A travellers guide to the best vegan places to eat whilst visiting Edinburgh.
The vegan scene in Edinburgh is thriving. We spent just under a week exploring the Scottish capital and tasting as much of the cities best vegan food as we could, from vegan junk, to whole foods, to veganised traditional Scottish dishes!
There is an incredibly diverse selection of plant-based foods and I am incredibly jealous of the locals who are surrounded by such quality and variety.
Here are our tried and tested recommendations (plus a few extras) for amazing vegan food when visiting Edinburgh.
Tucked away near the bustling New Town of Edinburgh is Holy Cow, a family-owned vegan cafe that is a firm favourite for both local and travelling vegans. Their menu offers a large selection of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and sweet treats, all prepared using the best fresh, local ingredients, right down to the bread which is baked in-house every day.
Dan had their Quarter Pounder, one of their famous vegan burgers, which features a homemade BBQ seasoned kidney bean and soy pattie; the perfect blend of 'meaty' and hearty. I ordered the Carrot Lox open sandwich which was the ideal level of 'fishiness' without being overpowering, and was paired perfectly with silky homemade cashew cream cheese.
Located on the south side of Edinburgh is Beetroot Sauvage, a rustic vegan cafe, community wellness centre, and a haven for vegans. Their philosophy 'nourishing you from soil to soul' couldn't be more true and is reflected in their nutritious and delicious plant-based food.
Beetroot Sauvage are well known for their homemade vegan cheese, so I ordered the Halloumi & Harissa Bowl featuring their homemade vegan halloumi along with quinoa and an array of fresh vegetables. The halloumi was lightly fried and had the distinctive saltiness you would expect from the classic dairy version, and as a former cheese lover I can safely say it was the most realistic vegan halloumi I've ever tasted. Dan ordered their super cheesy vegan Mac 'n Cheese, topped with coconut bacon and vegan haggis for the ultimate flavour and texture combination!
'Eat better, not less' is the phrase in bold on the wall of Grams, a health food cafe and meal prep business known for their instagrammable interior and delicious all-day brunch. Their menu is largely vegan featuring both sweet and savoury options, all using whole and natural ingredients.
You can't go to Grams and not order their vegan waffles. Fully loaded with vegan bacon, vegan yoghurt, bananas, blueberries, chopped pecans, and a jug of maple syrup for drizzling, their Facon Me Crazy waffles were the brunch of my dreams. Equally as stunning was their take on the iconic avocado toast combination. Just Beet It features chunky mashed avocado on sourdough toast, served with beetroot hummus and whipped vegan feta. Both meals were absolutely delicious and definitely set us up for the day.
Novapizza is a fully vegan Italian restaurant, serving up vegan versions of everyone's favourite classic Italian dishes. Run by a Roman family, they have created a perfect little piece of Italy on the edge of Edinburgh's New Town. With a large range of entrees, pizzas (both regular or white), pasta dishes, and other mains, I'll admit I struggled to know what to pick - I wanted to try it all!
We ended up sharing a pizza and pasta dish just so we could experience the best of both worlds, along with a side of olives. For the pizza we ordered the 4 stagioni, topped with mozzarella mushrooms, artichokes, ham and pepperoni. The base was thin and crispy, just how I like it, the combination of toppings worked so beautifully together, I definitely savoured every bite.
Carbonara is my all-time favourite pasta dish so I went in with very high expectations, and Novapizza completely surpassed them. The soy-based sauce was beautifully creamy and the homemade chunky seitan bacon pieces were the perfect addition. I've honestly not stopped thinking about this dish since we left Edinburgh.
Makars Mash Bar
A place that came highly recommended to us was Makars Gourmet Mash Bar, a homely restaurant and craft bar that serves, you guessed it, mash! But this isn't any regular mash potatoes, Makars pride themself in serving classic hearty Scottish food, all made with the finest local ingredients. They have a great selection of vegan items which are clearly labelled, including the wine, and each dish can be paired with your choice of mash for a unique combination.
You can't go to Scotland and not try the national dish, haggis. I had never tried the traditionally sheep-based dish before and never thought I would until I found out Makars served a vegan-friendly version! Made with a combination of vegetables, pulses, oats, seeds and spices, the dish felt 'meaty' and allowed us to experience a taste of traditional Scotland. We also tried their home-grown beetroot, kale and rhubarb sausage, which was a brilliant shade of magenta and served with a smokey tangy tomato sauce. We paired it with their wholegrain mustard mash for a spicey combination I would definitely recommend.
Being a mash bar we ordered a side of their third vegan mash which contains a medley of smoked beans, just to say we had tried them all. All their mashes were smooth, creamy, and we enjoyed mixing and matching flavours with each of the dishes.
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, and Naked Bakery certainly serves up some of the dreamiest breakfasts in Edinburgh. In addition, they serve a variety of toasties, bowls, and burgers, along with tempting house-baked sweet treats, beautifully decorated and displayed with pride on their counter. There is also a selection of drinks on offer, I ordered one of their stunning blue spirulina lattes made with a choice of different plant milks, and Dan had their Queen Bey shake with a scoop of soy protein.
Most of the items on the menu are pink, from their waffles to the burger buns, and I am here for it! Dan ordered their crisp Pink Waffles with Chicken & Bacon and a generous jug of maple syrup for the perfect combination of sweet and savoury.
Smoothie bowls will always be a vibe and if there is one on the menu, you bet I will be ordering it. Made with a thick strawberry and banana base, blended with vegan protein and topped with fresh fruit, granola, and melon naked lettering, it was almost too pretty to eat and the perfect way to start our day!
When exploring a new city, it doesn't take long for me to build up an appetite so I'm often looking for spots to grab a quick bite to eat. Bowls is a cosy salad bar located near the University and the ideal spot for fast, healthy food.
There is a large selection of fresh salads to choose from on the counter to build your own nutritious bowl, in addition to one hot vegan bowl, and a range of smoothies. To drink I ordered the Strawberry Fantasy smoothie, made with a refreshing blend of strawberries, papaya, mango and banana, and served with a chunky biodegradable straw that definitely won't disintegrate halfway through.
Since the weather wasn't the greatest, I opted for the delicious warm Vegan Don Bowl with avocado, corn, edamame beans, and ginger, served on a bed of rice. It was just what I needed to keep me going and I hope they continue expanding their warm vegan options to cater for their plant-based customers.
Seeds for the Soul
Seeds for the Soul is a fully vegan eatery, with a calming atmosphere and an incredible array of delicious breakfasts, burgers, bowls, and so much more. We walked for around 40 minutes just to eat here and trust me it was so worth it.
They have a wide selection of drinks to enjoy alone or with your meal. We had a pot of their Acai Blackcurrant tea, and a Good Morning Coffee Lovers smoothie made with a combination of expresso, banana, and nut butter. They also offer boozy smoothies which I undoubtably would have gone for if it wasn't so early in the day!
Dan ordered their Full Vegan Breakfast featuring meat-free BBL sausages (from Scotland's first vegan deli unit), incredible house smokey bacon, tofu scramble, mushrooms, tomato, beans, and potato scones. It was everything you could want in a breakfast and more. Their Asian Bowl has to be one of my favourite dishes I've ever ordered in a restaurant, and if you can't already tell from my blog, I eat out a lot. Their vegan chicken was coated in a flavourful five-spice sauce and was served with rice noodles, avocado, crunchy salad, and a tamari dressing - I would take a trip back to Edinburgh just to order this again.
Hula Juice Bar
I was desperately searching for something delicious to enjoy on our train journey home and was to happy to find Hula Juice Bar, a healthy eatery serving a range of nutritious breakfast, brunch, and mains. Their menu is largely vegan with plenty of choices no matter the time of day. I ordered their Vegan Poke Bowl to-go a beautiful bowl (or container in my case) of smoked tofu, edamame beans, salad, and mirin garlic dressing, on a bed of chilled rice. I also love that they use Vegware for their takeaway containers which are made from plants and are compostable. When I eventually find my way back to Edinburgh, I would love to sit in and enjoy more of their incredible plant-based food.
At heart, I will always be a junk-food vegan, especially when doughnuts are around. Considerit is a fully vegan doughnut, chocolate, and ice cream shop, largely regarded as the best vegan doughnuts you can find.
They offer a range of ring and filled doughnuts including regulars like their cinnamon, chocolate oreo, and biscoff flavours, to everchanging specials. Tempted by the limited special flavours we got a Strawberries and Cream doughnut, and a Raspberry Cheesecake doughnut with coconut raspberry crumble. Both were equally as delicious and had the perfect summer flavours, we even made a second trip before catching our train home!
Civerinos is a street food style pizza joint with three locations across Edinburgh. There are three vegan pizzas on offer - A classic margarita, a vegetable-based plant pie or die, and the polpette, with the option for a full 20'' pizza pie or by the slice. We shared a slice of their Vegan Polpette pizza, topped with a generous amount of the most incredible chunky bean and mushroom based meatballs. A slice might not sound like a lot but just so you can get an idea of the sheer size of one of the slices I had to include this photo of Dan... We also enjoyed this with a large basket of fries served with their house sauce, and Aperossa slushie alcoholic cocktails.
Another restaurant that was recommended to me as a must-visit time and time again was Harmonium, and it was certainly worth the hype. Harmonium is a well-known vegan gastropub serving up the ultimate vegan comfort food, there are all the classics on the menu including burgers, pizza, noodles, and 'fish' and chips, not to mention all the drinks are vegan too!
Dan ordered their Truffle Shuffle Cheese & Bacon Burger which included a soy patty, vegan bacon, smoked gouda, cheddar, caramelised onion, and black truffle mayo, all packed inside a brioche bun. We also upgraded the fries to the nooch, rock salt & truffle oil chips which complemented the burger so well. You can't beat a big bowl of noodles so naturally I went with their Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao) featuring large tofu chunks, pak choy, and sweet and spicy wide rice noodles, it was certainly my idea of the ultimate comfort meal.
Surprisingly we managed to squeeze in a little extra room to share one of their tempting dessert options. We wanted to try something a bit different, and Pineapple Fritter isn't something either of us would typically go for but I'm so glad we did. I loved the contrasting crispy batter with the sweet pineapple, and it was the perfect way to end our evening.
Rebel Vegan Grill
After all the exploring we decided to spend a night in just relaxing at our Airbnb apartment and order takeout. On a Sunday afternoon, there wasn't a whole lot of choice for places to chose from, but luckily Rebel Vegan Grill was available. They are a 100% vegan delivery-only eatery with a range of both vegan junk and nutritious plant options. Each item on their menu is fully customisable to suit your tastes and they have teamed up with This Isn't Chicken to add a variety of vegan 'chicken' flavour options to their menu. We ordered a Rebel Wrap and Garden Salad Bowl, which were perfect for us to enjoy whilst watching a movie without leaving us with that heavy takeaway feeling.
In addition to trying out lots of vegan food when travelling, we also like to do the same with coffee shops. In the time since our last trip away, I have now become a coffee addict (thanks to Dan) so I was excited to try some of the best coffee shops in Edinburgh.
Fortitude is a speciality coffee shop that brings in rare and unique coffees from around the world to the citizens of Edinburgh. We visited the second of two locations, and the staff were incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about the selection of coffees they serve. We both ordered a pour over to enjoy before a busy day exploring the city.
Cult Expresso is an intimate coffee shop located south of Edinburgh's Old Town. We ordered a batch brew filter coffee and a latte with oat milk (the best plant milk for hot drinks). As well as coffees they also offer a selection of food items, many of which are suitable for vegans including their banana toast, avocado toast, and baked goods.
Hidden behind the busy Princes Street in New Town is Low Down, a coffee shop that came highly recommended to us by coffee enthusiasts. We ordered two pour overs, one with light fruity flavours and the other a contrasting darker roast. All the food which was brought to the adjacent tables also looked incredible, with several vegan options on the menu to choose from.
Other worthy mentions
Edinburgh has so many amazing places to eat for vegans, and sadly we were only able to sample a selection during our short time in the city. If we had longer there are loads of other places we would have loved to try, including:
Sorra Lela is a fully plant-based Italian restaurant run by a vegan Roman family who recreates and veganises classic Italian cuisine, with great care to preserve the authentic flavours.
Lucky Pig is an award-winning vegetarian (and largely vegan) kitchen located in Paradise Palms opposite the University, cooking up American-style fast food including burgers, fried seitan, loaded fries, and a range of dirty sides.
Black Rabbit is a vegan deli and coffee shop, serving vegan versions of everyone's favourite lunches including BLT, egg & cress, and salmon & cream cheese, along with fresh in-house baked goods.
Mana Poke is a Hawaiian-themed poke bowl store serving a range of healthy bowls with tofu and avocado being on offer as the vegan poke options. They also have a 'build-your-own-bowl' option to customise the perfect vibrant vegan bowl.
Chapter One is a small ethical coffee shop that made the switch to being fully vegan back in 2018. Serving a large variety of breakfasts, lunches, sweet treats, and coffees with a range of plant milks to choose from.
Bross Bagels are New York style bagel stores located in various spots across the city. Vegan options include the F.A.T (facon, avo, tomato), Born Again Vegan (pastrami, cheese, sauerkraut), and Nuggs Faux Sho (nuggets, slaw, pickles).
Thank you for reading, I hope you've found my short guide to vegan food in Edinburgh helpful! For more information about our amazing trip to Edinburgh, you can check out my blog post A Week in Edinburgh.