Festival season is well underway and it’s all rather hectic! With so many things to see and do you may find you don’t have a lot of time to think about eating so here are our pick of the best outdoor bars, pop up venues and places to grab a quick bite in between shows.
Everyone loves the Pleasance and with 16 spaces for acts to perform it’s got a lot going on. Many people hardly leave this fringe staple – it’s not hard to understand why. You’ll feel right in the heart of the festival here, with plenty of famous comedians to spot, and there’s a dedicated kid’s zone section too. Food is served from a number of stalls and the usual student cafe options stay open late to cater for everyone.
60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ
Another festival spot to sit out and enjoy the sunshine and to be honest it’s my favourite place to sit and soak up the atmosphere. It is run by Assembly, and home to eleven of their venues – you can surely find something fabulous to go to! Plus the bonus is that there is loads of space settle down for a pre or post show drink with friends in their outdoor bar area. There are some fantastic food options available here – try the nachos with pulled pork and homemade guacamole from the Mexican Kitchen, Fabulous Pad Thai at BKK or the Sweet Potatoes at Scoop.
George Square, EH8 9LH
St Andrew Square and George Street
Full of great options and some fabulous street food from Nusou and also Henderson’s you can relax in the Gardens on stripy deckchairs, do a spot of shopping and take in a show! Festival sorted. The Assembly Rooms is the biggest venue hosting some really big names but don’t forget to head to the Stand Comedy Club too to see some old favourites and new faces taking their turn on stage.
‘You just head down the road and turn right and the big purple upside down cow!’ The tourists looked at her like she was a nutter… no honestly I am not joking! It’s a festival favourite hanging out at the cow on Bristo square before going to see one of Underbelly’s comedy acts. We can recommend heading to Stocks for a proper burger – the cheese and bacon is my favourite!
Bristo Square, EH8 9AL
During August the Gilded Balloon take over the massive and labyrinthine Edinburgh University Student Union building in Bristo Square – meaning anyone can get in, no student card needed. They have nine performance spaces and bars and a café open all day, serving a wide selection of food and drink. There’s also a beer garden, juice bar, crepe stall and food area.
Bristo Square, EH8 9AJ
Summerhall are open all year round and are the site for many other festivals and shows including the Science Festival and host creative and performing arts shows. They do go the extra mile in August with their outdoor bar in the courtyard, which is often the centrepiece of some of the theatrical performances. They have a Pickering’s gin tent and serve their own Barneys beer both of which are brewed on site and La Favorita serve wood fired pizzzas from their van. Make sure you try their set menu in the Royal Dick bar which is excellent vale at just £13.50 for 3 courses and features dishes such as scallops and black pudding, followed by duck breast and dauphinioise and blood orange zabaglione for desserts.
1 Summerhall, EH9 1PL
Started as a temporary street venue in the summer festival – Ting Thai was so popular that they decided to stick around. If you’re looking for friendly service and great Thai-style street food then look no further. Ting Thai’s interior is minimal and industrial, the music on the playlist is always good. Try the bubble prawns and Pad Thai – awesome!
8-9 Teviot Place, EH1 2RA
This is an Edinburgh institution! Offering generously sized dishes of tasty Indian food with no frills or pretension. A perfect choice if you’re around Bristo Square and you’re looking for a more reasonable alternative to the Fringe food vans – Curry in a Hurry and my word is it good!
33 Nicolson Street, EH8 9BX
For simple but wholesome veggie food, Henderson’s is hard to beat. One of the first vegetarian restaurants to open in the UK, it has gone from strength to strength, with a restaurant, shop and bistro on Hanover Street, a café at St John’s church at the corner of Princes St and a fringe outlet in St Andrew Sq. They do take out sandwiches, wraps and cakes, sit down meals in the cafes and proper restaurant food in the downstairs bistro (book in advance for this).
94 Hanover St / 3 Lothian Road,
A really great Mexican lives in this tiny little restaurant on Leith walk. Choose from well-priced burritos, fajitas, quesadillas and tacos. A little off the beaten festival track but still worth a mention! .
281 Leith Walk, EH6 8PD
The menu gives a really great selection with around a quarter of the dishes vegetarian or offering a vegetarian option. The theme is Indian road and railway street food as eaten by the real tuk tuk wallahs. They suggest 3-4 dishes per person as they are served in smaller size portions, and that was definitely more than enough for us. The bright orange entrance and Bollywood movie posters are a great backdrop match perfectly by the eclectic Indian inspired music. Tuk Tuk is how Indian food should be and its BYOB – perfect for groups before a show.
1 Leven Street, EH3 9LH
A local favourite on Lothian Road since opening in late 2012. The Hanging Bat is a perfect spot for those looking for a quick bite to eat – they offer a selection of North American style dishes such as pulled pork, nachos and a fine selection of hot dogs – try the Alsation. All this tasty food can be washed down with a selection of craft beers with over 20 on draft and their own brewery on show through the glass walls at the back.
133 Lothian Road, EH3 9AB
Have we missed anywhere you love – let us know!