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Tasty Treats on a Tight Budget: Edinburgh's Best Value Restaurants



 

Edinburgh certainly has its fair share of expensive, exclusive, fine dining establishments. As the capital of Scotland you’ll find some of the best cuisine that the country has to offer, but it doesn’t all have to be expensive. In this list we round up some of the best value restaurants in the city. These are the places to go if you have a budget to maintain, or you just want to get an idea of what the locals really eat most of the time.

We’ve got a wide array of culinary delights to show you, from high quality burgers and chips at Wannaburger, to the some of the best fish and chips from the Tailend. For a bit more spice, try the delicious Mexican food at Taquito, or sample Indian tapas at the critically acclaimed Mother India Cafe. We’ve also got some of the finest pub grub in the city, if you want to soak up the lively atmosphere and get to grips with Scottish pub culture while you eat.

The Old Town and the city center always attract tourists, but that also tends to mean that there are a lot of tourist trap eateries where the food quality doesn’t live up to the prices. If you want an authentic taste of Scotland, to find the best value restaurants in Edinburgh that are popular with the locals, then work your way through this lot.

 


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Owned by a group that runs several Edinburgh pubs, the Red Squirrel is at the bottom end of Lothian Road and it combines a well-stocked bar with cheap, tasty pub grub. You'll find standard Scottish options on tap alongside some more exotic options. You can get a breakfast, late into the afternoon, and choose from a wide range of burgers featuring haggis, venison, pork and chorizo. The chips (fries) are good too! Due to its location the pub is always busy and it attracts a mixed crowd. The décor is interesting and there are tables tucked away in nooks and crannies if you want a quiet spot.

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Ting Thai Caravan started out as a pop up cafe during the Edinburgh Festival. Although the caravan has now settled in a more permanent location, the interior has an unfinished feel that hints at its previously temporary nature. Rough walls are sprinkled with posters for gigs and diners sit at rustic wooden benches. Food is served in retro cardboard takeaway boxes and drinks in little plastic bags pierced by a straw. Prices are remarkably low, especially for Thai food, making it very popular with students. However, you should not let any of this fool you into thinking that the food is in any way below par. This shabby chic restaurant is making quite a name for itself because of the high quality cuisine on offer.

Recommended for Best Value because: Ting Thai Caravan serves delicious Thai cuisine at rock bottom prices.

Simon's expert tip: The "small bowls" are perfect for sharing and a good way to try out a number of dishes, and prices are lower if you dine before 6pm.

Read more about Ting Thai Caravan →


Tanjore


Tanjore is relatively new to the Edinburgh dining scene, but has quickly built up a reputation for serving delicious South Indian cuisine at remarkably reasonable prices. The menu is packed with tempting dishes, most of which you will not find in any other Edinburgh curry house. They have a particularly extensive vegetarian selection (the owner and chef is himself a vegetarian) and most of these dishes are suitable for vegans. Tanjore also serves rather more interesting puddings that those offered by other Indian restaurants. In particular the carrot halwa is deliciously light and fragrant. The dining area is pleasantly uncluttered and the service immaculate.

Recommended for Best Value because: Tanjore conjures the tastes of South India without breaking the bank

Simon's expert tip: Don't miss a chance to try their Dosas - crisp and light savory pancakes stuffed with meat or vegetables and a selection of chutneys.

Read more about Tanjore →


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The Tailend Restaurant and Fish Bar
Photo courtesy of Simon Hill


Sometimes you just fancy a simple meal of fish and chips. It's a popular British tradition and something that must be tried on your visit to Edinburgh. The Tailend offers fresh fish and chips made to order while you wait. There is a sit-in restaurant and a traditional Fish Bar takeaway. You'll find your standard haddock and cod in your choice of batter or breadcrumbs but you'll also find options like monkfish, halibut and lemon sole amongst others. The crispy chips (fries) are fluffy on the inside and the onion rings are a great accompaniment. This is simple, inexpensive food, freshly prepared and delicious.

Recommended for Best Value because: Visit the wrong chippy and you'll never understand why they're so popular. The Tailend is the right chippy.

Simon's expert tip: It is an Edinburgh tradition to have salt and sauce on your fish and chips (this means brown sauce) the rest of Britain tends to go for salt and vinegar.

Read more about The Tailend Restaurant and Fish Bar →




Sometimes you just want a burger, or maybe a hotdog, some fries, and a good milkshake. That's exactly what you'll find at the American diner style Wannaburger in the West end of Edinburgh. A full menu of burger combinations includes all the classics alongside daily specials and some unusual treats. This is fast food, with efficient service and it will fill you up. There are comfortable booths along one wall, the place looks modern and clean, and the crowd is usually a pretty eclectic mix. Just to remind you that you're in Scotland you'll find real ales and standard beer choices on the menu too.

Recommended for Best Value because: Wannaburger offers quality fast food that beats the pants off the big chains without being too expensive.

Simon's expert tip: Try to get a booth and make sure you order a milkshake to go with your burger.

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Taquito is dedicated to serving delicious, no frills, Mexican street food. What this means in practice is a short and to the point menu of tacos, quesadillas, burritos, fajitas or nachos with hearty cuts of beef steak, succulent chicken, rich barbecued pork, spicy pork or vegetable chili. They have a range of sauces to cool down or spice up your meal and serve pitchers of rather good cocktails. The dining area is small, and the decor not particularly inspired, but you will find fresh food in generous portions at a reasonable price. For a spicy heart-warming meal that won't stretch your budget, head for Taquito.

Recommended for Best Value because: Taquitos serve good quality fast food at a very reasonable price.

Simon's expert tip: The portions are large, so do not come here if you are on a diet!

Read more about Taquito Mexican Food →




Red Box Noodle Bar is a lively diner and takeaway restaurant located a short walk from Edinburgh's historic Royal Mile. Known for its speedy service, consistent high quality and good value for money Red Box is popular with students, tourists, locals and Festival goers alike. They offer a wide range of snack boxes as starters, everything from spicy chicken wings to crispy won ton and succulent pork dumplings. Main courses come in the form of noodle boxes. You choose which type of noodle you want, then add the meat, fish or vegetables of your choice and choose from a range of delicious sauces. Pick a soft drink or beer and you are ready to eat! The dining area is clean and comfortable with striking red, black and white upholstery and the noodle boxes with complimentary chop sticks are undeniably cute.

Recommended for Best Value because: Red Box Noodle Bar is very good value for money and the food is addictively delicious.

Simon's expert tip: On a cold day, why not add a soup base to your noodle dish for a wonderfully warming and comforting meal.

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The Mosque Kitchen has a simple philosophy, "curry in a hurry". In practice this means a limited menu with delicious but simple meat based and vegetable based curries with only a few side dishes at rock bottom prices. The restaurant has the feel of a university canteen - In part because of the simple dining hall with bright orange walls, paper plates and plastic forks, but also because this wonderful eatery is generally packed with students. Do not let the basic decor and furnishings fool you. The food is really delicious, and on Fridays and the weekend you can treat yourself to a rather posh three course buffet served on real plates!

Recommended for Best Value because: Mosque Kitchen definitely has the cheapest curry in Edinburgh, yet still amongst the best!

Simon's expert tip: At the weekend and during the Edinburgh festival the Mosque Kitchen stages barbeques in the yard with mouthwatering spiced wings that are almost irresistible.

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It was originally called Monster Mash, but the concept remains the same, even if the name has changed to Mums. This is British comfort food, just like mum would make, and that means bangers and mash, macaroni cheese, fish and chips, and traditional Scottish haggis. You'll also find some classic desserts, including irresistible fruit crumbles. The décor is retro British with a functional feel, like a re-imagined old greasy spoon café. It's always busy with locals and tourists, service is fast, kids are welcome, and the food will really stick to your ribs. Make sure you have an appetite before you step inside.

Recommended for Best Value because: Mums gives you a glimpse into typical home cooking in Scotland and it won't break the bank.

Simon's expert tip: You can find some good, honest British cuisine here, the food that real people eat every day.

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The idea here is to share your food and experience something new. Mother India's Cafe offers a twist on the tapas style so each person orders a few dishes and everyone tucks in. The dishes are a bit bigger than traditional tapas so you won't want to go overboard ordering too many but this is a great way to enjoy Punjabi Indian food and taste different dishes. It's especially fun if you are dining in a group. The service is very good, the atmosphere is welcoming and the prices are reasonable. Mother India has four establishments in Glasgow and their Edinburgh offshoot is also proving to be a big hit with locals and visitors.

Recommended for Best Value because: Mother India is one of the city's best curry houses, but also serves very reasonably priced tapas dishes. What more could you ask?

Local Expert tip: Service is generally fast so this is a great choice if you want to grab a tasty Indian meal in a hurry.

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Meet 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.

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