Fried Feasts to Bowls of Porridge: Best Edinburgh Breakfasts and Brunches
By Simon Hill
Edinburgh Local Expert
According to the experts, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A good breakfast sets you up perfectly for a great day of sightseeing or shopping in Scotland’s capital. Hotel breakfasts can be uninspiring, but never fear – Edinburgh boasts a huge number of cafes and restaurants all vying for your attention, with many offering all day breakfasts for those looking for a leisurely start to the day.
If you have a hearty appetite then the full Scottish breakfast is a treat not to be missed. The carnivorous version of this dish commonly includes a selection of the following: bacon, sausage, haggis, black pudding, eggs, baked beans, fried bread, tattie scone (potato scone), mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns and toast. Vegetarian options are also available, usually replacing the meaty ingredients with vegetarian sausages and vegetarian haggis (the latter of which is often as good as the meat version). The King’s Wark does one of the most comprehensive, and sizable, offerings as part of their popular Sunday brunch.
Another hearty breakfast tradition in Scotland is porridge, generally offered with a selection of sweet or savory toppings. The Treehouse does a delectable bowl of porridge with poached apple, pear, honey and cinnamon. For those seeking a lighter option, most places now offer a selection of cereals, breads, granola or yoghurt with fresh fruit. If those sound like your kind of breakfast treats then Urban Angel is well worth a look. Whatever your preference, you are sure to find plenty to tantalize your taste buds in our list of breakfast and brunch restaurants.
10 Leo's Beanery
Located in a chic Stockbridge basement, Leo's Beanery is a wonderfully cosy cafe serving locally sourced produce with a few nicely inventive additions to the standard breakfast menu. The coffee is excellent, the variety of teas on offer much better than average and the artisan bread hard to beat, but it is the inventive items such as the "croquet-mon-scone" (cheese scone with rosemary ham and melted cheese) and much better than average vegetarian options such as oven roasted aubergine, spinach, basil and cream cheese bagel, which make this cafe a cut above the rest. The bohemian decor includes recycled church pews and the ambiance is warm and relaxed, making this cafe a great choice for a leisurely brunch. (0131 556 8403)
9 Broughton Delicatessen
Tucked away behind an unassuming deli front, lies this unpretentious and relaxed cafe, with an eclectic brunch menu and wonderful home cooked food. The wide array of brunch options available here means that it caters to almost every palate. Deli platters with a choice of delectable homemade breads, olives and dips nestle beside flat bread pizzas, an impressive variety of salads, crepes and wonderfully decadent pancakes. The full breakfast is generous and delicious and includes their special recipe baked beans (which are rather better than the standard variety) and homemade tattie scones (potato scones to the uninitiated) which have rightly gained them quite a following. (0131 558 7111)
8 Peter's Yard
Peter's Yard Bakery and cafe is an ultra-modern take on a traditional Swedish bakery. The decor is modern and minimalist, but the cafe still retains a welcoming, friendly ambiance, in part because of the simply wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread. Their uncompromising search for perfection has resulted in the production of some of the best artisan breads and pastries available in the capital and their continental style breakfast is a welcome change to the more standard fare offered in many cafes and restaurants. For those with a sweet tooth there is an impressive selection of traditional Swedish cakes and pastries along with more avant-garde creations like courgette, fig and chocolate loaf. (0131 228 5876)
With its bohemian ambience and unselfconsciously arty décor, Spoon boasts high quality cuisine at a reasonable price. The quirky mismatched furniture is interspersed with pot plants, Victorian style screens and bookcases, and the vintage wall paper and ornate teacups add to its retro charm. The mixed grill is generous and hearty and the vegetarian option is rather better than the norm, but it is the breakfast rolls which steal the show. The menu is not particularly large, but the quality of the ingredients and the wonderful atmosphere more than make up for this. (0131 557 4567)
6 Hellers Kitchen
Hidden behind a modest exterior is a surprisingly spacious and airy cafe with an imaginative and enticing menu. The décor is simple and modern and the atmosphere warm and relaxed. The full breakfast is very generously proportioned and includes treats such as Stornoway black pudding and Crombie's sausages with an excellent crispy potato rosti, and the eggs benedict with smoked salmon is a delight, but the star of the show is the American style pancakes with bacon and maple syrup which is warm, gooey and wonderfully decadent. Breakfast is available from 9.30am to 11.30 am during the week, but at the weekend brunch is served until 3pm. (0131 667 4654)
5 Urban Angel
Urban Angel cafes can be found at two central locations in Edinburgh (Forth Street and Hanover Street) and both have a brunch menu available from 9am to 5pm. You can choose from healthy options such as yoghurt, muesli or porridge with delicious berry compotes or honey, or opt for a more indulgent cooked breakfast with decent vegetarian options. They have an extensive drinks menu covering everything from fair trade teas and coffees, to delicious freshly squeezed juices and smoothies, along with organic wines, beer and cider. They also have one of the most tempting selections of cakes and pastries in the city center and make the most wonderful fresh bread. (0131 225 6215)
4 The Treehouse
With its shabby chic and eco-friendly retro decor and great location (on the corner of the Meadows at Tollcross), The Treehouse is a great place to watch the world go by as you enjoy a relaxed breakfast or brunch. The menu boasts many of the classic breakfast combinations such as pancakes with bacon and maple syrup and smoked salmon with scrambled egg, but they also serve great porridge with a more inspired selection of toppings than is usual. Add to this their excellent fair trade coffee and wide selection of sandwiches, salads, paninis and cakes and you begin to see why this cafe is so popular with locals and tourists alike. (0131 656 0513)
3 Mimi's Bakehouse
Mimi's motto is "it's all about the cake", but this delightfully retro cafe also boasts one of the most luxuriant breakfast menus in the capital. The "Belly busting" breakfast menu incorporates local treats such as delicious Crombie's sausages, award-winning Stornoway black pudding and Ramsay of Carluke's bacon, as well as truly delectable homemade bread and deliciously warming porridge with nuts and honey. The pink and black burlesque wall paper complements the decadence of the menu and even after a generously proportioned breakfast you will find it hard to resist their cakes and pastries. This is definitely not the place to go if you are counting calories! (0131 555 5908)
2 Contini Ristorante
Open from 7.30am during the week (and 9am at the weekend) Contini Ristorante offers probably the best city center breakfast in Edinburgh. Every aspect of the menu is just a little bit special, from the homemade waffles and focaccia to locally sourced bacon and sausage and organic porridge. The full breakfast is generous and hearty, but for those looking for a lighter start to the day they also have a great selection of fruit salads complemented by yoghurt and toasted almond cereal and a wide choice of freshly blended fruit juices. Their coffee is rich and dark and they also offer a 55% cocoa hot chocolate which is luxurious and decadent. (0131 225 1550)
1 The King's Wark
The King's Wark is a quaint 15th century restaurant and real ales pub which also hosts what may be Edinburgh's best Sunday brunch. Built in 1432 and retaining its traditional wooden clad stone walls and hardwood floors complemented by a wide open fire, this is a great setting for a lavish breakfast. The "bigger breakfast" is truly decadent and will satisfy even the heartiest appetite, but there are also a number of tempting alternatives including a rather good vegetarian mixed grill, crepes, a delectable smoked haddock dish and even a generous rib eye steak with fried egg and tattie scone. The brunch is available from 11 am on Sunday only. (0131 554 9260)
About Simon Hill
Simon has lived in various corners of Edinburgh over the last 18 years. He fell in love with the city as a small child after visiting the castle and returned to study Scottish History. After leaving Edinburgh University, he worked in the games industry for seven years before embarking on a full-time writing career. He also married and had two children along the way. Simon is a freelance writer with many years of experience. He has covered a wide variety of topics online and in print, including technology, video games, history, movies and travel.
Read more about Simon Hill here.