The capital of Scotland hasn’t traditionally been the kind of city where you’d expect to find it easy being vegan. The Scots love their meat, especially game, and while that still is the case, this increasingly cosmopolitan capital city now has an impressive choice when it comes to vegan restaurants and cafes, or vegan options on the menus. Edinburgh is a sprawling city of seven hills, waterways, a rugged coastline, and the imposing castle on the hill, and amongst its winding streets and closes, more and more vegan eateries are blooming and thriving. Here are the top places to eat vegan and plant-based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
1. Holy Cow
Plant Yourself: Located in the center of the action, next to the Saint James Shopping Centre, Holy Cow was one of the first fully vegan eateries to open in the city, establishing itself in 2016. You can literally roll in from the bus station and cross the road, and roll into Holy Cow for some of the city’s best-loved vegan food. This cozy café is just a short walk from the train station and has a few outdoor tables in a small courtyard, as well as the rustic benches inside.
Be sure to try: A burger. You can’t go to Holy Cow without sampling something from their choice of famous burgers. This is, after all, how they’ve made a name for themselves in Edinburgh. The Vietnamese tofu burger, especially, is a must-try.
Don’t Miss: One of the smoothies, with an extra special shout-out for the chocolate and peanuts smoothie. If you like peanut butter and chocolate, you’ll love this. If you’re feeling like you want to stick with a healthier option, the energizer smoothie has just what you need.
Plant Yourself: Just off Princes Street, the main shopping high street in Edinburgh, is the Mexican restaurant, Wahaca. This one isn’t exclusively a vegan restaurant, but it does have some great vegan options on the menu. It’s a large restaurant with plenty of seating, an upstairs area, and an outdoor seating area at the front.
Order for the Table: Sweet potatoes, tortillas, and dips, and the eggplant-filled tortillas make a decent table full of food, and the black bean quesadillas come with vegan cheese. There’s even a vegan slaw on the sides menu. If you don’t want to share, the bigger plates section of the menu includes sweet potato burritos that will really fill you up.
Leave Room for: The churros. You can’t miss the traditional Mexican dessert, and when it comes with vegan chocolate sauce, it’s a must.
3. Sora Lella
If there are three words more beloved to hear than ‘vegan Italian restaurant’, I don’t know what they are. Some things are worth walking for, and while Sora Lella is a short walk out of town, it’s definitely worth it. This is the only vegan Roman restaurant in Edinburgh, and that’s something I’d walk miles for! It’s small, traditional, and rustic, and the food is just incredible.
Don’t Miss: It’s genuinely hard to pick a favorite from this menu, but the vodka pasta is especially delicious. The menu is so packed full of amazing food, with a large selection of pizzas, pasta, and even a small main courses section with seitan replacing the usual Italian meat dishes.
Leave Room for: The Tiramisu. That’s right, vegan tiramisu, made to perfection. If you’ve longed for Italian food and found it frustratingly hard to come by in vegan form, as I have, Sora Lella is seriously the answer to your prayers.
Plant Yourself: Located in the Morningside area of the city, Hummus is a cozy Lebanese vegan café, perfect for lunches. There’s limited seating inside and a couple of tables and chairs outside for pavement dining. This former village of Morningside is now part of the city, and it’s where you’ll find the vintage stores, the thrift stores, and the more unusual and interesting cafes and bars.
Order for the Table: The falafel wraps are really something, but as the name suggests the homemade hummus is the reason most visitors come here. A simple bowl of this tasty hummus with some freshly baked flatbread is all you need. Perfect for one of Edinburgh’s misty or rainy days. And for those colder Scottish lunchtimes, a bowl of Lebanese soup really warms you and offers some real Scottish comfort.
Leave Room for: The vegan baklava. I love baklava and this is one of the best you’ll taste. These small bite-sized parcels of tasty sweetness are best ordered with a cup of green or mint tea.
5. Paradise Palms
Plant Yourself: A short walk from the National Museum of Scotland, on the way to Surgeon’s Hall Museum, Paradise Palms is like a cocktail bar that houses an American diner. If that sounds weird, let me tell you, it is fabulous! This is just about the craziest and most wonderful surroundings you’ll ever eat a burger in, and the burgers here are really good! The establishment is Paradise Palms, but the kitchen is run by Lucky Pig, who make the most amazing vegetarian and vegan burgers and fries.
Be Sure to Try: The burgers which are all made with seitan, and the chicken burger is especially good. Served with pickles, ranch, and buffalo hot sauce, this is a burger that’s calling out to be eaten. Team it with the roast sweet potato bites and you’ve got a match made in vegan heaven.
Don’t Miss: The frickles. Beer battered dill pickles served with a Russian dressing, utterly delicious and as quirky and unexpected as the décor inside Paradise Palms. And don’t forget to order a cocktail, the interior of this diner is leaving you in no doubt it’s cocktail hour no matter when you visit.