Head to Tollcross for Delicious Food at Nice Low Prices

Situated south west of the center of the city of Edinburgh, Tollcross is a bustling residential area which nestles around the junction between Brougham Street (which leads to the Meadows), Earl Grey Street (an extension of Lothian Road), Home Street (which leads south to the affluent residential area of Bruntsfield) and West Tollcross. It was not until 1901 that the familiar landmark of the ironwork pillar clock was added to the junction. During the nineteenth century industry flourished in Tollcross due to its proximity to the Union Canal, but now the breweries and factories have been replaced by pubs, restaurants and clubs.

The Victorian tenements which are typical of the area are very popular with students in part because both Edinburgh University and Napier University are close by, but also because there are a good number of reasonably priced bars and restaurants to choose from. Tapas is a good choice if you are looking for a reasonably priced meal, and Indaba serves some deliciously moreish dishes. Alternatively, you could enjoy a great pub meal at the Red Squirrel. For a lighter bite there are many good cafes to choose from, but the Treehouse is among the best. Whatever you crave, Tollcross is a great place to eat without falling foul of your bank manager!


Henrick's Bar

This is a comfortable and friendly wee bar and bistro that's close to the King's Theatre as you head out of Tollcross towards Bruntsfield. It serves a great range of drinks and the seasonal menu offers classic pub grub and contemporary meals using fresh local produce. The atmosphere is good, the decor is stylish, and it's a friendly place. There's also a pre-theatre menu, a pre-order option for those times when you don't have more than half an hour to spare, and a weekend brunch menu for those lazy recuperative meals on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

Recommended for Tollcross/Lothian Road's Best Budget Dining because: Henrick's Bar has a great pre-theatre menu which offers particularly good value for money.

Simon's expert tip: If you smoke you'll like the small seating area out the back which has heaters for the cold weather

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This bastion of south Indian cuisine can be found in Tollcross near The Meadows. The exterior and the decor inside are nothing special but you'll be pleased by the warm welcome and the delicious dishes. The menu has the standard favorites you'd expect but you'll also find lots of tasty vegetarian options that may be less familiar such as dosas, which are delicious south Indian pancakes. The experienced chefs really know what they are doing and the food they turn out is consistently good. That south Indian cuisine is also a rarity in Scotland so it's worth trying out if you are a fan of Indian spices and would like to experience something new.

Recommended for Tollcross/Lothian Road's Best Budget Dining because: Mezbaan is a great south Indian restaurant with very reasonable prices and wonderful tapas style dishes.

Simon's expert tip: The tapas style south Indian dishes make for a fantastic lunch and allow you to sample lots of delicious food.

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El Quijote
Photo courtesy of El Quijote

El Quijote is a charming and authentic tapas bar with loads of charisma. The menu largely features Andalusian specialties rather than the tired combination of tortilla, paella and patatas bravas served up by other tapas restaurants (although some of the old favorites such as calamares are thankfully still present) and the result is both surprising and delicious. If in doubt, ask your server for advice, as they are always happy to chat with enthusiasm about their food. The decor is rustic, heading towards slightly cheesy, with saffron painted walls, terracotta dishes, cartwheels suspended from the ceiling and a large picture of the eponymous Quijote (Don Quixote), but the welcome is always warm and the dishes generous and flavorsome.

Recommended for Tollcross/Lothian Road's Best Budget Dining because: El Quijote offers a more authentic tapas experience at a reasonable price.

Simon's expert tip: Many dishes come with chips, but these are in fact delicious and very moreish sauteed potatoes.

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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 Tollcross/Lothian Road's Best Budget Dining because: Taquito serves delicious Mexican street food prepared before your eyes.

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

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Frizzante is the most recent venture of the charismatic and accomplished Don Pasquale and his son jonathan. Don Pasquale has been serving delicious Italian food to Edinburgh patrons for many years, and his son has clearly inherited his enthusiasm and charm. Frizzante specialises in Neapolitan and Mediterranean food. As well as many of the classic pizza, pasta and risotto dishes patrons can also dine on rather good vegetarian and gluten free dishes. They have a crowd pleasing party menu and an excellent pre-theatre menu and as well as stocking a good range of wines and beers they have an interesting menu of Mediterranean cocktails. Prices are reasonable, the service is warm and friendly and families and large groups are made to feel very much at home.

Recommended for Tollcross/Lothian Road's Best Budget Dining because: Their set menu and pre-theatre menu and particularly good value

Simon's expert tip: If you have specific dietary needs, the staff are always happy to help so just ask.

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Tuk Tuk Indian Street Food is a welcome new addition to Edinburgh which brings with it an exuberant love of Indian street food and a kitsch sense of humor. The décor is bright and vibrant with retro Bollywood posters, garishly colored chairs, and huge tangerine letters (T.U.K) suspended in the three large windows. The food is similarly exuberant with a selection of tapas style dishes to choose from, some mildly and delicately spiced, others fiery and rich. The also do a great lamb curry and two western offerings (t-bone steak and a mixed grill) for those not in the mood for mix and match dishes.

Recommended for Tollcross/Lothian Road's Best Budget Dining because: Tuk Tuk serves reasonably spiced tapas style Indian street food that is great fun and great value.

Simon's expert tip: Monday at Tuk Tuk is Matka Monday, which means at the end of your meal you can roll a dice â€" and if you roll a six then it's free.

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Bread Meats Bread is a speciality burger restaurant with two branches in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh. Forget the flaccid offerings of the big name burger chains, the food on offer here is crafted from fresh local ingredients, and served in very generous portions. This is not a fast food joint, but rather a love note to the joyous conjunction of bread and meat. They have been lavished with awards by a grateful clientele happy to take their time over some seriously good food. Impressively, they also offer very good vegetarian, vegan, halal and gluten free dishes, and a host of tasty side dishes.

Recommended for Tollcross/Lothian Road's Best Budget Dining because: Awesome burgers and tasty sides make Bread Meats Bread the perfect spot for a delicious meal.

Simon's expert tip: Their bacon chips are seriously tasty - how can you resist.

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The Treehouse
Photo courtesy of Simon Hill

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.

Recommended for Tollcross/Lothian Road's Best Budget Dining because: The Treehouse is a great wee café with tempting treats to suit any palate without breaking the bank.

Simon's expert tip: If you need a sweet treat to pick yourself up then try the carrot cake and wash it down with a milkshake.

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Indaba offers an unusual blend of classic Spanish tapas dishes with South American and South African dishes and a few Scottish favorites. Although this combination sounds unusual, in practice it is rather refreshing. The traditional tapas dishes are lovingly created and will please any lover of Andalusian cuisine. The South African and South American dishes are deliciously different. Some of the flavor combinations (such as South American arepas filled with Scottish haggis) are an unexpected delight and the homemade desserts are quite wonderful. Indaba is Zulu for "meeting" and the warm welcome and tasty morsels are certainly conducive to a convivial atmosphere.

Recommended for Tollcross/Lothian Road's Best Budget Dining because: Indaba serves generously proportioned tapas dishes at very reasonable prices

Simon's expert tip: Don't miss the Torta Llorona (crying cake), which oozes a delicious hot chocolate sauce when you break it open.

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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 decor is interesting and there are tables tucked away in nooks and crannies if you want a quiet spot.

Recommended for Tollcross/Lothian Road's Best Budget Dining because: With very reasonably priced, good quality pub grub, the Red Squirrel is a popular Tollcross eatery.

Simon's expert tip: Try one of the burgers if you get hungry because this is better than your average pub grub.

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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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