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. When on vacation you can treat yourself to a long lie and rather than opting for a (possibly uninspiring) hotel breakfast, you might fancy taking a leisurely brunch. Edinburgh boasts a huge number of cafes and restaurants all vying for your attention, with many offering all day breakfasts for those seeking an unhurried start to the day.
If you have a hearty appetite then the full Scottish breakfast is a treat not to be missed. Often including bacon, sausage, haggis, black pudding, eggs, baked beans, fried bread, tattie scone (potato scone), mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns and toast this dish is not for the faint hearted. Most restaurants also offer vegetarian sausages and vegetarian haggis (the latter of which is often as good as the meat version). The brunch menu at of the Roseleaf includes the aptly named “Big Yin” which is a fine example of this belly busting dish.
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 more continental repast with rich dark coffee and a selection of fresh breads and pastries accompanied by meat and cheese a popular choice is Henri’s of Edinburgh. Whatever your preference, you are sure to find plenty to tantalize your taste buds in our list of breakfast and brunch restaurants.
10 Hellers Kitchen
Hidden behind a modest exterior is a surprisingly spacious and airy cafe with an imaginative and enticing menu. The decor 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)
9 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)
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)
7 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)
6 Henri's of Edinburgh
Henri's of Edinburgh is a traditional French delicatessen and café located in trendy Stockbridge. Henri started with a shop in Morningside which had an impressive selection of French cheeses, charcuterie and wines, but a very small seating area. His Stockbridge venture stays true to his stated aim of bringing the best French produce to the capital, but this time he has also captured the languorous air of a delightful French café. The food is divine and the aromas exquisite. Whether you want a glass of crisp light chardonnay with fresh bread and a selection of delicious cheeses and cold meats, or a rich dark coffee with one of his decadent cakes or pastries you will not be disappointed. (0131 332 8963)
5 Lioness of Leith
The Lioness of Leith is a charming gastro pub located near the foot of Leith Walk on Duke Street. The interior is an eclectic mix of bare wooden floors and tables with neon lights a disco ball and a crystal chandelier. Large pop art murals brighten up the walls, and a retro pinball machine and street fighter arcade game add to the fun. The Lioness stocks a good selection of wines and craft beers and delivers some very good cocktails (in particular the lemon sherbet which is tart and delicious) and the food is really very good. During the day it is a great place for a relaxed pint and a bite to eat, and in the evenings it is lively and vivacious. (0131 629 0580)
4 Roseleaf Bar Cafe
This unusual pub is off the beaten track just beyond The Shore in Leith. It's a little bit quirky, offering an imaginative range of food and booze which extends to some great breakfast options. It's very friendly, the furniture is mismatched and you can get cocktails served in teapots for your very own Madhatter's Tea Party. You won't find any other pubs quite like it and there are a lot to choose from in Edinburgh. You'll find traditional fried Scottish breakfast offerings alongside porridge and French toast with bacon and maple syrup. The menu changes but it's generally tempting. If you like pubs with character then seek it out. (0131 476 5268)
3 Smoke Stack
Smoke Stack is a Scottish-American steakhouse with a cool urban ambience situated on Broughton Street, in the heart of the city. The interior features upcycled furniture, bare stone walls and retro lighting. The staff are very friendly, and laid back, blues tunes add to the relaxed atmosphere. The food is well prepared and unpretentious. Excellent burgers with hand cut chips or skinny fries sit alongside fajitas, steak and baked salmon. The menu may not hold any great surprises, but the dishes are executed with flair and attention to detail. Smoke Stack is a proud member of the Scotch Beef Club and Sustainable Restaurant Association and the quality of the ingredients used is obvious. The dessert menu continues the trend with classic puddings such as chocolate brownie and Eton mess and decadent ice-cream sundaes. (0131 556 6032)
Hamilton's is a delightful gastro pub set in a charming cobbled street in stylish Stockbridge. The interior has a relaxed and informal air with comfortable leather booths and low slung sofas and an eye catching pop art mural. Hamilton's serves seasonal produce, most of which is locally sourced and all of which is a cut above the rest. By day it is a light and airy family friendly café and bar with an excellent breakfast and lunch menu. By night the atmosphere becomes more intimate as patrons tuck into the rather more sophisticated evening menu and enjoy one of Hamilton's trademark cocktails or relax with a craft beer or a glass of wine. (0131 226 4199)
Toast is a friendly and comfortable café located on Marchmont Road in the south side of the city. Unpretentious and very relaxed, this lovely café is rightly popular with the locals. A self-described "brunch hotspot", Toast actually serves delicious food later in the day too. Yet, they clearly take brunch very seriously. Amongst the delights on offer are delicious fresh pancakes, waffles and French toast, one of the best Scottish breakfast selections in the city (including a very good vegetarian version) and a wide selection of delicious sandwiches. (0131 446 9873)
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.