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15 Quirky & Unique Places To Eat & Drink In Edinburgh

In the years we’ve now lived in Edinburgh, I’ve cultivated a solid list of favourite pubs, bars and eateries. While Glasgow certainly ticks all the nightlife boxes and gets most of the attention on that front, it’s for that reason that I’d like to share some of Edinburgh’s quirky, unusual and unique spots – especially because a lot of people seem to think that Edinburgh is too “prim and proper” to let its hair down as much as Glasgow!

This is a collaboration with They provided me with some spending money to discover more places, but all editorial content, ideas and opinions are my own. If you’re looking for hotels in Edinburgh’s city centre for your Scotland adventure, look no further.

When I was approached to take part in a collaboration focusing on hidden gems in Edinburgh, I jumped at the chance to revisit some of my favourite quirky places, as well as discovering some new ones!

The thing is, there are so many great hidden places in Edinburgh that it’s hard to pack it all into one single post – so I’ve decided to narrow it down to bars, pubs and restaurants around the city, but I’ve added a few other unique places you should also see nearby each one.

Here are 15 of the best ones, plus hidden gems nearby each place!

Paradise Palms, Edinburgh, Scotland

1. Paradise Palms

One of my favourite discoveries has been the colourful and wacky Paradise Palms, just off Bristo Square, making it a prime student haunt and a great place to go during Fringe. You certainly don’t have to be a student or a Fringe-goer to enjoy it though – it’s one of the quirkiest places in Edinburgh, and does fantastic cocktails and also top-notch vegetarian food.

Paradise Palms, Edinburgh, Scotland

It’s got a great atmosphere at the weekends and I love all the decorations everywhere.

One of my favourite concoctions is the wonderfully named Hurricane Bawbag, complete with half a passionfruit shell (shell? Is that the right word?) with a shot of rum set on fire.

Well – you know, we’re definitely off to a quirky start with this list!

Address: Lothian Street, Edinburgh | Website here

Things to do nearby: Paradise Palms is only a five minute walk from Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, which is one of my favourite (possibly quirky?) places to visit in Edinburgh. You can find Harry Potter references abound, including a literal Hogwarts school just outside the cemetery. One fun night-time activity is a haunted tour of the graveyard (I recommend one that also goes to the Southbridge Vaults), and what better place to recover than a cocktail bar?

Read more: My Highlights Of Edinburgh
banshee labyrinth, skeletons, most haunted pub in scotland, edinburgh

2. Banshee Labyrinth

My absolute favourite pub in Edinburgh – perfect if you’re a rock fan, and definitely somewhere unique and different if you’re not. When I first visited this place, I couldn’t tell if it was gimmicky or brilliant, but I’ve very much come to terms with the fact it’s the latter!

It’s pretty much a spooky themed pub set deep in the vaults of Southbridge. In fact, it takes a little while to explore the whole place, because there are so many nooks and crannies, including three downstairs bars, a pool room (that’s a pool table, not a swimming pool – I know I said quirky, but come on now!) and even a cinema room, so you can go and chill out with a drink to watch a movie! They have regular nights of stand-up comedy, karaoke, bands and much more.

Not all their patrons are skeletons, I promise – although they do claim (along with many other pubs) to be the most haunted pub in Scotland, so you never know what you might see!

Address: Niddry Street, Edinburgh | Website here

Things to do nearby: Banshee’s is right off the Royal Mile, which makes it a perfect end to whatever day you’ve just had. It’s also right next to the entrance to some of the Southbridge vaults (in fact it IS a Southbridge vault itself), so if you’re doing one of the haunted tours, you can pop straight in here afterwards to continue your spooky theme!

Panda & Sons, Edinburgh, Scotland
Yep – we’re only 3 bars in, and we’ve already got one where you have to enter through a bookcase!

3. Panda & Sons

You can’t really write a post about quirky places to drink in Edinburgh without mentioning Panda & Sons. Firstly, it’s disguised as a barbers. Secondly, you have to go downstairs and enter through a bookcase. Thirdly… wait, there’s a thirdly?! Damn right, there is, and we’re only just getting started.

Panda & Sons, Edinburgh, Scotland

Panda & Sons draws influences from bars all over the world – every cocktail is based on a unique ingredient from another cocktail bar. They work their magic on it, et voila – a cocktail menu where you have no idea what you’re really looking at, but it’s probably going to be delicious.

I’m not sure if they still serve them in ridiculous ways, as all the cocktails I saw this time were in normal glasses. My first visit? My cocktail was served in a Chinese takeaway box. My friend’s was served in a teacup and handed to her on a book. Ash’s was in a glass… boring, right? Yeah, until he had a shot poured into his that slowly turned the entire drink black.

With an ever-changing menu though, it’s hard to tell what concoctions are going to be on offer – but one thing’s for sure; it’ll be unique!

And did I mention that you get free popcorn? And that there’s a phone booth to take fun photos in?

(Also worthy of a mention: Panda & Sons have even created their own gin – incorporating the botanical pandan, of course – which they donate a percentage of profits from to the panda programme at Edinburgh Zoo!)

Address: Queen Street, Edinburgh | Website here

Things to do nearby: Panda & Sons is just a ten minute walk from Stockbridge, a beautiful neighbourhood on the Water Of Leith. If you want some pretty photos, head to Circus Lane. Stockbridge is best experienced on a Sunday when the markets are there!

Explore the Water Of Leith a bit more: How To Spend The Perfect Sunday In Edinburgh
The Boozy Cow, Edinburgh, Scotland

4. The Boozy Cow

We happened across The Boozy Cow with some friends a few years ago, but I decided to rediscover it for this collab. From starting off this list with a vegetarian place, I now give you the extremely anti-vegan Boozy Cow, which is essentially set up to look like an abattoir.

While it’s not for the faint-hearted, it is a really cool bar set right off Princes Street (there’s also an entrance on Rose Street) so it’s about as central as you can get in the New Town of Edinburgh.

The Boozy Cow, Edinburgh, Scotland

They also serve great-looking burgers, and even serve boozy milkshakes. I love their drinks menu – with names like Moo Tai and Mooberry Bluffin!

Address: Frederick Street, Edinburgh | Website here

Things to do nearby: Princes Street Gardens is one of the best places to relax right in the heart of Edinburgh and to get away from the hustle and bustle of Princes Street itself. With stellar views of the castle, it’s easy to just sit somewhere and take it all in.

The Dog House, Edinburgh, Scotland

5. The Dog House

Continuing with our animal-themed pubs, The Dog House is a lot less controversial and, dare I say it, a whole lot more quirky. The Dog House is one of my favourite pubs in Edinburgh, and it used to be quite close to my work so pre-pandemic we often popped in on a Friday.

The Dog House is one of those brilliant dive bars that is full of stuff. A pile of vintage lampshades on the ceiling? It’s got it. A table shaped like Pickle Rick? Tick. Creepy dolls in cages? It sure does. They also serve butter beer, which is good for a few sips! I couldn’t manage a whole one, though.

It wasn’t until last month that I realised they serve food, so I had to try it! It’s actually delicious, and really good value.

Best of all? Not only is there, rather fittingly, almost always at least one dog in there to make friends with, but one of the regular patrons… is a ferret!! (No, I’m not joking.)

Address: Clerk Street, Edinburgh | Instagram here

Things to do nearby: Looking for something different to do in Edinburgh? The Surgeon’s Hall Museum will offer exactly that! If you fancy looking at some brains, or legs with bullet wounds, this is the place to be.

Makar's Gourmet Mash Bar, Edinburgh, Scotland

6. Makar’s Gourmet Mash Bar

No, it’s not a whisky bar. It’s literally a gourmet MASHED POTATO RESTAURANT! We’ve been here a bunch of times when people are visiting, and we love it. Because who doesn’t love mash?

You choose a delicious meal from their menu (I highly recommend the honey glazed gammon, although the sausage with cranberry gravy is fantastic too), and then add your choice of mash to it – want cheese & chive mash? Go for it. How about one with black pudding? That’s a favourite! Or even add a bit of spice with the chilli mash. The choice is yours, but you can’t really go wrong.

Address: Bank Street (The Mound), Edinburgh | Website here

Things to do nearby: Given that it’s only a few minutes’ walk from Edinburgh Castle, this is a great place to go afterwards. However, there are also plenty of underrated attractions nearby, including the Writer’s Museum and the Bank of Scotland Museum.

Check this post out for pretty photos of Dean Village & more: 50 Photos To Make You Want To Visit Edinburgh
Wings, Edinburgh, Scotland

7. Wings

Another food place just off the Royal Mile, hidden down one of its closes, Wings offers exactly what you’d expect: chicken wings!

While this might not be quirky in itself, it’s full to the brim of fun pop culture references, including a Jurassic Park table, Star Trek quotes, and a wall full of nerdy characters to find. It’s also fantastic for some cheap eats in the city centre, as each set of 3 wings will cost you £4.50 – I recommend ordering two lots, and definitely not three as we found out the hard way, unless you’re really hungry!

Wings, Edinburgh, Scotland

Their menu is really extensive too, with tons of options from fresh, barbecue, hot & spicy, and happily it’s also full of puns. We tried the Oh Canada (BBQ maple syrup, obviously), the Jamaican Me Crazy (jerk chicken), the Skywalker (ranch)…

Address: Old Fishmarket Close (just off the Royal Mile), Edinburgh | Facebook here

Things to do nearby: Again, this is right off the Royal Mile, and Wings is minutes away from St Giles Cathedral. Which for months I enjoyed taking photos of from the outside, before remembering that, you know, it’s possible to go inside for free too. Look out for the angel with bagpipes!

Hoot The Redeemer, Edinburgh, Scotland

8. Hoot The Redeemer

Hoot The Redeemer is another brainchild of the owners of Panda & Sons – but I have a secret: I actually prefer Hoot’s! While the entrance isn’t quite as quirky as Panda’s, it is incredibly easy to miss. Case in point: I couldn’t tell you how often I’ve walked past it and I didn’t even know it was there.

It’s right off Princes Street, tucked between a couple of high street shops – but this is about as far from “high street” as you can get! Once you’ve found it, venture downstairs and you’ll be welcomed by… well, you’ll see. She’ll tell you that you need to have a dance-off with Gandalf the Grey.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen (at least not this time), but I much preferred the chilled out atmosphere here to Panda & Sons.

Hoot The Redeemer, Edinburgh, Scotland

All the cocktails here are based on tarot cards, which makes for a fun theme (and not many child-friendly photos I could take of the menu…!!).

The bar is also full of its own quirks – like Panda’s, you still get free popcorn, but you can ALSO treat yourself to a boozy ice cream from a vending machine, or choose flavours for your own cocktail from one of those claw-grabby arcade machines! It’s as ridiculous and awesome as it sounds.

Address: Hanover Street, Edinburgh | Website here

Things to do nearby: The imposing gothic structure of Scott Monument towers over Princes Street just around the corner. But did you know you can climb it for stellar views over the city? It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for years, and I still haven’t done it!

Frankenstein's, Edinburgh, Scotland

9. Frankenstein’s

I apologise, because Frankenstein’s is by far the most touristy venue on this list. Next to Greyfriar’s Bobby, Frankenstein’s is hard to miss because… well, there’s a massive lumbering Frankenstein standing in the doorway. Is it gimmicky? YES. Is it also kinda cool? I’m gonna go with… yes!

As a local, I would not go here on a regular basis, but it’s been a fun visit whenever we have been with friends visiting. It’s done up really well, and even has a bier keller. In the main bar, they project Frankenstein movies onto the screen and there’s a whole bunch to look at around the venue.

Frankenstein's, Edinburgh, Scotland

In fact, there’s even a Frankenstein inside that comes to life every now and then! So look out for that.

Address: George IV Bridge, Edinburgh | Website here

Things to do nearby: The National Museum Of Scotland is practically right opposite Frankenstein’s, and it’s well worth a visit. To the other side, Victoria Street is a couple of minutes walk away; a colourful inspiration for Diagon Alley, and by far my favourite street in Edinburgh.

Picture credit: Pop Up Geeks

10. The Cocktail Geeks

The only place on this list that I haven’t made it to yet, but it’s worthy of a mention! Now a permanent fixture along from Waverley train station, The Cocktail Geeks started off as Pop Up Geeks, and now changes its theme every few months. Check their website for the latest theme!

They’ve leapt into Middle Earth for some Tolkein-inspired drinks, had the blood of Westeros on their hands with a Game Of Thrones theme, jumped through portals with a Rick & Morty theme, entered the upside down with Stranger Things, and there are whispers of a Harry Potter theme too…

Address: The Arches, East Market Street, Edinburgh | Website here

Things to do nearby: In keeping with a geeky theme, why not do a Harry Potter walking tour? I also always enjoy a visit to Museum Of Context (especially the one on Victoria Street with a fun photo opportunity on the top floor!). If you want to get a Star Wars reference in, did you know a pizzeria in Grassmarket is owned by Angus MacInnes, aka the Gold Leader in Star Wars? And if you’re a Marvel fan, the scene in Infinity War with Vision and Scarlet Witch was filmed right on the Royal Mile and Cockburn Street, as well as in Waverley station itself!

Photo credit: The Mousetrap Facebook page

11. The Mousetrap

The Mousetrap is a little further out of the centre of town, along Leith Walk. It was one of our local pubs for a couple of years though, so we’ve been there a lot!

So what makes this quirky? The decor! Mousetrap, as the name may give away, is themed around games. Operation on the ceiling, mouse traps everywhere, arcade machines at the back, and of course a whole shelf of board games. There’s even a SNES in the corner, so if you fancy playing video games with a pint, grab a corner seat if you can!

Oh, and it’s called The Mousetrap, so they serve up a mean grilled cheese. Ah-mazing!

Address: Leith Walk, Edinburgh | Facebook here

Things to do nearby: The closest tourist attraction is the HMS Royal Britannia, but honestly Leith is just a lovely neighbourhood to explore, especially around the Shore. If you haven’t stuffed yourself with a grilled cheese, there are plenty of great fish and seafood restaurants along the Shore to try!

Find out more about Leith: A Local’s Guide To Leith, Edinburgh’s Coolest Neighbourhood

12. Dirty Dick’s

Dirty Dick’s sits along Rose Street amongst plain bars and pubs, looking from the outside much like a plain pub itself. And indeed it probably is as close as you’ll get to a plain pub on this list.

Except it’s got stuff everywhere. The ceiling is covered, there are walls of travel tickets and banners and tin signs – yep, it’s one of those pubs! Full of character and full of stuff.

Just the type of place I love. It oozes atmosphere with candlelit tables, and the staff are really friendly too!

Address: Rose Street, Edinburgh | Facebook here

Things to do nearby: The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is one of the most beautifully decorated buildings in Edinburgh, and it’s taken me years to discover that! And it happens to be just around the corner.

El Cartel, Edinburgh, Scotland

13. El Cartel

I’m not sure if El Cartel counts as particularly quirky, but it caught my eye and has some unusual bits and pieces on the menu if you fancy something Mexican with a twist.

There’s an intimate location on Thistle Street, and I’d never ventured down many of the side streets in the New Town, so this excursion was a great excuse to go and explore.

Anyway, my tacos had sweet potato, broccoli, almond sauce and sheep’s cheese. You can also try pork and orange if that’s more your thing, or mushroom with pecan salsa and cashew creme. The pork ribs have a kick to them, but the antidote is a delicious Mexican slaw on the side. Delicioso!

Since my last visit, we’ve been to the much larger location just off the Royal Mile, which is excellent – we LOVED the atmosphere and the decor!

I haven’t yet been to the Teviot Place location, but I’m sure it’s just as good.

Address: Roxburgh Court / Thistle Street / Teviot Place, Edinburgh | Website here

Things to do nearby: The Writer’s Museum is just along from here, which is well worth checking out. It’s practically on the Mile, so there are lots of wee closes and courts to check out that are varying degrees of photogenic and interesting. I love having a wander and discovering new things – even now!

Photo credit: Groupon

14. Pilgrim

While I tend to consider Pilgrim to be a setting for a more “typical” night out on the town, there’s no denying that it’s one of the more quirky bars in Edinburgh. And considering the entire bar is made out of hundreds of suitcases, it makes absolute sense to feature it on a travel blog!

There are also sofas made out of jeans, a row of seats that are old cinema seats, and they offer tiki-style cocktails. In fact, the place is 90% recycled, apparently!

It’s instantly recognisable from the iconic “Not all those who wander are lost” neon side which you can see from Cowgate.

This is definitely a funky place to come on a night – and they also have legendary pub quizzes, often with a theme.

Address: Robertson’s Close (just off Cowgate), Edinburgh | Website here

Things to do nearby: A couple of minutes up the road is a music museum set in an old concert hall and part of the University Of Edinburgh. It’s actually pretty much right opposite Banshee’s (#2 on this list!).

Mary's Milk Bar, Edinburgh, Scotland

15. Mary’s Milk Bar

While not strictly a restaurant, I can’t talk about quirky places to eat and not mention Mary’s Milk Bar. Mary’s Milk Bar is an institution, and as well as serving absolutely delicious ice cream, they are also famous for creating incredibly unusual flavours.

Case in point? The first time I went there, I had goats cheese and pickled cherry.

Yep. And it was f*cking amazing.

I’ve also seen oregano & olive oil, gorgonzola & pear, and… roasted garlic.

Address: Grassmarket, Edinburgh | Website here

Things to do nearby: Mary’s Milk Bar sits right on Grassmarket, one of my favourite areas of central Edinburgh! Right next to it is The Vennel, a staircase which I recommend climbing up for a fantastic photo opportunity of Edinburgh castle.

There you have it! 15 of my favourite unique discoveries around Edinburgh – here’s a handy map with all of these places on, too.

Crazy pub crawl, anyone?

Check out more posts on Edinburgh below:
Edinburgh’s 10 Best Walks & Where To Find Them
50 Photos To Make You Want To Visit Edinburgh
My Highlights Of Edinburgh

How To Spend The Perfect Sunday In Edinburgh

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15 Quirky & Unique Places To Eat & Drink In Edinburgh, Scotland

41 thoughts on “15 Quirky & Unique Places To Eat & Drink In Edinburgh

  1. Totally saving for when I finally get around to heading back to Edinburgh since I love everything weird and quirky. I think my favourite is Banshee Labyrinth.

    Is it wrong of me to want to also want to go to the Boozy Cow even though I’m a vegetarian? I’m pretty sure that’s terrible of me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oooh I’ll have to bookmark this, I love Edinburgh and I’m always looking for new places to visit. Tigerlily is one of my favourites but I’ve been to Panda & Sons and Marys Milk Bar! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Next time you need help researching bars I’m there, you seem to have found the best spots in the city. While I didn’t think it could get better than the first one since passionfruit is my favorite, I was wrong. The speakeasy style bar and Mousetrap sound so much fun. But the mashed potato bar! Mashed potato is probably my favorite food ever! I could just eat it all day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So many incredible looking places. I’ve yet to visit any of these but will tick a few off on my next visit to Edinburgh. I struggle to believe people consider it too prim and proper though, there’s an endless number of places to visit for a night out in the city haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahah I know, there are so many cool places! I think a lot of people like to go clubbing in Glasgow so that’s probably why, plus Glasgow has tons more in the way of gigs. Like if a band does a UK tour, the only Scottish date is usually Glasgow. So I get why it has that reputation.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Can’t believe I was in Edinburgh for a year and have only ticked a few of these off the list? A return visit is on the cards methinks!


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