Best place to eat with a family when visiting this Scottish capital
When it comes to family dining, Edinburgh is filled with endless possibilities . However with a great number of tourists, many places fill up rather quickly around meal time. So when traveling, I make a habit of securing reservations ahead of time at one restaurant per day, so we always can depend on one main meal without worry. And while my husband and daughter continually tease me about my “excessive pre-trip preparations,” they’ve never once complained about being seated immediately without a wait.
1/Afternoon Tea at Peacock Alley
Waldorf Astoria-Caledonian, Prince St., New Town
I personally cannot think of anything more delightful than reclining elegantly in a tufted, salmon-colored, velvet chair while being served champagne, tea, finger sandwiches, clotted cream, exquisite pastries, and delectable cakes with my family. If this sounds like your cup of tea - no pun intended - then rest assured, Afternoon Tea at Peacock Alley, an iconic retreat in one of Edinburgh’s finest hotels, is an indulgence worth every penny. Children’s menu is available; reservations recommended. $$-$$$$
KidTripster Tip: Afternoon tea is a must while visiting anywhere in the U.K., and there are a lot of choices available offering varying levels of stuffiness while still welcoming children. I always think that it’s a great opportunity to dress up a little bit more than usual and practice our best manners. Other spots to consider for tea in Edinburgh: The Dome’s Grill Room, The Howard Hotel, The Balmoral, The Carlton Hotel, Tigerlily Hotel, and Clarinda’s Tea Room. Again, most places offer a children’s menu and require/advise reservations.
1 Prince St., Old Town/New Town border
When traveling, we love to scope out interesting restaurants in historical hotels, allowing us to savor a delicious meal while absorbing each hotel’s distinct personality. Situated inside the The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte hotel, Hadrian’s Brassiere is ideal for breakfast, lunch or dinner, serving an interesting mix of Scottish favorites and classic dishes. The hotel is lovely, the locale is great, the ambiance refined, and the desserts are delicious. Be sure to order the Crème brûlée and chocolate parfait - worth every fattening morsel! A separate children’s menu is available, and reservations are suggested. $$-$$$
KidTripster Tip: Service is a lot slower in the U.K. than in the U.S., so patience is key. Also, we found that most of our food was overcooked and under-seasoned across the board, so keep the salt and pepper handy.
73 Holyrood Rd. near the foot of Arthur’s Seat, Old Town
Located one block from Our Dynamic Earth and close to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Scottish Parliament, Hemma is a splendid place to stop and relax after a long day of touring. I cannot say enough about this fabulous restaurant! Designed with comfort in mind, not only does the restaurant offer a spacious dining section and terrific bar, it also features a sitting areas with comfy sofas and chairs where kids can eat and play (toys included). The food is as good as the place looks, and if you’re anything like my crew, you won’t want to leave. $-$$
KidTripster Tip: There’s also a Pizza Express right next door. It serves gourmet pizza and salads and has locations all over Edinburgh; we especially enjoyed the location at 23 North Bridge near the Royal Mile. There’s also a Henderson’s Vegetarian Café and Deli, located one door down with several locations around Edinburgh, as well.
29-31 North Bridge, Old Town
Conveniently situated halfway between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace on the Royal Mile at North Bridge, Byron is a burger joint that truly does a mean American-style hamburger - custom-ordered and served with bacon-cheese fries, onion rings, nachos, buffalo chicken wings, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese or a dozen other options. The restaurant has a great beer and mixed drinks selection for the grown-ups, plus phenomenal milk shakes for the rest of the bunch. You can’t go wrong here, and everyone will leave happy. $$
54-56 North Bridge, Old Town and 9-11 Hanover St., New Town
Right across the street from Byron, Bella Italia is a super option for pizza and pasta lovers and also serves as a great mid-point pit stop while exploring Old Town (with a second location in New Town, if that’s more convenient). Open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., it serves everything from pizza and calzones to salads, pasta, chicken, and fish and chips. A separate kids’ menu is available, and the gelato is a must. We went here a couple of times, because we liked it so much. $-$$
6/The City Café
19 Blair St., Old Town
Its motto is “Diner by day, drinks by night,” and it really is fitting. Situated a block off the beaten path, The City Café delivers a fun 50’s diner experience with a wide selection of food choices. Hot dogs, fajitas, chili, baby back ribs, nachos, homemade soups, and all-day-breakfast will make even the pickiest eaters stop their grumpin’. Plus, you can sit outside without being run over by the crowds or drowned out by the noise. $-$$
7/The Devil's Advocate
9 Advocates Close, Old Town
Nestled in an old Victorian pump house down Advocates Close off of the Royal Mile, The Devil’s Advocate is an experience all on its own, and my favorite restaurant by far. The excitement of walking down the narrow passage to get there is loads of fun (except perhaps, if you are navigating a stroller or high heels – practically impossible on the cobblestone-stacked stairwells), and the building itself is an historical work of art. The menu boasts seasonal Scottish produce that changes monthly. There is no children’s menu, but if your kids are a little older and open to adventure, this is a venue not to be missed. Or better yet, utilize your hotel’s on-site babysitting service and enjoy an evening out. Open for lunch and dinner; reservations are a must. $$-$$$
251-253 Canongate, Old Town
Although the address says Canongate, it’s another name for the Royal Mile and serves as a charming spot to stop and linger while sitting outside sipping tea. Serving traditional Turkish/Mediterranean cuisine, it’s not your typical fare, but Café Truva does offer a fairly traditional breakfast, along with homemade soups, paninis, ciabattas, pastries, and salads throughout the day in truly inviting surroundings. $-$$
9/George Street Bar and Grill & Samovar Lounge
130 George St., New Town
The George Street Bar and Grill is fashionably located at the corner of George Street and Charlotte Square, only a short walk from Princes Street. It’s a lovely restaurant with comfortable seating, really good food, and a nice children’s menu. It’s a pretty popular stop, so you may want to plan on going during off-hours or get there before the lunch or dinner crowd. Reservations are recommended for Afternoon Tea, Sunday Roast Lunch, and weekend dinners. $$-$$$
Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High St., Old Town
A family-friendly eating establishment located on the ground floor of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Story Café offers a quaint, homey, welcoming place to take your little ones for a bite to eat. Serving hearty stews, casseroles, salads, scones, and cakes, the menu includes an ever-changing selection of specials along with a separate children's menu. Kids can run around in the Storytelling Court and enjoy the interactive Storywall, activity box, and free exhibitions while you sit back and relax. $
KidTripster Tip: The Scottish Storytelling Centre is an award-winning arts venue partially housed in the John Knox House, which dates back to 1470, and exists as one of the only original medieval structures on the Royal Mile. There’s a garden, book store, and 99-seat auditorium featuring live theatrical and musical performances, exhibitions, workshops, and festivals all year long. For more information on what’s happening, click here.
Marcia Carroll Burzair lives outside of Dallas with her husband and daughter. When she's not writing, she's performing in plays, planning her next trip abroad or fantasizing about buying a cottage on a cliff overlooking the ocean in some faraway land.
This writer received some complimentary meals for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions expressed are solely her own.