Cowan & Sons
Rupert Hohwieler 06/06/23
The Best Edinburgh Cafés & Bakeries | Get a Loaf of These
They say artisanal bread, doughnuts and cakes are the key to longevity, good health and happiness.
By ‘they’ we mean ‘us’ – but we’re more than ready to back up this claim.
These superlative cafés & bakeries in Edinburgh have been forged with a mixture of world-class cinnamon buns, gourmet doughnuts with extravagant fillings and delicate cakes – fit for both weddings and solo consumption – and coffee that is always good, thanks to both the beans and the friendly baristas using them. They also vary in type with third-wave coffee shops, hole-in-the-wall bakers and bright and spacious brunch spots dotted around the city.
No shade to Pret and the rest of the chains but whether you’ve got five minutes or five hours, looking to get work done or completely avoid it, these are the Edinburgh cafés and bakeries to visit…
The Babyfaced Baker | Leith Walk
What the babyfaced baker may lack in adult-like features, she certainly makes for with some of the best baked goods in Edinburgh. Rhiain Gordon, aka the babyfaced baker, started this off as a recipe blog, and the economics of supply and demand resulted in a cute blue-fronted store on Leith Walk, which you’ll notice (and immediately enter) thanks to the cabinet chock full of bright buns, chunky stuffed cookies, gooey caramel brownie and sugar-dusted cruffins (the croissant/muffin hybrid), in peanut butter jelly and Biscoff flavours.
Details: 341 Leith Walk, Edinburgh EH6 8SD | Opening hours: Tues-Fri 8am-4pm, Sat-Mon 9am-4pm | Seating? Takeaway only
The Pastry Section | Stockbridge
As much as we love the one at Lidl, this pastry section might just top it. They don’t mess around and play both sides here: the bakes are exclusively sweet. Everything’s baked on-site from scratch at the crack of dawn, and what shows up on the display could be a chocolate custard tart with vanilla mascarpone; a milk chocolate-coated shortbread sandwich filled with raspberry jam and marshmallow; snickerdoodle cookies; or a key lime bun (that is lime sugar, lime curd and toasted meringue and a mini key lime pie perched on top of the bun). Maybe all four at the same time if you’re lucky. For those who understandably don’t have the willpower to take home, there’s enough seats both inside and out, and they also do coffee if you want to make a proper sit-down meal out of it…
Details: 86 Raeburn Place, Edinburgh EH4 1HH | Opening hours: Tues-Sat 9am-4pm, Sun 9.30am-4pm | Seating? Yes
Bits Bake Shop | Newington
Conveniently located at the foot of Arthur’s Seat, Bits provides exactly the kind of fuel you’re going to need for undertaking a walk like that: cinnamon buns, iced with cream cheese, rhubarb & almond tarts, chocolate chip muffins, chocolate & pistachio brookie sandwiches… you’ll want a bit of everything. For the other fuel, there’s coffee from William & Johnston (a local Edinburgh roaster and owner Ashley’s personal favourite) .
Details: 38 Dalkeith Rd, Edinburgh EH16 5BS | Opening hours: Tues-Fri 8.30am-4pm | Seating? Yes
101 Bakery | Newington
Whilst we’ve not owned enough baking businesses to give a rundown on bakery 101, we can tell you about 101 bakery; it’s a bakery in Newington with a green-tiled counter that supplies arguably Edinburgh’s most coveted cinnamon rolls, mixed in with colourful cakes and reinforced by glazed buns, custard-baked brioches and homemade focaccia, topped with oregano and sundried tomato.
Details: 101 Newington Road, Edinburgh EH9 1QW | Opening hours: Tues-Sat 10am-4pm | Seating? There’s a handful of stools by the entrance window.
Considerit | Newington
Considerit does doughnuts, ice cream and ice-cream filled doughnuts; all vegan, plant-based, dairy and gluten-free. While we can’t say with absolute certainty that that means it’s all healthy, we can confirm that it’s all absolutely delicious. And if you’re a staunch doughnut die-hard, don’t be put off by all the labels. With flavours like lemon ginger custard and chocolate honeycomb, these are just as good if not better than the ‘real thing’.
Details: 3, 5A Sciennes, Edinburgh EH9 1NH | Opening Hours: Wed-Thurs 9.30am-4pm, Fri-Sun 9.30am-5pm | Seating? Yes
The Bearded Baker | Canonmills
Forget the facial hair, it’s the Bearded Baker’s bakery products that are mighty impressive. It’s a pocket-sized cafe with a handful of seats, a white-tiled counter, cheery staff and, most importantly, a glass display bursting with all kinds of freshly-baked dough. These include donuts, pastries and what they’re most well known for: bagels, made in-house, and can be ordered either plain or with fillings like bacon and smoked salmon & cream cheese. The coffee hits the spot too, which is to be expected. It is called the Bearded Baker after all…
Details: 46 Rodney St, Edinburgh EH7 4DX | Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9.30am-3.30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-3.30pm | Seating? Yes
August 21 | Newington
Not your everyday cafe, August 21 is a hip, community spot with a living room vibe, open mic nights and great playlists. Owner Savannah Banks took the shop when she noticed the previous owners were not renewing the lease (it was previously her favourite coffee shop, so the decision was easy) and she serves coffee from The Black Dog Coffee Co (an eco-friendly roastery in Linlithgow, just outside of Edinburgh) and doesn’t charge extra if you require an alternative milk.
Details: 89 Causewayside, Newington, Edinburgh EH9 1QG | Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9.30am-5.30pm, Sun 10am-4pm | Seating? Yes
Twelve Triangles | Various locations
You can’t accuse Twelve Triangles of cutting corners: all bread and pastry here is moulded by hand, only slow fermentation sourdoughs are used, and there’s no additives or improvers. If the science behind this goes in one ear, out the other, then just know everything’s of the highest standard. And if you’re after something a little bigger to line the stomach than just a ham & cheese croissant, the Dalry Road and Duke Street branches are just as much a cafe as they are a bakery, serving actual lunch menus with seasonal ingredients.
Details: Locations across Edinburgh | Opening hours vary | Seating? Yes
Room and Rumours | Waverley Station
A lot gets said about Room and Rumours: the donuts – filled with things like milk chocolate & marshmallow and salted caramel cheesecake – are amazing; the speciality coffee is a strong point (literally); it’s a whisker away from Waverley Station; the environment makes for an easy, prolonged catch up (comfortable seating, industrial interiors); and they do brunch. And everything you hear is all true…
Details: 27 E Market St, Edinburgh EH8 8FS | Opening hours: Daily 8am-4.30pm | Seating? Yes
Cowan & Sons | Stockbridge
The Cowan and Sons building has been around Stockbridge for aeons, having apparently operated as a fishmonger as way back as 1890. These days, the space – now with all the trappings of a cool cafe: chipped tiles, hanging lights and exposed brick – has swapped the seafood for a life of organic coffee and brioche breakfast buns, and also doubles as a shop selling limited-edition prints commissioned by local artists.
Details: 33 Raeburn Place, Edinburgh EH4 1HX | Opening hours: Daily 9am-5pm | Seating? Yes
Lady & The Bear | Newington
Worry not, The Lady hasn’t moved on from the Tramp with a bear. It’s a bright and airy cafe right by the Meadows that invites plenty of sun from its big windows, has a heap of space to sit-down and (maybe) complete some work in; and serves up excellent coffee (beans from Chapter), handmade filo pastry pies and Mediterranean-esque bakes like a gluten free lemon cake made with lemons from Greece, and tsoureki, a greek sweet bread made here with organic cinnamon and orange.
Details: 1 Hope Park Terrace, Edinburgh EH8 9LZ | Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8.30am-5pm, Sat-Sun 9am-5pm | Seating? Yes
Victor Hugo Deli | New Town, Meadows, Leith
Victor Hugo has earned legendary status in Edinburgh for a very good reason: it makes pastrami sandwiches. They’re made here with grilled rye bread, emmental cheese, pickles, house dressing and layers of peppered pastrami, and while they are the undisputed number one, there’s also a few baguettes that could potentially pull you away – like the Catalan, filled with Spanish chorizo, manchego and sunblush tomatoes. Beyond being the city’s sacred home for rye bread it’s also noted for its history: it’s one of Scotland’s first delicatessens, originally founded in 1955 by two business partners, one called Hugh and another who many presume was called Victor… but was actually named Zdzislaw.
Details: Multiple locations around town | All open daily | Seats? Yes, and the Melville Terrace branch has some outside that mirrors a classic Parisian cafe…
Thomas J Walls Coffee | Old Town
Thomas J Walls Coffee comes from John Sharp, a man with six successful coffee shops in Edinburgh, including Kilimanjaro, and is thus recognised as something of a bean guru around town. In rather fitting circumstances, he’s had the vision to rejig what used to be a midcentury opticians’ into a smartened-up, wood-panelled cafe. Unsurprisingly the espresso is exemplary and for people who brunch, there’s shakshuka, sandwiches and a bacon eggs Benny with sriracha hollandaise. For working folk who have the joy of an early start, TJW opens from 7.30am on weekdays…
Details: Forrest Road, Edinburgh EH1 2QN | Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am-7pm, Sat 8am-7pm, Sun 8.30am-7pm | Seats? Yes
Want to make the most of your trip? Take a look at our Edinburgh Guide
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