Edinburgh is a vibrant city. That naturally shows in their restaurants and bar scene. There are many spots to explore, some are your typical tourist traps along the Royal Mile which you might still want to visit for the view. But I am picky and prefer to spend my money and appetite in a place that will impress and indulge my flavour palate. So the below list of favourite bars and restaurants in Edinburg are all the spots that do just that. In alphabetical order, once again.
Johnnie Walker Princes Street
This is basically a Disneyland for Scotch drinkers. And their friends of course! You can get lost in the shop, do one of their many cool tours, attend a special event, or simply have a cocktail. I highly recommend having at least a beverage in the 1820 Rooftop Bar. They have a wonderful selection of drinks (not all scotch, I had champagne) and a spectacular, unobstructed terrace view of Edinburgh Castle (here is an example). We did the Whisky Makers’ Cellar tour (£95) which was really fun. Informative and insightful this tour takes you through a very unique tasting. I now also see JWPC has a fun new experience called Drams & Brews at £40 per person and that sounds also very fun.
This spot was recommended to us by the team from another restaurant, which is always a good sign. Hey Paul is a modern Italian bar serving up fantastic craft cocktails and tasty bites to what they call a “killer playlist”. Having been there I can attest that the music was in fact, stellar. We came in for a quick drink and stayed for 3 each because they were just that good. The vibe is also super fun – great thoughtful decor with a mesmerizing back bar. Hey Paul was also recently named No. 40 of the top 50 Cocktails Bars of the Year. Cin Cin!
The ground-floor Wine Café is a lovely restaurant with a pub-like vibe. The food is delicious, the cocktails are unique and the wine list is constantly evolving. The cocktail selection is fun and refreshing. There is also. A Basement Bar and Restaurant with a slightly more upbeat atmosphere. The restaurant is located in Cheval The Edinburgh Grand which is a luxury apartment rental building available for any duration of stay. Note: Lady Libertine are currently closed but will reopen on May 19th according to the website.
Lucky Liquor Co
Trendy little spot across a park on Queen Street. The joint is part of the Brambles bar focusing on elevated craft cocktails. There are only 13 cocktails on the menu made with only 13 branded spirits that change up seasonally. You will not see liquor brands of any kind, just a shelf of bottles neatly lined up against the wall. With such strict limitations, the bartenders have to be really creative and they do not disappoint. This is a venial-only bar and on Sundays, you can bring your own to play. Here is a great interview with one of the Lucky Liquor team members for more insight.
Found this place wandering about the city late at night. They do have a cocktail menu but it is not why I will send you here. What we come to NQ64 for are arcades. This is colourful, neon painted through, and thought arcade bar is open till 3 AM. You grab your tokens and a drink from the bartender and then dive into the Narnia of games spread throughout this fairly large space. We came in for a quick peak and stayed for a healthy hour. Super fun spot.
Panda and Sons
Cool Prohibition-style speakeasy-inspired bar with dark and moody lighting. There is also a noticeable nod to Vintage style Barbershop (hint-hint). The tables are of different sizes, the seating areas are spread out, and antiques are everywhere. And, of course, there are portraits of Panda and his sons. In addition to a rich cocktail menu, they also serve wine and craft beer. But the cocktails are key. The owner, Iain McPherson (who also owns Hoot the Redeemer and Nauticus) is an innovator in the mixology world. A couple of years ago McPherson came up with a new technique called ‘switching’ – “method of fractional concentration – replacing water in spirits with another nonalcoholic liquid,” if your interest is piqued you can read more on this topic here. Panda and Sons is also a frequent name on the “best of” lists for cocktails bars globally.
Farm-to-table restaurant with a seasonal menu that changes daily. The inspiration for all dishes comes from ingredients and so naturally they work very closely with all of their distributors (farmers, growers, fishermen). The food is absolutely delicious and to go with it there is a great selection of natural wines (among other drinks of course). All of the bread is, of course, made in-house daily, and no joke I could eat the whole loaf myself in one sit down. A Set Lunch Menu is available from Tuesday to Friday (Excluding December) with 2 courses at £16 and 3 courses at £19 – a pretty good deal IMO.
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In the gear bag: Fujifilm X-T100 with an XF50mmF2 R WR lens. To see the trip on Instagram look up #xouk22.