The Himalaya Shop primarily sells arts, crafts, jewelry and clothing but hidden at the back of the building is a lovely wee cafe which sells chai teas, cakes and a selection of Tibetan treats. The cafe has a wonderfully laid back feel, even sporting a relaxation room and a pretty garden. It is run by volunteers and raises money for the charity Free Tibet, amongst others. It also acts as a meeting place for people interested in the culture of Tibet and the surrounding area, and you can even take yoga classes! This is a wee gem you will be delighted to uncover.
Recommended for Vegetarian because: The café at the back of the Himalaya shop sells tasty and reasonably priced vegetarian food.
Simon's expert tip: They have free Wi-Fi making this an ideal spot to chill and surf the web.
Meadowlark is a not for profit yoga school and vegetarian and health food café located close to the Meadows. During the day the warm and open space is a relaxed café with a distinctly bohemian air. By night the space is re-imagined as a yoga workshop. They have a comprehensive juice bar with a host of tasty and healthy combinations, but also serve a range of vegetarian soups, sandwiches and other snacks and some naughty but nice cakes. The emphasis may be on healthy eating, but taste is not sacrificed. The café also serves ethically sourced, organic tea and coffee.
Recommended for Vegetarian because: Meadowlark No 39 serves delicious and healthy vegetarian snacks and treats.
Simon's expert tip: In addition to many other healthy options, those with the will to do so can follow their seven day juice plan. The liquid based diet of vegetables, fruits and minerals provides the body with the nutrients and calorific intake to maintain a healthy balance while giving the digestive system a break.
Bindi is an exciting new restaurant and cookery school serving a fusion of Gujarati (Western Indian) and East African street food. Set in the shadow if illustrious predecessor Ann Purna, Bind rises to the challenge to deliver high quality vegetarian cuisine. The menu is a combination of small tapas style street food dishes, larger sharing dishes and classic thali platters. The small dishes are great if you are looking for a quick snack, and two of the larger plates will satisfy a larger appetite. Along with familiar tastes the menu offers some very pleasant surprises and it is definitely worth straying from the well beaten path – with the able assistance of the friendly staff. The thali platters are excellent value for money and make for a well-balanced and filling meal, but make sure to leave room for a pudding as the sweets are a genuinely different treat.
Recommended for Vegetarian because: An unusual combination of African and India street food makes for a delightful vegetarian experience
Simon's expert tip: The mithai taster lest you choose three of their six pudding choices and is perfect if you are having difficulty making up your mind.
Moon and Hare is an independent, gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan artisan eatery and deli situated in the leafy suburb of Bruntsfield. Food is processed as little as possible and highly refined additives such as sugar are avoided in favour of more natural options such as maple syrup. There is no gluten in any of their food and as far as possibly produce is local and organic. Yet, their food is bursting with flavour and satisfyingly luxuriant. Will you start your day with a healthy quinoa porridge or a decadent vegan waffle? Their lunchtime wraps, soups and smoothies are delicious and virtuous, while their cakes and brownies are naughty but nice.
Recommended for Vegetarian because: Moon and Hare is a great vegetarian and vegan cafe with an impressive range of gluten free cakes
Simon's expert tip: Many options are vegan and suitable for a paleo diet or those with coeliac disease, just ask the helpful staff for ore information
Pumpkin Brown is a wonderful cafe in the Grassmarket area of the Old Town specializing in raw food, healthy eating and vegan cuisine. They start with the promise that none of their food contains refined sugar, dairy products or gluten, and then go on to produce some impressively mouthwatering dishes. Vibrant, fresh salads sit alongside moreish sweet potato fries, flavorful bean stews and rich and spicy dhal and chilli. Their breakfast chai pots are so healthy and well behaved that you might have to follow them with a rather more decadent cake just to find balance. Never fear, they offer raw raspberry ruffle bars (a nostalgic must for any vegan who has staved off a chocolate craving with one of the original ruffle bars), a vegan carrot cake to die for and many more.
Recommended for Vegetarian because: Pumpkin Brown is one of the best places to sample raw and vegan food in centre of town.
Simon's expert tip: The menu is packed with healthy options, and the helpful staff will help you find the perfect pick me up for whatever ails you.
At first glance Novapizza appears to be just another Italian restaurant. The decor is rustic and traditional with quaint red and which chequered table cloths and delightful paintings of Italian vistas. All of the classics are present on the menu, and there is a wide range of starters, pizza, calzone and pasta. However, Novapizza is Edinburgh's first vegetarian Italian restaurant. Closer inspection finds meat substitutes such as soy mince and mheat replace the meat in traditional recipes. They have an excellent range of vegan and gluten free dishes (including a gluten free pizza that is very good indeed) and even their wine list wears its organic, vegetarian credentials on its sleeve. The quality of the fresh produce and the rich depth of the sauces are more than enough to please every palate.
Recommended for Vegetarian because: Edinburgh's first vegetarian Italian restaurant is a delightful treat for veggies and vegans alike.
Simon's expert tip: The Vegan Oreo cheesecake is decadent and delicious. The perfect end to a good meal.
Kalpna won the Gourmet British Vegetarian Restaurant award for 2011 and is widely acclaimed as one of the best Indian restaurants in Scotland. The menu is fresh and inviting, reflecting developments in contemporary Indian cuisine but also influenced by traditional Punjabi, Gujurati and South Indian cooking. Kalpna's signature dish, Dam Aloo Kashmeri (potato barrels filled with vegetables, paneer and nuts with a tomato, honey and ginger sauce and a creamy almond and saffron sauce) is simply wonderful and the thali's are a great idea if you are having difficulty choosing between the delectable offerings on the menu. They offer a great all-you-can eat set meal deal for evening services and their lunch buffet is great value for money and extremely popular. The menu is vegetarian but they also happily cater for vegans and they also offer lessons in Indian cuisine.
Recommended for Vegetarian because: Kalpna shows just how good Indian vegetarian cuisine can be.
Simon's expert tip: Do not miss the lunch time buffet for a great chance to sample a wide range of dishes for a very reasonable price.
Following on the success of their Hanover Street restaurant and the wonderful cafe in the values of St John's, comes a fully vegan restaurant situated in Thistle Street. This is Edinburgh's first fully vegan restaurant, and it looks to be a great success. The menu is brimming with luxurious flavourful dishes and there is certainly no sense that by eschewing meat and dairy diners are missing out. The cuisine is Scottish-European with an inventive flair, and the wine list fully organic. This restaurant really is a treat for the senses and well worth seeking out.
Recommended for Vegetarian because: Edinburgh's first vegan restaurant is making quite a stir and building a loyal following
Simon's expert tip: Their vegan cheesecake is quite wonderful - make sure to save some space!
David Bann's restaurant is a wee gem, considered by some to be the best vegetarian restaurant in Scotland. The menu is eclectic and innovative with influences from around the world. Thai fritters sit alongside a selection of tempting pastry dishes and delicately spiced smoked tofu, and the whisky panna cotta is both decadent and delightful. Patrons can enjoy fine dining at a very reasonable price in relaxed, but stylish surroundings just off the Royal Mile. Bann's is strictly vegetarian, but as the cuisine is both delicious and chic it attracts rave reviews even from meat eaters. Carnivores should give it a go as well.
Recommended for Vegetarian because: Contender to the title of Edinburgh's best vegetarian restaurant, David Bann's is a real treat
Simon's expert tip: On Saturday and Sunday until 5pm they serve a delicious brunch with homemade muffins, potato scones and eggs.
This was Edinburgh's first vegetarian restaurant, and many still consider it the best. Long, shared tables run the length of the basement room, where candlelight, a nice wine list and live piano or guitar add gracious touches. Meals are self-service, and typically there are eight hot dishes (vegetarian haggis, anyone?) and at least ten salads, in addition to a selection of baked goods and fresh organic produce. The prices are quite reasonable for such a feast. The Henderson's name has expanded over the years to include a bistro, a bakery, a deli, and even a gallery. They are all worth visiting.
Recommended for Vegetarian because: Edinburgh's oldest vegetarian restaurant is still top of the class
Simon's expert tip: Henderson's is open until 10pm from Monday to Saturday and you'll find musicians giving performances in the evening.