The Royal Dick
Immy Smith 04/06/23
From craft beers and ciders on tap to enormous beer gardens and robust roasts, the criteria for the perfectly-formed pub are extensive.
Always up for a challenge, we imposed one more for this list: they must also be in Edinburgh.
So when you’re next up there and jonesing for a pint, make your way to any one of these Edinburgh drinking holes, where we reckon even pub connoisseur George Orwell would enjoy a pint…
The Sheep Heid Inn | Duddingston
Dating back to 1360, The Sheep Heid Inn is one of Edinburgh’s oldest pubs, so it’s something of a historic baa. Located in Duddingston village at the foot of Arthur’s Seat, it is every inch the historic bolthole you could wish to stumble upon in this bonnie city, perfectly primed for a post-hike roast. It has charm, character and, naturally, a vintage skittles alley.
Details: 43-45 The Causeway, Edinburgh, EH15 3QA | Book here
Teutchers Landing | Leith
Teutcher: an uncouth, country bumpkin – in short, a Highlander. It might not sound like the most obvious name for a pub, but when John Tindal and Peter Knight first announced they were opening a bar, Knight’s brother responded “but you’re just a couple of teuchters!” As they both hail from the north, the name stuck. Located on Leith Shore in an old ferry waiting room, Teuchters Landing is a riverside pub with an extensive terrace fronting the water. On the taps you’ll find Scottish-focussed cask & keg beer, with an extensive whisky collection of 100+ bottles behind. It’s also a good spot for decent Scottish scran, with classics like cullen skink and haggis on the menu (much of which is famously served in mugs). If you’ve never had a cup of beans, this may be your moment.
Details: 1c Dock Place, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6LU | No bookings
St. Vincent Bar | Stockbridge
Located on St. Vincent Street, this is really a bar disguised as a pub. The cocktails are the star of the show here, but it’s certainly not lacking in craft beers, cask ales and ciders on tap. The townhouse basement setting spills onto a floral terrace, and even features a takeaway hatch if you fancy a bottled cocktail or boozy coke float to go. The Vinnie also has its own dog wall: the team holds photoshoots for pub pups every last Sunday of the month.
Details: 11 St Vincent Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6SW | Book here
Brass Monkey | Southside
Brass Monkey’s always been popular with students, probably because its interiors seem to have been inspired by a student bedroom. The front room is all traditional Edinburgh pub, with wood panelling and local beers on tap, but tucked away at the back is a poster-plastered den with mattresses and pillows spread across the floor. It’s less seedy than that immediately sounds – this is where you can catch their daily film screenings in marginally increased comfort than your own student pad.
Details: 14 Drummond Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9TU | No bookings
The Royal Dick | Summerhall
Aside from an exceptional name, The Royal Dick boasts one of the most valuable assets of all Edinburgh pubs: a huge, secluded beer garden. That seclusion comes courtesy of the pub’s unusual location within music venue Summerhall, as in fact does the name – in a past life Summerhall was the Royal (Dick) Veterinary School. That connection gives rise to some eclectic decor, from the outside orangutan to the wall of animal bones and cabinets of medical equipment inside. And in every other respect it’s your ideal pub: plenty of spaces for groups, decent grub, plentiful drinks (with Pickering’s Gin and and Barney’s Beer produced on-site), and a Monday pub quiz with BSL interpretation once a month.
Details: 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh, EH9 1PL | Book here (courtyard tables first come, first served)
Ryrie’s | Haymarket
Without a rolling Scots R, asking around for Ryrie’s might sound like you’ve had one too many already. But persevere, for this old-school pub sits within a beautifully restored historic tavern with stained glass windows and original wood features. The cask & keg tap menu’s updated regularly so you can check ahead – English and Scottish brews feature, as does Tennent’s – while upstairs has been redesigned as a sleek cocktail bar.
Details: Haymarket, Edinburgh, EH12 5EY
The Abbotsford | New Town
If you wanted to set a film in an Edinburgh pub, this is where you’d shoot it. The restored Edwardian interior is all kinds of extra, from the flamboyant moulded ceiling to the gleaming Spanish mahogany bar, where each bottle is stored in its own carved nook. Oxblood leather stools huddled around the bar and more spacious benches hugging the wall mean its equally suited to big groups as a solo dram before catching a train back to London. Aside from draught beers there’s also a knockout whisky selection to peruse – make your choice from the slate menu chalked up above the bar.
Details: 3-5 Rose Street, Edinburgh EH2 2PR
The Jolly Judge | Old Town
Within a hop and a skip from the Royal Mile, The Jolly Judge is the definition of cosy, with log fires, low beamed ceilings and a floor that looks like a giant kilt. Beers on draught change regularly and showcase Scottish brewers, from Loch Lomond’s Silkie oatmeal stout and Campervan’s Leith pilsner. There’s also cider on tap, a vast whisky collection, and hot toddies to sip by the fire at the end of an Edinburgh summer’s day.
Details: 7 James Court, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh, EH1 2PB
The Cumberland Bar | New Town
This traditional pub is snuck in Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town. It offers eight of the finest real ales on tap alongside wines, spirits and delicious food in warming wood panelled surroundings. Don’t miss out on the Stornoway black pudding Scotch egg, with burnt onion mayo or the generous but crispy batter on the fish and chips. Outside you’ll find a secluded beer garden ideal for a balmy summer evening.
Details: 1-3 Cumberland Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6RT | Book here
St. Bernard’s Bar | Stockbridge
Tucked away on Bernard Street in Stockbridge, this traditionally-styled Scottish pub has a charming, old-world atmosphere. It has a bar brimming with beers on tap, as well as whiskies, and other spirits. Just a stone’s throw from Stockbridge market which runs every Sunday from 10am-4pm, here you can pick up a Scotch egg from Scotch & Co, before hopping over to St Bernard’s for one of its signature cocktails.
Details: 10 Raeburn Place, Edinburgh EH4 1HN | No bookings
The Dog House | Newington
Plenty of locals end up in The Dog House – and are all the happier for it. This luminescent dive bar takes your traditional pub furnishings – cosy pews, beaten wooden tables and the like – and upgrades it them to cosmically eccentric levels thanks to hand-painted alien murals, clusters of fringed vintage lampshades hanging from the ceiling, and rude toilet graffiti. A varied programme of events from DJs and quiz nights to drag tarot readings keeps the place buzzy, while drinks range from local beers on tap to cocktails like the ‘Untreated Clap’. Plus, there’s vegan Mexican food whipped up by Antojitos food truck, serving up tacos, quesadillas and taquitos.
Details: 18-24 Clerk Street, Edinburgh EH8 9HX | No bookings
The Dadga | Newington
This blue-fronted pub draws a local crowd for its weekly pub quizzes and live music nights. The vibe is friendly – don’t be surprised if you strike up a conversation with a total stranger – and the perfect place to while away an evening. Choose from a broad array of beers and cask ales on tap or nestle in for a wee dram with the locals.
Details: 93-95 Buccleuch St, Edinburgh EH8 9NG
The Raeburn | Stockbridge
Situated on Raeburn Place, The Raeburn is a stylish gastropub and boutique hotel with a certain je ne sais quoi. Originally built in 1832, this elegant Georgian family home has since been divvied into ten bedrooms, a bar, a spacious dining room, a library and outdoor terraces. You’ll find a considered selection of beers, wines, and cocktails, while on the food front, expect gourmet burgers, moreish nibbles and perfectly composed salads.
Details: 112, Raeburn Place, Edinburgh, EH4 1HG | Book here
The Guildford Arms | New Town
And the prize for Edinburgh’s most lavishly decorated pub goes to… The Guildford Arms. Ostentatious barely covers it; there’s a gilded ceiling that could’ve been ripped right out of Hampton Court, rich velvet drapes, and a grand old cornice running along the mezzanine. Even the beer taps (sorry, fonts) have blue porcelain handles. It was all built at the turn of the century, when pub-owners had to go big on decor to combat the temperance movement. Nowadays beer remains a big focus, with a rotating selection on the taps, and in summer the place becomes a live music hub with Caledonian folk and Dixieland jazz played throughout the Fringe.
Details: 1 West Register Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2AA
Sandy Bell’s | Forrest Road
At some point during your time in Edinburgh, you’re going to want to go to an old pub, drink some whisky, and listen to a group of bearded men play folk music in a corner. Sandy Bell’s is the place: one of the city’s most famous pubs, occupying some primo real estate opposite Bedlam Theatre, just north of the Meadows, in a bright blue corner plot. Time-worn interiors, malt whiskies, cask ales and a daily live music programme: they’ve had the formula down pat for over 60 years.
Details: 25 Forrest Road, Edinburgh, EH1 2QH | No bookings
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