Thistle Street Bar Recommends

We’re passionate about Edinburgh and we just love sharing our passion with others. So, here are some suggestions for things to do and places to stay, eat, drink and visit while in Scotland’s capital city based purely on our own experiences. We also run our own historical walking tours and can arrange a personal guide to show you around if you would prefer to get some insider knowledge from a born & bred local. 

Scroll down the page for a snapshot of our personal recommendations and click on the pics of the venues to be redirected to their websites. We hope you find it useful.


Robert Shepherd


Where to Stay

There are no shortages of places to stay in Edinburgh with a wide variety of accommodation styles available from floating hotels to self-catering apartments.  

Ocean Mist, The Shore, Leith

A beautifully renovated, seventeen-bedroom luxury floating hotel and bar, Ocean Mist has all the elegance of the 1920s with 21st century comforts and a short tram ride away from the city centre.

Destination Edinburgh, York Place

This Edinburgh-based company offers self-catering accommodation within Georgian apartments in York Place, right in the heart of the New Town and within walking distance of all local amenities

APEX Hotel, Waterloo Place

Modern, comfortable rooms with a bar, restaurant and spa set within a stunning Georgian building and just a few minutes walk to Calton Hill on one side and Princes Street on the other. Lovely, helpful staff too.

Where to Eat

If you take your food recommendations from social media bloggers, who don’t actually live here, you may be led to believe that all we eat in Scotland is deep-fried Mars Bars (designed for tourists…I’ve never had one yet!). Au contraire! We have a host of excellent eateries in Scotland so you’ll never go hungry no matter if you’re a devoted carnivore, vegan or somewhere in between. Here are just a handful of Edinburgh restaurants and diners we recommend based on our own personal experiences. Bon appetit. 

Chez Jules, Hanover Street

The Auld Alliance is alive and well! Chez Jules has become somewhat of an Edinburgh institution and a popular bistro for locals due to its bustling atmosphere and reasonably priced French food.

Fishers In The City, Thistle Street

Fishers in the City is set in an old converted warehouse on Thistle Street and is perfect for a casual lunch or evening out. A firm favourite with locals and visitors to the city for over 10 years.

Côte Edinburgh, Frederick Street

Yes, it's only one link in a chain but don't let that put you off, as we've always found Côte to deliver exceptional food without breaking the bank. The slow cooked beef bourguignon always hits the spot!

Dusit, Thistle Street

Quite simply one of the finest Thai restaurants in Edinburgh, if not Scotland. Since it opened in 2002, Dusit has consistently received great reviews from locals and visitors alike. The only downside is that it's just a few doors along from the Thistle Street Bar so we tend to eat there more often than we should!

Tuk Tuk, Drummond Street

What we Scots love more than spicy food is reasonably priced spicy food. If you feel the same, head to Tuk Tuk in Drummond Street. This casual diner is run by lovely people who have nailed the street food concept (try the Railway Station lamb curry). BYOB.

PIGGS, Canongate

PIGGS wine and tapas bar is a more recent discovery of ours but it's now firmly in our top 10 recommendations. If you love the laid back, Spanish way of life with tasty tapas, fine wines, sherries and vermuts you need to visit.

Paradise Palms, Lothian Street (V, VG)

Tropically-themed bar diner serving cocktails and award-winning vegetarian and vegan 'soul food'. Located near Edinburgh University, incredibly popular and worth a visit.

Sora Lella, Brougham Street (VG)

The first 100% Roman vegan restaurant in Edinburgh. Launched by an Italian family who, since becoming vegan, have recreated the authentic flavours of Roman dishes...without meat or dairy.

David Bann, St Mary's Street (V, VG)

Considered by some to be one of the finest vegetarian restaurants in Edinburgh, David Bann offers an innovative menu in a relaxed atmosphere. There's also a set menu for lunchtime dining.

Where to Drink

Naturally we would like you to visit one of the best traditional pubs in Edinburgh…ours! But, it’s good to know what else our fine city has to offer. Here are some of our recommendations from cask ales to cocktails. Some bars also serve food.

Gleneagles Townhouse,
St Andrew Square

The Gleneagles name is synonymous with luxury and now you no longer have to travel to Auchterarder to sample it. The new Gleneagles Townhouse in St Andrew Square is the perfect place for a chilled glass of wine or champagne while you marvel at the architecture and interior design which the New Town is famous for.

The Guildford Arms, West Register Street

This beautiful Victorian pub has been owned by the Stewart family since 1896 and is famous for its wide range of cask & keg beers from across the UK.

Sandy Bell's, Forrest Road

Sandy's...or Bell's, depending on your preference for shortened names, is a local pub and a world-famous meeting place for Scottish & Irish musicians.

Badger & Co, Castle Street

Wind in the Willows inspired cocktail bar & restaurant. Excellent cocktails (try the Fantastic Mr Fox) expertly prepared by friendly, knowledgeable and efficient bartenders.

Panda & Sons, Queen Street

Don't be fooled by the barber's pole and offer of a haircut for 25c! Pass through the bookcase below and enter one of the best speakeasy cocktail bars in town.

The Ensign Ewart, Lawnmarket

It may be just stone's throw from Edinburgh Castle, Scotland's top attraction but the Ensign Ewart is a real pub with good beer and a great selection of whiskies

Bellfield Brewery, Stanley Place (GF, VG)

Winner of 'Taproom of the Year' at the Scottish Beer Awards, Bellfield Brewery creates exceptional, flavoursome beer with the added benefit of being gluten free and vegan which is why we have a dedicated Bellfield tap at the Thistle Street Bar.

The Bow Bar, Victoria Street

Located in one of the busiest streets in the Old Town, the Bow Bar is the eye of the storm; a haven of calm, good beer and whiskies. Just don't expect a pie with your pint after 2pm as they get snapped up early.

Moonwake Beer Co, Leith

We discovered Moonwake Brewery recently when we grabbed a beer before The Proclaimers gig in Leith. Well worth a visit if you're in the area or before lunch at the original Fisher's on the corner of the Shore.

What to Do

Edinburgh Castle

From its vantage point atop an extinct volcanic rock, Edinburgh Castle is the most besieged fortress in Britain. It also houses the oldest building in Edinburgh, St Margaret's chapel which dates from 1130. The castle was also the site of the infamous medieval 'Black Dinner' which partly inspired George RR Martin's 'Red Wedding' sequence in Game of Thrones.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Built centuries ago, the Palace of Holyroodhouse was the main residence of Scotland's royal family, the Stewarts (which later became the Stuarts), including Mary Queen of Scots and Prince Charles Edward Stuart during the Jacobite rebellion of 1745.

Riddle's Court, Lawnmarket

Riddle’s Court is a picturesque Category A-listed merchant’s tenement with a 500 year history, located just off the Lawnmarket section of the Royal Mile. James VI & I held a royal banquet here in the late 16th century. You can also stay here or hire it as a wedding venue.

National Museum of Scotland

This is a must-see attraction when visiting Edinburgh. If you are interested in Scottish history, but short on time, head straight to the adjoining New Museum of Scotland (shown above) which tells Scotland's history from the bronze age to the industrial revolution. It's free to enter but leave a small donation if you can.

Greyfriars Bobby

The story of Greyfriars Bobby is well known. In fact Disney has now made two versions of it and the statue is near the National Museum of Scotland. But, if you do decide to visit it please don't rub his nose; it's not a thing and frowned upon by locals.

Edinburgh Walking Tours

The Thistle Street Bar has its own walking tour company so that visitors can learn more about Edinburgh's history. Choose from the true story of Burke & Hare: The West Port Murders or The Royal Mile: From History to Screen. Click on the image above to find out more.

Calton Hill

A short walk east of Princes Street Calton Hill gives a spectacular 360 view of Edinburgh, the Pentland Hills and over the river Forth to Fife. Calton Hill is also the site of the National Monument, City Observatory and has steps to help you get to the top.

Arthur's Seat

A morning hike to the summit of Arthur's Seat, an extinct volcano within Holyrood Park, will waken you up for the day ahead. Take a warm jacket and decent outdoor footwear as it's always cold and windy at the top. Click the picture for a guide to the best way of getting there.

Museum of Edinburgh

The Museum of Edinburgh dates back to the 16th century when the Flodden Wall still surrounded the city and the Canongate was a separate burgh. Here you will see iconic items, beautiful objects and learn fascinating facts and gruesome tales. The museum is well worth a visit and free to enter but leave a small donation if you can.