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What’s your favorite pub in Edinburgh?

Hoping to hear suggestions for evening pubs!

Posted by
1529 posts

Sandy Bell has live music, we liked the Royal Mile Tavern for the haggis. Sheeps Head is the oldest and where the Queen is rumored to visit when she is in town.

Posted by
3947 posts

The Hanging Bat, best selection of craft beers bar none.

Posted by
123 posts

Devils Advocate on a Saturday or Sunday during a game on the tele.
For just a beer, just about any in Old or New Town is interesting. Depends upon what you are into.

Posted by
234 posts

Thanks all! We're looking for something more authentic than touristy. I'm guessing everything on the Royal Mile is full of tourists in July. Someone else mentioned Sandy Bells to me!!

Others mentioned to me include The Last Drop, The Bow Bar, Peartree House near the university, Toolbooth Tavern, The Holyrood 9A (for great burgers), Three Sisters and Queens Arms.

Thank you!

Posted by
9 posts

Even though the Bow Bar is in the Old Town, it is a proper old boozer with an outstanding selection of malts. No TVs, no frills.

The Blue Blazer or the Oxford Bar are great as well. In the main part of town, but just enough off the main tourist route.

Posted by
3947 posts

It all depends on what you define as authentic. An 'authentic Scottish pub' to me conjures up images of one particular pub in Edinburgh whose name unfortunately (for anyone looking for pubs to avoid) I cannot recall, which comprised off piss stained drunks rolling around in piss stained floors, a pub full of alcoholics who'd reached or were well on their way to reaching a level of casual violence on anyone they took a mild dislike towards.

The pubs on the main touristy streets can certainly fit in with the tourist's idea of an authentic pub and I've been to several, there's absolutely no reason to avoid them. Will they be full of tourists? Most likely. Will they be full of Scots? Absolutely. Will it be a proper pub? Of course. Will it be well run? Certainly. Will it be full of aggressive drunks desperate to drown their sorrows on the cheapest beer? Absolutely not, and you'll often find doorstaff at the decent pubs to keep such people out. There's no reason to avoid a pub full of tourists, it will be no less authentic, in fact it'll probably be a more enjoyable experience because of the lack of the intellectually challenged, drunk thugs.

The Hanging Bat that I recommended is one such pub that does not attract such undesirables mainly because they have professional doorstaff at the premises but also because they serve beer that the average alcoholic is not interested in. I've been there several times, I heard a lot of American accents and word had certainly crossed the Atlantic to draw them there and for good reason. Did this make the pub less authentic? Absolutely not. In fact, because of the the wide mix of tourists and locals, all there for good quality beer, it made it one of the most interesting and engaging pubs I've been to.

As for burgers which was mentioned in a previous post, I've just returned from Glasgow where I ate the best burger I've ever eaten. The second best was in Edinburgh, one which was topped with a slice of fried haggis. I've been to the US for over a decade and I consider myself a bit of a burger afficianado due to the kids insistence that that's all they can eat and I can assure you, not one burger I've eaten in the US has come anywhere close to those I've eaten in Scotland. I've considered why and can only conclude that it's the quality of the beef, I've eaten enough beef in my life to know that the best comes from Scotland. If you're in Glasgow (or Edinburgh) and are looking for the best burger (and don't mind waiting as they don't take bookings) then head for Bread Meats Bread http://breadmeatsbread.com/#, I assure you that you won't be disappointed.

Posted by
9 posts

@JC Can't disagree with anything you've said, but Hanging Bat is a very modern beer bar (albiet with a great draft list). Could be found in most major cities--may or not be what OP is looking for when she comes to Scotland.

Posted by
906 posts

Hi, CaliMom,

Whatever you do, don't watch "Trainspotting" (the first one) before you go!

Slainte!

Mike (Auchterless)

p.s.: Another vote for Sandy Bell's. No Begbie there!

Posted by
741 posts

We enjoyed the Golf Tavern last night with our son, who’s become a regular there in his semester at the University. It’s near Bruntsfield Links in the Meadows. Definitely off the tourist track, though some do find their way there. Seemed like mostly locals when we were there, with soccer on the big screen and a number of friendly dogs visiting as their owners enjoyed some pints.

Posted by
3947 posts

@JC Can't disagree with anything you've said, but Hanging Bat is a very modern beer bar (albiet with a great draft list). Could be found in most major cities--may or not be what OP is looking for when she comes to Scotland.

That's why I question what defines authentic? A good pub serving excellent beer with a fantastic clientele albeit more modern decor than some of the older, but more salubrious, poorly managed ones? It's a question that, in my opinion, deserves an honest response to blow away those well intentioned but somewhat naive expectations of what constitutes a good pub in Scotland (or elsewhere in the UK) these days.

I can't say that I've been to any pub in Scotland that is discernibly different than most other pubs in the UK to the point that you can say "I'm definitely in a Scottish pub". Accents and regional beers aside you could be as much in an Edinburgh pub or a Birmingham one or one in Dorset.

Posted by
48 posts

Rick Steves recommends several b&bs on Dalkeith Rd. We stayed there and not too far off is John Leslie Pub. No food. Just drinks. I’m a cask fanatic so loved it and from I can tell classic. We stayed closer in last summer and wandered back to John Leslie.

Posted by
2436 posts

The Bow bar is actually quite a modern place having been created in the 1990 from bits and pieces removed from other pubs.Great pub though.
Mathers bar at the West End of Princes street is one of the original Edinburgh pubs, for somewhere more opulent then the Café Royal and the Guildford at the east end of Princes street are more traditional placea build in reaction to the Temperance movement as is the Rutherford in Rose street.
Leslie's bar in Causwayside has been mentioned and is owned by the same group as the Guildford and Rutherford, near there is Swany's and other old pub and across the road in the Old Bell which has only been a pub for about 30 years, when I was young it was a Joiners workshop.

Posted by
5019 posts

Easy answer: Sandy Bell's.

GREAT music. There's beer. Not so much for food, but I can eat anyplace. It's all about the trad.

Sandy Bell's was a highlight on my last trip to Scotland and I'm looking forward to catching a session there this summer.

Posted by
2682 posts

We enjoyed King’s Wark, but it’s technically in Leith. When we were there, there were no tourists and musicians playing impromptu. It was within walking distance (20 minutes) to our hotel/B&B.