Family Friendly

Edinburgh has a wide array of great restaurants and cafes to suit every budget. However, we all know that eating out with your children can be a rather stressful experience. Fear not… our guide to the ten best family friendly restaurants has just what you need for a relaxed and enjoyable meal with your loved ones.

Depending on the age of your little darlings you might be looking for a café or restaurant which has its own dedicated play area. There are a number of soft play cafes in Edinburgh, but generally the standard of the cafes attached to them is fairly low. An exception to this rule is Reds in Portobello which combines a soft play climbing area with an exceptionally good bistro style restaurant.

All children love stories, and one of the most relaxing, and inspiring, places to stop for a bite to eat is the café at the Scottish Storytelling Center. This chilled out café is run by the renowned catering company Glenfinlas who excel in producing healthy food (as well as some wonderfully naughty treats) and the story wall and series of temporary exhibitions will delight children of all ages.

Rather than heading for a fast food joint and putting up with a below par burger and some flaccid fries, why not make for Mums Great Comfort Food for some truly delicious British classics?

Whether you want a simple snack, a decadent pudding, or a three course meal, you can't go wrong with our top ten family friendly restaurants.


Photo courtesy of Simon Hill

This Sicilian delicatessen is also a great cafe and it has a warm, family friendly atmosphere. You'll find a wide array of tempting homemade breads, soups, salads and pasta dishes. They also make a mean cup of coffee. It's a family run affair and the service is always good. The place is also brightly decorated and packed to the rafters with delicious morsels of every description. You'll find it around halfway down Leith Walk and you should always stop in for a drink or a snack. There isn't a lot of room but you can always get take away. If you can get a seat you'll find it's incredibly comfy and you might end up staying longer than you had intended.

Recommended for Family Friendly because: Children are always welcome at Gaia, a wonderful family run Sicilian café.

Simon's expert tip: This is a great place to go with small kids because it's friendly, relaxed and there are plenty of things to keep your little ones amused.

Read more about Gaia →

Henderson's is a well-known and very popular vegetarian restaurant on Hanover Street but they also have a presence in the west end under St. John's church on the corner of Lothian Road and Princes Street. This fantastic location caters for up to 80 people in an atmospheric, barrel-vaulted dining room. Whether you want a light snack and a coffee, soup and a sandwich, or a tasty veggie lunch with a glass of wine, you can find it here. There are loads of enticing options, including veggie haggis, and if the sun is shining then you can sit outside. It's a child-friendly place and the central location makes it ideal for a lunch stop.

Recommended for Family Friendly because: Henderson's @ St Johns is a delightfully relaxed place to grab a bite to eat with the family.

Simon's expert tip: Check out the daily specials and head here for a seat on the terrace when the weather permits. It's a lovely spot for lunch.

Read more about Hendersons Salad Table →

If you can't agree on whether to go for a seafood meal or get a nice juicy steak then this is the perfect compromise. You'll find a tempting menu for lunch and dinner that includes all manner of seafood, including pots of irresistible mussels, and matured Scotch beef steaks. It's conveniently located in the popular Grassmarket area, which is always bustling and vibrant. The atmosphere is very relaxed and welcoming and this is a family-friendly establishment capable of catering for large families and groups. The menu is updated frequently with daily specials and you can wash them down with a cocktail.

Recommended for Family Friendly because: The Mussel and Steak Bar has a good kids menu which includes free ice cream for all!

Simon's expert tip: Look out for special offers and the ever changing daily specials to get yourself a gastronomic bargain.

Read more about The Mussel and Steak Bar →


Porto & Fi is a lovely delicatessen and bistro style cafe situated close to Newhaven Harbor. The interior is minimalist with simple polished wooden tables and leather chairs and a few nicely understated colored glass bottles in wooden box frames on the whitewashed walls. The smell of freshly ground coffee and delicious home baking draws in passing travelers, and the large picture windows with stunning views of the Firth of Forth encourage them to tarry a while. The deli menu ranges from freshly baked scones and cakes to more substantial meals. They also do a very good all day breakfast every Sunday.

Recommended for Family Friendly because: This lovely bistro is very welcoming to children of all ages and has good changing facilities.

Simon's expert tip: Even on a cold day the award winning Orkney Ice Cream is hard to resist.

Read more about Porto & Fi →

The Place to Eat is the café on the top floor of John Lewis department store, in the center of Edinburgh. The café serves rather good rolls, sandwiches and soups as well as a limited offering of hot dishes. They have a good selection of child friendly options including healthy snacks and naughty treats and a wide array of soft drinks and artisan teas and coffees. Special mention has to go to the cakes and puddings which are really very good, if not so good for the waistline! Better than the average department store café, the Place to Eat really comes into its own if you are in town with the kids.

Recommended for Family Friendly because: The Place to Eat in the ever popular department store, John Lewis, is a great place to take the kids for a snack.

Simon's expert tip: Arguably the best baby changing rooms in the center of town, complete with a separate area for mums who want to breastfeed in privacy, makes this café very popular with young families.

Read more about John Lewis →

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 Family Friendly because: Treat the kids to a delicious no nonsense food they are bound to enjoy

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

Read more about Mums →

The Water of Leith is a great bistro style cafe which has gained a huge local following and become one of the most popular eateries in the Cannonmills area. The cafe has a relaxed and extremely welcoming ambiance and the French style food is both delectable and reasonably priced. Great Cullen Skink sits happily alongside French classics such as Croque Madame and the specials board is always brimming with tempting treats. However, the real stars are the cakes and scones which are seriously delicious and generously proportioned. There is a small play area with plenty of toys for the little ones and good changing facilities for babies.

Recommended for Family Friendly because: Families are guaranteed a warm welcome and wonderful food at the Water of Leith and the kids menu is a cut above the rest.

Simon's expert tip: You may have to linger a few minutes for the scones, but when they arrive warm and fragrant you will be glad you waited.

Read more about Water of Leith Cafe Bistro →

Located on the ground floor of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, the Storytelling Café is a great place to take your little darlings for a bite to eat. Whether you are looking for a hearty stew or casserole, a light salad or soup, or a filled roll you will not be disappointed. The menu includes an ever changing selection of specials and a great range of vegetarian dishes. The children's menu is full of yummy and nutritious meals and snacks to please even the fussiest of eaters. The café is fully licensed and serves delicious cakes, scones, tarts, tray bakes and muffins as well as artisan coffees and fine leaf teas.

Recommended for Family Friendly because: The Storytelling Café is a great place to relax with the family and enjoy a healthy meal or naughty treat.

Simon's expert tip: Children will love the story wall and the center also hosts a series of temporary exhibits for all to enjoy.

Read more about Scottish Storytelling Café →


Reds is a great family friendly restaurant on Portobello High Street. They have a tempting bistro style menu with a wide array of cakes and treats, a selection of wines and beers to keep the adults happy, and a rather better than average children's menu. They even offer homemade pureed baby food for the youngest members of the family. The baby changing facilities are very good and there is plenty of space to park a buggy. The real draw for kids is the soft play area and climbing frame, and big kids will be delighted to see a selection of retro video games.

Recommended for Family Friendly because: Reds is a great café style restaurant with its own soft play area.

Simon's expert tip: The play area is covered by CCTV so that you can keep an eye on your little darlings while you relax in the dining area.

Read more about Reds →

La Favorita specializes in delicious traditional pizza for which they won "Best UK Pizza Restaurant" in the Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association Awards 2012. However, they also offer a wide variety of excellent pasta dishes and even have gluten-free options which do not scrimp on taste. The decor is fresh and modern and patrons have an open view into the kitchen with its traditional log-fired ovens. La Favorita is also very family-friendly and for every adult eating from the a la carte menu a child can have a main course for just £1 which is donated to a local children's charity.

Recommended for Family Friendly because: Children are always welcome at La Favorita and the pizza proves very popular with little ones.

Simon's expert tip: For every adult eating from the a la carte menu a child can eat for just £1 which is donated to charity. That includes a main, a drink and a dessert.

Read more about La Favorita →


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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