On George IV Bridge, just around the corner from the National Museum of Scotland, Sichuan House is a no-frills diner that does a roaring trade with Edinburgh’s many Chinese students. The dry pot pork intestines may not be for everyone but the fried lamb ribs with cumin are so good that this correspondent once greedily ordered them twice at one sitting. There are numerous rice and noodle combos to decide between and plenty of vegan and veggie options. A bowl of the extremely more-ish hot and sour soup will fill any holes left by the aubergine and minced pork clay pot.
37 George IV Bridge Tel: 0131 225 5991
Feeding Edinburgh since 1979, the Kebab Mahal on Nicolson Square has helped generations of Fringe veterans survive a three week run. Nobody here is trying to re-invent the wheel but if it ain’t broke why fix it? As the name indicates, they serve kebabs but only a fool would overlook the chicken jalfrezi, the tandoor lamb chops or the keema matar curry. Nae booze. If the K Mahal is rammed to the gunnels – as it often is at peak festival – then The Mosque Kitchen on the other side of Nicolson Square and Roti on South Bridge both offer spicy thrills at bank balance-friendly price points.
7 Nicolson Square Tel: 0131 667 5214
With three venues spread over town, Oink ensures that you are never too far from a pulled pork roll topped with sage and onion stuffing. Owned and supplied by fourth generation Berwickshire farmers, Oink outlets open from 11am and start serving up their hog roasts. They shut at 5pm or when the pork is all gone. Whichever comes first. The rolls come in three sizes: piglet, oink or grunter. Topped with sage and onion stuffing or haggis and then finished with a choice of five sauces, they cost from £4.95 to £7.70. Simple but delish.
34 Victoria Street; 82 Canongate; 38 Hanover Street. Tel: NA
Charmingly scuffed around the edges and with almost enough room to swing a cat, Pera Turkish restaurant has as much character as its Leith Walk location. The veggie cold mezze platter is a thing of beauty and the pide, or Turkish flatbreads, come topped with everything from marinated lamb mince to feta and spinach. If you are Desperate Dan hungry and in a party of at least two then try to tackle the Sultan’s Banquet. This starts with a platter of nine cold mixed mezze followed by four hot mixed mezze. These are a prelude to a mixed charcoal grill featuring shish and kofte lamb, chicken shish, lamb ribs and a bulgur rice salad. A baklava dessert provides the final nail in the coffin of your appetite. The BYOB policy (£4.50 for wine, £1.50 for beer) is handy for anyone sticking to a budget.
57 Elm Row. Tel: 0131 281 4515
As you might expect, dinner is more expensive but lunch at The Outsider is a strong contender in the most-innovative-main-course-for-under-a-tenner award. A category which I have just invented. Menus change regularly but a recent version offered a smoked trout chowder with mussels, tatties, tarragon and sea aster for £7.90 while the ale-braised ox cheek with broccoli, polenta aligot and ale jus was £8.20. If you want to go veggie then the spiced tofu chorizo with roast pepper tabbouleh and butter bean ragout, coconut and wild leaves is £7.20. The vibe is cool and the decor chic. Tables at the back have views over to Greyfriars Kirk where the Harry Potter tours roam among the gravestones.
15 George IV Bridge. Tel: 0131 226 3131