themed night out with your friend, this bar is the perfect place to go. They have video games corner, live music and DJ nights as well. You can play pinball, shooting arcade, and board games with your pals all night long while drinking their uniquely curated cocktails menu.
Since it's named mousetrap, they serve a mean grilled cheese guaranteed to leave you drooling worldwide. Bonus points if you are a dog lover as this bar is dog friendly so, you will find plenty of furry fellas to pet. Moreover, the environment is equally open and welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community.
3. Banshee Labyrinth
This family-run, spooky-themed most relaxed rock bar in town is located in Edinburgh's Old Town center. Apart from being a drinks bar, it is also a night entertainment attraction for tourists, given its quirky decor and free entry. You can easily get lost in this labyrinth of 7 rooms, including 3 bars, one pool table, one gig room, and a cinema. Grab a drink from there extended menu covering every kind of beverage and catch a movie or play pool with a stranger or enjoy a standup comedy. The gig room hosts music nights, karaoke, live jazz, local music bands, and comedy shows.
This bar is set into the vaults of Southbridge and is supposed to be possessed by a Banshee's spirit. In Irish folklore, Banshee is a fairy whose scream and wails announce the listener's family member's death. So, don't forget to check out this rock-themed haunted spot in the middle of the city.
4. The Gardener's Cottage
Now moving on from peculiar drinking bars to the unique food spots, the first one on the list is this farm to table style restaurant. The Gardener's Cottage is one of the best restaurants in Edinburgh. Its owner wanted to create a place in touch with the Scottish roots by adding a touch modern fine dining while connecting the diner, producer, and landscape. An 18th-century antique cottage has been refurbished into this traditional yet elegant restaurant. All the vegetables and herbs are grown right outside the dining rooms, where diners can enjoy a walk among the fields and herb patches. They source all their produce from meat to seafood to alcohol all from the prestigious local farms. Their interior is old-fashioned, the atmosphere is rustic, food is delectable, and the staff is friendly. Their seasonal sic course dinner menu, which changes every evening, is all the rage in the Edinburgh's food scene.
5. The Table
If you love the art of cooking combined with performance, then the table is your teacup. It only has a single table adjacent to the kitchen with an extended breakfast menu. You can watch and interact with the chef as they prepare your food. They only serve a maximum of 10 guests at one sitting so that they might find queues of impatient customers outside. We all know when the more prolonged the queue, the delicious the food. They have limited menu choices but undoubtedly have perfected the art of making them.
Moreover, if you are on a short trip and looking to interact with local or fellow travelers while enjoying a simple and hearty meal and do visit this establishment. On the other hand, if you are more of a lone wolf and enjoy an extensive menu, you will not be enticed by it.
6. Tuk Tuk
This Indian street food - themed eatery derives its name from the local cabs found in the streets of India. An ode to the Indian subcontinent colonized by Britain's has completely replicated the full and authentic desi experience. From vibrant décor to colorful food thalis (platters) with the walls covered with vintage posters of old Bollywood (Indian film industry) films, it fully matches the Indian vibe. The colorful interior and spicy food are perfect for warming up on a cold Scottish evening. The chefs at Tuk Tuk worked hard to develop the menu with authentic flavor while keeping the locals' spice level acceptable. Some of their famous dishes are;
Sag Paneer - A puree of green leafy vegetables served with Indian cottage cheese.
Ginger Garlic Chicken - Tender chicken pieces immersed with delicious garlic ginger aroma to light your taste buds on fire
Lamb Curry - The Lamb, braised in Indian spices and then a curry made using ginger, garlic, onion, green chilies, and tomatoes.
Ras Malai - Milk dumpling served warm drizzled with saffron and cardamom syrup with pistachios sprinkled on top.
7. Six by Nico Edinburgh
This establishment by chef Nico is a mix of innovation and imagination. Their dinner menu has six courses that keep changing every six weeks hence the name six. If you are traveling to Scotland and want to enjoy a superior and exceptional dining experience where they serve you dishes with intriguing concepts, then look no further. Don't forget to try their infamous dessert deep fried mars bars, which sound a bit odd at first. I mean, who would like deep-fried, two extra sweet candy bars filled with nougat, but they work. After close inspection of the menu, you will be impressed by the chef's genius, where he paired it with orange cream and chocolate sorbet for flavor balancing. It might be a little heavier than usual in your pocket, so make sure you save enough money for this once in a lifetime experience. On the other hand, if you are a local, simply pop around every six weeks to peek into the chef's quirky and playful imagination.
8. Panda and Sons
A bar with table service? Disguised as vintage barbershop? Having a classic speakeasy interior? Do you have to enter through a bookcase? Can it get any quirkier and more unusual? I don't think so. It is hard to find, one of its kind bars located on Queen Street in Edinburgh. The cocktail menu derives influences from the bars all around the world. They pick a unique ingredient form another cocktail bar, and after putting their magic spell on it, they serve an exclusive, albeit delicious drink.
Moreover, their drinks are served in quite unorthodox utensils, including Chinese takeaway boxes and teacup placed on a book, etc. You can pair these up with cheese and meat plates. They are proud of their wine craft and an extensive list of alcoholic beverages.
Bonus: They serve free popcorn!!!!!
The unusual nooks and corners in Edinburgh are limited to these eight Edinburgh restaurants, but they are enough to give you an idea of what this city holds inside. The food scene here really caters to a broad spectrum of clientele from geeks to rock music lovers, including the individuals looking forward to enjoying a calm and pleasant evening by the sea with scrumptious seafood. Indian, Chinese, and Thai eateries are also a projection of the city's multicultural demographics.
Mahnoor is a freelance writer, foodie, engineer and travel freak. These words describe her the best! Her time gets split pretty evenly between dreaming about travelling and travelling itself. Being a freelance writer has allowed her to write on a vast array of subjects and other disciplines (such as food, technical writing and many more). With each blog piece, she aims to bring well-balanced stories from around the world to entertain and inspire.