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Wonderful waterfront restaurants and cafes in the heart of Edinburgh



What could be nicer than enjoying a good meal as you listen to the relaxing sound of water lapping gently nearby? With so many great spots to dine by the waterfront in Edinburgh, you will be spoiled for choice.

The city of Edinburgh is served by the port of Leith with its long stretch of dockland and its fashionable new waterfront development. Many of Edinburgh's Michelin starred restaurants are located in Leith, but if you really want to get close to the water then Cruz Bar is the place for you. Drink, dine and while away the hours on board a WWI ship moored in the heart of Leith.

The beautiful and tranquil Water of Leith snakes its way through the heart of the city and is overlooked by a number of cafes and restaurants, the most upscale of which is Restaurant Martin Wishart where you can enjoy fine dining a stones throw from the water.

Edinburgh also benefits from the Union Canal which connects with the Falkirk Wheel in the west. There are a couple of restaurants overlooking the canal at Edinburgh Quay close to the city center, but you can also head to the Bridge Inn which overlooks the canal at Ratho. Here you can hop on to one of their barges and enjoy a meal as you slip sedately along the canal.


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Zizzi Ristorante at Edinburgh Quay is one of the highly popular chain of Italian restaurants. The menu (which is the same in each branch) is perhaps a little unadventurous, featuring the classic mix of pizza, pasta, salad and risotto. However, the chain has built up a reputation for being good at what they do, and with super fresh ingredients and a little attention to detail the dishes are certainly tasty. The Edinburgh Quay branch also has the added bonus of an excellent view of the Union Canal. On a sunny day the outdoors seating area is a delightful sun trap and there is a good chance you will get so see one of the colorful barges which sail up and down the canal while you dine.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Zizzi is in a great spot overlooking the Union Canal

Simon's expert tip: The three course set meal is great value and you get a shot of the delicious limoncello liqueur after your dessert

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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 Waterfront Dining because: The great little cafe has a wonderful view of the Water of Leith.

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.

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Tantalizing seafood dishes served in a friendly, no-frills atmosphere. Fisher's Bistro is located on The Shore in Leith and offers a first rate casual dining experience. Menu selections change daily, featuring dishes made with the freshest catch of the day. Grilled halibut or chargrilled swordfish are examples of the dishes that are served here. There is also a comfortable and well-stocked bar area for pre-meal drinks. The staff are friendly and professional and the food is fresh and delicious. There is also a Fisher's in the City on Thistle Street in the New Town if you can't make it down to Leith, though it isn't quite as good.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: Fishers has a great waterfront location and serves wonderful fresh seafood

Simon's expert tip: It is a very popular restaurant so it's always best to book in advance, even during the week.

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The top destination for a traditional Scottish breakfast on a Sunday morning in Edinburgh is undoubtedly The King's Wark. This popular Leith pub has long laid claim to the best breakfast title. It is cosy and welcoming with a great choice of ales and you can enjoy a leisurely brunch from 11AM to 3PM. Located at The Shore, this is a bus trip from the city center but visitors should definitely be checking out Leith for a range of great restaurants. It can get very busy so if you want to make sure your appetite is sated then book in advance.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: The Kings Wark is a lovely traditional pub occupying a great waterfront location

Simon's expert tip: Make sure you tackle the appropriately named "The King's Wark Bigger Breakfast" it will easily see you through to the evening.

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Teuchter's Landing is a great little pub close to the docks at Leith. The pub is housed in a quaint and attractive stone building that was once the ferry terminal for boats arriving from Aberdeen (Teuchter, pronounced choochter, is a lowland Scots name for a highlander) and it has retained much of the original stonework. The interior is clad in warm wood with a huge fire to warm patrons on winter nights and the extra seating outside includes a wonderful floating pontoon. Traditional Highland dishes such as Cullen skink and haggis stovies are served in their trademark mugs and the wide range of real ales and single malts ensure that there is something for every palate.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: The floating pontoon outside the pub is a great place to enjoy waterfront dining

Simon's expert tip: There is a regular slot for guest beers and ales, so it is always worth having a chat with the bar staff before making up your mind.

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Portobello/Joppa/Musselburgh


The Espy (also known as The Esplanade) is a quirky and welcoming pub occupying an enviable position overlooking Portobello Beach. The bar itself has a faded charm with its traditional horseshoe bar, deep red walls and dark wood panels. The walls are lined with comfy sofas , high backed wooden chairs and dark wooden tables. Strings of fairy light, bunting and a variety of vaguely nautical pictures and memorabilia add to the cozy ambiance. The Espy focuses on providing good pub grub and although the menu holds few surprises the food is tasty and the portions generous. What really lifts the Espy above the rest is the outdoor seating area with wonderful views of the beach.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: The Espy serves lovely pub grub and has a great view of the beach

Simon's expert tip: If you want a sea view on a sunny day be prepared to get there early. There is one bay windowed booth which has the best view, but it is very popular!

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Cruz Bar is one of the most memorable gastro pubs in Edinburgh. It occupies a WWI minesweeper boat anchored in the heart of Leith's docklands at The Shore. There is a cozy and ambient dining area and bar inside the ship, but the on deck seating area really lifts Cruz above the competition. The bar stocks a good range of beers, wines and spirits, but it is probably for its cocktails that it is most famous. The menu is not particularly large, but there are plenty of options to keep all palates happy. As you would expect, there are a number of seafood dishes, but they also serve great burgers, nachos, pizza, past and steak.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: You can't get much closer to the water than this delightful floating bar!

Simon's expert tip: Every Friday night they host a very popular reggae and soul night with both DJs and live music until late.

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Smart, understated decor sets the scene for the thoughtfully prepared and well-presented seafood dishes on the menu here. You'll find a wide range of fresh seafood and an extensive champagne and wine list. The reasonable prices and generous portions served from the lunch menu are popular among diners. Vegetarian dishes are available for those who prefer not to indulge in the seafood fare and there are always traditional alternative options like haggis and steak on the menu for carnivores who dislike seafood. Make no mistake, though, the Ship on the Shore aims to prove that Scotland has the best seafood in the world.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: The Ship on the Shore has a great view of the water and serves delicious fresh seafood.

Simon's expert tip: Ask for a window seat and try the Fruits de Mer platters with champagne for an amazing array of fresh seafood.

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Outside the City


The Bridge Inn is a charming traditional hotel housing a delightful pub and restaurant. Situated near Ratho, at the outskirts of Edinburgh, it is close to Edinburgh Airport and yet retains an idyllic rural ambiance. The restaurant serves delicious Scottish cuisine, using produce grown on the premises or from local farms. There is great attention to detail in each dish, and the menu is very tempting, but the prices are very reasonable. In addition to their main dining room, they have a beautiful terrace overlooking the water and (best of all) you can even dine on their picturesque barge as it glides sedately along the Union Canal.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: For the ultimate in waterfront dining, sail along the Union Canal on the Bridge Inn's barge

Simon's expert tip: The restaurant barge is very popular so book ahead and check departure times to avoid dissapointment.

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Martin Wishart
Photo courtesy of Simon Hill


One of the finest British chefs cooking today, Martin Wishart, opened his eponymous restaurant in 1999. This Michelin starred Leith dining venue offers high quality French cuisine. You'll find elegant surroundings, extremely high quality, attentive service and the freshest Scottish produce. It is an expensive restaurant with a formal atmosphere but a host of little special touches will make your visit a memorable experience. The six course tasting menu is sure to satisfy and impress. This is delicate and original food accompanied by fine wines and served by helpful and knowledgeable staff. If you want a real fine dining experience then it is an essential stop on your Edinburgh trip.

Recommended for Waterfront Dining because: For Michelin starred food with a view of the water head for Martin Wishart

Simon's expert tip: The cheese selection costs extra but is unmissable if you like your cheese.

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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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