3 Royal Terrace
Scotland EH7 5AB
Tel: 44 131 523 1030
A restaurant with rooms in a four-floor Georgian town house, Paul Kitching's restaurant produces dishes that sound deceptively simple on the menu but reveal themselves to be a multilayered rainbow of ingredients. Typical is his corned beef, onions, chips, and baked beans—perhaps something Kitching may have eaten growing up in his native northeast England. On the plate, this means very tender baked fillet of best middle beef, fried onions and fries, flageolet, haricots blancs, kidney beans, sprouting broccoli, celeriac, macadamias, leeks, chicory, and tomato ketchup. People love Kitching's cooking or hate it, but it's inventive, unusual, and unlike anything else in Edinburgh. The same could be said of the dining room decor, which mixes ornate cornicing, chandeliers, and giant-butterfly-motif carpets with kitsch ornaments such as cow-shaped milk jugs.—Jonathan Trew
Open Tuesdays through Thursdays 12 to 1:30 pm and 7 to 9 pm; Fridays through Saturdays 12 to 1: 30 pm and 6:45 to 9:30 pm.
33/35 Castle Terrace
Scotland EH1 2EL
Tel: 44 131 229 1222
Edinburgh-born chef Dominic Jack opened his restaurant in 2010 with the backing of friend and fellow chef Tom Kitchin, following stints in some of Europe's finest restaurants. Modern, seasonal, and local, his food is artfully presented in understated surroundings (gray walls, wood floors—although the gold-leaf ceiling adds a touch a subtle glamour). His European influences are strong in dishes such as seared Scotch beef with crispy ox tongue, pastilla, carrot, onion, and sauce bordelaise, but more global cues are obvious in his ceviche of wild North Sea halibut served sushi style.—Jonathan Trew
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 12 to 2 pm, 6:30 to 10 pm.
5658 St. Mary's Street
Scotland EH1 1SX
Tel: 44 131 556 5888
Dark wood, lacquered maroon walls, and contemporary lighting isn't your typical veggie bistro decor, and a lot of diners here are even (gasp!) meat eaters. They come for the imaginative dishes from David Bann's kitchen, which include smoked tofu Thai spicy fritters with homemade mango chutney and roast garlic tomato sauce, and celeriac spinach and Cheddar tart. Try the malt whisky panna cotta or dark-chocolate soufflé for dessert.
3034 St. Andrews Square
Scotland EH2 2AD
Tel: 44 131 524 8350
Evidently Edinburgh can't get enough high-up restaurants with views. And these views are as gorgeous as any. If the weather is amenable, grab a balcony seat for a rooftop vista that stretches from Edinburgh Castle over the Firth (meaning estuary) of Forth to Fife. Dishes are as fashionable as the labels downstairs. So what's the gastro equivalent of Chloé, Kors, Balenciaga, Thakoon, Derek Lam, etc.? Think honey-roasted quail with black pudding and soused baby vegetables, seared Oban scallops with hummus and red pepper salsa, and roast loin of venison with seared foie gras.
78 Commercial Quay
Tel: 44 131 555 1755
Run ambitiously by young chef Tom Kitchin and his wife, Michaela, this Leith restaurant has shot into Edinburgh's premier league since opening in June 2006. The Scottish chef trained with some of Europe's culinary top guns, who hammered home the importance of seasonality. You won't find any asparagus flown in from Africa on the menu here. Instead, think seared hand-dived Orkney scallops with roasted Scottish asparagus wrapped in pancetta, or roasted wild fillet of North Sea turbot served with artichoke, shellfish à la barigoule, and a saffron sauce.
Closed Sundays and Mondays.
33 Castle Street
Scotland EH2 3DN
Tel: 44 131 226 7614
Alongside chef Tony Singh's multicultural menus, the rooftop views from the terrace are the draw at this contemporary restaurant in the city center. Dishes have an international flavor, such as Vietnamese fishcakes with a mango-and-soy dressing, and roast venison loin with a haricot bean and smoked-bacon ragout. Singh can do dainty and delicate with his own Oloroso smoked salmon, but he can also do a Master of the Universe meatfest such as the Castle Rock Burger: a nine-ounce prime steak burger with a ten-ounce steak, bacon, cheese, and a hen's egg. Decent cocktails at the bar are a bonus.—Updated by Jonathan Trew
Open Mondays through Saturdays 12 to 3pm, 6 to 10 pm; Sundays 12:30 to 3 pm, 6 to 9 pm.
2 George IV Bridge
Scotland EH1 1AD
Tel: 44 131 226 1888
This modern seafood restaurant is the brainchild of Roy Brett, a local chef who cut his teeth with British seafood celeb chef Rick Stein. Book a table by the large windows that look out over George IV Bridge and settle in for the tremendous roast-shellfish platter in garlic and herb butter or perch at the horseshoe bar and tackle some Ayrshire oysters.—Jonathan Trew
Open daily 12 to 3 pm, 5:30 to 10 pm.
54 The Shore
Scotland EH6 6RA
Tel: 44 131 553 3557
Edinburgh's first Michelin star (awarded in 2001, when this place was two years old) appropriately belongs to a native son, Martin Wishart. Having done much to kick-start Edinburgh's fine-dining scene, many would say that Wishart remains at the head of the pack. He trained with two Roux brothers and Marco Pierre White, and while his cooking owes much to France, his ingredients are rooted in Scotland. Menu descriptions such as roast saddle and braised neck of Vementry lamb, dauphine potatoes, port-braised turnip, crosnes (Chinese artichokes), and sprout leaves don't really do justice to the delicate artistry on the plate. The restaurant's decor is plush, from the thick carpets to the plump upholstery of the seating, but touches such as swirling gold wall panels and organically shaped sconces stop it from appearing too formal. In 2011, Wishart opened his city-center venture The Honours, a faster-paced operation with polished brasserie classics.—Jonathan Trew
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 12 to 2 pm, 7 to 10 pm.
121 Hanover Street
Scotland EH2 1DJ
Tel: 44 131 225 6215
You wouldn't know it from the unassuming basement entrance, but this cafe and deli serves up an excellent meal—and a reasonably priced one, at that. Fair Trade, locally sourced, and (nearly always) organic ingredients go into the seasonal menu of lighter fare (salads, sandwiches, tapas) and substantial entrées (pan-fried scallops, Stornaway black pudding, Buccleuch beef paprika stew). Original stone walls, a stone-flagged floor, and an old range add some historic character to the otherwise plain, whitewashed space.
Closed Sunday evenings (except during the Festival season).
11 Multrees Walk
Scotland EH1 3DQ
Tel: 44 131 557 0088
The Valvona & Crolla delicatessen (19 Elm Row) is a foodies' haven. So too is this Deco-glam restaurant, opened in fall 2004 to celebrate the deli's 70th birthday. The combination of Scottish produce and Italian perfectionism makes for greatness in so many dishes: braised Scottish Borders Stinco di Agnello (lamb shank); Fritto Misto of Scottish seafood and zucchini; a simple Frittata di Verdure (vegetable omelet) with fresh mint, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and pesto. The Tagliere di Salumi—a cured-meat sampler with Speck, bresaola, Coppa di Parma, and Napoli salami—should be a compulsory order. If you're watching the wallet (and who won't be after a few days in Edinburgh), one of the 40 wines by the glass plus a $14 plate of the V&C Polpettine al sugo (pork and beef meatballs with pine nuts, a rich tomato sauce, and as much of the bakery's handmade bread as you can fit in) will do anyone proud.
Closed Sunday evenings.
The Royal Mile
Scotland EH1 2NF
Tel: 44 131 225 5613
With its atmospheric oak-paneled main dining room and airy converted courtyard (known as the Secret Garden), dinner at this 16th-century building near the castle gates verges on the theatrical. The menu of classic preparations has a distinctly Scottish flavor: foie gras parfait with truffle jelly and brioche toast; roast filet of Buccleuch beef with a horseradish mousseline; seafood platter (oysters, langoustines, clams, mussels, crab, smoked salmon, and a lobster). If you just can't get enough of the tapestries, gilding, and rich fabrics, stay overnight in one of the seven romantic suites upstairs.