Full fry-up, avocado on toast or just coffee and a croissant: whatever weekend breakfast you go for, here are a few of my favourite local cafés in Edinburgh worth getting out of bed for.
No alarms, no commuting, nothing to do except potter along Princes Street, read the paper and maybe swing by the Farmer’s Market in Stockbridge. This is possibly my favourite kind of weekend. It’s rare that we get them, but when they come along I want to enjoy every moment of not having to be or do anything. And the best way to start the weekend? By not lifting a finger in the kitchen and letting someone else cook you breakfast – or brunch, depending on how long that glorious lie-in is!
So, if you’re in Edinburgh over the weekend and you’re looking for some decent breakfast, here are six local spots that I can guarantee most other tourists won’t have heard of:
1. Educated Flea
Best for? Hearty breakfasts made with love and local produce
I’m not entirely sure where the name comes from, but it’s not one you’re likely to forget, especially after sampling their brunch menu (served 10am-4pm on weekends). Educated Flea only use local Scottish produce, the benefits of which shine through in the dishes. I tried the duck hash, topped with a perfectly poached egg, and it was just the right kind of salty, creamy, potato-y goodness I was looking for on a Sunday morning. They could also have handed me a bucket of their feta and pistachio dip and a spoon and I would have been quite happy – creamy and crunchy and not at all cloying. Other items on the brunch menu included French toast and baked eggs, but check before you book as their offering is seasonal. Oh and they do a carafe of mimosa (bucks fizz to us non-Americans) – I probably should have mentioned that first and left it at that.
Where? 32b Broughton Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3SB
When? Weekdays, lunch 12-2:30pm, dinner 5pm-10pm (except Monday). Weekends, 10am-10pm (9pm on Sunday)
2. Archipelago Bakery
Best for? Organic, vegan, raw, paleo, gluten free…Instagram-worthy breakfasts
The other Saturday, after a few failed attempts at Sunday brunch here (they’re closed on Sundays) I finally got to step over the threshold of Archipelago Bakery. I wish I’d done it sooner. If only I’d known that this place was on my doorstep, Peter’s Yard would have had more weekend breakfast competition for my money (see below for more on Peter’s delights). It’s small inside, but on a rare sunny day in Edinburgh their patio is a great spot to sip a flat white, enjoy a peanut booster bar (my personal favourite) and watch the world go by on Dundas Street, right in the heart of New Town. A lot of their goodies are gluten free too, so everyone can enjoy a coconut protein ball (they’re huge, like golf ball size!), a raw flapjack or a slab of (almost) guilt-free chocolate cake. There are savoury options, but who cares about those, pass me another vegan protein bar please!
Where? 39 Dundas Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6QQ
When? Open Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm
3. Word of Mouth
Best for? Classic breakfast options, with a side of Greek…
This was my go-to brunch spot back when I lived in Leith. It’s pretty ironic, but you won’t often read about Word of Mouth in guide books or listicles; it’s a place where local Leithers hangout and its reputation has been largely built on word of mouth. This unassuming cafe has a classic, all-day breakfast menu; full fry-up, eggs benedict and breakfast rolls (soft gooey bread crammed with up to three different fried items and a god-send when you’re in hangover purgatory). It’s reasonably priced too – a big cooked breakfast comes in at about £7. However, I always go for their homemade spanakopita (£4.50) a traditional Greek, filo pastry pie filled with feta cheese and spinach. Aside from bringing back memories of girly island-hopping holidays in Greece, during which we lived off cheap local wine and these posh cheese pies, they’re also so dense that they can usually banish any hunger pains well into lunch time.
Where? 3A Albert St, Edinburgh EH7 5HL
When? Open 7 days a week, 9am-5pm
4. Peter’s Yard
Best for? Cardamon buns, fruit scones and open crayfish sandwiches
I’d long-resisted Peter’s Yard, thought it was just another faux-Swedish café, cashing in on the latest trend for all things Scandi. While I still have reservations as to just how authentically Swedish Peter’s Yard is, I don’t really care anymore. What caused the change in attitude? Their scones. This may be controversial because they’re actually famous for their buns (cardamon, cinnamon or fruit). These are good, but for brunch I need something a little bit more substantial, and their sweet, savoury or spelt scones hit the spot every time. With combinations like apricot and ginger, cranberry and walnut, you can forget boring old raisin! Their open sandwiches are great too – smoked salmon and cream cheese all the way. It’s not cheap and a little slice of Stockholm will set you back almost £10 for a coffee and a scone (with jam and butter of course). But I don’t care, I’ll pay it just to have one of these delicious, buttery buns, surrounded by minimalist Swedish design, faux or not.
Where? They have two locations:
27 Simpson Loan, Quartermile, Edinburgh, EH3 9GG (my favourite because it’s bigger and you can sit outside along Middle Meadow Walk on a sunny day)
3 Deanhaugh Street, Edinburgh, EH4 1LU
When? Each café has slightly different open hours, but generally: weekdays 8am-6pm, weekends 9am-9pm
Best for? Parisian chic and damn good cheese
Can’t make it to Paris for the weekend? Never mind, grab a chair tucked down the back of this fantastic deli and let Paris come to you! You could easily while away a morning or afternoon brunching (yes it’s a verb) at Henri’s – it’s been known to happen once or twice… For something light, grab a croissant or pain au raisin (that’s actually bigger than your head) and a cafetiere of delicious French coffee. If it’s past 11am then it’s perfectly acceptable to move on to stronger stuff I say, so order up a bottle of fresh, crisp white wine (like their muscadet, about £15) and dig into something from their special brunch menu – how about a goats cheese and broad bean tartine, or their signature saucisson sandwich on sourdough? If you find it difficult making a decision (like me) then you can’t go wrong with a platter of French cheese and meats (£20 for 2). Take the Sunday papers and set up camp!
Where? 48 Raeburn Pl, Edinburgh EH4 1HL
When? Open 7 days a week, 9am-7pm (6:30pm on Sunday), but the kitchen closes one hour before the shop.
6. Cairngorm coffee
Best for? Coffee lovers with smashed avocado ambitions
One of the latest café mini-chains sweeping through Edinburgh, Cairngorm keeps it simple. They have a tiny little shop on Frederick Street in Edinburgh city centre, great for refueling on the go, but at the weekend head to their bright and airy West End location. The decor is simple (all white, shared benches, built in iPads for customer use) and so is the food (see my chickpea and rocket salad). For brunch it’s got to be their smashed avocado because, unlike a lot of cafés that have avocado on the menu but serve you it begrudgingly in wafer thin slices (no more than three), Cairngorm loads that bad boy onto fresh toast and tops it with cracked black pepper – get those hashtags ready, you’re going to want to share this one! And they know their coffee. Depending on what you order, your caffeine might come in a test tube or a measuring jar on a set of scientific scales. But it’s not just a gimmick, it tastes bloody good too!
Where? 1 Melville Place, Edinburgh, EH3 7PR
When? Weekdays 8am-6pm, weekends am-6pm