Foodies guide edinburgh


You’ve just landed in the cultural capital of Scotland! And some of us think it’s the foodie capital too….it is, it REALLY IS. So you may want to read this ‘Foodies Guide Edinburgh’ which we think captures the best bits, and then some.

The Easyjet inflight mag told you a wee bit but it didn’t really tell you about the cool spots, the inside secrets, the places you would only know about if you had some inside info (or very good friends who live, breathe and EAT Edinburgh) did it?

You’re about to have the most amazing weekend in Edinburgh so are going to need fuel. And that’s where we come in. If you want to know where to eat, drink, get your caffeine fix, drink the finest whisky, wine, beers, and want to know where the locals hang out then stick with us. Here is your foodies guide Edinburgh! Most of these can be covered in a weekend but don’t overdo it, make sure you have plenty of chill out time, we’ve got plenty of green spaces/beer gardens too, natch! ENJOY.

Foodies guide edinburgh
Foodies guide edinburgh

We guess it’s not much of a secret if you know Edinburgh street food vans but the Big Blu Van doesn’t show up that often in the city which is why it’s made this list. The new and brilliant Pitt Street market in Leith has found all the best street food vans around and brings them together once a month (the last Saturday of the month) and the Big Blu Pizza van from Dunbar is one of them. Authentic, fresh, thin, hot, crispy pizza with a hint of wood smoke, pretty much the perfect pizzas. Keeping ingredients  simple quite often brings the best results. The street food market is a great way to while away a few hours on a Saturday, it runs from noon until 10pm and is becoming a real hot spot of local food talent, don’t miss it. From 17th June 2016 the street food market will run weekly until the end of July, whoop whoop!


Foodies guide edinburghThe weekly Stockbridge Market is a must visit while in Edinburgh. Every Sunday the stalls are set up from 9am until 5pm and offer everything from coffee to cheese to artisan bread, street food, marshmallows, jams, chutneys, scotch eggs, gin, smoked salmon. The list goes on. One of the highlights is the pop up by Harajuku Kitchen, a restaurant based in Bruntsfield who do a roaring trade at the weekly market. Serving gyoza, noodles and more there is inevitably a queue. The dipping sauce alone is worth queuing for! Go to the cash point first as one box of gyoza will never be enough. And if you miss the market then jump on a bus up to Bruntsfield and eat at the restaurant, a brilliant neighbourhood vibe, you’ll love it.


Foodies guide edinburghAnother Sunday tip is to buy a cheese toastie from outside Ian Mellis Cheesemongers in Stockbridge. Every Sunday they do cheese sampling for passers by and have recently put up a table and toastie machine outside to make cheese toasties to order! Fantastic ingredients, a Mellis cheese of their choice, artisan bread from the Bostock Bakery in  North Berwick and a different chutney each week. Simplicity is key yet again, it’s mouth watering stuff. Buy one of these then head down to the market for a coffee from Steampunk’s VW campervan and that’s you set for a morning wandering around. You’re also in the right place to take a walk along the Water of Leith from Stockbridge to the Modern Art Gallery.


Foodies guide edinburghThe lady bakers who brought Lovecrumbs to the city, an artisan cake shop in Westport near the Edinburgh Art School have now spread their wings and are baking bread and doughnuts for virtually the whole of Edinburgh. Head direct to the source and enjoy a great cup of coffee and one of their spectacular doughnuts at their very wee cafe ‘Twelve Triangles’ just off Leith Walk. It’s tiny with just a few tables, but if the sun is out you can sit outside.


Foodies guide edinburghIf you’ve time to venture out of the city then not too far out of Edinburgh but far enough to be away from the buzz is the Secret Herb Garden , a perfect haven of tranquility created by Hamish and Liberty Martin. A specialist herb nursery with a great cafe, a few bits of vintage furniture, plants and herbs for sale and plenty of open spaces to walk around and take in the fresh air and views of the beautiful Pentland Hills. This is the perfect place if you need a quiet cup of tea and a slice of cake to contemplate life, chill out, have some R&R.

The Secret Herb Garden is also a boutique wedding venue and has some really exciting events planned over the Summer too such as the Full Moon Dinners with chefs including Brian Grigor (Balmoral Number One), Neil Forbes (Cafe St Honore) and Ben Radford (Timberyard).


Foodies guide edinburghDiscovering the poached eggs at The Pantry in Stockbridge is a revelation. They are the ultimate poached eggs. If you have ever been disappointed cutting into a poached egg that isn’t runny then you won’t be if you order eggs at the Pantry. Every Sunday there is a huge demand for their brunch menu which runs all day. Eggs benedict, smashed avocado dishes, smoothie bowls, the food is healthy, clean and delicious. You can’t reserve a table at the weekend so take some patience along with you, it’s worth the wait and if it’s a sunny day just join the queue and watch the hustle and bustle of Stockbridge pass you by.


Foodies guide edinburghNew Chapter has only been open for a couple of months but is doing a roaring trade as the food is fantastic. Not far from the Canonmills area of the city the restaurant’s mission statement of “serving quality, fresh, innovative Scottish and modern European food, always with a twist” appears to be pretty much on the money. Make sure you book before you arrive in Edinburgh. The lunch menu is great value for money. Top tip.


Foodies guide edinburghIt’s not quite as well known (yet) as some of the other restaurants in Edinburgh but Aizle should be. Stuart Ralston and his wife Krystal Goff have created one of the ‘must go to’ restaurants in the city. Only open for dinner (Wednesday to Sunday) with a menu based on monthly seasonal ingredients you pay a set price for a 5 course tasting menu. Ingredients are drawn up on a blackboard in a list, you don’t know what the dishes are going to be but they will include all of the ingredients. Great fun. And some of the best food you’ll taste in Edinburgh without a doubt.


Foodies guide edinburghHaving recently contributed to some of the Edinburgh entries in ‘Where to Eat Pizza’, the new Phaidon book, I’d like to think I know my pizza. One of the best pizzas in town is the thin, yeasty sourdough pizza created at the Swedish bakery, Soderberg. Toppings are simple, anchovies, tomato, salami, and all pizzas are served with a side of palate cleansing slaw. While you’re there you can’t leave the bakery without a cardamom bun, a Soderberg classic. And with a beautiful location up at Quartermile you’re right next to the Meadows so you can take a post pizza stroll to loosen off your belts.


Foodies guide edinburghNot somewhere to go and eat but somewhere to go and look. Armstrong’s fishmongers in Stockbridge has one of the finest window displays in the city. Every type of fish imaginable can be seen in their window. Crabs, langoustines, lobsters, scallops, mussels, sea bass, monkfish, plaice, haddock, lemon sole, turbot, smoked salmon, you name it, they’ve usually got it. The shop opened in 1942 and is a hive of activity particularly on a Friday which is traditionally known as ‘fish Friday’ when most families have fish and chips for tea, or a fish supper as we say in Scotland.


Foodies guide edinburghUnfortunately you can’t book a table but don’t be put off as El Cartel is one of the best Edinburgh dining experiences you can have. Serving fresh zingy tacos, a cracking guacamole, great ceviche and a huge selection of mezcal this place is always buzzing. Turn up early(ish), around 6pm, put your name on the waiting list and go and have a drink at Bon Vivant across the road. When your table is ready they’ll come over and get you. Staff are super friendly and if you need any help with the mezcal menu they know their stuff. Totally recommend.


Foodies guide edinburghTime for a little road trip into the countryside while you’re in Edinburgh? Then head north to Perthshire, just past Callander along to Balquhidder and you’ll find the home of the ‘budget’ motel Mhor84. Rooms are around £80 per night but food is of the highest quality and served in the dining room and bar all day. Great breakfast, lunch, cakes and dinner. Locally caught fish, locally produced cheese, meat, dairy, all of the food miles are minimal. Chef Tom Lewis who runs Mhor84 alongside his flagship Monachyle Mhor is an inspiration. Go see for yourselves. Views to DIE FOR!
Foodies guide edinburgh




wildmanwood pizza edinburghPizza? Thin crispy base? Simple toppings? The best garlic bread? Cool ‘east london’ interiors? Something a little bit different? Great beers?

OK, that’s the headlines and Wildmanwood pizza ticks all of them off and then some. We really really like pizzas but only the really really good ones. As in the kind you get at Pizza East in Shoreditch, or Soderberg and Civerinos in Edinburgh. The base has got to be super thin but well baked so it’s crispy and not soggy. The toppings need to be creative but not complicated. Simplicity and quality of ingredients is key. Move over carb heavy dough, gloopy toppings and soggy bottoms as the kids these days want sourdough bases, a smidge of tomato sauce and the finest cheeses and charcuterie in town.

wildmanwood pizza edinburgh wildmanwood pizza edinburgh Brand spanking new (literally a week old) and kindly brought to Edinburgh for us by Malcolm Iness, (he of Ting Thai Caravan and the Outsider) our expectations were that a) we’d like it and b) it would look pretty cool…  Yep, on both counts. We’re both naturally drawn to restaurants that have great interiors and at Wildmanwood they’ve nailed it.  Everything has been so well thought out from the vintage cutlery trays, the long benches, the concreteflooring…the list is endless. Wait until you see the bathrooms…worth eating a pizza just so you can visit them. We’ve got photos but go see for yourselves… wildmanwood pizza edinburghGarlic focaccia with rosemary and sea salt served with a pesto dressing. wildmanwood pizza edinburghGoats cheese, rocket and sobrasada pizza.wildmanwood pizza edinburghYay, outside seating.

Situated near George Square and within spitting distance of tens of thousands of Edinburgh university freshers this place is sure to do well just like it’s very good neighbour Ting Thai Caravan does (which has frequent queues out of the door).

The pricing is spot on, pizzas vary from £6 to £8 each. The pizza oven itself is a talking point, brilliant to see such a huge wood burning oven in the middle of a restaurant and to be able to watch the chefs in action. We’ve heard on the grapevine that the staff spent 4 weeks in Napoli learning their pizza skills, great to hear that this kind of investment is being spent in order to get something right before opening. We enjoyed it, we’ll definitely go back. Delighted to see some outside seating in Edinburgh too…we do have good weather sometimes, honestly.

Wildmanwood pizza hit the mark for us, we’ll be back.

Wildmanwood pizza
27-29 Marshall Street, Edinburgh EH8 9BJ

Not much web presence but then that’s Malcolm’s thing, a little bit of intrigue goes a long way….believe the hype, trust the reviews then go try it out for yourself.

Read more about the best Pizzas in Edinburgh in the new Phaidon book ‘WHERE TO EAT PIZZA’, the last word on the slice. Mrs Monkfish has her say on page 149, buy the book HERE.


Harajuku Kitchen Edinburgh

Harajuku kitchen edinburgh

Japanese anyone? OK then. In Edinburgh? Easy peasy lemon squeezy as Harajuku Kitchen in Bruntsfield ticks all the boxes. We dined there last week and this is what we thought…

In a nutshell
Authentic Japanese cooking and then some. An independently run restaurant nestled in cosy Bruntsfield that’s so popular with locals far and wide that you definitely have to book.

Who’s cooking?
Chef Patron Kaori Simpson was born in Hong Kong and learned to cook in her mother’s restaurants after her great grandfather established one of the most famous fine dining restaurants in Japan.

After meeting her husband whilst studying in the UK she then decided to concentrate on Japanese cuisine and was appointed private chef to the Consulate General of Japan, in Edinburgh. Kaori’s entrepreneurial side was unleashed when she was given the opportunity to host a stall at the Stockbridge Market in Edinburgh, which we love and frequently visit…read ‘EVERY WEEK’ to get our fill of their amazing Japanese Gyoza dumplings… and from that she went on to open Harajuku Kitchen, a Japanese bistro in Edinburgh’s Bruntsfield in 2013.

Menu know-how and must orders
You want raw fish, you can have it. We did. The tuna sashimi was fresh fresh fresh. Don’t expect it to fill your boots, no chance, but it tastes great and we could have eaten more.

Harajuku kitchen edinburghGyoza, you’d be a fool not to order these. Apparently they sell 3,000 portions a month (both in the restaurant and on their market stall), $ signs roll before your eyes. They are GOOD, you’ll be annoyed you only ordered one portion. Don’t worry, order more. It’s the kind of place you can easily order more dishes if you haven’t eaten enough. No sweat.

We also ordered, in no particular order - 
Salmon Nanban – fried salmon dipped in soy and vinegar glaze, sake, chilli, onion and carrots,
Karaage Chicken – crispy and succulent deep fried chicken with daikon dare sauce,
Aubergine curry – pan fried tempura aubergine with rice and Japanese curry sauce,
Tuna sashimi,
Dragon roll –  Tiger prawn tempura with avocado and mayo,
And a side portion of cucumber for mini monkfish, he likes his greens….
Harajuku Kitchen Edinburgh

Harajuku Kitchen EdinburghWhat we’ll order next time
We like Gyoza….
And then more sushi and sashimi. We didn’t really touch the surface to be hones, how can you in one visit, impossible. Any excuse to go back and sample more.

What’s the room like
Cool graphics designed by Kaori herself then created by an artist on the wall in the restaurant. Furniture is simple, the place has a tranquil calm feel about it. Perfect.
Harajuku kitchen edinburgh

Nothing as far as we know from this visit just not enough capacity to try everything out that we wanted to!

What we liked
Hard to know where to start! So nice to be dining in a local neighbourhood restaurant that really knows it’s stuff. We’re not experts in  Japanese cuisine by any stretch but we just felt that what was being served up was the most authentic you can get in town.

Fun fact
Prefer to eat street food rather than a sit down meal? No problem, join the orderly queue (as there is ALWAYS a queue) at Stockbridge market every Sunday and a portion of gyoza will be yours. We also enjoyed yet another portion ourselves at The Pitt in Leith last weekend. Addicts.

Harajuku Kitchen EdinburghThere’s those gyoza again….

The detail:
Harajuku Kitchen
Order with Deliveroo

Harajuku Kitchen Edinburgh, we’ll be back. And in fact we’ll be back sooner than we thought as Kaori is running a sushi masterclass on Monday 30th May, 6-9pm, and Mrs Monkfish is going along.

For just £50pp join Kaori and her right-hand chef Rui for an evening set to educate you in the basics of sushi history, from the bare ingredients to the final dish. Kaori will teach you how to conjure the classic sushi dishes and the dexterity that goes with it.

After you’ve artfully crafted your own sushi, revel in your success by enjoying your dishes alongside your fellow sushi lovers, accompanied with complimentary miso soup and traditional Japanese green tea. There will be plenty of sushi leftover so you’ll be able to share your delicious dishes with your family and friends too.

Spaces are limited in these classes in order to provide aspiring sushi masters with an attention-grabbing, informative showcase, so book yours quickly.

To book call 0131 281 0526.

Harajuku Kitchen Japanese Bistro, 10 Gillespie Place, Edinburgh.



favourite food bloggersFAVOURITE FOOD BLOGGERS

Where do you start when you’re asked to talk about your 5 favourite food bloggers? There are so many it’s very difficult to know where to begin. For me, it was easy. I headed straight to my Instagram feed to see who I followed because although the writing is obviously crucial to developing a great food blog it’s the photographs that draw me in. If you can crack that then you’re on your way to food blog super stardom!

The following 5 blogs are ones that I love, primarily as the content really interests me and secondly the photography is above and beyond brilliant. The writers are passionate about their subject matter whether that’s cooking the latest Hemsley and Hemsley recipe or  recreating their Granny’s apple crumble. Anything goes. Grab a coffee and a snack of choice and indulge yourself in these lovely blogs.

favourite food bloggers



If pictures speak a thousand words then Kellie Anderson has written several books already.

An ex-pat American living and working in Edinburgh her blog is informative on all sorts of levels – nutrition, advice, recipes, alternative ingredients, vegan and gluten free all feature and she takes the most amazing photographs too. Kellie is a nutritionist working closely with Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres.

She’s a fantastic person who glows with positivity which comes across so well when you read her blog. She draws you in with her writing style so you never want to leave and while you’re reading and drooling over her pictures you’ll actually learn something too. It’s all about ‘feel good food’ and food which does just that once you’ve eaten it. Hop over to her Instagram feed for even more spectacular photos and get a glimpse of her on her travels too.


A new kid on the food blogging scene, Alessandra (just turned 17) already has a book coming out and is friends with David Loftus, Jamie Oliver’s photographer.
Diagnosed with Celiac disease in 2012 she taught herself how to cook using real food from scratch and became a total geek about nutrition. I guess you could say she’s the new Deliciously Ella in some ways even but 8 years younger!

A brilliant photographer and recipe writer but be aware, only venture into her world if you’re mad about nut butters, prefer cacao to cocoa and are keen on grain free dishes. And you should check out her Instagram feed too, she’s a busy girl with thousands of followers who love what she’s all about.

It’s all about the cakes. And more cakes. Joy the Baker is somewhat of an institution in the States and she has plenty of followers all over the world. With a couple of books already published, a YouTube channel and 340k Instagram followers she’s a food blogger done good. What I like about her though is she is exactly that, she started the blog back in 2008 due to her obsession with brownies and cakes. A self taught baker turned professional baker turned food photographer and now author. Originally from California but now settled in New Orleans her inspiration comes from her location, she lives and breathes the culture around her and her writing and recipes reflect that.

There’s decadence, lots of smoky, salty, sweet treats, cheesecakes, ice cream, doughnuts but then there’s also a lot of good humour, an insight into her lifestyle and one of the best travel guides to New Orleans you can get. ‘Let it be Sunday’ her weekly newsletter email is an email to look forward to, unlike the other 50 you get over the weekend which you really should unsubscribe to!


This type of blog makes me very jealous. For me it’s perfect. Great photography, great layout, fantastic content. Nina lives just north of Amsterdam close to the coast. She’s originally from Sweden and the Nordic influences come over in leaps and bounds in her blog. Her diet is plant based so meat eaters may click away but they shouldn’t.

This blog proves that vegan and vegetarian diets can be the most colourful, nutritious, mindful food that you can eat. They will make you feel better and live longer. Fed up of hearing the phrase ‘eat clean’? You shouldn’t be as the trend for cooking from scratch with the best possible ingredients is here to stay. Nina calls it ‘mindful eating’ as the feeling you have from eating food that’s full of health and happiness is a positive one. It’s food that’s best for you, best for the environment and let’s face it, it looks brilliant on Instagram. LIKE.


favourite food bloggersWhen I dipped my toe into the world of serious bread making earlier this year it was this blog that was my main source of inspiration. Can you really just make a loaf using only flour and water? Yes you can! And a mighty fine loaf at that. If sourdough is your ultimate bread of choice then click through and be inspired.

‘How to’ videos are there to guide you every step of your bread making way so you’re never alone on your intrepid journey. And what a journey it can be. Ed & Marieke, based in the Netherlands, will help you to make the best bread you’ve ever ever made. They will explain the health benefits of sourdough, how to look after your ‘starter’, feed it, nurture it, and share tips on ingredients, flour, temperatures, what equipment you need, and much more. A great starting point for anyone who wants to start or improve artisan bread making at home.

favourite food bloggers

So that’s my current top 5 favourite food bloggers. It’s a moveable feast, literally. Next month I’m sure someone else will make the list but I really love all of the ones mentioned above so will continue to cook their recipes, eat their amazing ideas and drool over their photographs.

This article was written for the May 2016 issue of ION magazine and is the unedited version.



UPDATE! THE EDINBURGH POP UPS 2016 DIRECTORY has just had a refresh. This year we’re including a few other ‘alternative’ dining experiences too as they are on an upward trend and it’s what we are all wanting…something a little bit different.

The awesome Edinburgh Food Studio which opened last year features at the top of the list and The Pitt Street Market in Leith, which, for us is the street food happening to go to in Edinburgh, there’s nothing else like it. Real, gritty, street, music, booze, doughnuts, pizza and fire pits, just ace.

If you know of any other things going on then should be on our list then please CONTACT US and we can add them pronto. In the meantime, here’s Mrs M about to tuck into her very own supper….a Monkfish no less…with a side of sauv blanc…
HILARYSTUZAKER_4photo credit Luigi de Pasquale 2015