Fancy getting off the beaten track and trying somewhere different? Yes, Edinburgh has lots of great places that are well-known for catering to vegans, but there are plenty of cafés and restaurants in the city that have quietly been nurturing their vegan offering away in the background, without as much of a fanfare.
Some of these places may look ordinary at first glance, however take a closer look and you’ll find a surprisingly good vegan offering – perfect if you want to try something new. Read on to discover some of our favourites…
65 Pleasance, Edinburgh EH8 9RU
From the outside it looks like your regular greasy spoon – but appearances can be deceptive. Step inside and you will be greeted with a clear and expansive vegan menu, ranging from filled rolls to full vegan breakfasts.
As well as their usual omni offering, Alan is dedicated to making all their vegan link and lorne sausages fresh on the premises, and his passion really shines though. Whether you have them in a roll or as part of a full Scottish breakfast, these are quite easily the best vegan sausages you will ever taste. Trust me.
Chinese Manor House
2 Glasgow Road, Edinburgh EH12 8HL
Chinese food can sometimes be a bit of minefield when ordering vegan, but the Chinese Manor House in Corstorphine have made a real effort to understand the needs of the vegan diet. A lot of the items on their vegetarian menu can be veganised quite easily or are already vegan – just ask the kitchen and they will be happy to accommodate.
Starter options include mixed vegetable spring rolls, crispy seaweed, melon balls and salt & chilli tofu. For your main course, you can have Singapore noodles, tofu with Chinese mushroom in plum sauce or Monk’s vegetables with tofu. You can even get fried rice without egg!
It’s a little bit further out of the city centre, but if you are craving a good Chinese meal this is well worth the journey.
Filmhouse Café Bar
88 Lothian Road, Edinburgh EH3 9BZ
Most Edinburgh locals know of the Filmhouse – it’s the quirky cinema on Lothian Road that showcases all the latest blockbusters and lesser-known indie gems, and is the flagship venue of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. But did you know that it also has a buzzing café and bar with a really decent food menu for vegans?
Options include cauliflower curry, homemade falafel and baked potatoes with a wealth of vegan-friendly fillings including spicy beans, hummus and veggie haggis.
The falafels in particular are really delicious, served with a tahini sauce and you can order the flatbread as extra if you want a more filling meal. Meanwhile, the cauliflower curry is so creamy that when he first tried it, Mr B turned to me and asked “are you SURE this is vegan”?. For the record, yes it is, the folks at the Filmhouse have just managed to make a lovely sauce out of rich coconut milk.
Even if you’re not planning on catching a movie, the Filmhouse Café is a great place to grab some lunch, dinner or a light bite.
2 South Trinity Road, Edinburgh EH5 3NR
Located a little off the beaten track just off Ferry Road, The Herringbone is a gorgeous bar/restaurant that specialises in local and seasonal ingredients, served simply. This stylish venue is very popular with locals, and if you ask your server they will be able to provide a full vegan menu with lots of imaginative seasonal dishes. Even their wine menu has the vegan options clearly marked (hooray!).
The menu changes all the time depending on what ingredients are in season, but you can expect dishes such as colourful beetroot hummus and flatbread, charred aubergine and chickpea & sweet potato burger.
Edinburgh University Student’s Association, Potterrow Building, Edinburgh EH8 9AL
Hidden away in the corner of the Potterrow Student Union you’ll find Humpit Hummus. Humpit is a hidden vegan gem in the quite literal sense of the word, as it may take a minute or two to find. It’s also hidden in the sense that Humpit doesn’t make a big song-and-dance about the fact it is completely vegan – the food and drink they serve are just naturally free of animal products.
Dig into a classic bowl of hummus served with pita bread, a warm filled pita with hummus and falafel, or a colourful salad bowl with optional extras like tahini and mango chutney. And yes, it’s all completely vegan.
140 Leith Walk, Edinburgh EH6 5DT
Leith Depot is already a firm favourite as a bar and music venue, but did you know they also have a pretty decent vegan offering? This place has a couple of great vegan-friendly options for brunch and nibbles. My personal favourite is the creamy tofu kedgeree: rich and comforting, this is one of the best hangover cures in the city.
31 – 33 Nicolson Square, EH8 9BX
Far from a “hidden gem”, it feels like everyone knows about Mosque Kitchen. Serving up cheap and cheerful “curry in a hurry” in their no-frills canteen-style restaurant just a stone’s throw from the University of Edinburgh, this is a firm favourite with cash-strapped students and anyone who is trying to save the pennies.
But when I first went vegan, I wrote it off as one of those places I couldn’t visit any more – after all, their menu isn’t marked the clearest so I wasn’t sure if there was any dairy lurking in their veggie dishes. Happily I discovered that because they use vegetable oil instead of butter ghee, most of their vegetarian curries are also vegan-friendly. Choose from mixed vegetable curry, saag aloo (spinach and potato), chana (chickpea) masala or Bombay aloo (potato).
Unfortunately the bread is still made with butter, but if you’re like me a curry with rice will be plenty for a satisfying meal.
Rose Theatre Café
204 Rose Street, Edinburgh EH2 4AZ
Hidden in plain sight in the lobby of the Rose Theatre you’ll find the wonderful Rose Theatre Café. This warm and welcoming café has lots of vegan options for you to choose from, including all-day-brunch, soups, sandwiches, cakes and bakes.
This place is particularly renowned for their delicious vegan cinnamon rolls. Moist and sweet, if you see any left on the cake counter I would heartily recommend you take one! They make a really comforting treat, especially paired with a warm cup of coffee or a spot of tea.
The Sheep Heid Inn
43-45 The Causeway, Edinburgh EH15 3QA
The Sheep Heid Inn is Scotland’s oldest pub, located just off the shores of Duddingston Loch near Holyrood Park. Even though this pub is steeped in history, Mr B and I always just assumed that The Sheep Heid Inn wouldn’t cater for us, so you can imagine our delight when we discovered it actually has quite a big vegan offering!
For such a traditional venue, The Sheep Heid Inn takes its vegan offering very seriously. There is a full plant-based menu for vegan diners, and all their chips are prepared in separate fryers to avoid cross-contamination.
The menu has a good mix of options, and those with a sweet tooth will be particularly impressed with the range of tempting desserts on offer. My favourite dish is the pineapple tart tatin – with flaky pastry, caramelised pineapple and a creamy coconut sorbet. Absolutely delicious.
Water of Leith Bistro
1 Howard Street, Edinburgh EH3 5JP
This cute and cosy café specialises in delicious food made from thoughtfully sourced and seasonal ingredients. While their menu labelling could be a bit clearer, they have a few decent options that are vegan or can be made vegan quite easily. Just ask your server and they will be able to keep you right.
I really like their full vegan breakfast, made with grilled tomato, wilted spinach, fried mushroom, veggie haggis and falafel (yes, falafel!). Paired with one of their fresh smoothies, this is a great start to the day.
Hidden Vegan Gems in Edinburgh: Map
Of course, this list is completely subjective and based on my own experience – so there are bound to be places I have missed! Do you have a favourite secret vegan-friendly haunt in Edinburgh? Share it in the comments below!