My Favorite Places & Spaces

Here’s a compilation of my favorite bars, pubs, cafes, and restaurants.

La Cafe Gourmand: The best chai lattes I have ever had! The crepes smell amazing and the staff all speak French. It’s a cozy place for a rainy afternoon. 

Cafe Florentine: I have gone here twice for pesto, mozzarella, and chicken paninis. It’s fairly cheap and so yummy! And right next door to…

The Elephant House: Home to literary giants like Ian Rankin and J.K. Rowling, this has good pots of tea and great views of Greyfriars Graveyard and Edinburgh Castle. It’s pretty loud, but the bathroom stalls covered in Harry Potter quotes makes it worth it. 

View from The Elephant House

View from The Elephant House

Brass Monkey: A cheap-enough bar with velvet couches and awesome cider on tap. We’ve been here a few times so far. 

Malone’sA traditional Irish Bar that all us Americans are obsessed with. It has live music and a second floor that overlooks a big dance floor. 

Tesco’s: Extremely cheap, a little skeevy, but the supplier of our groceries for the next five months. Also home to £3 wine.

Vodka Revolution: Quite “posh,” Vodka Rev has a 1/2 off dinner menu on Mondays and fantastically flavored “sticks” of shots to go with it (aka six shots lined up, all in flavors like ‘birthday cake’ and ‘xxtra mint’ and ‘toffee coffee’). It’s quickly become the new Monday night favorite; mostly due to the as-big-as-your-face paninis and even bigger pitches of strawberry mojitos. Make sure to get the Chicken Milanese Foccacia sandwich. 

Rotato: Serves a variety of oven roasted potatoes, including the “Vespa,” which is mozarella, pesto, and chicken stuffed into a perfectly roasted potato and smothered with butter. Perfect for a rainy, cold day. Came here once and am dying to go back again. 

Cafe Jacques: A new find, this hole-in-the-wall cafe sits directly underneath the castle rock on the Grassmarket. Boasting a £1.80 latte and breathtaking views of the castle, it was the perfect spot to journal and people-watch, especially on a nice day when you can sit outside. 

Finnegan's is great even on Tuesday nights!

Finnegan’s is great even on Tuesday nights!

Finnegan’s: Now wins the award for the most-visited bar of the semester. It’s a good time on both the weekdays and the weeknights, although significantly cheaper on a Tuesday rather than a Saturday. But it always has live music, and because it’s a pretty big place, there is room to dance! Very funny doormen, too. 

Starbucks on Middle Meadows Walk: I felt very strongly about avoiding Starbucks while in Europe. Why spend my “quid” at an American chain while I have the pick of any Scottish cafe in Edinburgh? I lost my composure on the early morning walk to church and really needed a latte. Since I haven’t been to the other Starbucks’ in Edinburgh, I cannot say for certain that the one on Middle Meadows Walk is the best…but the Vanilla Latte (two sugars) was one of the best I have ever had. Great study spot with fantastic views of the meadows, plus outdoor seating. I returned that same afternoon with a book for my fiction class and spent a few hours outside, people-watching and sipping another consistently-good, homemade (aka US made) brew. 

Castle Arms Pub: Tucked under the shadows of Edinburgh Castle, this two-floored pub is nestled at the end of a strip of pubs above Victoria Street. If you aren’t looking for it, it is almost impossible to find. It sports outdoor seating but beware that Edinburgh law dictates that patrons can’t be outside after 9 pm; instead, move inside to the basement and take over until closing time (like we did on our final night in Edinburgh). Great pints and even greater theater posters that you can easily snag from the staircase for souveneirs.