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Top 7 Small-scale Edinburgh Restaurants to Visit 2022

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When it comes to high-quality restaurant experiences, the capital of Scotland has plenty to offer. Here’s a quick list of the finest Edinburgh restaurants to visit all within distance of the city centre. 

1. Milk

If the bustling Haymarket train station is a crucial point of entry into Edinburgh, then Morrison street is a mainline artery into the city’s innards. Here, a whole street of Georgian buildings look onto an ever busy road. Tucked neatly between the street’s many shops resides Milk, an independent café serving both lunch and breakfast.

Inside looks like a warm bath house — blue-on-white tiles with a clean sheen. Yet don’t let this fool you: when it comes to food, Milk is as lovingly traditional as it gets.

Since opening in 2010, Milk has prided itself on serving up locally sourced goodies. Traditionally farmed foods and the best of Scottish grown produce are both the focus points on this venue’s well-considered menu.

The venue on Morrison Street is one of three in the city. Serving palatable breakfasts and daily lunch specials (they like to keep things exciting), Milk is a must-try for anyone in Edinburgh’s West End. 

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Milk are accepting bookings for Christmas 2021 via Instagram

2. Café St Honoré

Diving into the city centre, this restaurant will introduce visitors to the styles and fashions of Edinburgh’s New Town. A cobbled road leading into a winding lane reveals a quaint-looking alley, Thistle Street North West Lane (which one restaurant writer admits sounds like a place you’d go to buy a wizard’s wand).

This is home to Café St Honoré, an award-winning venue that remains a top recommendation among both locals and tourists alike. The restaurant’s French angle is no longer its main attraction: rather, Café St Honoré is passionate about local Scottish produce, purely dedicated to using organic ingredients. 

This is because long ago Café St Honoré committed itself to the international Slow Food movement, a restaurant group that defends local traditions and recipes. 

As such, the restaurant menu is something to savour, not rush through, delivering on non-stop gastronomic delights from hand-caught scallops to seasonal ingredients like their tomatoes from west Scotland’s Clyde Valley. Is it one of the best restaurants in Edinburgh? Absolutely.

3. Wee Buddha 

Another side-street fancy located near the city centre, Wee Buddha is little known, but definitely one of the best Edinburgh restaurants to visit in 2021. This time it adds a Scottish twist to a pan-Asian style.

The quirky name alone should attract any hungry city-goer, but the specialties are what make this venue unique. 

One of which is a near-traditional dish that remixes Asian cuisine with a distinctly Scottish dish: Haggis wontons. However, for those who want to keep things simple, Wee Buddha’s main courses delve deep into tasty Asian traditions, such as the Thai green curry or Singapore noodles. 

Boasting rave reviews from international guests, people often claim that this restaurant is Edinburgh’s “wee gem”. One visitor was able to sum their experience up perfectly: “Wee Buddha, Big Delight”.

4. Dusit

A gold-on-white colour scheme may give you the impression of luxury — and sometimes first impressions ring true.

Dusit sits slap-bang in the middle of Thistle Street, neighbouring fellow luxuriant businesses like champagne bars and designer boutiques, and is one of Edinburgh’s best places to visit for Thai food. If you liked the sound of Wee Buddha, then Dusit should be your next stop.

Founded in 2002, Dusit’s owner was dead-set on keeping this business authentic — a mission statement that still stands strong. To this day, the restaurant imports Asian vegetables to ensure customers receive a real taste of the East. 

Most customers say the menu’s seafood is this restaurant’s best kept secret. However, there’s plenty here for traditionalists too. Dusit’s menu also showcases its range of venison dishes, combining Thai cuisine with well-loved Scottish recipes.

5. The Gardener’s Cottage

The Gardener’s Cottage is a restaurant with a view in Edinburgh. 

A stone’s throw away from Carlton Hill (one of the city’s best known scenic spots, an open space with neoclassical monuments), this quasi-rural spot in Edinburgh’s London Gardens combines two specialties: great food and great location, each equal in importance in making this one of the best Edinburgh restaurants to visit in 2021.

Inside, the atmosphere is paramount. A candle-lit dining room welcomes guests to the cosy cottage. Music is usually playing from the team’s own selection of vinyl records, adding to this restaurant’s vintage feel. 

The cottage’s menu adapts to the season. So if you visit in late winter/early spring, you’ll sit down to meals with wild garlic and potatoes, including all-year foodstuffs, such as their delectable sourdough, made fresh in their kitchen.

Note the Gardener’s Cottage currently ensures customer safety with a two-hour table limit in place.

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The Gardener’s Cottage sits near some of Edinburgh’s most loved spots (via Instagram)

6. Timberyard

This family-run restaurant is big on style and atmosphere. With recent news of a new Head Chef, Timberyard is one of the most exciting small-scale Edinburgh restaurants to visit right now.

They specialise in some seriously interesting food, focusing on bold, wholesome flavours to create a first-rate dining experience for all guests. 

In particular, the Timberyard is enthusiastic about its wine list — so expect some stimulating conversations on choice selections from their own cellar, in other words, the stuff they love, respecting both land and grape.

Try to retrieve seats in their own private room, the Shed, for an inventive and intimate dining-out experience, catered especially for events and greetings — find details on their website.

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The Grain Store by Brooke Raymond, creative commons 2.0, courtesy of Brooke Raymond via Flickr

7. The Grain Store

Last to grace our list is solid evidence that you can find great restaurants in Edinburgh’s tourist-heavy centre (anywhere near the castle is filled with visitors from across the globe).

The Grain Store is as homely as it sounds, and when you enter, you may think you’ve stepped back in time: overlooking a stone-grey street, bare-brick walls and soft candles give this restaurant’s interior a lovingly Baroque feel.

The Grain Store has remained popular for thirty years partly because it never fails to impress. A meat-packed menu (venison, beef, lamb) will satisfy the most carnivorous of taste buds. 

Plus, it’s neatly priced — always a bonus when looking for Edinburgh restaurants to visit.

So in 2021, are restaurants still open in Edinburgh? Yes — and searching for “what restaurants are in Edinburgh” can yield intimidating results, especially if websites produce lengthy reservation calendars.

All restaurants in Edinburgh can employ a free reservation system right now, which saves them both time and money. Find out more about our current work with restaurants in Edinburgh and beyond.

Save customers hassle, and simply contact us today.