Edinburgh boasts some of the best restaurants in the country - five restaurants have a Michelin star and the selection is more diverse than ever. You'll find an array of contemporary Scottish restaurants; French, fish, and brasserie-style eateries; along with cuisine from around the world, particularly Indian and Thai food; and increasing vegetarian options.
Scotland's reputation for excellent fresh produce is growing. So look out for the following in season: shellfish such as langoustines (aka Dublin Bay Prawns), oysters, mussels, or exquisite hand-dived scallops; locally landed finned fish (such as halibut, bream, and sea bass); as well as heather-fed lamb and Aberdeen Angus beef. Fresh vegetables include asparagus, peas, and, of course, potatoes - some claim that the spuds grown in Ayrshire's sandy soils are unparalleled for their fluffy texture and rich taste.
A lot of restaurants still close for a few hours every afternoon but bistro-style operations and pubs often serve food right through the day. The hours given in the information below reflect when food may be ordered; bars on the premises may keep longer hours. During the annual Edinburgh Festival from late July to the end of August, many dining options offer extended hours. Given the crowds, always reserve a table in advance.
For ideas on dining options, take a look at The List magazine's comprehensive Eating & Drinking Guide, an annually updated publication that lists and reviews hundreds of restaurants, bars, and cafes in Edinburgh (and Glasgow). It is available to buy or online.
Prices -- In Edinburgh, prices don't quite rival London, but are not far off - especially at the top end. If you're looking for bargains, set-price lunches and pre-theater menus always offer discounts, sometimes almost half the price of the regular a la carte dinner menu. For more special offers, log onto www.5pm.co.uk for a selection of restaurants offering deals.
Smoking -- All restaurants and bars are nonsmoking by law. Some have outdoor dining areas, however, where smoking is allowed.
Tipping -- As is the rule across most of Britain, a gratuity of 10% is the average for service, although you can leave nothing if you feel service was poor. On the other hand, if you were truly impressed, leaving up to 20% can be considered. At a few restaurants, service is included in the check automatically, so there's no need to add a gratuity on top of that.
The Baked Potato Shop -- This is a favorite lunch spot located at 56 Cockburn St., just off High St. in Old Town (tel. 0131/225-7572). Here kids can order fluffy potatoes with a choice of hot fillings along with other dishes, including chili and salads. It's inexpensive, too. Open daily 9am to 9pm.
Valvona & Crolla Caffè Bar -- Located at 19 Elm Row, at the top of Leith Walk (tel. 0131/556-6066), this place is best known as one of the U.K.'s finest Italian delis. But if you can get past the tempting salamis, cheeses, and other delicacies, V&C also has a welcoming cafe that handles children in that way that Italians seem to do best.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.