When attending Fringe, keeping up with the fast pace means knowing where’s best to grab a satisfying meal or a quick bite. There’s no shortage of spots to pick up some nosh on the go, sip a much needed cup of coffee, or try a new cuisine. For cappuccino lovers, be prepared for what seems to be a common Scottish twist on the espresso-based beverage—though not a mocha, it is often served with a sprinkle of dark chocolate shavings on top of the foam.
For sit down spots, be sure to look into reservations a couple of days ahead during the festival as many restaurants tend to book up quickly.
Playbill Goes Fringe is Playbill’s extensive on-the-ground coverage of the festival. Excited to learn more about Edinburgh Fringe Festival? Check out Playbill Goes Fringe: Meet the Correspondents Who Will Cover the Good, the Surprising, and the Weird at Edinburgh Fringe to find out more about how to follow along and “live” the experience with them.
After more than 12 hours in airports and on planes, our first stop upon getting into the center of Edinburgh was Piemakers. Considered a Fringe classic and a late-night spot, the shop offers classic pasties and pies as well as tattie dogs. Tattie dogs are essentially hot dogs wrapped in hash browns instead of a bun. The pies and pasties range from haggis rolls and scotch and steak pies to vegetarian and mushroom versions. The shop is usefully located for Fringe goers between the Royal Mile and the hubs of Bristo and George Square on South Bridge.
Bristo Square and George Square
These two squares are closely located, linked by a short pedestrian walkway. They turn into central hubs for the Fringe during the month of August, with outdoor gardens that feature bars and food trucks and are surrounded by several popular venues. Performers often frequent the area to hand out flyers and advertise their shows and will sometimes hand out free tickets. Some of our favorite food trucks located in these squares this year are Alanda’s for their very fluffy and crispy fish and chips, Chicken Skoop for interesting walk-and-eat takes on chicken and waffles, Mimi’s Bakehouse for their Biscoff brownie, and Barnacles & Bones for their haggis bites.
If you’re hungry for a build-your-own bowl of noodles or rice, head to Red Box near Bristo Square and George Square to fully customize your meal with choices of noodles, rice, vegetables, proteins, and sauces from this pan-Asian fast casual spot.
Not far from the popular Fringe venue Summerhall, Blonde is a quieter spot off the beaten track that offers a relaxed and more elevated dining experience. From butternut squash soup with a hint of chili to a delicious venison casserole and a confit of tender duck with mushrooms and red wine, it offers a slower-paced dinner. The menu features some of the best of Scotland’s agricultural and gastronomic offerings at a reasonable price.
The Printing Press
Located in Edinburgh’s New Town, The Printing Press is an elegant bar and bistro serving locally sourced Scottish cuisine that changes with the seasons. With a mixture of traditional and more creative fare, an evening of their white tablecloth service pairs perfectly with one of their “Literary Libations”—cocktails inspired by great Scottish writers and characters.
Black Medicine Coffee Co
A go-to spot for coffee, this popular café located just down the street on South Bridge from Piemakers and even closer to the hub of Bristo Square, this comfortable café features natural wood and linen pillows. Though snagging a table can be difficult at busy times during Fringe, try to grab one of the deep set window seats to get in some people watching. In addition to expected café offerings, Black Medicine also offers blended cold drinks like the Mad Monk, which features espresso, hazelnut, Irish cream, and milk.
Lovecrumbs West Port
A little way down the road from highly-photographed Victoria Street, this cozy café offers back garden views, laptop-free weekend seating, a piano turned into a table, and a selection of hot chocolates, teas, coffees, and baked treats perfect for the moments when you need a spot to roll your shoulders back and take a deep breath. Nab a vegan peanut butter chocolate crinkle and a spot at the back looking over the garden for a particularly indulgent experience.
Gelato is king in Edinburgh and much more common than regular old ice cream. This shop, located on Canongate, offers gelato-stuffed doughnuts and other delicious treats. It’s common for gelato and ice cream to come with a waver or a flake on top, which made a great addition to the shop’s whiskey cream flavor.
When craving a gourmet burger and a cozy and lively atmosphere, head to this spot down the street from the Pleasance courtyard. With a list of different burgers, including the haggis-topped Scotsman, there are combinations to satisfy carnivores and vegetarians alike. With an extensive beer and cocktail list, the restaurant’s fried halloumi with sriracha mayo and pomegranate seeds is a great appetizer to put in with drinks while deciding on mains.
The Mosque Kitchen
This casual sit-down spot on South Bridge is frequently recommended as a go-to when you can’t eat another pie or potato. With a buffet of curries, the informal and budget-friendly spot offers several lamb and chicken dishes, in addition to vegetarian options.
If you’re hungry to pick at several different items, head to Café Andaluz for Spanish tapas. Featuring classics such as patatas bravas and croquetas, the restaurant offers a variety of cocktails and three kinds of sangria, including one cava-based offering. Some of the more locally-inspired dishes include Butifarra Negra, which features black pudding with homemade apple and onion chutney. Be sure to consider the Crema Catalana for dessert, which is big and rich enough to split.