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Beyond the Fringe: the best places to eat during Edinburgh Festival

Beyond the Fringe: the best places to eat during Edinburgh Festival

by Izzy Burton 12 August 2015

Planning a full itinerary of events without overlap or bankruptcy is difficult enough - make your visit to the fringe that little bit easier with our guide to the best places to eat near the larger festival venues.

For four years I worked at the Edinburgh Festival in one of the venues. Each year I would roll up at my aunt’s house in Tollcross along with various other relatives, family friends and far reaching acquaintances and my young cousin would duly vacate his room and decamp to the living room - or, on a particularly packed year, the dining room table.

The festival is amazing, inspiring and, at times, incredibly overwhelming - be prepared to spend a lot of time wading through peppy drama students in matching t-shirts, thrusting flyers for their barbershop production of Spring Awakening in your face. Some people leave their days open to persuasion (what was all that about Spring Awakening?), others prefer to rigorously plan their fringe itinerary, but whichever way you choose to approach your trip it helps to know somewhere to go to grab a meal between shows. Appreciating art is hungry work, even if the art in question is a capella.

Read on for a list of some great food spots near some of the main festival venues - which here include the Pleasance Courtyard, Summerhall, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the several large venues in Bristo Square - because life’s too short and the queues are too big during fringe season to waste time on a poor meal.

Peter's Yard Bakery

27 Simpson Loan, Quartermile (near: Bristo Square (Udderbelly, Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance Dome), Bedlam Theatre)

The steady queue in Starbucks on the Quartermile is quite bewildering considering this artisan bakery and café is only a couple of units down the hill. Offering pastries, coffee and open sandwiches along with whole loaves and crispbreads, their selection of ice creams also prove popular with passers by. Sit outside amid the buskers and flyerers of the Quartermile or grab a take away and set up an impromptu picnic in the plush greenery of the Meadows (just keep your ears out for rogue bongo players).

10 to 10 in Delhi

67 Nicolson Street (near: Pleasance Courtyard, Bristo Square, C Venues)

Edinburgh behemoth Mosque Kitchen is just a few doors up the road from this unassuming Indian teahouse and restaurant. While the former serves cheap and cheerful food at an incredible rate (with its customers encouraged to eat with similar speed), 10 to 10 in Delhi is a superior choice for those with a bit more time to kill between shows - and, let’s face it, for those looking for a little more flavour in their dinner. An excellent range of lassis, curries and desserts are offered at incredibly heartening prices.

Royal Mile
The Royal Mile, where the ratio of tourists to baked potato shops is 5:1
the view from Arthur's Seat
When the crowds get too much take a picnic up Arthur's Seat, reducing your risk of being flyered over lunch by a whopping 65%


104 Nicolson Street (near: Pleasance Courtyard, Bristo Square, Summerhall)

Stocking an excellent range of coffees, cakes and breakfasts, this cafe really comes into its own with its superb take away meal deal, where hungry festival goers can fill up on soup and a sandwich for five pounds. Sandwiches are extremely large and generously filled, while soups are deliciously chunky and a wide variety is usually available - cream of wild mushroom and pea and ham are both particularly good. Weather permitting, take your sandwiches along to Nicolson Square, a small park equidistant between the Pleasance Courtyard and Bristo Square.

Brasserie de Luxe

Caledonian Hotel, Rutland Street (near: Edinburgh International Book Festival, Traverse Theatre, Military Tattoo)

If you manage to battle across the Royal Mile to get to the other side of town, steer clear of the chain restaurants flanking Princes Street - they can be unbearably busy at the best of times. Whether you’re headed for the International Book Festival in Charlotte Square or the Traverse Theatre on Lothian Road, either way there’s no chance you’re going to see a shrugging comedian talk about owning a lot of Bags For Life, and for that you should be rewarded. Head towards the Caledonian Hotel to Brasserie de Luxe, affordable luxury from the Galvin brothers which was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2013. Alongside its regular menus - which places welcome emphasis on local seafood and beef - the restaurant also offers an extremely reasonable two or three course festival ‘Tattoo Menu’ in honour of the Military Tattoo taking place at the castle nearby.

Black Medicine

2 Nicolson Street (near: Pleasance Courtyard, C Venues, Assembly Roxy, Bristo Square)

Black Medicine enjoys prime position between the Pleasance Courtyard, Bristo Square and C Venues, and as a result is a popular choice for punters and venue staff alike. The coffee is good enough to face the queues, and for lunch on the go their cups of soup (served with comforting parcels of warm, buttered pitta bread) are a cheap and tasty option. Also worth noting - if you’re unfortunate enough to catch the so-called ‘festival flu’ while you’re still on your trip - is their freshly pulped hot lemon which you can have with honey, ginger or cinnamon.

Ting Thai Caravan

Teviot Place (near: Bristo Square, Underbelly, Bedlam Theatre, C Venues)

Initially a street food pop up, Ting Thai Caravan has shuffled around a few venues over the past few years but seems to have stuck in its current home on Teviot Place (so close to Bristo Square that you can almost hear the hollow promises of nearby street teams). Classics such as Pad Thai and Tom yam soup are cheap and delicious, while the Massaman curry with slow-cooked duck leg is thought by many to hold medicinal qualities. Open from lunchtime until late if you’re in need of a 4pm lunch, Ting Thai Caravan doesn't judge you for your unusual festival eating schedule - after all, most of the city’s venues and bars are open until 5am for the duration of the month.

Get to the festival

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs from the 5th - 31st August, with events taking place daily in hundreds of venues across the city: view the festival programme here. Main image courtesy of Gilded Balloon.

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Beyond the Fringe: the best places to eat during Edinburgh Festival


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