As a new vegan looking to have a meal with friends, whether vegan or not, where do you go? If you’ve never eaten out as a vegan, would you know where to go? It seems everywhere you turn, there are cafes and restaurants that cater to those who are fond of their meat and seafood. Having been vegan for 30 days now, I’ve realised that our choice of restaurant isn’t as limited as it seems.
With a bigger city like Glasgow, the availability of vegan restaurants are more abundant, but Edinburgh isn’t too shabby either. With the spike in the number of people in the UK becoming vegan (there are now about 500 000 vegans according to The Vegan Society), restaurants are starting to take notice and are offering separate vegan menus or options to their offerings.
Today, I’m going to share some of the restaurants I’m aware of in Edinburgh that are either vegan restaurants or offer vegan options on their menus.
25c Thistle Street (corner of Hanover Street), EH2 1DX
Opening hours: 9:00am to 9:00pm (Mon to Sat), 10:00am to 9:00pm (Sun)
T: 0131 225 2605
Hendersons has 4 different locations which serve vegetarian and vegan food but since 90% of its customers were vegan for over 40 years since it first opened in 1968, in 2015 they made the decision to change their vegetarian bistro to a fully vegan restaurant. This is a great place to eat if you’re in the centre of town and looking for a fully vegan restaurant. Prices will be slightly higher due to the central location though.
Holy Cow Cafe
34 Elder Street, EH1 3DX
Opening Hours: 10:00-6:00pm daily
The cafe offers 100% vegan, organic and fair trade dishes made with seasonal produce. Expect lovely soups, main dishes and cakes as well as teas, coffees and smoothies! Double chocolate and peanut butter cake, anyone?
Pumpkin Brown Cafe
16 Grassmarket, EH1 2HS
Opening Hours: 10:00am to 6:00pm daily
Owner Amanda Brown had to change her diet as a result of being ill and she’s excited to share all the dishes she offers at Pumpkin Brown with fresh, organic ingredients with Edinburgh. Based in the busy area of Grassmarket, all dishes on offer are vegan and gluten-free. They can also cater to all types of intolerances, so if you’re not sure, just ask!
All vegan bakery (postal only)
There are vegan-friendly bakeries and shops in Edinburgh although I haven’t tried them yet to be able to determine what they’re like. If you fancy baking yourself and aren’t sure how to make vegan friendly tray bakes or cakes, the easiest way is to substitute non-vegan ingredients, such as swapping butter with soya or sunflower margarine and eggs with flaxseed and water mix. You can also purchase a vegan baking cookbook which I mention in my previous post here where you will find recipes for classics like red velvet cake.
There are also options for you to order a range of lovely looking brownie trays from Hannah Banana Bakery in Southampton, or for a wider range of vegan doughnuts, brownies, brownie mix, millionaire shortbread or flapjacks or a mixed box, A Kind Mama based in Manchester does a range of wonderful looking baked goodies which are posted 2 times a week.
Restaurants with vegan options
42 Howe St, EH3 6TH
Opening Hours: 12:30pm to 9:30pm Monday, and Wednesday to Sunday (closed Tuesday)
T: 0131 237 5695
Ever wanted a nice hot Italian pizza, but can’t find anywhere that provides vegan cheese? NovaPizza is the first vegetarian and vegan pizzeria in Edinburgh. They’ve already got lots of good reviews and are always posting photos of their new range of vegan pizzas. With the rise in the number of vegans living in (or visiting) Edinburgh, the chefs here are passionate about their food and are always experimenting to create tasty vegan dishes you might be missing. I’m tempted by their vegan carbonara pasta and Oreo cheesecake!
The Ninja Kitchen (Dog friendly)
24 Frederick Street, EH2 2JR
Opening Hours: 12:00pm to 9:00pm daily
T: 0131 322 3190
I can’t rave about The Ninja Kitchen enough and you can read my previous review post here. What started as a food van serving steamed buns with fillings, Head Chef Markus brings to Edinburgh pan-Asian style dishes influenced by his travels to Seoul in South Korea and San Francisco. I for one love how many options there are for vegans and if you’re gluten-free, this isn’t a problem either. All dishes are clearly marked and if you’re not sure if any dishes are suitable for any allergies or intolerances, the staff are more than happy to help.
When you think of burger chain restaurants, you’re not really sure what to expect, but I’ve also reviewed the Handmade Burger Co here and it’s definitely one place I plan to take friends who aren’t vegan. With over 40 burger choices on the menu, I’m happy to say that 4 of them are vegan – that’s 10% of the burger options! It might not seem like much, but when you ask some cafes what vegan options they’ve got and they can only offer soup and a slice of bread, 4 burgers from the menu is quite exciting in a non-vegan restaurant.
214 Dalry Road, EH11 2ES
Opening Hours: Open for lunch 12:00pm to 2:00pm (Tues to Fri), for dinner 5:00pm to 11:00pm (Tues to Sun)
T: 0131 261 9248
When scrutinising every ingredient on the menu seems like a requirement for vegans eating out, being Chinese it helps to know which ingredients are vegan friendly and which ones to avoid. The main thing to look out for is eggs used in fried rice and noodles and oyster sauce. Fish sauce is commonly used in Thai food, but if dishes are marked vegetarian, as long as you ask the restaurant to skip any eggs or oyster sauce (and the usual suspects of dairy used in toffee, fritters and ice cream), you’re mostly safe with Asian dishes. B&D Kitchen has been recommended to me a few times, but I’ve still not managed to visit this Cantonese restaurant that has been opened in the Haymarket area since 2012. I’m looking forward to going though for some home-style cooking!
Minato Sushi (Delivery only)
Opening Hours: 10:00am to 6:00pm daily
When you’re a big sushi fan and are used to sashimi sushi and egg, the one thing you really miss is the variety of options at sushi restaurants. Even Yo! Sushi offers only 10 vegan dishes on their menu which isn’t too bad, but considering only about 2 to 3 of them are sushi, your choices are a bit limited. When I heard about Minato Sushi, I couldn’t be more excited. Based in East Lothian, Jen hand makes each sushi herself and delivers to the Edinburgh, Midlothian and East Lothian regions for a delivery fee of between £2-3 (minimum order £25). All vegetarian sushi dishes can be made vegan on request. We’ve ordered a mixed vegan sushi platter and it’s so fresh, Jen is my new sushi go-to lady! Please give her as much notice as possible when placing an order, but leave a minimum of 2-hours between ordering (up until 6pm) and delivery.
The Auld Hoose (Dog friendly)
23-25 St Leonards Street, EH8 9QN
Opening Hours: 12:00pm (Mon to Sat) and 12:30pm (Sun) to 12:45am
T: 0131 668 2934
Going to a pub to meet friends for a drink is a common occurrence in Edinburgh and it can be quite restricting when you can’t order bar food before having drinks. The Auld Hoose (Scots for The Old House) was the first pub I noticed to offer a wide range of vegan options on their vegetarian menu. They also offer vegan friendly drinks like Scotland’s own Brew Dog too which is registered with The Vegan Society!
42 London Street, EH3 6LX
Opening Hours: 9:30 (Mon, Thurs to Sat) and 11:00 (Sun) to 5:00pm
T: 0131 558 1002
This vintage tea room and patisserie offers some of the most scrumptious looking cakes as well as organic teas and coffees. You can also book Marie Claire, the owner, for catering events and parties, bespoke cakes or book yourself in for some afternoon tea. With a bit of notice, you can get vegan afternoon tea as well for £21 per person!
Looking for a quick bite of Mexican food to eat on the go or during a short lunch break? With a choice of quesadillas, fajitas, burritos, nachos and more, you choose your own ingredients to suit your needs. Apart from the obvious ingredients (meat, sour cream, cheese) and the waffles, all food items are vegan friendly, including the churros!
BarBurrito is a chain Mexican restaurant like Taco Mazama but specialise in burritos. I recently attended one of their launch events (see here) where we were shown how to roll our own perfect burritos. You can choose between small or a large burrito and like Taco Mazama, as long as you avoid the usual suspects, veggie burritos are vegan friendly.
141-143 George Street, EH2 4JY
Opening Hours: 10:00am to 11:00pm (Mon to Thurs), to 1:00am (Fri and Sat) and 10:30pm (Sun)
T: 0131 226 2107
Las Iguanas used to be on Leith Walk but have now expanded and moved to a prime location on George Street. With a Latin American vibe, a separate vegetarian/vegan menu is offered with a variety of choice. Vegan friendly dishes are clearly marked on the vegetarian/vegan menu with a ‘V’ and can be changed to vegan on request and will be marked with a ‘Ask for V’.
Known for its healthy options of wraps, salads and other lunch options as well as juices, you can see all of their vegan options on their site by clicking here and choosing the ‘vegan’ filter on the menu.
The Caffeine Drip
10 Melville Place, EH3 7PR
Opening Hours: 7:30am to 4:00pm (Mon to Fri), 8:00am to 5:00pm (Sat and Sun)
T: 0131 538 9579
This South African cafe and bakery opened in 2014 and offers an unusual menu with a South African twist. The secret to the success of this café lies in the fact that the owners have managed to capture that elusive balance of offering healthy delicacies while simultaneously appealing to the indulgent pleasure seeker. With vegan French toast on the menu as well as a separate vegan burgers menu in addition to other vegan options on their regular menu, this is definitely one cafe I’m looking forward to visiting!
If you’re looking for more restaurant options, there are a list of restaurants that are participating in Veganuary and have offers on until the 31st. To see the offers available and list of participating restaurants, go to Veganuary’s website here.
Are there any other restaurants in Edinburgh that are vegan friendly you would recommend? What’s your favourite dish?