Coming to Edinburgh for the festivals? If you’re a vegan visiting the city for the first time, don’t worry – there’s absolutely no way you’ll go hungry!
August is the busiest time for Edinburgh with the Edinburgh Art Festival, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, The Edinburgh International Festival and The Edinburgh Festival Fringe. During this time of year the city’s population doubles in size, and we’re willing to bet that there will be a few vegans among the newcomers.
So, consider this a little cheat sheet to Edinburgh’s vegan scene. A lot of the festival action takes place in the Old Town, so we’ve cherry-picked some of our favourite eateries in the area to help you find some of the best vegan food that can all be found in the heart of the action.
Is there anywhere we’ve missed? Leave your tips in the comments section below!
No visit to Edinburgh is complete without a meal at Illegal Jacks. This Edinburgh institution has been filling the bellies of hungry locals for years and has a menu that is over 50% vegan. Choose from veggie haggis burritos, pulled jackfruit quesadillas and enjoy it all with vegan cheese, available on request.
Perfect for: Pulled jackfruit burritos, anyone?
Paradise Palms (Lucky Pig)
Just a stone’s throw from the hub of the main Edinburgh Festival Fringe activity on George Square you’ll find Paradise Palms, a cool, laid back, retro-style bar that is currently home to Lucky Pig – a fabulous kitchen that specialises in “vegetarian soul food”.
All the menu is completely meat-free and over half of the options are vegan. Treat yourself to a vegan “Lucky Dawg”, their famous black bean and seitan burger or, if you pop along on a Sunday, their wonderful vegan Sunday roast. Delicious!
Perfect for: Filling your belly with wonderful comfort food
Mother India is a bit of an institution here in Edinburgh, and it’s easy to see why. Their Indian tapas style of dining means you can try a little bit of everything, and their food is incredibly tasty. Their food isn’t vegan by default, but if you tell them your requirements they will swap out the traditional butter ghee with vegetable oil.
Perfect for: Indian dining with a tapas twist
Craving some good Japanese food? Head to Tangs, which is located on Candlemaker Row heading into the Grassmarket. The vegan options aren’t clearly marked (yet) but like a lot of East Asian food places there are many menu items which are quietly suitable for vegans.
Perfect for: Satisfying your Bento Box craving
Feeling a bit tender from a Fringe all nighter? A vegan fry-up is just the thing to sort you out – and nobody does it better than BBL (breakfast, lunch and brunch). Just up the road from The Pleasance Courtyard venue, this small café does a perfect meat and dairy free fry-up for just over a fiver. With homemade vegan sausages, fried mushrooms, beans, toast, veggie haggis and potato scones, you’ll be ready to get back to all the action in no time.
Perfect for: A no-frills full vegan Scottish breakfast
Need to just shove some food in your face in-between shows? Then pop into this local cult favourite, The Piemaker. The food here is cheap, it’s fast and there are a good few vegan options that are clearly labelled. I particularly love the mushroom vergas bake (pictured), but you can also choose from other baked goodies such as the double potato roll and veggie paradise.
Perfect for: Eating cheaply and on-the-go
The Auld Hoose
Head a wee bit further along The Pleasance and you’ll eventually come across The Auld Hoose, which has a legendary reputation for satisfying the most ravenous of vegan appetites. Their generous plate of nachos, served with lashings of chilli, vegan cheese and guacamole, is just the ticket after a long day of festival performances and exhibitions. Order a side of onion rings and you’ve got yourself a solid vegan feed that is guaranteed to see you through until the wee hours.
Perfect for: when you’re REALLY hungry
Red Box Noodles
This is another local cult favourite which can be found within a stone’s throw of George Square Gardens. Everything is made to order: just choose your noodle, your veggies, your sauce and you are good to go. Helpfully, there is a sign on the counter that tells you which ingredients are suitable for vegans.
Perfect for: A satisfying bowl of bespoke noodles made to order
Checkpoint is not only a fantastic Fringe venue – it’s also home to a pretty decent restaurant that boasts a couple of really delicious vegan options. Their curried tempura vegetables are absolutely glorious – and its ideal location means you can maybe sneak in a meal between shows without taking yourself too far away from the action.
Perfect for: A delicious feed right in the heart of Fringe-land
Sushi lovers in a hurry should give this wee place on Nicolson Street a try. With nearly half of the range dedicated to vegan-friendly sushi, Soul Sushi is ideal for satisfying your Japanese food cravings fast. Can’t decide what to get? Order the tasty vegan platter, which has a little bit of everything!
Perfect for: Good sushi on the go
Found in the heart of Marchmont, a popular area for Fringe accommodation, you’ll find charming little porridge café Brochan. With a focus on happy and healthy eating, you’ll find most options on the menu here are suitable for vegans. If you get caught in one of those inevitable Fringe rainy days, a warming bowl of porridge from Brochan will soon see you right.
Perfect for: a good breakfast to set you up for a long day of Fringe-ing
The Baked Potato Shop
Trying to navigate the festivals on a budget? Look no further than the Baked Potato Shop for a fabulously filling lunch. Around £6 will buy you a perfectly cooked baked potato with a huge range of hot and cold vegan fillings, such as the vegan haggis pictured in the beauty above. Trust us, you will not need to eat for the rest of the day.
Perfect for: A quick and cheap lunch that will keep you satisfied all day long
Land of Bourbon
This unassuming police box in St Patrick Square might not look like much, but this completely vegan fast-food joint serves up some of the cheapest and best vegan scran in Edinburgh. Specialising in Caribbean and West African street food, this is the place to go if you like your food with a bit of a kick. We particularly love the vegan buffalo “wings”, which are pieces of cauliflower deep fried and smothered in a moreish spicy sauce.
Perfect for: Getting something quick and tasty on a budget
The Mosque Kitchen
Staying on the budget theme for a moment… the Mosque Kitchen on Nicolson Street is legendary with locals for their cheap, quick and tasty food. However, not many people know that they use vegetable oil in their cooking – making their veggie curries safe for vegans! We love their vegetable and chickpea curries, each coming with a generous portion of rice for less than a fiver a serving. The perfect no-frills dinner.
Perfect for: Filling your belly on a budget
Fancy something sweet? Then look no further than Considerit, who are gearing up for their first festival season at their new location on Sciennes, just across the road from Summerhall. Considerit specialise in doughnuts, ice cream and chocolate – essentially anything that your sugar-laden heart desires! Their cinnamon sugar doughnut is especially worth trying.
Perfect for: The best vegan doughnuts north of the border.
Hunters Square is a hub of Fringe activity and in the heart of it all you’ll find Civerinos – a pizza haven that’s popular with visitors and locals alike. Their vegan pizza (with the slightly tongue-in-cheek title ‘Meat is Murder’) doesn’t have any cheese – but the marinated tomatoes and Sicilian breadcrumbs carries it through. Many pizza places in the city cater for vegans, but this one is only a stone’s throw from the Royal Mile making it an ideal option to pop in to between Fringe shows.
Perfect for: Pizza.
The Herbivore Kitchen
Vegans visiting Edinburgh for the first time must visit The Herbivore Kitchen. Alsion and her team do wonderful things but they specialise particularly in pancakes and brownies. If you fancy something comforting, on Sundays they do a special vegan roast and on 3 August they will be hosting a special Herbivore Supper Club which includes a welcome drink, canapés, three-course meal, coffee and cake for £35.
Hula Juice Bar
Getting sick of all the junk food? Then you need to check out Hula Juice Bar in the Grassmarket. This award-winning café is open daily, serving up delicious healthy juices, nutritional breakfasts and naughty-but-nice raw treats. Their Rainbow Bowl changes every day (check the specials board for the latest), but it’s bound to be bursting with tasty veggies and that’s ideal for a nutritional pick-me-up.
Perfect for: Your post-festival night out detox
If it’s the final night of your Edinburgh festival trip and you really want to spoil yourself, there’s only one place you should go. Kalpna is a vegetarian restaurant located on St Patrick Square that has a whole range of vegan options – just ask your server for the latest. Our personal favourite is the vegan thali raj bhog, which boasts a serving of pakora, rice, bread, three curries, a chutney and a vegan dessert. Make sure you turn up hungry!
Perfect for: Treating yourself to something special
Yocoko Noodle Bar
Fancy a quick Chinese on the cheap? Head to Yocoko Noodle Bar. This place is always busy – a very positive sign – and they have some secretly vegan options, even though they aren’t yet clearly marked on the menu. Ask your server what is available.
Perfect for: A Chinese feast that won’t break the bank.
This great little Japanese restaurant is tucked off the main thoroughfare in Newington, about a 5-minute walk from the Pleasance, The Dome, Underbelly George Square and Gilded Balloon. Bonsai Bistro is a wee gem that makes fantastic sushi, and many of their vegetarian options can be tweaked for vegans. While these aren’t signposted on the menu yet, if you ask your server they will be able to keep you right.
Perfect for: Really good sushi near lots of the major Fringe venues
Ransacked Black Oven
Another new arrival for 2018! Ransacked specialises in Persian and Middle-Eastern food, with a rotating menu that changes every day. There are daily specials for salads, hummus, hot pots and more. No matter what is on offer, the vegan options are always super-tasty and clearly labelled on the menu and the specials board inside the restaurant.
Perfect for: Healthy and hearty food with a friendly atmosphere
Union of Genius
Found in the heart of the action in the Old Town, Union of Genius is a cult lunch favourite for many Edinburgh locals. There are usually six soups on each day, and two or three of them are usually good for vegans.
Treat yourself to a big warm bowl of soup or their vegan chilli. If you can’t decide, try a soup flight for three little tasters of each of the day’s varieties.
Perfect for: Warm and comforting soup on those inevitable rainy festival days!
Of course, this guide isn’t exhaustive! Check out our A-Z guide for even more ideas of vegan places to visit >
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