A local guide to Edinburgh: the best bookstores, restaurants and bars | Edinburgh Holidays
Caroline Eden has made her home in Edinburgh since 2014
Baccalaureate is a deli and Italian wine bar on Dundas Street, popular with New Town residents but off the beaten track. It is run by young Italians, who offer a simple but pleasant menu of good wines, cold meats and cheeses, in a friendly and attentive atmosphere – much appreciated on long, cold nights in Edinburgh.
To the south of the city is another very charming place, Elliott – a small “kitchen” open for breakfast and lunch which serves the best cakes in town (the flourless chocolate cake is a must). A few doors down is Elliott’s Workshop, which will soon be opening his dinners and other events.
For a high-end dinner, the innovative menu at Noto on Thistle Street is a great bet. The must-have here is the North Sea crab served in its shell with hot butter, sourdough bread for dipping.
the City art centernear Waverley Station showcases both historic and contemporary Scottish art, but what it does best is offering heaps of inspiration to take you to the Highlands and Isles of ‘Scotland to see the places represented for yourself. Recent exhibitions include Scottish poet and artist Ian Hamilton Finlay (1925-2006), who, along with his wife Sue, is known for Little Sparta, a wild and breathtaking literary garden of stone sculpture and artwork in the nearby Pentland Hills.
Photogenic Stockbridge, on the Leith Water, is often recommended as a place to shop and eat, but always worth a visit as new places open regularly. The bookstore scene in particular continues to strengthen. I’ve been hitting the drum for the brilliant independent Golden Hare bookstore ever since I moved to Edinburgh, but since then Ginger and pickles, a charming new children’s bookstore has opened right across the street, and a five-minute walk away is the exciting new Rare Birds Bookstore, opened by the cult online book club Rare Birds Books, which is dedicated to female writing.
On the same street there are creative hot sandwiches offered at the recently opened Earls Sandwich Co – the big mackerel (Â£ 11) is a meal in itself, paired with a hot sauce, pickled onions and dukkah. And given that Edinburgh is a dog-friendly destination, it would be remiss of me not to mention Just dogs, a great little boutique filled with goodies, coats, travel kits, and great staff who always go the extra mile.
the Secret herb garden is bordered by peaceful farmland close to the Pentland Hills, and it is a great place to spend a relaxing morning. I often stock up on potted herbs here, as there are hundreds of them to choose from, then grab a coffee in the vine-filled greenhouse cafe before taking a stroll through the park. It’s a 25 minute drive to town. In town, I visit Inverleith Park – one of Scotland’s largest and most beautiful city parks – almost every day, to jog, reflect or walk the dog, and to dream of one of the allotment gardens. one day will be mine.
Lucky Liquor Co (sister of one of my favorite others, the last word in Stockbridge) is a serious cocktail bar with a regularly changing menu and a wide selection of well-chosen vinyls. It’s on Queen Street, crowded with traffic, but away from the city’s driest alleys, making it possible to bag a table. SeaWolf Scotch White Rum is excellent with grapefruit soda.
I enjoyed a few nights at the Raeburn boutique hotel (doubles from Â£ 165 B&B) in Stockbridge a few years ago and still regularly for a pint of Hollyrood pale ale in its stylish bar. Right next to Inverleith Park, the Raeburn has a warm ambience and is within walking distance of the great cafes and independent shops of Comely Bank Road.